"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Why do students hate Moodle?

Hello my blog, old friend. It has been quite some time since I paid you any attention. However the is all going to to change. I'm sick of all these ideas and thoughts rolling around in my head and the best therapy for lots of ideas is to get them down. So over the next few weeks I shall try to jot down some of my thoughts over the last few months in a series of blog posts.

In the last few weeks I have conversations with a range of teachers from both the public, private and VET sectors about Moodle. Why is it that students don't like it?

When Moodle started it was a revolutionary way to share all your class work with your students and have them interact with you and each other and also it took away the anxiety and worry about notes being lost or crushed in school bags. Teachers have long held the idea that knowledge is the gateway to success, enlightenment and understanding so just as the humble photocopier revolutionised access to the knowledge of teacher's via their notes Moodle was able to give students access to knowledge through the new culture of technology and content curation.

Some teachers saw Moodle as a product that would revolutionise Education and to a certain degree it
Image by presentermedia.com
did however for the less tech savvy teachers it was clunky, unyielding, time consuming and overly complicated. The students on the other hand initially were enthusiastic but as time has worn on the appearance and drudgery of using Moodle for assignments became a burden and not such a cool use of technology. Many teachers hadn't realised the real capability of the program nor did they have the time, energy or skills level to use it. It became the knowledge repository of the classroom which was accessed only when you needed to check when an assignment was due or when it needed to be uploaded. Sad really, as many Institutions did put it to good use and it became a global sensation to those who used it well.  

So what's changed?

I think there are three things that have changed in the mind of the user and they have an appetite for something different.

1. Students expect the technology that they use to be user friendly and aesthetically pleasing. They want the online experience to have easy navigation and yet it be presented in a way that is still challenging and they can chat about these things with their peers. It must have social capability that is similar to other ways they interact socially online.

2. It needs to be accessed and viewed easily over multiple devices. Sometime companies say that it is mobile friendly but when you go to use it on your mobile it's so different to the computer experience that you can't find anything you need.

3. There needs to be points of emotional connection. Whether or not teachers are producing elearning content or flip teaching students need praise when they get something right and guidance if they are heading in the wrong direction. There has to be the opportunity for a human connection. The problem with Moodle quizzes is that there is always the predicted right answer unless the quiz is set up for short writing pieces that are not self marking. You can't ask for clarification. This can be frustrating. In some cases you probably know the answer it's just the question is not clear and you doubt what they are really asking. If a student is working on an online quiz there needs to be the option to talk to a real human because teaching for thousands of years has been a conversational business. (Doring, 1999)

Image @ bigstockphotos.com

If our students are playing online games at home with their friends and they are working through the challenges and levels of a game and get stuck they with will always default to the online chat to find a work around. So why do we allow this kind of learning in a game but not in our online programming of learning activities as a whole? Obviously I am grossly generalising as I know there are some programs and teachers who do this but I find in much of the conversation I have with teachers and students the real lack of connection about how young people want to learn and think in a digital age. There is still a mindset at times that it is the pursuit of knowledge is key but what has changed it that it is the skill in accessing knowledge is becoming far more useful.

I had the absolute privilege in the last few weeks to test run an eCoach learning system by Futura. I would encourage you to have a look. I have no financial connection to this it's just another tool I have come across and I love it! If you are a teacher that loves flip teaching then I would encourage you to check it out. It does plug into Moodle so if your school or organisation is a Moodle fun place then it is certainly one to consider.

Conference Loop from Futura Group on Vimeo.

Students want a more polished, meaningful and aesthetically pleasing interactive elearning experience. I would encourage you to think outside the box.

Until next time,


    Conole,G. (2012). Open, social and participatory media, Chapter 4. Designing for learning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer. 

    Craft,A. (2003). The limits to creativity in education: Dilemmas for the educator. British Journal of Educational Studies, 51(2), 113-127.Retrieved fromhttp://web.nsboro.k12.ma.us/algonquin/faculty/socialstudiesteachers/smith/documents/thelimitsofcreativityineducationarticle.pdf

    Doring,(1999). In Selwyn, N., Gorard, S. and Furlong, J, 2006. Adult learning in a digital age. Routledge: New             York (KindleEdition)

    Ford, N. (2008). Education. In N. Ford (Ed.), Web-Based Learning through Educational Informatics: Information Science Meets Educational Computing (pp. 75-109). Hershey, PA: .doi:10.4018/978-1-59904-741-6.ch003

    Kafai,(2006). In Becker, K. (2010). Distinctions between games and learning: A review of current literature on games in education.In R. Van Eck (Ed.), Gaming and cognition: Theories and practice from the learning sciences (pp. 22-54). Hershey, PA: .doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-717-6.ch002


  1. Hi Kathryn,

    I just stumble upon your blog post and thanks for sharing your experiences with Moodle. I am a freelance Moodle developer that tries to contribute to Moodle itself with a focus on the User Experience. I think your point on being able to ask a question when your in quiz is really good and I have already build a feature that allows students to do just that. Of course I agree navigation, aesthetics and ease need a lot of work in Moodle.

    Today I am presenting about the Moodle User Experience at the Moodle conference in London and hopefully it will help to change future Moodle releases.


  2. Great article Kathryn. While teachers can get their heads around most tools, having the skills and mindset to build visual interactivity and interfaces there to help learners is quite difficult! Sometimes templates dont help either or suit all learner groups. Cheers for your blog! Mick

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