The implementation of a free and open-source modular object-oriented dynamic learning environment

Edwin N Gonzales
Saint Mary's University
Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines

'Teachers are the most powerful human beings on earth. Their words can build, conquer, and destroy worlds.'

Edwin N Gonzales

This paper presents a technical perspective on Saint Mary's University's implementation of an e-learning system utilizing the free and open-source software (FOSS) known as Moodle. In an effort to improve the teaching-learning process, the University developed an Open Learning and Distance Education (OLDE) programme in which an e-learning system is the main technical component.

E-learning in its many forms is capital intensive, so the cost of the hardware and software that drive the e-learning system is dictated by the commercial value of these components. For the hardware component to support the processing, storage and network access requirements of the system, the University utilized generic-type servers built using standard PC and PC-based server parts -- an approach which trimmed the cost of the server by as much as 50% compared to branded ones with similar specifications. For the software component, FOSS was used primarily because it is free. The University's ICT personnel are well trained on many FOSS implementations, which reduced the complexity of FOSS installation, configuration, maintenance and management.

At the heart of this system is the Modular Object-oriented Dynamic Learning Environment (Moodle) Learning Management System (LMS) which was written using PHP scripting language. It uses a MySQL database server and promotes a 'social constructivist pedagogy' of learning. Moodle is rich in features normally found in a commercial LMS. For example, it is extensible, which allows programmers to extend its functionality. The LDAP plug-in module authenticates our teachers and students and supports the publishing of virtually all types of files for viewing or downloading. Built-in modules such as assignment, chat, choice (poll), forum, glossary, lesson, quiz, resource, survey, wiki and workshop are available.

This paper outlines the ways in which the implementation of Moodle at the University is now being enjoyed by our teachers to go beyond the boundaries of their classrooms and by our students for enhancing their learning experiences.