Last week at work we hit a milestone with our Moodle project. First, a bit of background. This is a project I’ve been managing and working on for more than six months now. A large part of my role as eLearning Librarian is to work on how my library can provide services online and setting up an online learning platform is part of this.
Moodle is an open source learning management system that was started in WA by the fabulous Martin Dougiamas. It’s now being used all over the world including as the main learning management system for UWA and Murdoch University. Many TAFEs, Government departments and other organisations are setting up Moodle sites to provide online training to their staff and clients.
I love that Moodle is open source. I think it makes so much sense for libraries to support open source initiatives as much as possible. There’s a clear philosophical overlap here. I also appreciate the Moodle community. I was fortunate enough to go to a Moodlemoot last year and meet a bunch of Moodlers, they are an incredibly friendly and helpful group. The way that open source projects like Moodle have a tendency to build helpful communities is something I think libraries can learn from and tap into.
So the first stage of this project has been to set up the system and make courses available to public library staff in WA. The milestone we reached was the soft launch of these courses. It’s been quite a process writing them, testing them and creating documentation and I feel proud of what we have achieved.
I’m also excited about what comes after, the prospect of making courses available to our clients. I see this as a really compelling way forward for libraries. It fits well with the idea of libraries being a community space (both physically and online) for the sharing of knowledge. At the outset we will be looking to create courses that reflect our key collection areas.
I’m hoping that we will move towards co-created courses that take advantage of community knowledge. This way we can act as the conduit between people with knowledge and those who wish to learn. It’s a bit arrogant to presume that we have all of the information that people want. Getting the community involved in course creation is a cool prospect and one that I also hope to test with the help of public libraries.
Is this a tall order? Absolutely! There are a lot of issues that will need to be overcome with regards to collaborative course creation. It’s going to be hard for libraries to let go of some control and learn to trust our communities a bit more. I think it’s a very worthwhile effort to make however and I hope we have uptake from people who are interested in sharing their knowledge and learning new things.