Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) was the first of nine tertiary institutions in the fragrant harbour city to carry out a campus-wide implementation of the Moodle e-learning platform.
The word Moodle was originally an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment, but is now known as a free open-source software course management system (CMS).
Moodle provides an open online e-learning platform for real-time communication between students and teachers, and enables instructors to create Web-based resources and courses.
Today, more than 10,000 full-time students, 15,000 part-time students, and 1,000 teachers can access the Moodle platform on campus, or at home, to participate in online discussions, exchange e-mail messages, upload and download course materials and lecture notes. The e-learning platform also allows HKBU to bring in new software functions such as plagiarism detection for students assignments.
The use of Web technology in support of teaching and learning at the HKBU began in the academic year 2002-03 with the use of WebCT (Web course tools) platform. In the academic year 2005-06, Moodle version 1.6 was piloted in parallel with WebCT. The next academic year, the university replaced WebCT with Moodle version 1.8 making it the only content management system in support of teaching and learning at HKBU. More than 63 per cent of the academic staff and 68 per cent of the student community now use Moodle 1.8.
WebCT is an online proprietary virtual learning environment system for e-learning. Instructors can add tools to their WebCT courses such as discussion boards, mail systems and live chat, along with content including documents and Web pages.
Since 1998, Joseph Leung has been director of the HKBUs Information Technology Services Centre (ITSC). He joined the university (formerly the Hong Kong Baptist College) in 1986 as senior systems programmer, and became deputy director in 1990.
At the HKBU, it is not compulsory for all teaching staff and students to adopt the Moodle e-learning platform. The ITSC, however, has a Web-based teaching and learning (WebTL) taskforce that promotes the use of Moodle as its e-learning platform on a facilitating basis.
Currently there is no policy that requires mandatory usage [of the Moodle e-learning platform] by HKBU staff and students, but we highly recommend teachers and students to use this platform to facilitate teaching and learning processes. Accounts are created for all users at the beginning of the academic year, Leung says.
User interest and information load are the two major challenges in the implementation of the Moodle-based e-learning platform, according to Leung.
To arouse their [users] interest, we need to educate them that the Moodle-based platform is easy to use and able to facilitate learning and teaching, Leung says. We are also making every effort to improve the classroom infrastructure to cater for the Moodle system operation.
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