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I've been with moodle for a while now.  And we have had a good run. 
I've loved having a space for my class to find all of the information we
are using.  I've embedded video and posted links.  I've made quizzes
and assigned journals.  I even got into SCORM authoring so I could
create interactive lessons. 

But lately, I've felt something missing from moodle.  It just feels kind
of one-sided.  Like, I post an assignment of some kind and my students
post their response.  Maybe I can get a discussion going in a forum, but
it's always separate from the work the students are doing.  What I want
is a space where students can post their own ongoing work--the video
that's in progress, the podcast they've just finished--and other
students can give feedback, discuss, question, even download and
re-mix.  I need a space that works more like a social network and less
like a digital version of a standardized test.

So we've been using a private YouTube channel, googledocs, and 21Classes
blogging platform.  And all of those work fine.  But I want a LMS that
lets the students have a little more freedom to interact (even though I
know that sometimes freedom brings mistakes--bring 'em!--maybe we'll
learn something from them!). 

So, if anyone out there has the perfect LMS, let me know!  I know someone must have created exactly what I'm looking for.  In the meantime, what would be in your perfect LMS or CMS?

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Have you thought about using Mahara? 

This is an e-portfolio system where students can store their artifacts and create views for different audiences.  It has a "social" networking feel, and you can export it.  Can also use as a resume...

Check it out...

http://www.mahara.org

The mahara can also be connected to moodle (mahoodle) so that the moodle users can log in to mahara with their moodle users. Moodle 2.0 offers a further feature where students can export their artefacts to mahara ( in addition to google docs, picasa, and box.net). The integration between mahara and moodle is easy to set up and I think it creates a social newtorking and eportfolio system with a learning management system that is very powerful indeed. However, you should be aware not to give your students tooo many options so they would'nt be overwhelmed.
Yes, our Division uses Moodle & Mahara together.  It works well, and we are looking forward to Moodle 2.0.  Our high school students use Mahara for grades 9 - 12, and they keep track of their grades, courses, etc. in there.  It is very useful for the counsellors as well.  We also use it for our professional development space.  It's a very flexible environment, and students can show their work in progress, and their published work.  Very powerful!

There are lots of good ideas here (edmodo, schoology, etc).  I have been dying to incorporate Moodle into my class for the past several years.  The last school I was at consisted of lots of students who didn't have regular access to computers, so I never got around to it.  Now, the school I am at does not pay for/host Moodle. 

 

I'm interested in either finding a cheap/free way to host Moodle myself OR finding a comparison on Moodle, Edmodo, Schoology, etc.  There are so many options and so much to learn that I feel like I can't even get started!

I would go back to your purpose and then compare the tools. You're right there are a lot to choose from. I set up accounts and play for awhile to see what I think- if it is user-friendly then I continue using it. Try it out then move on if it doesn't serve my needs. If it does it I continue using....

Well, I want my students to be able to communicate with each other about class.  I'd like to incorporate online discussions.  I like the idea of assigning them wiki-related projects and having them collaborate with each other.  I like the idea of quizzes and assessments online as well, webquests, etc.

 

I don't know which platforms offer all these things. 

 

I'd also like to hear from others about how they set up these platforms.  Let's say you are a high school science teacher who teaches 3 sections of Biology and 2 sections of Anatomy.  Do you set up groups for each period, or one big group for all of your biology students and one big group for anatomy?  Trying to think of all the pros and cons of each...

Moodle is open-source so you just need a computer/server to host it.

Nancy,

 

I don't know what that means.  Lol.

Sorry, it means that it is a FREE resource with many contributors.  It is a FREE download, so the only cost to you would be where you will download it to (a desktop computer or a server, which you may already have).  Check out www.moodle.org for more information.

Hi Holly,

 

Although moodle is free, it does have to be downloaded and set up.  Our school adopted it because it was free, but we did end up having to pay for a tech to configure it and set it up; we also pay that same person a couple of times a year to update/archive/add/etc. and general maintenance. 

 

So in addition to server space, you also need either the technical skill to set it up or someone who can do that for you.

 

Good points...our school has a tech that does that for us, so the cost was fairly minimal to us as he is already on the payroll.

Moodle has a great community that answers questions to problems you may experience.  As an admin for our Moodle site, I can pretty much find most of my answers through their forums (for free) and the developers of Moodle are willing to walk you through changes.  In fact, they even helped us develop a code for an April Fool's Day joke...for free. 

Hmm.  I know that Moodle is free, but my school will not host it on whatever server.  I know there are supposedly other sites that will let you host it, but they don't always seem to have the full functionality of Moodle.  I'm willing to pay to host it myself, as long as it isn't too expensive, but I've hit a lot of brick walls with that too, as I've never had to host anything before.

 

Our technology department here basically refuses to have anything to do with it, so I am on my own.

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