What is the difference between the Front page and the dashboard? Does Enrolment mean how people join my site? Why do I need blocks and who exactly are Partners? Since Moodle can be a little bit intimidating to beginners who haven’t heard of the specific terms before, here’s a quick guide explaining ten important Moodle terms.
Front page or Dashboard?
The page you see when not logged in is the Front page of your Moodle site. Unless you decide to force users to log in before they can see anything, you can use your front page as an attractive gateway to your courses and introduction to your organisation. The dashboard is what users will see once logged in, and it’s a customisable page specific to each person. The admin can decide whether to force display of the dashboard or the front page once logged in, or give users the choice.
Enrolment or Authentication?
These two terms are often misunderstood and so it’s useful to know the difference. In order to take a course on your Moodle site, a user must first log in or be logged in, and then be allowed access to the course they need to take. The process of getting an account and logging into the Moodle site is called Authentication and there are many ways to to this. For example, you might allow users to create their own accounts on the site – that’s called Email-based self-registration – or you might make their accounts for them – those are Manual accounts Once on the site, users then need to get into the chosen course and that is Enrolment. Again, there are many different enrolment methods, one popular one being Self enrolment where students click a button to add themselves to the course. If you’re advertising paid-for courses then Paypal enrolment can assist with the financial aspect.
In Moodle terminology, a Course is the online area where a teacher/instructor/educator adds the learning content for their students. Organisations who find the ‘course’ unsuitable can change the wording via Language customisation to, for example ‘module’ or ‘learning space’. The layout of a course can be altered by using different Course formats and the display enhanced by the choice of theme.
Themes provide a “skin” to completely change the look and feel of your site (or even an individual course). With the standard More theme being highly customisable, and the community offering well over a hundred contributed themes, there’s no excuse for a plain-looking Moodle site!
Resources, Activities or Blocks?
When adding an item to your course page, you’ll be presented with the option of adding a resource or an activity. If you click the radio button next to an item it will explain what it does on the right hand side of the Activity chooser. In short, a Resource is a static item that a teacher can use to support learning, such as a file or link, whereas an Activity requires the student to get involved (active) in the course, taking a quiz or uploading an assignment for example. As a general rule, courses with many activities tend to be more engaging than courses with many resources, but Moodle is flexible enough to support both. Alongside (literally!) resources and activities, are Blocks, which can be added to the left or right of any course page. They may also be added to the centre of the dashboard. They enhance learning and course management by providing additional features such as the display of Activity results.
Moodle is provided freely as Open Source software, under the GNU General Public License. Anyone can adapt, extend or modify Moodle for both commercial and non-commercial projects without any licensing fees and benefit from the cost-efficiencies, flexibility and other advantages of using Moodle. However, some people might prefer to hand over the hassle of installing and maintaining Moodle to an official Moodle services provider, known as a Partner. Moodle Partners have been certified by Moodle to provide quality, expert services. Moodle Partners contribute 10% of their earnings to support the development and maintenance of the Moodle project. They can provide customisations to and beyond the standard features, enabling you to have a tailor-made Moodle site unique to you.