The implementation of the Moodle platform to help teachers develop blended learning.

Updated: Apr 15

By Tchello Kasse - English Language Education, Yogyakarta State University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Implementation of the Moodle platform to help teachers develop blended learning.
How Moodle platform to help teachers develop blended learning for their students.

The information provided in this paper will empower teachers, students and school administrators to acknowledge the crucial value of Moodle in English language teaching and enable them to obtain excellent results and improve their teaching and learning strategies.

1. INTRODUCTION


In this era of global digitalization, it is hard to talk about education without mentioning the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). ICT intervenes in every single part of human life, including Humanities, Social Science, Law, Natural Science, Technology and Medicine. In education, ICT plays a key role in terms of conducting research, collecting data, teaching and learning. While using ICT, with just a click of a mouse we can access mountains of information from around the world [1]. Additionally, in reference to the field of education, the use of ICT has made it easier than ever for teachers to be able to exchange their experiences, points of view, ideas, and feelings with learners. Also, many of them can see their teacher training programs get improved on site or remotely at a very low cost [2]. It has been claimed [2] that ICT can be used in many places, where it can enable both teachers and students to study their respective courses. As education is one of the foundations of economic and social development factors, ICT facilitates a growing number of people to get access to schools and enables them to have a better education that matches their interests.

There are lots of ICT tools available for teachers: computers, internet, projectors, smartphones, e-mailing facilities, online classes, video conferencing, and so on. These tools make both teaching and learning English more attractive and convenient. Also, ICT enables teachers to save a great deal of time, prevents them from having to travel home, gives them energy for working and helps them save money when working at school. For students, they can learn whatever they want by using ICT tools at any time and in any place [3]. Therefore, ICT plays an incredible role in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) [1].

ICT has emerged gradually in the educational sector, dealing with the pedagogical philosophy based on constructivism that is supported by a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Moodle. Henceforth, the Moodle platform will be known as one of the most used open-source e-learning platforms, as it gives teachers the possibility to create online courses with access given to registered students only. This platform allows teachers and students living in different geographical areas to exchange information through synchronous and asynchronous communications [4]. The benefits of Moodle are multiple. Moodle facilitates educational communities to share information, it develops a student-centered approach, and finally it strengthens social interaction [5]. However, the Moodle platform is difficult to use for some teachers. In this regard, teachers first need to learn how to manipulate electronic devices. Nevertheless, the flexibility of the Moodle platform allows teachers’ uploaded materials to be accessed by the learners at any time and from any place they might be. It also permits a series of interactions between teachers and students. Students have enough time to thoroughly discuss and share ideas about the topics presented by their respective teachers before the class starts. But in order to obtain the advantages that come from using Moodle, one important element must be highlighted: the need for an internet connection, without which there is no way to use Moodle. Furthermore, teachers using Moodle will have full control of their students’ track records. The activities are checked throughout by the use of the internet. Teachers can see what students did during a certain timeframe for assignments, quizzes, forums, chats, and so on. [6]. For example, [6] argued that one teacher claimed: ‘I use Moodle for uploading and sharing documents. I use Moodle for uploading listening activities because it’s easy for students to be online and then they can attend to the listening text. Mostly, I use it for listening exercises, not for reading.’ This shows how important the teachers found the use of Moodle in teaching listening skills. Regarding these statements, teachers have to be well equipped in both material and resources, otherwise they cannot use Moodle in the teaching process. Therefore, using Moodle requires the potentiality of having both money and technology.

In the field of education, when supported by ICT, the concept of Blended Learning (BL) has become one of the hottest teaching approaches, as it empowers a large number of students to actively gain access to the materials provided by teachers. BL offers a flexible and customizable time frame for each student to learn at their own pace [7]. Many students are happy when the courses are taught face-to-face and in live using via Internet. Therefore, BL also decreases the stress and anxiety of learners, since students perform much better when they interact by using ICT tools [8]. BL permits teachers to be more productive because it helps students to work comfortably when learning languages and technology. Also, it gives them a positive attitude and increases their learning motivation [9]. Nevertheless, the concept of BL must first be understood by the teachers who are engaged in the teaching profession. In addition, [10] explained that studies showed that, by 2019, 50% of high school courses will be made available and taught online. Moreover, today’s younger generation is more focused on this digital era and they are exposed to and use technology from the age of one [10]. In this case, it is crucial to make sure that teachers will have the opportunity to learn how to use computers, become proficient in English, and work very hard on technological knowledge. Otherwise, making the internet available to everyone will not help teachers who are not familiar with ICT tools to teach effectively using Moodle. Therefore, pre-training sessions regarding the use of ICT would be very helpful for teachers who are not computer literate.

BL facilitates easy access to global resources and material appropriate to learners so that they can use them to improve their learning achievements. Moreover, BL increases students’ vocabulary knowledge, as they are given opportunities to navigate through the internet and check the meaning of terms [11]. It has been said [12] that teachers who use BL by mixing the online system with the traditional way of teaching do best of all. Likewise, a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee suggested that students learn much more in BL courses compared to traditional classroom courses. Even though that statement is true, we should focus on the availability of the internet. Without that, there is no BL at all. Therefore, BL and Moodle strongly require an internet connection so that they can be operational.

Although Moodle has been combined with other ICT devices, such as computers, smartphones, and tablets, in order to teach English effectively, there are still English-as-a-Foreign Language (EFL) teachers with a very low level of awareness of the importance of using Moodle to develop BL. Barriers to ICT integration in education did exist in many institutions due to its high level of costs, the lack of mastery of its functionality, and its level of acceptance. This has been argued by [13], who said that BL received little attention in its implementation. Difficulties ranged from a lack of communication, lack of institutional support, problems in adopting new technologies, and a lack of electronics means. Moreover, old methods of instruction are still applied in some universities and teachers carelessly do not pay attention to the fact that using Moodle can help to improve the teaching process [13]. Therefore, in this era of digitalization, the use of Moodle and BL must be supported by the developed countries so that the necessary equipment and internet connection can be available for all teachers.

Based on what has been mentioned above, the current study began with a narrative review of literature that explains largely how Moodle can help teachers to understand more about BL so that they can take advantage to use it in schools.

If they were not aware of this, teachers would miss out on the advantages that ICT brings us, and they would find themselves in a disadvantageous situation when it came to teaching. A combination of previous studies allowed the researcher to collect a series of data about the use of Moodle and BL for teaching EFL students. Data in this research are sourced from documentation (documents-based data). Therefore, this paper will definitely discuss the use and importance of the Moodle platform to increase teachers’ awareness of preparing and delivering teaching material in the field of TEFL, which will finally develop BL.


2. INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY COMMUNICATION


ICT is a useful instrument for developing education [14]. It permits people to have access to education so that they can develop educational materials, especially in teaching and learning. Today, ICT makes information and social media available to all people, even those living in remote areas. ICT is considered as a top source of information for our daily activities. However, a lack of ICT in education means that learners only have access to a poor amount of knowledge and experiences in various domains: teaching, business, tourism, and so on [14]. Therefore, we can assume that ICT is extremely important for teachers, but they need an internet connection in order to deliver the lessons to the students. Also, the government should help us to have ICT materials at the lowest price, because the underdeveloped countries have sufficient problems if they want to buy them, due to a lack of money and infrastructure. Therefore, governmental help is greatly needed in schools.

In contrast, it is clear that ICT is not used only for teaching, but can also be used for gaming, communicating, and for science and technology. A study at the University of Zagreb showed that, while using ICT, students are very much more competent when they play games in learning English [15]. In the same study, it is shown that ICT offers great possibilities for students to learn English. They can use various ICT tools that help them to access the learning materials that they need to boost their education. Despite large publications promoting the use of ICT in education, ICT is sporadically and insufficiently used in education. Therefore, results showed that 67.7% of the students being surveyed asserted that the frequency of ICT use is very satisfactory, and 27.1% claimed that ICT is used sometimes. However, every 20th student thought that ICT was never used in their faculty to help with learning EFL. This is why the importance of ICT use in schools should be highlighted, so that it can cover many educational institutions [15]. In order to facilitate the use of ICT in learning for all students, the governments need to make sure that the cost of ICT is low enough for everyone to access.


3. ICT AS AN EFFECTIVE TOOL IN TEACHING EFL


Using ICT tools helps both teachers and learners to acquire knowledge. As the technology is advancing at a high speed, teachers have to just as quickly update their competences when using it. This means that teachers should not wait to see the end of ICT development, but they need to develop themselves alongside ICT [16]. Moreover, ICT assists teachers and students to have creative ideas in a learner-friendly environment. When ICT is applied in a classroom setting, the following advantages are gained. Firstly, students are highly motivated to undertake classroom activities given by their teachers. Secondly, they get access to a wide range of information that they need to help them attain their goals [16]. To do this kind of work, students also have to be techno savvy. That is to say that they need to be competent in using computers, cell phones, tablets, and so on.

Students who learn from PowerPoint get new ideas and concepts to enhance their four English language skills. In addition, LCD projectors are today being used on a daily basis in our classrooms. They help in creating bulleted PPT notes for the learners [16]. Furthermore, the World Wide Web (WWW) cannot be ignored in this era of technology. The WWW offers a variety of possibilities to collect data for learning English by navigating the internet. It aids the improvement of the four language skills, which are listening, speaking, reading, and writing, by using authentic material, such as audio songs, online videos, and web pages downloaded from the internet [16]. Although ICT has become extremely important in teaching EFL, not all teachers can afford it due to its cost, which might be very high for some users. Therefore, people should not forget its affordability, mastery of manipulation, and knowledge of using it.

Another study conducted by [17] revealed that ICT should be used to change from a teacher-centered approach to a student-centered approach. That means that ICT can develop a teaching approach that can be combined with the traditional method of instruction to build BL. It is not only computers or LCD projectors that are considered to be ICT tools; radio, television, and telephones are also part of ICT. He showed that over 80% of information on the internet is written in English. This shows how interesting English language is today. What is unbelievable is that non-native English speakers outnumbered the native speakers [17]. Therefore, ICT helps the development of English to be well spread around the world and teaching English at school has impacted the advancement of ICT.


4. E-LEARNING


ICT creates distance learning approaches, new opportunities to develop education and training by using software and applications (e-learning), and a BL format by combining traditional classroom activities and those of ICT tools, such as computers [14]. For tens of thousands of years, it was difficult to meet and share knowledge. However, technologies have considerably changed this constraint. Now, through the newly developed approach called e-learning, people can finally learn everything they want from each other at any time and in any place, in any of the four corners of the world. E-learning is therefore defined as the use of information and computer material to make knowledge happen [18]. In addition, e-learning marshal’s computers and online networks to execute some pedagogical instructions. The combination of computers and internet connection gives the user the possibility to design teaching materials and deliver them virtually, for example, to students of EFL.

In the same year, another definition was given by [19], stating that e-learning is commonly understood as the use of information and communication technology devices to serve in a teaching and learning environment. Similarly, there are other technical terms referring to e-learning, such as online learning, virtual learning, distributed learning, network and web-based learning. These terms are used when talking about e-learning in general. They are terms that are used when referring to educational processes that require the combination of the internet and ICT tools to perform asynchronous and synchronous activities in teaching and learning [19]. According to [20], e-learning is any use of the web and internet connections to create learning activities. Finally, [21] argued that e-learning can be defined as learning by using electronic devices. In short, e-learning has become the use of the internet and computers to learn language.


5. BENEFITS OF E-LEARNING


E-learning facilitates learners to access the knowledge, multimedia resources, and teaching software that are available on the internet [21]. Learners become more and more flexible in terms of time and place. They can learn freely, based on their needs. Moreover, it enables multinational enterprises to adopt quick training strategies, and implement them for targeted training. Briefly, e-learning is helpful in education, so schools need to have a good technology infrastructure for education.

A survey study conducted by [22] classified four forms of e-learning. Firstly, the traditional form, in which there is no use of technology at all. Secondly, the web-based course, which works with computer and internet. All the communications and activities are done online. These courses use web-based technologies. They use the system to manage the content or just use web pages to help communicate the course plans to the students. Thirdly, the hybrid or BL form, which replaces the traditional courses to online activities. In these classes, the teacher combines the present course with e-learning. A large part of the course uses the internet, through discussion forums, with limited face-to-face meetings. Fourth, the online form, which happens when the learner takes the course at distance. The entire course is delivered online without any face-to-face contact with students. All these types of e-learning forms make learning easier for students provided they have the required elements for implementing the e-learning types, such as the material from which the course delivery happens.


6. MOODLE PLATFORM


It has been stated by [23] that Moodle is a free learning management system that allows the user to develop useful teaching material for online courses. In addition, Moodle is a course management system that many universities, colleges, K–12 schools, businesses users, or any other user can use to add web technology to their courses for teaching [24]. In addition, [25] argued that Moodle was created by Martin Dougiamas in 1999 as an open-source course management system, so it is free. Moreover, [26] defined Moodle as a course management system used to develop courses via the internet. Furthermore, [27] stated that Moodle can be considered to be one of the fastest growing free and open-source virtual learning environments around the world.

It was suggested by [28] that the number of contact hours in traditional face-to-face teaching are not enough for students to understand what they need to learn. As a result, Moodle can be implemented to activate and increase their English language skills, and also to make them independent learners. To support the use of Moodle, [28] recommends that teachers should implement it within BL, because this allows learners to support each other. Therefore, the implementation of Moodle is of paramount importance in teaching EFL since it is strongly connected to BL, so that students can learn effectively and efficiently. On the other hand, the Moodle platform has been researched by [29], who confirms that the Moodle platform has the main tools that teachers like when developing their teaching material. Moreover, the Moodle platform is used for BL, distance education, flipped classroom and other e-learning projects.


7. MOODLE ACTIVITIES


These activities can be used to enable students to develop their language proficiencies and also make them independent learners [28]. The first activity is chatting. This is a module that helps learners to have a real-time discussion by using the internet. After that comes the choice activity. This one enables teachers to ask a question and offer a multitude of answers that students can choose from. Additionally, the database activity helps learners to create, maintain, and find a collection of records. Their vocabulary and grammar are developed by reading text files, and also their English pronunciation development is helped through listening to authentic audio materials, such as those from native speakers, BBC news, VOA, and so on. External tool activity helps students to interact by using learning resources and activities from different websites. All these happen when the conditions of use are available: materials and an internet connection.


8. MOODLE RESOURCES


The following Moodle resources are designed to help students to develop their language proficiency through accessing information in various formats. Books are an important resource for learning any language. A file resource is also available for teachers to use for sharing presentations, mini websites, or drafts of files for some software programs, such as Photoshop for example. In addition, we have label resource, which is used for inserting text and multimedia into a course page. Moreover, page resource is a page that enables the teacher to develop a website resource by using a text editor. Finally, a URL resource helps teachers to make a web link as a course resource. Documents, images, or any other content that is available on the internet can be offered to the students. Moodle has indeed become important as it allows teachers to use the teaching resources on the website.


9. USEFUL FEATURES OF MOODLE


Instead of creating a Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) page editor and sending the documents that are being created in a server, the teacher can directly use a web form to store the syllabus on the server. Online forums and chats serve as a communication tool between instructors and students, and also between the students themselves during their studies both inside and outside of the classroom. In addition, chats help the learners to quickly and easily interact with other students who are in a remote area. Online quizzes are very practical. The teachers can do these in a simultaneous way, which is to say that, at the same time as the quiz is made, the students can work on it and submit it to the teacher, who can give feedback immediately. The online grade book gives students the opportunity to see their work performance in real time. It is important to mention that only students who are well equipped can do this in comfort. The others have to visit cyber cafes or get connected via a relative’s laptop in order to see one of these features.

In addition, this system helps to keep students’ grades secure and prevents their identities from being posted in public places. Moreover, the online grade book only gives students permission to see their own grades, not those of others. Furthermore, research revealed that using the internet to score students work helps a lot with motivating them in their learning process. Therefore, it is really secure for students in terms of keeping their identity private.

The implementation of the Moodle platform is an easy process for teachers of EFL [29]. Firstly, they give assignments, such as projects, presentations, essays or reports, which allow them to push students to prepare digital content in any format, which can then be submitted by uploading it to the server. Secondly, it enables teachers to elaborate on forums or discussion boards. Forum refers to the posts that can be placed on the Moodle website allowing participants to discuss things freely, and they can receive all posts in their inboxes. Thirdly, live chat enables attendees to have a real-time exchange using the internet. Fourth is the content, in which teachers can develop lessons that end with a question, plus a number of possible answers. The last factor deals with the students whose teachers ask them to think about a particular topic. Students can edit and refine their answers in a given time.


10. THE CONCEPT OF BLENDED LEARNING (BL)


It was argued by [30] that BL is the combination of face-to-face meetings and online learning methods using computers and the internet. In addition to that, [31] defined BL as a combination of different tools, teaching methods and learning styles using an online network for delivering courses to learners. Further, [31] said that BL is a way of teaching at distance by using technological devices, such as high tech, television, internet, voice mailing, or conference calling, combined with a traditional way of teaching. Without mentioning the material, BL works only when one of the required materials, such as a computer and the internet, is available.


11. ADVANTAGES OF BLENDED LEARNING


There are numerous advantages of using BL, according to [32]. Learning can be more targeted, focused, delivered bite-size, and just-in time. Also, learners can interact with the tutor without moving from one place to another. In addition, learners can interact with their peers both inside and outside of school. Learning materials are readily accessible for all of the students who are registered to the class. Finally, a variety of techniques can be utilized by maximizing different technologies. All of these are feasible if the teachers are trained well how to use it and if they are given the necessary teaching materials for this purpose.


12. CONCLUSION


The combination of Moodle with traditional face-to-face instruction makes teaching successful using the BL approach. Teachers are invited to experiment using Moodle because of its unlimited effectiveness. Students always gain more knowledge and understanding than they would have done using the traditional teaching model. Therefore, it is highly recommended for English teachers to implement Moodle in the educational institutions where they work, providing that they are good at manipulating electronic devices.

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