Moodle goes to church: using the open source application to inform, inspire and engage church members

SUMMARY: Have you wondered how to create an online Bible study or encourage online interaction in a secured environment? Moodle might be just what you need.

Moodle, an acronym for “Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment,” is an open source application designed to support online interaction for learning, discussion and resource sharing.

Created by Martin Dougiamas and launched in 2002, Moodle is fast becoming the premier online learning platform for educational institutions and business enterprises in more than 196 countries and 70 languages. And in 2005—through United Methodist Communications—Moodle made its way into The United Methodist Church to deliver basic online courses about the denomination. Today, United Methodist Communications offers more than two dozen courses, discussion forums and resource groups to inform, inspire and engage the people of The United Methodist Church.

Free to download and install on any server, Moodle is a cost-effective way for United Methodist local churches, districts and conferences to develop online learning and interaction opportunities. In addition to creating traditional courses, Moodle’s fully customizable system is great for developing social networking, open-discussion forums and resource sharing. In fact, some churches use Moodle to design and maintain their Web sites.

Moodle is flexible and easy to use. With basic Internet and word-processing skills, you can:

  • Award certificates of completion or achievement for participation and learning;
  • Complete online learning assignments, including uploading documents, images, audio and video;
  • Complete questionnaires and feedback forms;
  • Conduct polls;
  • Create and share resources;
  • Develop a glossary of terms, ideas or questions;
  • Keep a journal only you can access and read;
  • Maintain a blog;
  • Make calendars for yourself, your course or the entire site;
  • Organize files and other content into databases;
  • Participate in discussion forums and real-time chat;
  • Take quizzes to test your knowledge;
  • Use a grade book for scored assignments or other interaction;
  • Use a Wiki for collaboration;
  • Use Moodle’s instant-messaging feature or communicate with online users via e-mail;
  • And more!

While The United Methodist Church is not the only religious organization using Moodle for online learning and interaction, it is believed to be the first to do so on a denomination-wide scale. Through the church’s Online Learning Center, provided by United Methodist Communications, you can enroll in such courses as:

  • "Welcoming Ministry 101"
  • “Turning Connectional Living into Connectional Giving”
  • “United Methodism 101”
  • “What Is Web Ministry?”

The denomination’s Moodle site provides resource sharing for Web and Internet technology, conference communications and face-to-face pre- and post-training. In addition, the Online Learning Center supports the Pastors’ Course of Study in partnership with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and discussion forums for the United Methodist Association of Communications and the General Council on Finance and Administration.

Many courses, discussion forums and resource sections are free and open to anyone. For a complete list of all the free and fee-based online courses offered, visit training.umcom.org 

 

 

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