This page will document my experience with Moodle for NC Music Practice in it's first year following aidos Blackboard.

Moodle came just at the right time for me. I'd got the whole buzz of making resources on the web out of my system and was starting to get excited about my students writing on the web. I'd dabbled with a bbphp forum (for the New Music Forum) and for one project I used this facility to get students to blog their way through the final project of the course. No links to this as the forum got hacked and trashed.
Furthermore, I was finding Blackboard cumbersome - it was fine as a course mamangement system (and online filing cabinet) but things like the digital drop box and the limitations of the tests were frustrating.
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So when Steve Butler announced we were getting Moodle I was ready and waiting. I'd seen some Moodle sites and it was clearly a resource that educators around the world were very excited about. My course (NC Music) was exported from Blackboard and imported into Moodle - I remember thinking at the time this was just too good to be true! And sure enough when I opened my Moodle site it was a mess; useless stuff had transferred, useful stuff hadn't, so I quickly decided to ask Matt Ramirez to delete the whole thing allowing me to start again. I saw this as an opportunity to improve the course site, as Moodle invited an educational shift away from delivering content to students, to encouraging them to create content and collaborate together.
And that fundamental difference (I feel) between the Blackboard environment we had and Moodle, was that the former encouraged delivery of content, the latter encouraged creation of content. Think of a parallel with the classroom: as Andy Wedderburn would surely recommend, talk less - get your learners actively involved. He would also say giving out handouts is not a succesful method of teaching - rather stimulate learners to respond, discuss, analyse and reflect.
When I compare my Moodle space with the default look of a new course it looks like I've done loads of work, but in reality once I'd got my head round the basics of editing and functionality, creating a Moodle site is largely pain-free. After a little experimentation, I chose the 'blocks' I wanted (the link sections down the left and right sides) and started to establish content. I use about 10 content areas (the middle column of the page) to represent the different modules or groups of modules (so Composing and Arranging are 2 modules but I grouped them together). Guest access is a thorny problem! Try the username 222787 (and same for password).
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My experience of Blackboard showed me that my learners would make little use of the course documents uploaded to the site (like assignment briefs and paper handouts) so these were not a priority; after all, they would get these on paper and if I really wanted them to have electronic copies I could email these or burn them on CD.
I was much more interested in these uses of Moodle:
Social interaction
Peer and self evaluation of creative work
Writing assignments online
Collaborating in building knowledge


I spent a few days before the start of the academic year getting my head round the Moodle interface - I knew if I wasn't up and running at the start of the year, it wouldn't happen and to embed a practice in a course, it's better to present it at the start, rather than try and introduce something part way through the year.
The Moodle interface (for creating and editing your site) is pretty intuitive, though I did have some headaches. The content area (the central column) is quite hassle-free, once you have identified the various activities and resources that are right for your teaching and learning and how to add them. The side blocks were a little more troublesome - a glaring omission (I believe) is an obvious way to add linnks, as there are down the side of this wiki. There is a 'jump-to' menu at the bottom of the page but now where you'd expect it, somewhere near the top.
I resolved this with an 'html block' that listed the course areas and hyperlinked to them. Maybe there's a better way but I haven't found it!
Later in the year I discovered how to add widgets in the side blocks - the screen shot above has a Last FM playlist, but I later added a Flickr slideshow and and RSS feed of music news.