In part one of this two part post, I highlighted the various strengths of both Moodle and OneNote and in part two I aim to highlight the relative weaknesses of them as standalone Learning Management Systems (LMS). By doing this, it should become apparent that the two successfully complement each other and provide a compelling feature set when used in tandem.
- Because it is essentially a browser based website, there are some things that are much harder to do compared to a desktop application. The recording and sharing of video and audio content would be an example of this.
- There is a considerable learning curve in understanding how the numerous menu items work – this has definitely been a turn off for some less confident staff.
- The potential for “the scroll of death.” Where teachers do not “hide” content, front pages of courses can often need excessive scrolling to find content.
- Aside from Forums (and some third party Wiki plugins) there is no easy way for students to collaboratively share ideas on a page, or to handwrite directly into any content section.
- The defined themes / templates within Moodle can make it challenging to customise the look and feel of a course
- There is no ability to easily run assessment with cut off dates. The teacher would be required to manually lock or hide content sections at the end of an assessment to prevent students changing their answers.
- Similarly, there is no way to prevent students from modifying others’ contributions. Whilst author tracking provides some level of visibility on this, it is time consuming to work through.
- UPDATE: A few readers have pointed out to me that if you are using the Class NoteBook Creator Tool then each student can have their own private space that only the teacher and the individual student can edit. This is correct and very useful. My original intention was to point out that in a collaborative space, where all students can contribute and see each other’s comments and work, there is no way currently to prevent them from modifying the work of another student.
- There is no reporting at all – no way for a teacher to tell how many times a student has clicked on a particular link or viewed a particular page.
- Students need to be manually invited / deleted from a OneNote Notebook (not a massive task, but automatic enrolment into Moodle is a strength of the platform).
- The disparate feature set across platforms. The Windows client application is by far the best, with functionality reducing on a Mac and iOS devices, and then even more so in the browser based OneNote Online.
- The inability to embed content. Third party content must be linked to only, requiring students to leave OneNote to view this content.
SO WHAT IS THE SOLUTION THEN?
It seems to me that both Moodle and OneNote have their own strengths that naturally lend themselves to different aspects of teaching and learning. In my own classes that I teach, I have started to use the two tools in the following ways:
Best Uses of Moodle:
- Documentary Repository – uploading all content that students may need access to both in class and at home. This would include any Powerpoint presentations, digital “handouts” in PDF or Word formats, as well as links to third party websites and embedded video content. With the built in Moodle reporting engine, I can tell exactly which students have viewed this content and how many times.
- Assessment – this is Moodle’s real strength as there are numerous ways to securely collect assignments, manage quizzes and obtain original student work via forums. Results can be exported as an Excel document directly from the Moodle mark book for importing into the College Student Management System (SMS) if needed.
- Revision activities – where students need to practice assessment, be it rote learning with real time marking of key word knowledge, student collaboration on model answers or simply a record of learning progression over the year.
- Self directed learning – Moodle excels in allowing activities to be made available to students at their pace of learning, with criteria easily set meaning students progress when they have completed the necessary work to a defined standard.
Best Uses of OneNote:
- Student class notes – OneNote performs superbly as a digital substitute for the traditional exercise book or ring binder folder for students. They can easily type or write notes directly into pages, annotate with images or audio recordings, and drag their notes around into any layout that makes sense to them.
- Collaborative work – in both formal and informal contexts, the idea of a “blank canvas” for students to work in is reality with OneNote. When configured with correct sharing it is simple for students to collaboratively build notes, ideas and frameworks together.
- Shared ePortfolio with teachers or parents – again, because of the simple sharing permissions it is very easy to use OneNote as a personalised ePortfolio of work that a teacher or parent can view at any time.
- Electronic whiteboard equivalent – if a teacher has configured a shared Class OneNote NoteBook, then they could do all traditional whiteboard notes directly into this, meaning students have a copy of everything that was “written on the board” by the teacher in the lesson (see this blog post as an example of this in action).
As standalone products, both Moodle and Microsoft OneNote perform many of the functions of a traditional Learning Management System, albeit with some significant caveats. In the end, it is likely to come down to how schools see the role of technology in eLearning looking for both teachers and students.
Student Use of OneNote with Teacher Feedback
If schools want students completing assessment online (as NZQA continues to work towards themselves) then having an assessment engine like the one in Moodle will be critical. Alternatively, if the vision is simply for students to be recording notes electronically and sharing them with teachers and parents, OneNote functions incredibly well in this area.
Ideally, as our teachers and students become more confident in both platforms, they will transition seamlessly between them, choosing the best functions of each to achieve the maximum opportunities for successful learning outcomes.