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Jane is a very effective advocate of Elgg, the open source social networking and social publishing platform. She calls it a social-learning platform, and uses it as the base from which a whole load of activities are started, and to introduce the concepts involved in social learning.
As I came home, I was pondering whether I would use Elgg for this purpose, or whether I'd use Moodle. It's a tricky one, because whichever platform you use, you will be using it for two different purposes:
- Formal, directed learning activities
- Providing a space to explore informal, learner-led activities
|Informal, directed learning activities||
Great for the tutor. Easy to setup standard sets of activities and to switch them on over the course of the programme. Easy to administer large groups of learners.
Designed to support social-constructivist approaches to learning in formal education settings. Excellent discussion forum capabilities.
Creating multipage web resources only possible with the additional "Book" module.
Administering users and adding them to groups looks like a manual process for each user.
Lots of functionality available to the learner from the start. Can be confusing to know what to do first.
|Providing a space to explore informal, learner-led activities||
Moodle can do the social-network stuff, but it takes some digging and a fair bit of work for the administrator. For example, each user's name is a link to their profile which then gives you access to other things they've posted. But it's not easy to find things on the same or similar topics. There are also other modules that you can add to provide additional facilities.
No user upload of files for sharing - without additional modules (See: Moodle and Social Networking)
The Elgg interface is based around the individual and building their network. So it's ideal for this purpose.
Links between people, files, posts etc are made explicit through a consistent tag engine. This can be confusing to navigate at first, but for the expert user group can be extremely powerful.
In today's instance, with the opportunity for an initial face-to-face workshop to iron out niggles with the Elgg interface, I think I would have chosen Elgg, as Jane did.
If the programme had started online, I think I would have started with Moodle as it's much easier to move things on gently (following Gilly Salmon's five stage model), and then expanded out with Elgg or perhaps Mahara, which integrates with Moodle.
Mark, thanks for this posting - and for your contributions in yesterday’s workshop helping those new to social media. I thought I’d just point out (in your matrix above) that I chose to manually add users to the Elgg platform I have set up at www.c4lpt.net, as well as add them into closed groups, but by default Elgg supports self-registration, and users can easily join open groups and request membership to closed groups. The great thing about Elgg, of course, is its versatility, configurability and extensibility. :)
I’ve also discovered that there’s a plugin for Elgg that allows you to upload and create users from a CSV file.
It’s still not as fully featured as Moodle, though, which allows you to create user accounts, add them to courses and to groups within courses all from one CSV file.
I’m hoping that the newly released Moodle 2.0 will have more social features. I’d prefer to use just one tool when possible.
I agree, Bethany, but Moodle just isn’t designed to be a social tool. It’s designed as a tutor-centred course management tool. They’re two very different philosophies.
That’s not to say Moodle cannot incorporate social tools, it’s just it’s a lot harder…
Came across this article when searching for ways to integrate Moodle and ELGG as I think they’re very different systems for quite different purposes. I’m looking to use Moodle as an environment for delivering learning materials, while ELGG will provide the learning community surrounding that learning environment. Not quite figured out how well they can be tied together yet tho…