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What is Moodle Hosting?

Normally, CMS refers to an online Content Management System. But when referring to the foundation for a learning site, CMS becomes Course Management System, and one of the most popular is the Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment, or Moodle.

While Moodle hosting isn't technically a type of hosting, there are some things to take into consideration and some specific features to look for when choosing a host for a Moodle site. And while many hosts do offer those features, there are also some who are dedicated to Moodle site hosting. Either way, knowing what you need from a host in order for your educational site to function properly is paramount in that decision.

The first thing to consider is capacity. How many students will be accessing and using your site simultaneously? Too many, and without a good host, and Moodle can run quite slowly, resulting in a poor user experience for your students. Make sure your host can accommodate multiple users on your site at once, and at peak usage times.

Next, check which version of Moodle you'll be using. All versions of Moodle work best in a standard Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP, or LAMP infrastructure. Check that your host not only offers LAMP, but updates it on a regular basis to keep up with new versions of those components, but of the CMS you'll be using. In addition, select a host that will allow you to customize the PHP and MySQL configurations to accommodate Moodle. Not all hosts will let you do that.

Choose a host that offers a control panel through which you can compress files of 20 megabytes or more. This will make it easier for you to switch hosts in the future, should you ever decide to do so. Also, make sure your Moodledata folder is not stored in the public folder, also for future ease of migration.

If all this seems a little confusing or just a lot to keep track of, look for a host that offers dedicated Moodle hosting. That way, you'll know they've thought of everything, and all you'll have to worry about is creating high-quality educational content for your students.

Moodle is an open source platform for the production and distribution of e-learning material. It's used by colleges and training departments because it can be adapted to many purposes, and it's also secure, so results and coursework stay private.

Moodle stands for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. It's one of many virtual learning environments (VLEs) used to deploy courses online. These courses are aimed at people who are already studying in the classroom, rather than people taking their entire course online. It is built for interactivity.

Martin Dougiamas, an Australian programmer and teacher, has built a loyal following for his software since Moodle was first released in 2002. Dougiamas' learning theories and development work underpin thousands of courses all over the globe, and he works full-time on the project.

Why Moodle?

The main focus of the software is online collaboration, helping active learners to take in courseware more easily, and ensuring online course delivery is secure. In addition, Moodle has some other sophisticated features that are vital for e-learning deployment, such as plagiarism detection and a mobile-friendly output. Students are assigned a username and password and can securely enrol on courses, set up their profile and review their results; teachers can be made administrators on their courses.

Moodle can also be used to submit assignments and view pre-recorded content, such as lectures, as well as live interactive lectures and discussions. Additionally, with add-ons like Wimba, students and teachers can record voice commentaries and download audio content. These features are designed to support oral assignments, and better engage learners who prefer auditory learning to reading.

The most recent versions of Moodle support most mobile devices, including Android, iPhone and iPad. In terms of browser compatibility, Google Chrome is recommended; some features do not work in older versions of Internet Explorer.

Moodle Standards

Moodle is designed to comply with SCORM, which stands for the shareable content object reference model. SCORM is a standard used by most major e-learning tools, plus supporting software; it lets these tools exchange data with each other. Find out more about SCORM on the developer's website.

Some tutors train in Moodle and achieve certification that proves their knowledge of the tool. The current version of this certification is called the Moodle Course Creator Certificate (MCCC).

Customising Moodle

Like any modern online system, the basic platform within Moodle can be extended with bolt-ons and upgrades. These packages can be installed alongside the central Moodle software to enhance its functionality.

Customisation options for Moodle come in the forms of themes, plugins and translations:

  • Themes are template packages that change the way the course looks. Themes can also change the look of an entire site, letting companies add their own colours and branding. Some organisations develop their own themes based on bootstrap content, so it's easy to customise the theme for your own use https://moodle.org/plugins/browse.php?list=category&id=3
  • Plugins enhance the functionality of Moodle by adding additional features. Plugins are written in PHP and can be contributed by the user community
  • Language packs help tutors to provide courses in their learners' local langugages

The open source nature of Moodle makes it very flexible and extensible. Most changes can be made in the administration panel; those that cannot can usually be hacked together using PHP.

Moodle Requirements

If you're looking for a web hosting account for Moodle, you'll need Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP for a smooth installation. Moodle's own documentation states that this is the 'safest' way to install it, and there's a huge amount of support for the LAMP stack. Moodle can also be installed on Windows or Mac as a standalone piece of software - ideal if you want to give it a test drive before handing it over to your system admin team.

Moodle needs:

  • A bare minimum of 160MB storage space for core files - but remember that you need space for your multimedia and content uploaded by students
  • 256MB server RAM (again, a bare minimum - Moodle recommends 1GB for every 10-20 concurrent users)
  • MySQL, PostgreSQL, MSSQL or Oracle support (MySQL recommended)
  • Remote backup provision to store copies of your students' work

While many web hosting companies offer Moodle as a 1-click installer, not all of them will meet these requirements on their cheapest plans. The remote backup provision is rarely offered on any web hosting plan, and will require a more complicated setup than a regular website. We recommend opting for a virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated server, but have a chat with your host before committing.

Moodle Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Moodle?

    Moodle is a free, open-source program designed for making online courses, and currently stands as the world’s most widely-used learning program. Moodle stands for “Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment.”

  • Why should I use Moodle?

    Core Moodle has a robust set of tools for users at every level, from admins down to students. The program is very malleable and can be customized to suit almost any learning environment. Educators can use Moodle to create private websites. In addition, it allows teachers to spontaneously assign work if they so choose. The Moodle community is currently in the process of translating the program into over 120 languages, so for non-English speakers who would like to localize their site, Moodle offers plenty of options.

  • How do I install Moodle?

    Like many content management systems; including Wordpress, Drupal, and Joomla; you can either install Moodle for free on your own server or ask a company that’s partnered with them to host the site for you.

  • How hard is it to use Moodle?

    One of Moodle’s main selling points is its simple drag-and-drop interface. No programming is required. In addition, like most CMS platforms, it can be opened in any browser. How difficult the hosting will be depending on your options. At worst, it’s no more difficult than installing any other CMS, and at best, some hosting providers will let you create Moodle-based online classes without having to install it at all.

  • What is the latest version available for Moodle?

    Currently on version 2.8, Moodle has improved significantly since it was first released, and with a massive community behind it, it’s expected to continue. As such, it’s actually much more reliable than many commercial CMSes as a platform for online classes. There are also additional plugins that you can download to enhance and track student learning. If you want to make any customizations yourself, Moodle is PHP-based.

  • How will I know if Moodle is right for me?

    Chances are, if you’re researching online learning environments, you’ve already decided you need one and are just figuring out which one to pick. Many users love to use the activity modules, like forums and databases, to build collaborative communities about the subject matter in ways that are impossible in many other situations. Moodle offers a demo to first-time users.

  • What resources does Moodle let me offer?

    Moodle lets you provide about 20 different types of “activities,” including assignments, quizzes, polls, glossaries, and wikis; each of which can be customized extensively. You can upload videos, as well as PowerPoint presentations. Students can progress linearly through the class or non-linearly, depending on whether or not you decide to make advancement conditional and based on previous performance. In addition, it’s great for helping students help themselves, as they can do self-assessment and peer assessment tasks using the Workshop module.

  • How does Moodle differ from similar programs?

    There are benefits and drawbacks of Moodle. One of the biggest benefits is the sheer size of the community, meaning that you can get more and faster support than you would with any other online learning CMS.

  • Are there any drawbacks to Moodle?

    There are several issues with Moodle. The top ones are 1) Moodle is not fully developed to cope with large projects, so it may not work efficiently with larger educational institutes 2) The more students access the platform, the slower it becomes 3) Moodle has space issues and limited assessment abilities.

  • What are some of Moodle’s competitors?

    The primary ones are: Blackboard, Schoology, Edline, Canvas, Edmodo, Lore & iTunes U. Each has its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks.

  • What are the requirements for Moodle hosting?

    It entirely depends on the size of your organization and what your data needs are. If an environment depends on large SCORM packages, you’ll need a CDN cluster, and possibly even a media server. Smaller environments will do just fine with a standard package from a company like BlueHost.

  • How versatile is Moodle?

    Extremely. In fact, it’s only limited by the skills of the person using it, and it can be used to design classes from early elementary school all the way up to college. As well as for any size and configuration of online school. One of Moodle’s primary features is its scalability, and it’s just as easy to adapt Moodle to function with hundreds of users as it is to function with only a few.

  • Where do I get Moodle from?

    If you choose to install it yourself, you can download it from moodle.org. If you choose to use a Moodle partner, they’ll usually handle the installation for you – it varies from provider to provider, so make sure to check their guidelines.

  • How can use Moodle to communicate with other users?

    There are plenty of ways. The aforementioned community activities, like forums, messages, and Wikis, are definitely an option, but, in addition, Moodle also comes with a blogging function and a built-in chat system for real-time communication.

  • What are some other places to find more information about Moodle?

    The Moodle Documentation, an exhaustive resource that covers the entire CMS and how to use it, are an excellent place to start. For any further questions, the Moodle Forums are the hub for community support.

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