Using Moodle for HomeSchooling
Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 2.6. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version of Moodle may be available here: Using Moodle for HomeSchooling.
The Need for a Plan
During our fifteen plus years of homeschooling our two children (Our daughter, who is 21 and married. and our 15 year old son) we have tried out numerous methods and tools to help schedule the lessons for our children.
My wife has been more inclined to just write out the lessons on paper day by day. She has tried a number of times to keep the lesson plan current, with a limited amount of success, but more failure. Some years we have done well at planning and lessons, and other years were much more of a struggle. One thing that we have learned is the years that we did more consistent planning the lessons went better and the children were more consistent with their studies. If we don't have a daily plan things don't do well, the kids get off track, and things begin to fall apart.
Over the years I've tried to help my wife with the lesson-planning. I've tried out various software and methods to set up a daily plan for homeschooling. Since I'm more computer minded I have repeated researched to find useable software. For example we used Homeschool Easy Records, a spreadsheet, etc. Our favorite was Homeschool Easy Lessons. However, after using it a couple years the author quit supporting it and eventually our computer no longer supported the software.
After going back to the paper schedule for a while, in recent times we have used Homeschool Skedtrack with some success. And for sure, it would probably be useable to continue. It has a lot of nice features. What it does do it does well. One of the things I really don't like about it is you can't link any online lessons or videos in the lesson plan. Another thing that worries me about it is there are come comments on the website that make me worried that at some time they may quit the service.
Having Reliable Tools
Many of the past and present homeschooling software have had, or have, only a very limited number of purchasers. Consequently, I wonder how long each of them will be around. Reliability and longevity are becoming pretty important to me. As I've seen various Homeschool software bite the dust I began looking for something that has been around for some time and that is widely used. This has brought me to Moodle. Moodle has been around since 2001. See see Moodle History When I look at the Moodle Stats it says their are over 85,000 registered sites and almost 80 million users, it is used in 240 countries.
One big advantage for Moodle is that it is widely used and has been around for years. Homeschool lesson planning software come and go. This year's favorite may be out of business next year. I like the concept of using a software that will probably be around for years to come.
One thing I really like about Moodle is that you can link all the online sites and lessons, etc., if we so choose. Using Moodle for homeschooling has the potential to add a lot of useful content in a scheduled way that might not be possible otherwise.
Do Any Homeschoolers Have an Interest in Moodle?
The next question is, Are any homeschoolers already using Moodle? I did a search to see what the interest with homeschoolers might be towards using Moodle, and here is what I found: Homeschooling Using Moodle There do seem to be a fair amount of websites connecting Moodle with Homeschool. One significant reason might be that some Homeschoolers are looking for things to help them better plan their homeschooling activities.
The Amount of Work to Setup: The tradition methods of using Moodle may make Moodle overly complex for many homeschoolers UNLESS there are some detail instructions written specifically towards homeschoolers. I think that Moodle may be usable for a lot of homeschoolers, however the amount to work to set up courses and classes in the tradition Moodle methods may be overwhelming to some. For example, look at a homeschool mom who tried Moodle: Nothing Personal - Why Moodle didn't work out for our homeschool. In her article she said " The amount of work that went into designing the course, making the assignments, setting up the quizzes, then recording all the grades was overwhelming with just one student - I really couldn't imagine 25 students of varying abilities all needing this level of attention." And her assessment seems true, IF you set everything up according to standard Moodle Documentation and procedures.
Rescheduling Lessons: One of the toughest challenges in using Moodle is that homeschooling doesn't follow the traditional school calendar. A desired element in homeschooling software is to have some way to bump or reschedule the ALL following lesson dates. I really liked that feature and used it whenever we took a break in the lessons. Homeschool Easy Records had that feature built into it. But that software bit the dust and is no more. To see if I could find a similar feature in Moodle I've searched through the modules and it's addins. But I couldn't find any type of rescheduling feature in Moodle.
However, I learned something while using Homeschool Skedtrack. Instead of bumping all the following lessons backwards, that online service lets you enter all your lessons into it's lesson pages, but you don't add the dates until the same day that you are doing each lesson. That worked reasonably well. In fact, Homeschool Skedtrack works reasonably well for what it does, and it might be a simpler solution for some. Now, back to Moodle. I found a Moodle AddIn called Dates. Using this tool lets you enter the assignments first (and turn off all the dates), then at a later time you can use the Dates tool to change the dates on the Assignments. This may help make Moodle more homeschool friendly. (More about this later.)
Making Moodle Work for Homeschooling
Part of my internal make-up is that I like to explore things to figure out what will work. I like to find simpler ways to accomplish objectives. Consequently, I've been experimenting with Moodle to try to discover a more workable plan to use Moodle, with some success. In the traditional use of Moodle for schools the teacher can set up a wide range of Activities, setting up full in-depth lessons and other Activities, complete with full details. By comparison, since many homeschoolers are still mostly using the textbooks, they may not have a need for all the details (at least to begin with). So, as I better learn Moodle, I mainly using just the Assignment Activity, and primarily using the title of each assignment. In the Courses, after creating the first blank assignment, which only has a title (and a bit of required, but generic text in Description area), and the dates have been disabled, it is very quick and easy to copy the blank assignment. After copying a lot of assignments, I then just go back and change the title of each Assignment to correspond with the lessons in the text book. There is a quick-edit feature that makes it easy to change the titles.