Training the Web Worker Way: Moodle

Here’s a possible update on the old saying, “Those who can: do. Those who can’t: teach.”


Those who need to teach, train or monetize their skills use moodle. There’s about a bazillion Content Management Systems out there, with more being released into the wild daily, so when I heard about moodle as a possible solution for a project I’m working on, I expected to see yet another CMS. Not so.

Moodle is an open source/free Learning Management System currently running on about 40,000 sites with nearly 20 million users. Those numbers have been steeply climbing the last several months.

With moodle, you can create anything from the online equivalent of a major university down to a tiny mini-site used to orientate new hires for your online business. With about 320 community and core modules, you can build your online courses out of everything from standard multiple choice quizzes to forums, wikis, podcasts and videos, all without touching a line of PHP code.

Moodle has solid (some might say too solid) roots in academia, pedagogy, and the world of teachers and students. More than a few major figures in the online world have recently gotten into moodle as a way of going from blog posts and ads to online training and real money.

Some examples of moodle in action: Brian Clark, the guy behind the popular Copyblogger site created a paid site, Learning Sells, using moodle. He used it to sell the idea and provide training of how to go from popular blogger to online training guru without going broke. Aaron Wall of SEO Book fame has converted from ebooks to a paid moodle site to provide ongoing instruction in the complexities of search engine optimization.

More and more ISPs like this one are now offering one-click installs of Moogle, a sure sign of customer demand. If your web host doesn’t offer a one-click install, then you’ll have to install it yourself, so you’ll need a host that has PHP 5 and a database such as mySQL.

Online training fills in that huge gap between what we went to school for and the Internet-enabled Web Worker world we find ourselves in now…for little or no cost. Think of it as online communities built around actually learning how to do something. For example:

  • Your auto mechanic may be getting a skill tune up at Digital Literacy Project.
  • Your mom who still talks with fondness about the archeology classes she took back in college can learn how to read Egyptian hieroglyphs and catch up on how technology is changing archeology (hint: DNA matching and GPS positioning) at Glyphdoctors.
  • You’re now finding yourself doing business with colleagues online and learning a starter vocabulary in say Portuguese would help – this moodle training site and countless others wants your business.

If you’re toying with the idea of getting over to the teaching side of the trainer/student relationship, you find a near inexhaustible trove of moodle sites, including videos. You can also try out moodle locally on Mac or Windows, or you can play with it online at Open Source CMS.