Which is better – Ning or Moodle?

A black and white icon of a teacher in front o...Image via WikipediaA member of the Ethos Community space, Janey Nolan, sent me a wee message the other day asking the question: “What do think is better Ning or Moodle?”. This really got me thinking and I thought it would be a great opportunity to collect some of your ideas and thoughts around the subject…and, if you would like, please feel free to re-frame the question to be less tool-specific.

To kick things off, here is the reply I sent to Janey:

“Good questions about Ning or Moodle. I would say you have to drill back down to the principles underpinning each of the platforms. Martin Dougiamas certainly designed Moodle with Constructivism as a shaping theory. However, I would argue (certainly until Moodle 2.0 comes out) that while there is some social and collaborative working possible in Moodle, the platform is still very much teacher-centred. Students are unable to add their own content (except into wikis / discussion forums etc created by the teachers, or unless a ‘role’ is set up that enables them to have wider rights). Moodle is great for things such as assessment, tracking progress and so on, however, so many teachers find this a bonus.

In contrast, Ning enables learners to personalise their own page, add content, start discussions, blog, start groups etc. The teacher can still moderate that content and set parameters / discussions around what is appropriate, but the space is much less hierarchical. Ning can be plugged into Google Analytics for tracking, but has no assessment functionality, no gradebook, nor an electronic drop box.

So, ultimately, the questions go back to the teacher – what are their beliefs about how students learn? What sort of dynamic are they comfortable with? What are the learning outcomes / graduate profile of their course? Once these are answered, then the most appropriate platform can be selected.”

What are your thoughts? Please comment below 🙂

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About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ (http://www.ethosconsultancynz.com/). I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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