Like so many technologies related to teaching and learning, most VLEs, including Moodle, were initially tailored towards the needs and requirements of academia. While the core educational sector is still the largest consumer in the market, other verticals are now making use of Moodle. This has been reflected in the provision of a more flexible functionality. The main groups of users can be categorized in the following four sectors:
Here core education means state-funded or private schools, colleges, academies, polytechnics, universities, and so on. Basically, any organization where learning and teaching (and optionally research and technology transfer) is at its core and qualifications in academic and vocational subjects are being offered.
VLEs are crucial to these organizations whether they are used to supplement face-to-face learning in a blended environment or if a pure e-learning approach is taken. There exist very few core educational organizations today that do not have a VLE.
There are two types of organizations in this group: The first type includes companies that specialize in delivering courses across industry sectors. This ranges from micro-businesses providing training in a niche sector such as helicopter maintenance (we have a Moodle customer who does exactly that!) to large corporations offering hundreds of courses (for example, languages, IT, and business subjects) to individuals and other companies. The second type involves businesses that use VLEs internally for their staff training.
More and more public sector organizations are using VLEs for a range of activities. Examples are continual professional development, dissemination of information, and citizen consultation. Special role play bodies that are responsible for organizations in the core educational sector such as education boards, qualifications and curriculum authorities, skills councils, and so on. In addition to using VLEs internally, they often act as an intermediary between policy makers and these individual organizations.
These are the most important users of Moodle! They are the consumers in any learning environment, whether it is physical or virtual. Depending on their status, they might be called pupils, students, participants, staff members, and so on.
In addition to providing learning resources (text, audio, video, animation, simulation, and so on), good VLEs support a wide range of learning activities as well as collaboration and communication facilities for its learners.
These are the producers in a learning environment. There are two key roles: creation of learning content and the delivery thereof. Again, depending on the organization, you might call them teachers, lecturers, instructors, staff, trainers, coaches, and so on.
That's us! We are the ones who have to make sure that everything is working the way it is supposed to. Learners have to be given access to their courses or classes, and teachers have to be given facilities they need to carry out their duties. In addition to these key tasks, there is a plethora of responsibilities that have to be carried out. We will provide an overview in this introduction before we go into the details on a chapter-by-chapter basis.
There are additional types of users who will be able to access your Moodle system. Examples are external examiners, inspectors, parents, visitors, alumni, librarians, and so on. We will come across those user types later on while dealing with roles in Moodle.