Let’s face it – the modern education system is in desperate need of an overhaul. Most people are dissatisfied with how kids are being taught – in most schools, rote memorization is encouraged over truly critical thinking.

Worse, the majority of classrooms don’t do anything creative with their lesson plans, meaning far too many students are bored out of their skulls and not learning as a result.

In an effort to counteract this troubling trend, developers and educators across the world have taken it upon themselves to bring about a change in how students are taught at all levels of the institution. By leveraging the power of the cloud, mobile technology, and the Internet, they’ve managed to do some downright incredible things – take Teacher Gaming, which transformed Minecraft into a powerful educational tool. Unfortunately, there’s one small problem with many of these platforms:

They cost money that many educators may not necessarily have.

That’s where Moodle – Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment – comes in.

Its open-source nature means pretty much anyone can afford to use it. On top of that, it’s actually one of the most powerful educational platforms on the web, easily keeping pace with many of its more expensive kin. Although it started as a doctoral project by one Martin Dougiamas, today, it’s grown far beyond that.

Today, it’s grown into a tool that has a place in virtually every classroom in the world.

Perhaps the greatest strength of Moodle – aside from its immense flexibility and low cost of ownership – is the fact that it’s supported by a thriving, passionate, and welcoming community. Whatever your lesson plan, there’ll be a plugin or set of tools that’ll fit it – and if there isn’t, you can readily find someone to code one for you (or do it yourself, if you’re so inclined). Even better, if you happen to encounter any technical problems with your installation, there are scores of experts who can assist you – along with comprehensive documentation for you to study.

On top of that, thanks to the large crop of educators that count themselves as part of the Moodle community, you’ll always have a fellow teacher you can use as a sounding board for your ideas. That makes fleshing out a lesson plan easier than ever before, while a powerful peer review system ensures the utmost quality and accuracy concerning both lesson plans and plugins. It’s also available in many different languages – meaning you can harness its power no matter where you are in the world.

Moodle also doesn’t suffer from many of the shortcomings commonly associated with open-source projects. All updates and plugins are thoroughly tested and frequently updated, while the platform itself is one of the most secure of its kind.

Moodle isn’t without its shortcomings, of course – no platform is.

It doesn’t generally play nice with student administration or human resource systems on its own, and it lacks the polished look of other platforms. It’s also fairly complicated to install and implement, particularly where grading is concerned – a certain level of technical knowledge is thus required to make the most effective use of the platform. If you measure these weaknesses against the long list of Moodle’s strengths, though?

Suddenly, they don’t seem so crippling.

There can be no doubt that the educational system is in desperate need of an overhaul – and from the looks of things, that overhaul is going to come from the direction of the cloud. Thanks to platforms and tools like Moodle, educators are more empowered than they’ve ever been before – and as a result, students are learning more effectively than anyone thought possible. At this point, only one question remains:

If you’re an educator, why aren’t you using Moodle yet?

If you’re interested in getting started, you can sign up for Moodle hosting right here.

Image credit: Cole Camplese