Growing up in the Australian outback in the late 1970s, Moodle’s Founder and Lead Developer Martin Dougiamas took lessons from the School of the Air, giving him from a young age an insight into distance learning.
As an adult, he worked and later studied at Curtin University, where his experience with WebCT prompted him to investigate an alternative method of online teaching. In 1999 he started trialling early prototypes of a new LMS, the experiences of which formed the basis for his paper Improving the Effectiveness of online Learning. He registered the word ‘Moodle’ as a trademark of Moodle Pty Ltd.
By the end of 2001, it was still very much one man’s vision. But in August 2002 with the release of Moodle 1.0 users were discussing Moodle on a new forum, translating Moodle into different languages and creating themes. A year later, the first contributed module (workshop) was released and Moodle.org became the community arm of Moodle, with Moodle.com representing the commercial aspect. Moodle grew quickly: the first ever Moodle Moot was held in Oxford in 2004 and companies started applying to become Moodle partners.
With improved documentation and new certification , Moodle had established itself by 2007 as a leading and award-winning open source LMS. From 1000 registered sites in 2004, it had gone to half a million users in 2008 and over a million users in 2010, with over 50 Moodle partners. Its translation repository AMOS held over 100 languages.
By 2017, statistics on Moodle.net indicated there were over 100 million registered users for Moodle.
Martin Dougiamas shares a place of honor along Western Australian luminaries across fields and disciplines, in the finalists announcement for the award organized by the Australia Day National Network.
Few people can say they’ve turned down a $20 million offer because they wanted their product to remain free for everyone to use, but that’s exactly what Dr Martin Dougiamas did. Martin created Moodle, an open source learning management system now used in every country around the world by countless people. With a background in computer science, Martin developed a platform to help educators – many of them renowned universities – to build their own highly-customised sites for online learning. Today, Moodle is a global project with an ecosystem of contributors in a vast array of settings– from primary schools and workplaces to hospitals and war zones. World Vision uses Martin’s brainchild to train staff in the field. And just recently it enabled Syrian teachers to access learning material to educate students about the dangers of mines. With a deeply-held belief in the importance of unrestricted education, Martin believes Moodle is the best way he can empower teachers around the world. Australia Day considers his work to be of impact, not only in education, but humanitarian to a large extent.