Courtesy of Moodle, a Smithsonian Virtual Community of Learning. MoodleMoot US 2017-Miami

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The cultural operation of the Smithsonian is vast. 19 museums, 9 research centers, and one zoo host a combined 154 million artifacts and 30 million visitors each year. While Mia Musolino, ‎IT Specialist, might not consider her job exciting, she loves how she is surrounded by people who do.

Six thousand employees and 13,000 volunteers experience the Smithsonian’s on-boarding and career development through Moodle. The relationship started in 2012 with one course to support branch training activities. Today, all 6,000 employees have access to 265 courses available online, which amounts to 17,000 course registrations.

A second, “external-facing” Moodle was created in 2015 for volunteers, interns, and staff from other organizations in the Smithsonian network. 6,800 learners account for 7,400 course completions to date. The need for the second Moodle at the Smithsonian became most evident in the setting up of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, launched in September last year. 200 volunteers required a learning and community solution before the building was even completed. After the inauguration, the second Moodle site, “Smithsonian External Learning,” remained live and it now supports 10 Smithsonian units nationwide and employs 25 educators. It’s “bland” or “generic” theme is on purpose, Musolino claims.

Moodle has revealed its value beyond diverse subject matter training, from African American history to accessibility and safety. It also made it possible for educators to create a virtual community of learners, making it easier to engage users in learning activities once the courses are done. Galleries and multimedia content were crucial to acquaint staff with the building before it was built and the artifacts before they were placed on display. Quizzes helped with the cramming of hefty volumes of facts, an ongoing duty by Smithsonian staff and volunteers as exhibits are constantly changing across the museums and the zoo.

Watch the video, “Educating Smithsonian Volunteers Using Moodle,” by Musolino at

eThink LogoThis Moodle Practice related post is made possible by: eThink Education, a Certified Moodle Partner that provides a fully-managed Moodle experience including implementation, integration, cloud-hosting, and management services. To learn more about eThink, click here.

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