Martin Dougiamas

Martin Dougiamas
Born August 1969

Martin Dougiamas (born August 1969), lives in Perth, Australia and is an educator and computer scientist with postgraduate degrees in Computer Science and Education. His work has made a significant impact on the implementation of constructivist models of teaching and learning online with Moodle, a Course Management System.

His current research interests and inspiration are the application of social constructionist referents and networking to Internet technology, and the methodologies and practices of open-source software development.


Early years

Martin Dougiamas' primary school education was accomplished through an early form of what is now known as “distance learning." As a boy, he lived in the desert of Western Australia. As the only non-aboriginal child in a small settlement, he was enrolled in the Kalgoorlie School of the Air, which was located approximately a thousand kilometers from his home. He communicated via shortwave radio and every few weeks an airplane would drop off the necessary paperwork. The only time he saw his classmates was when they would all gather for an annual carnival. Reflecting on this experience, Dougiamas said “You learn to ‘widen the bandwidth’ that’s available to communicate through a narrow channel.”

Dougiamas started work in 1986 on early Internet and web applications at Curtin University, Australia. While helping faculty and staff use the Internet, he observed the many struggles that non-technicians had in utilizing online technology for teaching and learning. He also developed his own online course and improved its functionality over the years. When his university installed an early learning management system, called WebCT, he was frustrated that the software’s intellectual property restrictions prevented him from enhancing the system. This experience convinced him of the need for an open-source solution. Throughout the process of study and research for a master’s degree and Ph.D., Dougiamas began developing the set of online tools that would become Moodle. [1]

Research and theories

Dougiamas's PhD thesis is entitled "The use of Open Source software to support a social constructionist epistemology of teaching and learning within Internet-based communities of reflective inquiry".[2] His development work on a free open source content management system originally came out of frustration with the existing commercial software that was currently in use. This led to the development of Moodle. He is still a lead developer of the Moodle.Org community and Executive Director of Moodle Pty Ltd.

According to the article entitle "Future" on MoodleDocs: "Martin Dougiamas has already dismissed cash offers of US$20 million for the company because he knows any such move would only damage the trust of the community and slow down growth." [3]


Martin is a significant proponent and keynote speaker at conferences of constructivism, especially in view of the clash between Internet web2.0 technologies, learning theory and ICT in the classroom. [2] [3] [4] His software and findings now underpin the current models of learning on line is currently used by the Open University and many other educational institutions. His open source software has been adopted by over 40.000 sites worldwide and translated into over 70 language versions.[4] Currently an advisory group member of eXe International, developing free authoring applications to help teachers and academics publish web content without the need to become proficient in HTML or XML markup code.

Patent Office claim

Martin successfully worked to help rally the US Patent Office to revoke a patent claim "Internet-based education support system and methods" (U.S. 6988138) submitted by Blackboard. Specifically, the patent describes an Internet system in which different access rights to various course management resources can be granted to different users. [5]

He has been called by Brent Simpson "one of the rare instances in Open Source software development where the right person with the right personality appears at the exactly the right time; Martin Dougiamas is the Linus Torvalds of the LMS world and his software is the Linux of this software." [5]


  • Taylor, P.C., Maor, D. & Dougiamas, M. (2001) Monitoring the Development of a Professional Community of Reflective Inquiry via the World Wide Web, Teaching and Learning Forum 2001, Curtin University of Technology, February 2001
  • Dougiamas, M. and Taylor, P.C. (2000) Improving the effectiveness of tools for Internet-based education, Teaching and Learning Forum 2000, Curtin University of Technology.
  • Fairholme, E., Dougiamas, M. and Dreher, H. (2000) Using on-line journals to stimulate reflective thinking, Teaching and Learning Forum 2000, Curtin University of Technology.
  • Dougiamas, M. (1992) Data-Driven Reconstruction of Planar Surfaces from Range Images, Computer Science Honours Dissertation, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia.


  1. ^ Interview with Michael Feldstein, 17 October 2010
  2. ^ PhD Thesis
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Moodle site report
  5. ^ Brent Simpson (2004) Newped

External links

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