moodle1Moodle, which stands for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment, is an enormously versatile system for course and learning management. According to The eLearning Guild Research 360°Report on Learning Management Systems, published in May, 2008, many Guild members value it. (Editor’s Note: This report is available for download as a PDF file by Guild Members, Members Plus, and Premium Members, and by Associate Members who participated in the survey upon which it is based.)

Moodle development started as doctoral research by an Australian, Martin Dougiamas. Today, Moodle has attracted a long list of developers devoted to Moodle improvements. Figure 1 shows the Moodle site at www.moodle.org, where you will find additional information about developers and users, as well as links for downloading the application itself.

WHY DO ORGANIZATIONS CHOOSE MOODLE?

In the most recent LMS 360° Report, members who tried or adopted Moodle report high satisfaction rates, low costs, and easy implementation and use. Ninety-five percent of the users indicated they did not intend to find an alternative solution.

In ten years, Moodle has already attracted a large and diverse user community. There are 345 sites with more than 10,000 users. Moodle’s obvious appeal is that it has the potential of creating cost-effective online learning communities, in rich and poor countries alike.

In higher education, Moodle’s reputation also stems from the academic community’s values of freedom, peer review, and knowledge sharing. Supporters say that Moodle helps educators create an effective collaborative online-learning community using sound pedagogical principles for a very low cost. You can easily and quickly install it, it can scale up to accommodate a large user base, and it provides typical LMS features present in most similar commercial products. Moodle updates are common, the development community is very supportive, and its universal use is providing reliable learning solutions.

Most of these considerations apply as well to business organizations, especially small ones.

HOW ARE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS USING MOODLE?

There are many educational institutions using Moodle, some on a very large scale. A good example of a large Moodle implementation site is the Open Polytechnic in New Zealand. This institution has deployed Moodle across eleven polytechnics and three universities, along with several Government departments and a growing number of schools. In 2007, in recognition for its work in open source software development and collaboration, the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand won a prestigious $100,000 award from the United States-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The school’s Moodle site is at http://campus.openpolytechnic.ac.nz/moodle/.

As another example, the Open University has announced a $7,390,000 OpenLearn initiative that offers 900 hours of e-Learning available on their new Moodle platform for over 180,000 students. Canada’s Open University, Athabasca University, has switched to Moodle for developing an effective learning management system that serves over 30,000 users for eleven undergraduate and graduate courses.

HOW ARE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS USING MOODLE?WHAT ARE MOODLE’S ADVANTAGES?

Surveys, including those done by eLearning Guild Research, describe a variety of advantages and disadvantages for using Moodle. Advocates highlight important advantages, such as:

  • Lower total cost for ownership
  • Higher levels of security
  • Peer review
  • Greater flexibility
  • Ability to customize by modifying code
  • Audit ability and code availability
  • Technical support
  • Well-tested updates and plug-ins
  • Variety of capabilities and tools