As per Wikipedia, “Moodle (acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is one of the most popular ‘free’ software e-learning platform (Learning Management System), or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). As of June 2013 it had a user base of 83,008 registered and verified sites, serving 70,696,570 users in 7.5+ million courses with 1.2+ million teachers.” So, yes the stats shows the tremendous amount of user base and faith Moodle has built in the last 15 years of its conception. Moodle is used by various kinds of users:
- Corporate organization who is looking to train its employees
- Training or eLearning companies that want to sell courses to learners directly via ecommerce or to corporate customers
- Schools, colleges, educational institutions that wants to move its content online for self-study
- Associations or non-profit organizations that want to train their members
The needs of all these organizations are different and the way they would use an LMS would be quite different. Moodle is a system that tries to be everything to all of these organizations and that is where the problem lies. The key aspects to consider are:
- IT/Programming resources, funds and time on hand to manage a system like Moodle from an IT administration point of view
- Time for administration of the system – the user interface and front end
- Amount of customization that is required to make the system work for your needs
If you are an organization or an institute or a person with a dedicated IT/programming team to sort everything for you without any constraints of time, resources, budget etc. then an LMS which ‘freely’ downloadable and up and running on your server is a very good deal. You can tweak Moodle till you know exactly what you need. But what if that is not the case? What could be an Moodle alternative? If you are an L&D department or a training company and you are responsible for every aspect of LMS setup, maintenance and administration; then you have to think again. Moodle is actually not that free as it claims to be. What is actually free is the license part. The famous saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”, relates very well. So how can Moodle be an exception when every other item on your wish list for LMS comes with a cost!! Let’s look at some obligatory and probable cost connections with Moodle. Here is the Moodle review:
- You have to pay for the server and its maintenance.
- The look and feel of Moodle is not particularly appealing to the learner, so you have to consider customizing it. There comes the cost for customization (development & maintenance).
- You may want to hire a vendor to do this for you, or you may want to deploy your existing resources on this. But in any case it adds up to the expenses.
- Consider the increased cost of infrastructure—your organization will grow with time, and so will the number of learners. Larger the number of users more the space needed on server.
- Also, to use free open source technology requires skills and expertise which normal IT resources do not have. So you may need to hire such talent– and pay them, of course.
All said and done, it’s not that eNyota LMS won’t cost you all this. But we can help you to analyze what you actually need, how to get it right the very first time and how you can plan your budget effectively. Hopefully you would be able to identify the probable advantages and disadvantages of Moodle for you. Let’s dive in to a straight point to point comparison between Moodle and what eNyota LMS has to offer.
|1.||Precisely an Academic LMS meant for Schools and Colleges to administer training and manage delivery of training to students using an Instructor. ELearning is a part of the entire flow.||eNyota LMS is meant for online training and training companies to deliver online training to adult learners in the absence of an Instructor. E-learning is the whole point.|
|2.||It is a massive system with 100s of features. A lot of which is not required by most users. It is ‘multiple things for multiple people’ so it may not be exactly what you need and it is tough to just keep what you need. It requires extensive customization and testing to turn specific features on and off.||Basic system with focus on online delivery of eLearning. We can customize and add/remove what you need. Built for you; as per your requirements.|
|3.||Students are the typical users and therefore, they have no choice but to deal with the system provided by the college/school.||Designed mainly for adult learners who expect simple, uncomplicated user interfaces so that they can come in and complete their training.|
|4.||Complicated user interface which needs administrative training to use. On an average, you will spend more time performing basic administrative tasks.||Simplified user interface, little or no training required. A regular user can work with the system and perform all administrative tasks.|
|5.||A separate administrator may be required who has experience with such system. Additional costs may be involved to keep this person on a full time or part time basis.||Even a business owner can administer this site themselves. A person with basic computer experience would be able to administer the site.|
|6.||Separate costs for customization, may need to hire an outside vendor to do this.||Our staff takes care of customization when the customer buys the LMS, so no need to look for another vendor.|
|7.||Additional resources needed for ongoing support.||We have support plans in place, so no need to look outside.|
|8.||Need to buy storage space from a separate hosting company.||We provide an option to take care of hosting at our end itself.|
|9.||Confusing for the learner: spoils the main purpose of eLearning, which is ease and interactivity.||The pleasant look -feel and the ease of operating helps to keep the learner engaged throughout.|
|10.||Enhanced dependency on PHP developers (from the open source community). Difficult to switch vendors and also since it is open source, no single person can take responsibility for the system.||One company develops and supports the system with full responsibility to support the system.|
|11.||Upgrades to the system can be drastic; integrating patches and upgrading the system is complex.||Controlled environment since one company developed the system which means assurance of systematic patches and upgrades.|
|12.||Open Source like the Android System. Multiple versions and multiple upgrades can be confusing for users.||Controlled, solid like the iOS environment.|
|Upgrading nightmare. Once Moodle is customized even slightly, upgrading the version of Moodle and migration of customization from your version to the new version is a nightmare.A lot of vendors are very enthusiastic about deploying Moodle but almost all Moodle vendors privately hate customization. They may do it but when you need to upgrade versions, a lot of them will avoid it like plague.||Since the system is built in-house, we keep in mind that we will have to offer upgrades to our customers. We consider the pros and cons as our product road-map evolves.We can help you migrate or upgrade the system in a systematic and controlled manner.We can customize the system but we will let you know if there are some customizations that are too drastic and may take you off the product road-map or increase the cost of migration/upgrades.|
|14.||Complicated code base. Often if you want to customize, you have to rely on Widgets and Extensions. These also require to be customized and can make the system patchy.||Simple code base. We customize to your need, maintain separate code base and upgrade, Add-on features for you.|
|15.||In-built reports are complex and creating custom reports is also complicated and expensive because of the sheer breadth of the system. Massive testing is required.||We have specific in-built reports which are simple to retrieve. We can customize reports easily and also present it in a user friendly manner.|
|16.||Branding and getting your organization’s look and feel in Moodle can be another monetary affair.||Branding for providing eNyota LMS as a service (SaaS) does not incur any cost.|
|17.||Moodle needs in terms of resources, time and effort to make it a success from an administrative point of view. The back end stuff will definitely eat into your time to focus on your employees and/or customers.If you need moderate to fairly extensive training just to run your LMS, something is wrong!||A simple easy to use, hosted system where you don’t have to deal with IT headaches, UI issues and administrative challenges will allow you to focus on the objective of why you need an LMS in the first place – to make your training easier to manage.|
But still some organizations want to use Moodle as it is due to budget or time constraints; or may be due to limited insight of what they think of LMS and what LMS is actually. Moodle can work well as a content management system (CMS) for launching the eLearning content but when it comes to embracing the training life cycle of an employee in a corporate setting, or to sell your training there are a lot of potholes yet to be filled. A report by Elearnity– “Insights into Corporate Moodle” is an in-depth analysis of what you cannot expect from Moodle for managing learning in your organization. This report is available free of cost at http://www.elearnity.com/ekcMoodle.html. As a corporate organization or a small training company, you need to look at the “BIG PICTURE”, everything you plan to do have to have a direct or indirect contribution towards a common goal. To manage the learning cycle well, an LMS which is in-harmony with what you actually expect with no “virtually free tags” or “hidden ownership costs” is extremely critical. It is also important that your LMS blends well with your expectations and does not disappoint you at the times of ramping up. Dealing with lot of customization and a vague idea of expected/unexpected expenditure can actually hamper the long term vision you have with a goal to enhance the learning experience of your employees or your customers. Parting words, YOU as a business would want an LMS that,
- Easily up and running, backing with total ownership.
- Security assurance with a backup plan.
- Learning environment actually suitable for adult learners.
- Easy reporting and analytical tools.
- Transparent pricing – know what you are paying for.
- Smooth operation with a competitive SLA.