Moodle as an Enterprise LMS

Hello everyone,

 

My company is going through the RFP (request for purchase) process of purchasing a new LMS.  Management would like to explore Moodle before we move any further.  I do not have a lot of experience with Moodle, and was wondering if anybody could help. 

 

I have attached my organization’s mandatory requirements.  If anyone has any comments to whether Moodle can do these would be great.

 

Thank you in advance.


11 Replies
Mike Walters

Hi Joe,

Great question and one that comes up a lot from potential enterprise level Moodle users.

First of all, let me say that Moodle is truly awesome!  It is improving all the time and has a supportive community behind it to rival Articulate.

However, Moodle was designed using constructivist theory to promote a collaborative online learning environment.  For this reason it has never worked really well for enterprise clients.  In particular, it doesn't do great with things like reporting and business intelligence.

There are a couple of corporate distributions of Moodle, ELIS and Totara.  I've seen both in action before and of the two I would definitely use Totara as the structure and administration is much more intuitive.  The only problem with Totara at the moment however is that it is based on a very old version of the Moodle core code.  Totara is still using Moodle 1.9, which will very soon no longer be supported at all by Moodle HQ (security fixes etc, although Totara will continue to support for clients).

It's a difficult one.  Moodle would be great but it won't deliver all of the admin and reporting functions you require with a lot of customization.

Cheers,

Mike

Todd Thornton

Joe,

I've been using Moodle since 1.6, but I started looking at alternatives over a year ago (I have some unique circumstances) mainly because I don't think Moodle is currently headed in the right direction. I won't bore you with the details here and I'm not saying Moodle doesn't do some things well and hope this doesn't seem like a rant, but I plan on switching to a cloud based solution very soon. From your RFP cloud is out, but I would simply point out that Totara is obviously at the mercy of what's in Moodle core. (good or bad)

IMHO, there's no doubt Totara is a better enterprise solution than a standard Moodle install for the reasons mentioned above. It's probably $5,000 a year more in licensing for your number of users. Under the circumstances, their upgrade cycle seem fairly reasonable to me (here's the road map for Totara), but usability in Moodle has always been an afterthought and there's a growing disconnect between mobile access/use in Moodle and other LMS systems.

One quick example. A year or so ago, when I was initially testing the Moodle 2 series they introduced activity locking/conditional activities into core. (do this before this appears, etc.) The developers decided to put the check boxes showing completion/prerequisites on the far right of the page. As far away from the activity title as you could put them. (At least for left to right languages) I knew if wouldn't work well for mobile devices. (it didn't work well on a desktop because in a long list you could not tell which activity you had completed and which one should be next) Every previous "hack" had put the check boxes just to the left of the title. (a few pixels away) When I asked why the change, I was told that's where the developers thought it should go. You can fix it within your theme by changing some code, but the point is there was absolutely no forethought into how students would interact with courses in the near future.

On April 13th of this year, the lead Moodle developer just asked for comments about course format/structure improvements. They were going to try to incorporate into the upcoming 2.3 which they've pushed off to 2.4, but I think it illustrates my point quite clearly. They never even thought about whether the course structure/format should be changed in all the planning leading up to the release of Moodle 2.0.

I like Moodle and I certainly think highly of some people in the Moodle community. After all, I've used Moodle for several years and I've donated to developers to help them create/maintain specific modules, but IMHO, Moodle is not the future of what an LMS system should/will look like. Could I be completely wrong? Absolutely, but consider this discussion I started in March 2008 on the Moodle forums about getting input from teachers on usability. (I was probably channeling Articulate products ease of use when I posted)

"In other words, if a set of choices on one default screen will work for 90% of the current users, why not let the 10% of the users who need additional features click another "Advanced Settings" button instead of having 90% of the users work through choices they don't need."

Todd

Sorry for the lengthy post.

Bipin Gaur

My suggestion is to go with Moodle. The reporting and business intelligence part as mentioned above is surely lacking, but the code is very well structured and with good flex developer we were able to use beautiful graphs and charts.

My suggestion is to to thus go with Moodle. For BI and reporting get custom code developed. The TCO in this case will work out much cheaper than just about any other alternative available.

Paul Wolstencroft

Hi Joe,

Have you looked at Dokeos?   www.dokeos.com   if you want decent reporting functions.

We have about 30,000 learners on it and it's suited us better than Moodle in terms of reporting.  It does what the Totara version of Moodle does but without the cost.   The best bit for me is that it works superbly well with storing/scoring Articulate/Storyline objects.

The code is clean but it originates from Belgium so the English in places is not great which I personally think puts people off.  Good news is there is a really simple language editor to edit any of the 35 languages it ships with.

Looking at your spec, you might need some help with integration to Oracle etc but their tech team are excellent.

Good luck

Paul

Joe Countryman

Thanks for the input everyone.  With regards to the following requirements, can Moodle do these?

  • The system shall support 200 concurrent on-line users of different employment statuses.  Please provide the maximum number of users your system can support.
  • The system must be able to use Active Directory for authentication and authorization, leveraging any Single Sign On technologies.
  • The system must allow users to register for classroom and online courses.
  • The system must support blended learning activities.  For example, mix a series of components in different delivery formats, such as, pre-test, instructor-led course, on-the-job assignment, tutorials, virtual class rooms etc. and roll them up into a single course.
  • The system shall support virtual classrooms to deliver learning in real time to widely dispersed audiences over the internet.
  • The system must be installed on premises, cloud based solutions cannot be considered.
  • The system must be able to use Microsoft Exchange 2010 for scheduling and appointments in addition to any email correspondence.
Alan Ball

Joe-

We've used Moodle for about 4 years now with our customers across the country.  Couple of points from our experience.

  • On-line users: Moodle's rule of thumb is 1 GB of server memory for each 10-20 concurrent users (actively calling a server process in the same seconds).  See http://docs.moodle.org/22/en/Performance_recommendations for more tuning recommendations.
  • Active Directory is an option, using LDAP.  
  • Registration- Moodle does a nice job of allowing self-registration for online courses it hosts (if you enable it and set parameters properly), but we use an external in-house developed registration system to handle registration for online  (both synchronous webinars and the Moodle online courses) and in-person.  I think you'd have logistic issues if you tried to run physical course registration through it.

Is "virtual classrooms" and real time really pointing to another delivery method... a webinar?  If so, the best bet I'd suggest is to go over to moodle.org and search for your webinar/online meeting tool, be it WebEx, etc. to see what comes up on forums.

Mike Walters

Paul Wolstencroft said:

Hi Joe,

Have you looked at Dokeos?   www.dokeos.com   if you want decent reporting functions.

We have about 30,000 learners on it and it's suited us better than Moodle in terms of reporting.  It does what the Totara version of Moodle does but without the cost.   The best bit for me is that it works superbly well with storing/scoring Articulate/Storyline objects.

The code is clean but it originates from Belgium so the English in places is not great which I personally think puts people off.  Good news is there is a really simple language editor to edit any of the 35 languages it ships with.


I can second that!  I have been working for a few months now with a customized Dokeos installation for a client.

I have a good laugh sometimes at the "Fringlish" (how exactly do I "enrich question"? Gravy granules?), but it is pretty intuitive and works well.

On the down side, I don't think it has the extendability that Moodle does, there just isn't the same number of plugins out there.  Also the version I am using looks even worse than Moodle(!) but that may be a local issue.

On the plus side, it does handle SCORM objects well and, compared to Moodle it is lightning fast.

Certainly worth a look...

Mike

Phil Mayor

Alan Ball said:

Joe-

We've used Moodle for about 4 years now with our customers across the country.  Couple of points from our experience.

  • On-line users: Moodle's rule of thumb is 1 GB of server memory for each 10-20 concurrent users (actively calling a server process in the same seconds).  See http://docs.moodle.org/22/en/Performance_recommendations for more tuning recommendations.
  • Active Directory is an option, using LDAP.  
  • Registration- Moodle does a nice job of allowing self-registration for online courses it hosts (if you enable it and set parameters properly), but we use an external in-house developed registration system to handle registration for online  (both synchronous webinars and the Moodle online courses) and in-person.  I think you'd have logistic issues if you tried to run physical course registration through it.

Is "virtual classrooms" and real time really pointing to another delivery method... a webinar?  If so, the best bet I'd suggest is to go over to moodle.org and search for your webinar/online meeting tool, be it WebEx, etc. to see what comes up on forums.

I think that is a bit high, we run a 16gb server and have load tested450 users concurrently with no drop in functionality.  It is difficult to get any reccommendations from moodle about concurrent users because they have to be accessing the database at exactly the same time not just be logged in.  I understood it as 50 users per 1gb and our tests support this
Todd Thornton

@Joe

As Phil mentioned, max concurrent users depends on exactly what they are doing. If they are actively hitting the question database taking a quiz, that's much different that the loading of a static page they'll read for several minutes before moving forward. I also run 16GB of RAM and while we've never maxed our install, I would probably recommend 16gb (if you could afford it) so you would have more wiggle room. It's pretty clear the newest version of Moodle 2+ requires more resources than 1.9 variants. (25% is the number that's sometimes used) I know Phil runs 2+, but just an FYI, most recommendations you'd see in the Moodle forums regarding users/server specs would still be referencing 1.9 use and would be on the very low end of the spectrum.