Need help with LMS decision....is Moodle that great?

Greetings fantastic elearning Heroes and Heroes in training! I need to pick your wealth of experience as related to LMS options.  Right now all of the buzz with Open source is Moodle.  I've never had any experience with Moodle but all the articles discuss how easy it is...am I missing something?  The website is super confusing and it seems I need more developer skills than I have to understand?  I am thinking that I may be overlooking something with Moodle, but at this point I have not been able to effectively launch this on my computer.  I wanted to get your thoughts on which systems you have used both proprietary and open source.  Which ones would you recommend?   

I'm researching like crazy and trying to demo as much as I can, but would like to get the perspective of users.

Much appreciated for your time!!!

54 Replies
Jack-Jack Toledo

amazing thread..

btw, been working in moodle for almost 4 years and counting and have this hobby that everytime moodle upgrade, i want to upgrade too, but it's not advisable for me, users get confused everytime i upgrade and ended with tons of calls... Maybe info below would help too

Moodle currently Status:

 **1,250 number of users

 **moodle 2.4 version

 **150 # of teachers enrolled. the rest is students

 **1 to 10 rate: 8 is my rating for moodle 2.4 (interface not lookin good but plugins are awesome)

** 136 classrooms

**creating quiz in moodle is not really bad and it will display the results u needed. 

Problem encounter and solutions

** database overload - solution upgrade max_limit in php.ini

** limit the report logs - set it for one or three months logs only (encounter hundred thousands logs within six months and it is dramatically slow).

**avoid enabling blocks when its not really needed

Dave P

Hi Sarah,

My experience with Moodle is similar to many others who have posted here... difficult and confusing.  It takes a very long time to configure Moodle and get it setup properly.  You really need to have some programming or technical experience/knowledge to get it functioning just the way you want it.  The thing that really bugged me most about Moodle was the constant ongoing configuration of it.  It just took a long time to make simple changes.   I'm lucky because I have a programming background and was able to muddle through it and get it working.  I feel sorry for anyone who does not have a programming or technical background who has to administer Moodle because it's got to be a nightmare for them.  Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and asked our CIO if we could buy an LMS.  Best decision I ever made.  We tested out a bunch of them and finally selected a company called eLogic Learning.  They have a fantastic and very affordable cloud based SaaS system called the "eSSential LMS".  It's pretty sweet and was the easiest to use of all the systems we tested.  Best of all, now I get to concentrate on building customized e-learning Storyline courses and I don't have to worry about all the technical hassles that came with Moodle.

Hope this helps.


Dave

Dave P

Dennis Hall said:

I have worked extensivly with Moodle, Docebo, Ed, SumTotal, Saba, built my own "poor mans" LMS, and modified or worked with about 7 or 8 other unmentionables.

In every case below, I've customized the LMS's at the code level and can say the following:

Free systems:

Moodle: Great software architecture, very scalable, supports many languages, can be modified at the code level bloated as heck, terrible work-flows (although you can create your own work flows) for users and worse for admins.

Docebo: Clean and simple software architecure, great user workflows - that you can customize totally, very easy to customize (via code, or just admin configuration) and you can edit in all 32 languages, create custom client portals with their own work flows, courses, catalogues, etc..., not recommended to 100+ simultanious accesses.

Paid:

Ed: Amazing LMS, do anything with anything, supports any SCORM, and AICC, incredible dashboard, supports Certifications, skills, competencies, production planning, feature rich like no other, very like and intuitive work flows, extremely expensive (like 150,000+ to get started with your own server, or about 10.00 / month per active user for hosted) - This system was originally designed for aerospace manufacturing.

SumTotal, far too expensive, user work flows are terrible (example: My Completed Courses is a collapsed (hidden) areas below My courses (rather than a tab t the left where all other user page navigation is), Admin functions are divided into 4 round buttons accross the header, after you select one, you get to guess which of the 5 menus below you need to use to do a task, and the pain goes on...

Saba, got 150,000.00 so they can send their expert to answer your questions, then give you the product to install, next, you still have to pay them per user when you exceed teh number that the original cost covered, btw - you are not allowed to customize it at code level - oops, been there - done it, not goin' thar agin'

My own LMS: Absolute failure compaired to all of the above (although I ran simulators off it which no one is yet doing today), also not available anymore

I hope this information can be of help.

Best Regards,

Dennis Hall


Hi Dennis,

I got a chuckle out of you building your own "poor mans" LMS.  I worked for a few companies along the way who wouldn't pay for anything so I too had to build my own LMS's.  I like to say that they were crude yet effective  :o)


Dave

Sarah Noll Wilson

Dennis, thanks for the great information!!!  Some of it aligns with what I have been finding.  The timing of your message couldn't be better because I have a new project that needs to find an LMS. 

Do you know if most LMS require you to prepopulate the learner or can the learner set up their own account? 

Katie Hughes

Hello everybody -Took me a good hour to read these responses  and all very informative - thank you v much..-

I need some advice from you all please... here's my current situation:

Building a moodle lms using a team in India... we wanted some pretty complex features including a booking engine for tutors and students to book live lessons in for LIVE lessons. In addition we will have online preparation available to the students as well as integration to CMS Joomla for a subscription system for students.  All is going well on the programming side - however on the DESIGN side I'm experiencing some issue. Please shed some light

My questions are as follows:

1. DESIGN

Who can help us with the design of our interface? we have used a theme Aardvark the closest and only theme that looked remotely pretty... but the indian team are NOT designers - purely programmers. I need to know who can help make it look pretty. Will it cost a fortune and will it be difficult to hand over to a designer once all programming is done?  Is it difficult to customise within a theme or better to start from scratch?  Im struggling to know what the scope is for customising layout and design within a theme.

2. PLUGINS

we are at the stage of choosing the widgets/plugins/boxes on the sides of the page. I would like to know if you tell me how much time in the form of hours do the following plugins take for programmers to install:

a) instagram example in this LMS : http://vle.newbury-college.ac.uk

b) countdown plug in ( to countdown time until students next live lesson) : https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=66217

c) global chat : https://moodle.org/plugins/view.php?plugin=block_gchat

I look forward to your response!

Jon Fila

Katie, 

1. You might have some luck posting about looking for a theme designer/customizer on the moodle.org forums. There are also many free themes to look through there. They are very easy to customize or add your branding to. You're probably better off tweaking an existing theme than trying to have one created from scratch. I'd look through the ones available for features you like so you know what can be accomplished. There are some very nice ones out there. I'm more in favor of tweaking the Clean theme as it's easy to do from the Admin settings and works well with mobile devices.

2. Moodle plugins take 5 min. to add to a site, if that. Just add the folder to the moodle/mod folder and log in as an Admin and click the Notifications link. If your site allows it you can install add-ons from the Admin settings as well. Site Administration-->Plugins-->Install add-ons.

I hope that helps,

Jon

Tommaso Procicchiani

Hi to all of you!

I found a lot of useful information on this post about the several LMS and I would like to understand better the differences and also the costs associated with them.

My ideal LMS should have a good and simple user interface, integrated with webinar, video, podcast, forums, chat rooms and also social networks.

I'm evaluating all the options such as the free opensource platform as Moodle and the possibility to use an external partner hosting (costs??), or such as eFront that seems very easy to use an innovative to me.

I had the chance to see though, that it could be easier to use a paid software because of the support they gave you with it.

Do you have any idea about the pricing of those LMS, not just for buying them but also as year cost? Does it worth it to buy one or would you rather suggest to stick with a free one?

Many Thanks

Tommaso 

Alexandros Anoyatis

Moodle and eFront innovative? Weeeeell...no...not really... 

Contrary to popular belief, there hasn't been much innovation in the LMS field for the past 10 years, unless you call integrating a "Like" button to a platform "innovation" - I certainly don't.

The things is that when it comes to features most LMS's are on par with one another. The keys to selecting a LMS, is true conformance to standards and overall performance (footprint and load) - the two factors they don't tell you much about in the first place...

I would argue that the interface is of secondary importance (initially), as it is something that can be easily remedied (a decent developer will be able to provide an alternative design fairly easily) and would cost much less than the pain and suffering you will inevitably experience should you select the wrong LMS for your business.

Hope this helps,
Alex

Kimberly Valliere

It is nice to see so many in the same boat of LMS fun as the rest of us. I'm testing the feasibility and economics of  making a switch eventually and this thread is extremely helpful.

I'm in the research stage, trying to narrow down a long list to a much shorter list of potential demos. I've chatted with a couple of companies so far and other LMS administrators and I'm keeping tabs on: Cornerstone, Absorb, eLogic, LearnUpon, GreenLight.

I am very much shying away from any open source implementations because I simply do not have the IT support to assist, nor the internal knowledge to do it myself.

My needs are as follows:

  • We host a lot of videos--so I need analytics that can track per user, how many times viewed and how long
  • Other analytics need to be easy-to-read and understand, exportable is KEY
  • Track ILT courses
  • Ability to scale to external, non-active users (can be around 1,000), but also have about 200 active users.
  • A good UX for both users and admin
  • We don't really need a "course" feel because our learners aren't really required "finish" a course. We're kind of using our LMS as an LCMS right now.
  • SSO is extremely important for Salesforce and Sharepoint, with data sharing with ADP a very much nice to have to simply the add/subtract user function.
  • Helpful IT, as well as assistance with bouncing ideas and processes/workflow

What am I missing?

Stefano Posti

Hello everybody...

I'd like to bring some contribute here...

An Lms selection is very very important; especially if you have to deal with a large number of users.

You shall consider a lot of requisites, and analyse pro and cons of each different solution.

Costs are a key point; Open-source solutions cannot really be used without experts... and often, Commercial and Open source Solutions have similar costs, either if you go for a in house installation, or if you go for a cloud/SaaS or hosted installation.

We use a Moodle distribution with an IT company focused on elearning and we are happy with it, but I wouldn't call our solution Open Source; we have customized it so much and added so many features you wouldn't say it's Moodle. This cost was very high, though!

My advice: note down a list of features you absolutely need.

I did this lately for another LMS selection, and Totara (Moodle commercial distribution) , Litmos and Docebo were the finalist, due to some features they have at reasonable costs.

@Kimberly: take a look at SharePoint LMS, it could fit your SSO needs and it has improved a lot, recently;

@Tommaso: the new Docebo 6.2 is ok for blended learning, too. If you want to have a clearer idea of costs involved in a Moodle project just PM me, we are in Italy and there are things to consider if you choose a Totara or Litmos or Avsorb hosted installation, for instance...

hope it helps

sean nufer

Moodle is great.  Our institution recently went through the evaluation process and looked at all of the major contenders in the market to assess the best platform which would meet our needs and expectations.  We are a non-profit education system focusing mostly on graduate studies (psychology, law, nursing).  We decided to migrate to Canvas by Instructure (http://instructure.com).  

We just finished migrating the majority of our affiliates from eCollege to Canvas, and are now working on the conversion process to migrate one of our affiliates from moodle.  Canvas seems to have all the benefits of moodle, including open APIs, while being hosted on Instructure servers.  For small institutions like ours, it is cheaper to have Instructure host the LMS rather than maintain an open source platform locally.  

The functionality of Canvas is fantastic as well.  It is ahead of the game in terms of mobile accessibility, integration (LTI), and functionality.  I'm not trying to sell the product for them, but these were just our conclusions based on our assessment of the LMS landscape.  D2L is also a fantastic product that you might consider.  

Chimeg Baatar

Hi all,

I have been working on my research for 2 years. Using Moodle and trying to control students' learning process. I have very limited materials using log data of LMS. Moodle has some problem evaluating students' learning process. I uploaded SCORM packaged lesson materials and want to get active learning result of reading lecture slides.

I hope to meet someone who have enough experience working with log data.

I have no information about Blackboard's log data. Does the BB can control students learning process?

Cheers,

Chimeg

Frank Natt

el rooc said:

easiest way to try Moodle - go to  http://bitnami.org/stack/moodle - download installer - runs as a virtual machine on laptop/PC 

also look at eFront (much less cluttered, and free)


The statement about eFront is partially accurate, not totally! I tried eFront. It is free until you need support. If you want the functionality of a true LMS, you're definitely paying.
Sean Power

Hello Sarah,

I am keen to see if you are still considering options for a LMS vendor and to introduce Firmwater LMS to see if we are a match for your needs.

Let me know if you are still on the hunt, more than happy to host a demonstration and provide information if so.

Regards,

Sean Power

+1 416-815 1496 x 125

spower@firmwater.com

Jeff Nye

Everything depends on your needs and experience. 

I have worked as a Moodle admin, web developer, and elearning developer in addition to teaching and supporting technology in schools. I can tell you that Moodle is in some ways an ugly beast, but it also has some in depth functionality that makes it good for course developers. It does lack a robust ecosystem of good plug ins and themes to choose from, as well, so you can spend lots of time and or money trying to make it do the extra stuff you may need (using a shopping cart or PayPal, for example because the Moodle PayPal implementation is bare bones).

Moodle is free, and it's been around  along time. But consider your needs well, and all the other LMS options. WordPress is the free, easy to use CMS out there today, and LearnDash is the plugin that turns Wordpress into an LMS. This is huge, because you get a free, user-friendly CMS  with a vast selection of themes and plugins to use along side what seems to be a thoughtfully created LMS add on in LearnDash. Truthfully I haven't used Learndash but have been following it for a while before it was officially released over a year ago, and I have been very happy to be developing with WordPress for some years after doing a bit with Joomla. I would consider the suggested JoomlaLMS suggestion in this thread as well, hopefully compare that to the LearnDash one I've described if Moodle seems like overkill or too cumbersome.

Good Luck!

krishnakumar P Nair

Hi,

l want to make an e-learning system .. I would like to start with Moodle. from last one month I am working on open source LMS softwares and I found Moodle is the best..  but I have some doubts .. I am planning to make a system like video tutorial (digital contents) portal.. how can I upload video to Moodle and I want to add a video player in Moodle itself. ....   Now I am blank.. I don't know how to start it... expecting help from experts...  just guide me how to do this...    and give me some stuff for reference also...

I saw absorb and I really liked it...   awesome work they have done...  I also want to make one system like that...

please help...

thanks...

Loyics Blue

Hi everyone, this thread is really interesting but I need to ask you something. I'm looking for a LMS which could support 150k+ users and I'm only interested in analytics ( I'm working for a driving school editor and we only need to follow all students to see their evolutions ). Could you give me a tip ?

Dennis Hall

Hi Loyics:

Having 150k+ users in registered in the system means you will have millions of records in the DB. Typically that may also equal 1 or more thousand simultaneous users (users using the system at the same time).

You need some serious horsepower behind that requirement. I would recommend whatever LMS solution you find, that it be an enterprise distributed type of system.

An example that I have worked with technically is Saba. Although I'm not a fan of the many user interface aspects of Saba, it has all the right architecture for a high performance AND distributed system. Any LMs will NOT be free at this level. Even free LMS software would require a great deal of computing hardware, network infrastructure, planning, purchasing, installation, and configuration costs. You will also really need to look at the life cycle cost of operating such a venture, planning the user workflows to minimize user confusion and lower support costs, tailoring system notifications and related triggers to also minimize support costs, then hiring a support desk to assist the remaining users learners when even all that up front planning did not help the person who has a poor internet connection and insists it is your platform at fault, etc.

Other important aspect of this type of LMS are location(s) and certainly bandwidth. An example of these aspects would be to consider using multiple access point around the world (multiple portal located in your highest traffic areas). So if your analytics tells you Europe is an a region you have 30% of your registered users AND of that 50% of them are actively using courses simultaneously (25,000 simultaneous users in the system downloading content and uploading SCORM or Tin-Can records, you will need to plan for Gigabyte bandwidth, massive amounts of Session activity,  and a very high performance database.

Hope this helps.

Best Regards,

Dennis Hall