Moodle and the cube

I chose to look at moodle for my analysis since I work with it often.

Face #1 Market Focus

Moodle’s market focus is to provide people that need learning management software in all three of K-12, Higher Ed, and Training, with a free, open source solution. I’ve seen it utilized in the MET, university of Waterloo counseling, K-12, and as a training LMS/CMS in various situations where a group needed something but couldn’t afford a paid solution such as blackboard or d2l.

Face #2  Types of Offerings

Moodle as an organization offers the software as well as community driven, created, and monitored support. Moodle does license other for profit groups for paid training, hosting, and certification. ( Moodle does organized conferences (moodlemoots) but users by and far create and share content freely through groups such as (BC Curriculum)

Face #3 Who is the Buyer

The purchasing buyer of a moodle national/regional license provider is for profit educational group. The rest of us happily purchase moodle software for free. Mostly the people involved are teachers, technologists, school authorities that are looking for a free solution to an LMS/CMS

Face #4 Global Markets

Moodle has multi language support that has been created through social networks. I’ve added the french component for some of my immersion teachers that come to my district with sometime low english technology vocabular. I’m thinking about adding the german and russian for some of our ESL students as well. This social contribution has made moodle accessible across the globe. Moodle runs on the free Apache server as well so the software infrastructure is free as well.

Face #5 Development of Market

Looking at the four categories of the development face I would say that moodle plays nicely in all the markets saving the one that does not have the physical infrastructure. I would enjoy playing with one of the xo laptops from the OLPC and see if it could host an apache server (which I believe it will) to load a moodle instance on it and serve to other xo’s in the wireless range.

Face #6 Competing with other forms of Learning

Moodle in my school district has been used to replace some f2f reporting for graduation requirements. While there is a teacher available there is no scheduled brick and mortar classroom time for this required four credit course. Moodle is also competing with commercial offerings such as blackboard/webct, and desire 2 learn (d2l). Moodle has facilitated the creation and sale of learning objects to other school districts. It enables us to compete in the DL market for students in a newly legislated, increasingly competitive market for distributed learners.

Moodle has been used in hybrid learning environments where there is a f2f and computer component. It can also be used in f2f and distributed or purely distributed environments. It plays well with others.


1 davidp { 09.18.08 at 11:17 am }

Is an open source solution ever truly “free?” As is said, “free, as in kitten.”

It’s important even with open source initiatives to recognize that a total cost of ownership (TCO) proposition exists. The bigger the initiative and the installation, the larger the infrastructure, support and training requirements.

That said, Moodle does emerge as a compelling opportunity in all the markets you’ve noted. Its language localizations, its high-degree of user control and its very active community of interest positions it well for adoption in global environments.

2 Mary Burgess { 09.18.08 at 2:13 pm }

I had intended to also write about Moodle so I’m going to piggy back a little on you Jarrod.

Moodle and other Open Source Products have added a really interesting component to the world of marketing and buying educational technologies. Moodle has empowered many disenfranchised individual educators who don’t feel their technical needs are being served by those who are responsible for making software purchases their behalf. This means that the “buyer” isn’t necesarily someone who represents the needs of teachers or faculty, it can be those individuals themselves, they just need the technical know-how.

Of course as David points out, free isn’t really always free. My institution is using Moodle, but not because it’s free. We wanted something we could customize as our needs changed and grew. We’ve spent at least half a million dollars in salaries alone on customization and we’re not alone in that. The British OU is a leader in building Moodle components for their own use and for sharing with the Moodle community but they too have spent a whole lot of money on that. This means that the capability of the software is vastly different depending on marketplace into which it is adopted. If the community is technically literate and financially robust, the version of Moodle and its use is likely to be sophisticated. If the marketplace is limited in its ability to devote resources to the software, the end-users will be working in a vanilla version that may not be well supported.

Moodle is also popular because of the way proprietary enterprise solutions like Blackboard and D2L are marketed and sold. There has been a backlash against what many percieve to be blatant grabs for money via license agreements (not to mention lawsuits). This has influenced the development of the Open Source community in general and Moodle specifically. It’s sort of a hippie commune approach to software development and sharing that enables a lot more people access than is the case when money is an issue.

3 Jarrod Bell { 09.18.08 at 10:38 pm }

I like the free as a kitten analogy and also the hippie commune approach to software development… I agree that with open source comes time and money to get it to adapt to your needs. I am also aware of the licensing fiasco with some of the paid LMS solutions that suddenly raised prices. Many K-12 schools are using moodle for their school websites and teacher CMS/LMS as the vanilla version works very well for most.

Simple integration for us with LDAP means that it is easy and quick to have user accounts for all our 5800 students in all of our moodle sites. Yes you need the technological know how to make what I said “simple”. Same reason that many school districts avoid running linux and OSS (except 73 and some others I expect) as the expertise needed can be very costly and difficult to find.

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