Moodle, an LMS for the People
September 21, 2015

Moodle, an LMS for the People

Mike Brinkman | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version


Overall Satisfaction with Moodle

We use Moodle every day in a number of different ways. It functions as our Learning Management System campus-wide. We have a few different instances of Moodle set up for students and faculty, administrators and prospective students. It allows our faculty members to easily organize coursework and administer assessments online, which enables them to use their in class time more effectively, as well as reducing cost and waste associated with paper handouts. Another benefit is for our students, who have shown a strong preference to being able to access all of their content online, whether by computers on campus or on their own mobile devices.
  • Course organization - Moodle allows faculty members to organize their courses either by week or by topic so students can access their course materials in a logical chronological order. Additional blocks allow students to access content based on type, such as assignments, handouts, or quizzes.
  • Ease of use - Moodle 2.9 supports drag and drop features for many of its modules, making organizing/reorganizing a course, or building a course from scratch much quicker. It also has a fairly consistent set of controls across several content types which act in a consistent manner, so you can expect actions in one context to behave in the same manner as they do in other contexts.
  • Customization - Moodle allows a lot of customization with its plugin architecture, as well as custom themes, to help give Moodle the right look for your organization.
  • Restrictions - Restrictions allow you to powerfully manage who has access to what content and at what time. This is particularly useful for controlling the flow in which course materials are accessed. Content might be available only if a student receives a passing grade on a previous assessment, might only be able to see something if they are in a certain group, or might not be able to view some content before or after a set date.
  • Strong Community - Because Moodle is so widely used, it is fairly easy to find answers to most questions you may have.
  • Lack of drag and drop in some places - While drag and drop support is offered throughout, there are a few places where it is notably absent. The primary one is in the gradebook, and another is in the question bank. They make sense there, but have not been implemented yet.
  • Lack of support for some issues - Moodle's community is one of its greatest strengths as well as one of its greatest liabilities. While you can usually find an answer to questions you have on Moodle's community message boards, it is also possible that you have a more unconventional question that might not get answered at all. If you want to use Moodle for your organization, you will definitely need some tech savvy people to solve some of the trickier aspects of using Moodle. Likewise, support materials on the site don't cover all environmental variables and settings you might run across, so it requires some testing on your end to figure out what things do.
  • Modifying functionality can be difficult - Moodle is open source, which means that it can be modified by you. This is great, but as mentioned previously, the support materials and developer documentation can be lacking. It is very easy to shoot yourself in the foot if you make the wrong changes, so you should always make your modifications on a test server and make backups before deploying to your production servers. I know that's good advice for any kind of software, but it can be critical in Moodle, particularly if you use it for storing student grades.
  • Better access for students - Students can easily access course content, take assessments and view grades at any given moment, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Low cost - Moodle is free--as in beer--so the cost is very low if you have your own server. We save tens of thousands of dollars a year by using Moodle instead of the other managed LMS options out there. Managing our Moodle instances is just one of my assigned tasks, so it doesn't necessarily require a dedicated staff member to manage it as their only responsibility, depending on the size of your institution.
  • Other savings - There is no real way for us to assess how much time is saved by faculty using Moodle to manage their courses, or to figure out how many pages of paper aren't printed out because students can access those documents electronically, but we believe they are significant. Consider the following for instance. Suppose you had 200 courses per semester, each with an average of 15 students, and 50 pages worth of documents, and documents cost $0.05 per page. All of those pages not being printed out for students would save you roughly $7500 per semester in printing costs, not to mention time saved by not sending an order to print services or printing on a local printer, not replacing paper/toner, and not distributing them in class.
Having used Blackboard at a different institution, I find Moodle to be a superior alternative in almost every way. Blackboard does have a few nice features for teachers, particularly when it comes to grading, but those conveniences do not make up for its interface challenges. Moodle is constantly being worked on and improved, and allows you to implement your own changes to customize it to suit your institution's needs.
Having had experience with two other Learning Management Systems, I can wholeheartedly endorse using Moodle in an educational environment. It is very well suited for the task at hand. It does an excellent job of allowing both teachers and learners do what they need to do without making things burdensome.

I have seen other institutions use Moodle as their Content Management System as well, but it seems less well suited for that task. I would not personally choose to use it as a portal for an educational site without some better integration for Student Information Systems. Better/easier SIS integration might change my opinion on this in the future.