Thorwald, I have been using Angel to teach with since August. It is a long story up to this point, so I will try to shorten it. Our college used to use WebCT several years ago. Not fancy, no frills, but it worked. Last year in an attempt to save money, they dropped WebCT in favor of some horrid thing called Jenzabar. To maintain my sanity and be able to teach online, I discovered Moodle and ran my own install of 1.2 and then 1.3 on my own Web host
I must say in total honesty that my experience with Moodle was just great. As was mentioned elsewhere in this topic, these forums themselves are worth their weight in gold. To be able to ask any type of question and to get a response (often from Martin himself) was wonderful.
After faculty pressure from suffering with Jenzabar, the college decided to go with Angel this school year (I suggested Moodle, but was politely turned down). As part of the "deal" faculty had to sign a contract to only use Angel (apparently other teachers were using outside web services as well). So, I have been teaching with Angel now for about two months, and I must say that I am underwhelmed. Everyday I wish I could go back to Moodle. Yes, Angel works fine and it has some nice features and it does not have any glaring faults, BUT it lacks some things that you don't notice that much until they are gone:
- People who really understand what an LMS needs to have and how it needs to behave FOR THOSE WHO TEACH WITH IT AND FOR THOSE WHO LEARN FROM IT. Martin and the others who help develop Moodle seem to be able to put their finger on those things that really make life easier for the teacher and can help students learn. Examples: The News, grouped links for related content type (Forums, Quizes, Resources, etc) so that what is in the Week-by-Week can be accessed from a central place, photos for the forums, not having content buried in folders.
Moodle, is, well ...... just plain nice!
I have three students who had online courses with me last year who now have online courses with me this year. All three have independently contacted me and asked why I wasn't using Moodle anymore and asked if I could use it again because they did not like Angel.
- A community of ACCESSIBLE people who really, truly, want to make the product as good as it possibly can be. Where else can one talk to the actual developers of the product? Where else is there a community of people eager to answer any question you may have. I have run into the brick wall of lack of information with Angel - there is a FAQ at Cyberlearninglabs and user manuals, but they are for the most elementary questions and are relatively useless. There may be more info available, but as a teacher, I do not have access to any of it.
When you are trying to do certain things with the LMS, one needs to UNDERSTAND how things work - not just be told to click this and then do that. Example - I still do not fully understand the gradebook in Angel. The manual is useless and there are no forums at cyberlearninglabs. I did find an independent forum at www.angelusers.org, but it is sparsely populated and does not have much information. With the Moodle gradebook, if I had a question all I had to do was ask in the forum. Being technically inclined, I could also look at the code!
- The ability to customize the code for your particular purpose. If Moodle is missing things or does not work as you want in certain areas, you can wait for a future version to include what you want OR modify the code yourself (if you have the skills) OR see if someone offers a mod to do what you want OR contract with Moodle.com or one of the Partners to write it for you. In other words, you have choices and are not locked into using version X.XX - take it or leave it.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. I never had a chance to discuss this before as there was no one to discuss it with - until this topic was started! I was talking to a colleague just the other day and I said to him "you know, Angel is okay, but I must say that Moodle is a much nicer LMS and to top it off, Moodle is FREE!
" If you have not already signed on with Angel, I would seriously think about taking some of the money you would have spent with Angel and investing it in a Moodle setup at Moodle.com or one of the Partners and possibly some custom programming.
Good luck with whatever you decide!