First time poster, long time lurker (aka reader).
I am curious if anyone has any experience using Moodlerooms Joule? The features look pretty cool, and it seems to remove a lot of the "risk" associated with using just core Moodle.
Moodle installed on my own server would be a lot cheaper, but I'm wondering if anyone has done a cost or decision matrix already?
I am the LMS Technical Manager for Moodle at the South Carolina Department of Education and we have been using MoodleRooms for about 3 years now and have been very pleased with the level of customer service and experience that MoodleRooms has provided.
We initially priced out hosting Moodle on our own, but ran into a couple of issues. First, the start up cost of "doing it right" with remote backups, server monitoring, hardware, etc was nearly the same as the price that we pay MoodleRooms. Second, MoodleRooms provides a level of security that we may not otherwise have without them in place. Without MoodleRooms we would be tasked with either hiring someone to monitor and manage our server 24/7 or doing this on our own. We have several large state programs that utilize our Moodle installation, so it is imperative to us that Moodle is up and stable at all times, so that our students have access to their courses any time and any where. Without MoodleRooms, we were afraid that we would run into issues where our LMS would be down and we would not have the support needed to get it back up. MoodleRooms provides that safety net to us, so that we can ensure our Moodle LMS is up and running at all times.
We have also recently just upgraded our development site to Moodle 2.X and Joule 2. I am VERY impressed with the features of Joule. I did a demo yesterday to some of our teachers and staff and they were also impressed with some of the features that Joule puts into place - such as the gradebook enhancements, personal learning designer (PLD), reporting, rubrics, and just the general overall look and feel of Moodle. I have been also working with the Joule 2 Express and have found it MUCH easier to modify and create my own themes for use in Moodle. Overall, I am very excited and satisfied with the Joule experience thus far.
I would highly recommend MoodleRooms - you can't go wrong with them and I haven't found any way to beat the price and receive the same level of support and service that they provide. If you have any other questions, feel free to let me know and I'll be glad to talk with you and provide any other information that you need to help you with your decision.
I'm a disgruntled customer-- to be fair, I'm being honest about it. I would only warn about use of third party utitilies and custom Moodle Themes. Moodlerooms charges "code review" fees. If you like what they have, you'll be okay. If you want to work in more, you'll have to pay (or some other poor school will).