Comparisons and advocacy

 
 
Picture of Kristen Walker
Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
 

Our organization has been with Moodle for quite a while, but is looking at EDU 2.0 as a possible replacement for Moodle.  I need to develop a list of pros and cons of both and wanted to hear from the Moodlers and get your opinions.

 

Thanks in advance!

Kristen

 
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Picture of Troy Shimkus
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
 

I hadn't really heard of the EDU 2.0 product until your post, but a quick glance tells me that they are pretty differnet in philosophy etc.

The main difference is that EDU seems to be a hosted, non open-source solution. That  could be a huge issue. I'm always looking for products to evaluate for my clients, so I'm interested in further looking into EDU, and while I wouldn't necessarily be able to share anything about an implementation on the subject, I will be happy to offer my opinions if that would help once I've had time to look at the solution.


Can you maybe explain more about what your organziation does and what it needs the LMS to do? That would really help in getting an idea of what to look at.

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

You need to try out EDU 2.0 of course.  Nothing less than a pilot with real students.

  1. Doesn't feature here: http://www.capterra.com/top-20-lms-software-solutions (Mind you, the data collection could be dodgy)
  2. A prezi comparison: http://grahamglass.blogs.com/main/2010/11/prezi-edu-20-vs-moodle-20.html
  3. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Moodle-Edu20-Which-one-is-2402350.S.60115317
  4. The home base: http://www.edu20.org/
  5. A comment by the founder of EDU 2.0 http://ict-grump.blogspot.co.nz/2010/06/edu-20.html
  6. Random comments: http://www.classroom20.com/forum/topics/649749:Topic:144704?commentId=649749%3AComment%3A572580

Why has EDU come up on the radar?  I'm sure that there are better products out there.

-Derek

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

All the recent debates I have been involved in with colleagues have been breaking down into a simple set of criteria.

Moodle is ugly.

Moodle is not intuitive

Moodle is complex to use.

I cannot rebut the first argument, it is not pretty and I am hoping that future themes will move away from the current fashion to something a little better looking, which will make it a bit more user friendly- or rather make it appear a bit more user friendly. 

How can something be intuitive if you do not use it? Or, if you use it once or twice and find that your Admin has not given you permission to create your own courses, or that you cannot get into the Front Page to change a spelling error and then decide it is too hard and not go back to it? "Intuitive" is a misnomer, most "intuitive" interfaces are actually "familiar" - completely different things. Why are Microsoft products so popular? They all use the same icons, for the same purposes. Each program is sufficiently different to be "unique", but they are all structured the same way, same colours, same buttons and so on. Makes it easy, familiar but I would like to see someone with little computer experience try to work out how to use Excel, complete with "intuitive" interface.

My argument is that if you want to use a powerful tool, then you need to apply yourself to the learning curve. Some people just do not realise that there is no such thing as a free lunch. 

I have used WebCT, BlackBoard - looked at Sakai, toyed with Edmodo, and downloaded and attempted to install Canvas using Apache which was not an easy thing to do with no experience of Ruby and not realising that it is not going to run in Windows 7 or maybe I can't get it to run in Windows yet. Moodle is way, way out in front in every area, except maybe looks.

This EDU2.0 is something of an unknown, but such products are going to be springing up out of nowhere now. So many new ones have already been announced. The issue I have already seen is that the people making the products seem sometimes not be able to differentiate between a Content Management System and a Learning Management system.

Being able to upload tasks, download responses, wikis and a blog do not constitute an LMS. Just make sure that you are looking at something you really need and not something that looks good, but is really an iceberg - mostly hidden and does little except float and sink ships.   

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

A fascinating little summary Colin.

I'm not sure I agree that intuitive=familiar as much as you suggest though.  I'm not sure what else to say though.  Did a workshop Monday with teachers and my son helping.  At one stage, what seemed unintuitive to me, he seemed to make good progress with a teacher just with a different set of words and a different pathway.

-Derek

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

To me, Dan, this is the problem with using words ike "intuitive". I personally found v1.8 very "intuitive" that is it was easy to pick up on it, to learn and to use, and when v1.9 was released, it was really simple to make the change - but, v2.x not so easy - even given my familiarity with v1.9. Other people do not find v2.x at all "intuitive" - which is where I am having problems with people accepting and using Moodle. They can see it is a powerful tool, but it is daunting for them, until they get used to using it then they can be converts for life - but getting past that initial reluctance is quite a chore and I am not always successful. 

I suppose what I am getting to is that the interface is what people see, if it is pretty then they will forgive a lot, if it is not so pretty, they will not tolerate much. Why do people put up with rubbish products that look good but don't really work all that well, yet will overlook great products because the GUI is not so good? I suggest Moodle's interface is really 1990s, and I would not be surprised to learn PHP-Nuke and post-Nuke strongly influenced Martin's early designs. I suggest it needs be made more modern - something I hoped would have happened for v2, but alas...     

 

 
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Picture of David Scotson
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers
There's a very good definition of "intuitive" here: http://www.uie.com/articles/design_intuitive/

key excerpt (but read the whole thing, it's very good if you like this kind of thing):

The Two Conditions of Intuitive

In our research, we've discovered that there are two conditions where users will tell you an interface seems 'intuitive' to them. It only takes meeting one of the two conditions to get the user to tell you the design is intuitive. When neither condition is met, the same user will likely complain that the interface feels 'unintuitive'.

Condition #1:

Both the current knowledge point and the target knowledge point are identical. When the user walks up to the design, they know everything they need to operate it and complete their objective.

Condition #2:

The current knowledge point and the target knowledge point are separate, but the user is completely unaware the design is helping them bridge the gap. The user is being trained, but in a way that seems natural."

It's a word I avoid myself, because people often use it to mean "better/easier" (e.g. Apple's software is "more intuitive" than Windows) and ignore the context, (e.g. Apple software is not more intuitive to someone using nothing but Windows for the last 10 years), but I find the framework given in my link is great for getting to the bottom of what's actually wrong when people complain about something being "unintuitive".

 
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Picture of Peter Seaman
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Seems like a very useful contribution to the discussion about what we mean when we say an interface is "intuitive." I wonder about the idea of "error recovery" in an "intuitive" interface design - especially as it relates to your comment that "Apple software is not more intuitive to someone who has been using nothing but Windows for the past 10 years."

A salient example for me is the way my iPad behaves. I'm probably not the only one to have had this experience, but I often find that I have moved my finger across the screen in a way that has changed a setting: I have changed the interface in some way - and I have no idea how I did it! Now I need "error recovery" - take me back to the situation I felt familiar with. But I have no idea how to do it. I often end up showing the device to one of my kids, who will say something like, "Oh, you just tap the screen there - it's easy." But it seems to me that they are operating in condition #1 - no gap between target knowledge point and current knowledge point - while I'm clearly in condition #2, except there is nothing in the interface design to help me bridge the gap.

I wonder if Moodle's designers have always been cognizant of the need to provide that bridge, bearing in mind that many, many occasional, non-expert users will spend time in Moodle. So in that sense, error recovery is more important than providing a slick, mysterious, Apple-like interface design that works only for people in condition #1. Maybe Moodle is still like early Google - making it easy for even cats and dogs to use (though of course Google has become more and more Apple-like, while retaining the surface simplicity).

Peter

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

The other way of looking at usability is the two dimensions:

  • Discoverability
  • Efficiency

Efficiency is "I have to grade 100 student papers each week for this entire semester. I don't care if I need a bit of help at the start of term to understand the UI, but I want grading each paper to require absolutely the minimum time."

Discoverability is the "I've never used Moodle before. What do I do now?" thing.

I think it is clear that both are important in Moodle at different times. (They are not mutually exclusive.)

Actually, we could break discoverability down into "known unknows" and "unknows unknows". In other words:

"I know that in Moodle you can have an activity avialable to some, but not all, studens. Now, how do you do that?"

and then the person who did not even know that was possible.

I suppose social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, ...) are excellent examples of web applications that get people to use features they did not even know that they wanted.

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

To me, Tim, people to whom this applies:

are excellent examples of web applications that get people to use features they did not even know that they wanted.

Can be broken into several sub-groups, people who want to expand their knowledge and are deliberately curious, people who are willing to try things because of a lack of fear, people who do not want to try things until someone tells them that this might be useful, people who click the wrong buttons, who really have no intention of doing anything but are clumsily stupid enough to get it wrong for a, what is to them, positive result, and people who are seriously intellectually lazy and subject to mass marketing policies that at some subconcious level promises to protect them from the evils of the world if they click this button. My experience, somewhat cynically, is telling this last group is the largest - (Douglas Addams or Terry Pratchett would have put it a lot better of course.) When you seriously examine what the definitions above are expressing, they are basically returning us to the very point I tried to make earlier, there is a strong connection between "intuitive" and "familiar".  

However, this does not overcome the fact that the sheer complexity of Moodle is not attractive to many potential users, they use the UI as an excuse not to use the product and are quite willing to accept a lesser product because it "feels" better. You and I both know that Moodle can appeal at so many different levels, from a simple, basic usefulness to a serious power tool. All I am suggesting is there has to be a way of developing Moodle where a user can be introduced to Moodle at the basic level and entice them into using more and more of its tools and strengths.

I am just not sure Moodle can make these kinds of changes to develop this kind of visual literacy now before another tool comes out of nowhere and becomes the next killer app.

 
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Christy Tucker
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
 

I have to agree with Derek that "intuitive" is more than just familiar, although you're right to identify familiarity as one factor. There are certain conventions that people expect on the web and in software, and if you follow the familiar conventions, it is easier for people to use. To me, "intuitive" means "how much can most users do on their own without training or a manual."

For example, a number of years ago, I was part of a team that did small scale usability testing for both Moodle and Sakai. We built a sample course in each format and then got about a dozen users to test each system. We gave them a list of tasks and asked them to try to perform each task, but without telling them how to do them. We recorded their actions and timed how long it took for them to finish.

There were some tasks in Moodle which multiple users simply could not figure out how to complete without guidance. In Sakai, there wasn't a single task where users failed to complete it. They weren't always efficient, but they could perform everything we asked them to do. That's what intuitive means, and we found Sakai to be more intuitive than Moodle.

Of course, your results may vary if you do that test yourself. It depends on your audience and how your courses work. But "intuitive" does have an actual meaning in terms of usability.

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

This is a good sort of usability test to do. It would be great if more people could do tests like this and report their findings back to the community.

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

But Tim, I been banging on about it for years.  I first noticed there was an issue when I realised I was spending too much time repeating basic use instructions to the same people. I know that short term memories are harder retain and we require more practice as we get older, so the development of a simple easily determined interface is critical - this we call "intuitive". I do not think Moodle is doing it right at this time. I don't know if it is by design, to allow third-party developments of themes, or it may be inertia, this is how it has always been, so shall it be into the future - but whatever it is, we have to do it better.

Moodle is the application, but it is the interface upon which it is assessed by the users.     

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

"I do not think Moodle is doing it right at this time."

Well, I can think of lots of examples of Moodle doing that:

  • Drag and drop in 2.3
  • Improved file-picker and other dialogues in 2.3
  • Imporved icons in 2.4
  • ...

There is certainly no 'design' to make work for third-party theme developers.

But updating the whole UI of a big application like Moodle is a huge job.

Q: How do you eat an elephant?

A: One bite at a time.

Just 'banging on about' the fact that the whole elephant needs to be eaten does not make any progress.

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Tim, please understand, I am not a person who has the knowledge to contribute code. Nor am I a fashion designer who can do a couple of quick sketches to get an idea of how something can be made to look good. I do have sufficient imagination to recognise things that look good, things that do not. I also have sufficient understanding that we live in an age where style is far more important than substance. There are sufficient numbers of people involved with Moodle who also understand these things and I am disappointed that so few are prepared to call the interface for what it is.

It seems sometimes though that people who do have the skills to write, to design, accept a utilitarian stodge is better than style. The value of the tool is immense, but so many people are just not interested in using it because they cannot grasp it quickly, or it is not "intuitive", whatever that means. How long do you think Moodle will maintain its position if it does not improve its interface? I certainly do not want to be in the position of using some other tool that is of less use because the people who can change this are too tied up in their own little areas of concern without looking at a larger picture. Why do people consider the interface too big a job to be worried about right now, or other problems are more important than the longer term future of Moodle? I hear that kind of rubbish everyday, so I suggest, yes, one bite at a time and if it is not done, then time and timidity will eventually bring Moodle down.

 

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

No one is asking that you contribute code if you don't know how, and don't want to learn.

Your main point seems to be: "Colin Fraser cannot see any evidence that anyone is working to improve the Moodle UI."

From that you draw the conclusion "No one is working to improve the Moodle UI."

Your logic is faulty. I suggest that you find out what is currently going on.

Then, if you want to make a difference, either find a way to contribute to those efforts, or stop moaning.

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

OK, then I will make a contribution.

I was informed today, just a couple of hours after I made my previous post here, that my current employer is introducing a single SMS and LMS system in 2013 and we are more than likely going to be dropping Moodle in 2014. 

I think I can reasonably perceive that Moodle will fall into disuse before the end of 2013.

There you go. I promise I won't moan anymore, because it is too late. So please, feel free to ignore any comments I make. But I will miss this community... 

 

 

 

 

 
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Picture of Peter Seaman
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Colin, could you please say a little more about why your organization is going with some other LMS over Moodle? Is it b/c of the "style" issues you referred to?

I'm trying to become the world's foremost expert on why organizations do NOT adopt Moodle (I gave a presentation on this topic at a Moodle moot a few years ago). Issues of "style" seem to rank very high on the list.

Quick story: Some years ago I worked with a client who wanted an online training course. So we built one in Moodle, but the client didn't like it. She fired us and hired someone to create a course using Lectora - or maybe not Lectora but one of those authoring systems where the buttons click and the text wooshes across the page. I'm pretty sure anyone with any level of expertise in learning theory could show that the added "flash" of such a system leads to negligible learning gains. But the client is always right (or at least never wrong).

I just thought that was a good example of "interface seduction," and I wonder just how widespread the tendency is. So any insight you could lend would be most helpful - thanks. Oh, and I'm very sorry your organization is dropping Moodle. I've been there, done that, and have been through all five stages of the grieving process.

Peter

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Peter, for my own vision, which is obviously flawed and illogical as I sit too far down the food chain to have sufficient information get any kind of insight that may be of any value, the answer is that there is no single issue that can be pinpointed as an overall, critical issue. Also, being somewhat existentialist, I cannot be bothered about what is happening maybe possibly but is not fouind in a Roadmap, I am more concerned about what I can see right now.

Most of the people I work with are much like myself, on the wrong side of 40. Unlike me, most of these people have had secure careers, little change, little drama, and have, I suggest as a result, developed some strange ideas about their importance in the world and how that world works around them. Much like computer experts and application developers, I suspect.

Our Principal changed at the start of the year and brought with her a number of ideas that are of immense value, but strangely, has a limited view of how ICT requirements can be managed, how technology should be applied. While so good in so many other areas, her views of ICT are, I feel, based in the same general lack of understanding that most people in my age range have. (To be fair, we didn't grow up with it, and most of our generation are struggling with it, and while i have some knowledge and understanding, it is still largely unknown territory.)  One thing she brought with her is a knowledge of an SMS which is, I must admit, good looking, user friendly, "intuitive" and more importantly, it is a one stop tool. I have used it myself, and like the product, and have been wary of the possibilities, considering the potential impact this could have on our Moodle usage. At an Oracle training school a few weeks ago, I had a school ICT leader tell me she hated Moodle, and this new product was much easier to use - her reason, the Wiki and Blogs alone were easier to access and use.

With Moodle, there has been a learning curve, which I have found both easy and difficult to manage. Time has been the factor and time is the one thing we have less of. I cannot sit up to 3 or 4 in the morning anymore and be at work at 8:00am prepared for a really busy day - and neither can the people I work with. Much of Moodle is easy to grasp, and constant use makes it simple, but many of my colleagues are not willing to spend the time to make the repetitions needed to gain the understandings of how to use the Moodle. I suggest they have always found learning new things easy, but no longer, this is different, so they shy away from the technology, or if they use it, it is only in a superficial way. I think that is what they will do with DayMap as well, but it won't be so obvious. All they will do is the PDF/Word thing that Martin refers to frequently, and in which he is quite right. Users will post a PDF or Word assignment, their students will download it, create a Word document in response, then post it. This will be the extent of their use of the new program. They will be able to cover up their superficial use of an extensive product by their abiity to easily link to a clearly observable and understandable gradebook, which is easily accessible by both senior management, and parents.

It is a hosted solution so there are no setup and management issues, I understand. More importantly though, and I do not have sufficient knowledge of how this works but you or someone else might, when we log in for the day, an automatic link appears on the desktop that connects everyone, staff and students, to the program. Click the link and there is our own information. We do not have a separate login, it takes our system login and uses it to identify us, to assign us a Role, to put on our screens the information we need, the screens we can access, in an uncluttered and structured way that is easy to follow. With Moodle, we are required to login to our system, then login to access the Internet, then login to Moodle. Duh! At this point, any excuse not to use something is a "reason". There is the "path of least resistance" factor as well, "If DayMap is open anyway, why should I inconvenience myself and use something else"?

Apparently the system has a way of acessing the School database and can recognise users and their roles and respond accordingly. What is more, there is no need to add more databases, apparently it also accesses family information as parents are automatically assigned a role, again, I do not know how it is done. Parents can enter the system, access their child's assignments, results, reports, as well as notices, and just about any other information they require relating to their offspring - all handled within the application.     

All of this can be broken down that teachers are too busy to spend time learning new things. Or that they are lazy. Or perhaps more accurately, unfamiliarity breeds fear - they do not want to be seen as being "dumb" so if they do not try it they won't fail at it. I know that has been a hurdle for me, which I am always aware of, and I really do not like to be told I am unwilling to learn new things, especially when I do not have the time to learn them. There is also the ease of use, a one stop app is of greater attraction than multiple apps. Again, as I have been decrying for years, Moodle needs to closely integrate with other PHP apps, and not waste time in trying to develop those things that are done better by them. Why have a Wiki when Wikimedia is out there, or blogs when Wordpress is better looking?

Only recently have I thought that including an SMS as part of Moodle would be a huge step forward, but I am obviously well behind the game, others have already done it and Moodle will be left behind as a result. Pity, but as someone else once said "Such is life!"    

 
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Picture of Peter Seaman
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Thanks, Colin, for sharing your perspective. Sounds as though your organization has a strong need for accountability around grades - esp sharing grades with various constituencies. Seems to me as though that's not something Moodle was ever set up to accommodate, and the whole accountability portion of Moodle came later, as more of an afterthought. (I remember at one Moodle moot hearing Martin respond to a question about FERPA, which is the US law that limits parents from seeing the grades of over-18s unless they give permission, and it sounded to me as though he was a bit flummoxed by the whole thing. When I think of Moodle, I think of social constructionism and Martin's idea that "People learn by asking and answering questions." Strict accountability in grading seems a bit counter to all of that - kind of like the endless discussions around cheating in the quiz module, which seems optimized for *practice* much more than high-stakes testing.)

I attended a conference recently at which a high-level administrator said, "We may have to drop Moodle b/c we recently lost some grades." It made me think that when an LMS becomes mainly a repository for accountability info, such as grades, then we may have lost the essence of the learning experience, which is more about building meaning.  At the same session, someone talked about an "LMS stack," which would be an integrated set of learning tools that talk to one another - let each do what it does well rather than replicating everything less well (the SIS keeps track of registration info and grades, the quiz portion asks and answers questions, etc).  Maybe one day the folks at Moodle will need to decide between doing one thing really well and forget about doing some other things that others do better.

Thanks and best of luck!

Peter

 
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Picture of Marc Grober
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

I think, Colin, that what Tim was suggesting is that making Moodle more MS-windows like it became a better product; and of course there are those that do not agree.  I don't think slickness makes for ease of use,  and graphic intensive and complex web material renders, in my opinion,  such resources more difficult to use.  Moreover, who cares if something is NOT slick,  if it IS easy to use. Well, the answer to that question is, "MS window users", lol, who whine that they want the latest and greatest, and then bellyache that it breaks and that they have to buy new hardware to run bloated apps, rofl. Wordstar was an incredible application......

Now we have Moodle 2.whatever,  which the devs are proud of. It still has the same hurdles it always has had, and the consuming industry is going to likely respond in the ways it always has.  ONLY, commercial apps are likely to make better impressions because they can offer slicker interfaces, more comprehensive support covereage, and better integration. AT a price, of course, but that is the same problem ith Microsoft products, and yet Microsoft is still doing very well, lol.

Now, if CLAMP pushed for an integration with Open SMS for example and a financial app into some open ed portal (somewhat along the lines that jasig was working) then you have a robust consortium driven app that could not only run the members' system but could be used by them as a profit center to further development of the integration. But then,  even CLAMP has its concnerns: http://www.clamp-it.org/2012/06/clamp-moodle-2-x-deployment-report/

And of course, Tim's comment about contributing is a tiny bit narrow, as the devs would not even agree to decouple DragMath from the TeX filter, requiring everyone to do that manually (a special hurrah for that,  though I am informed by Jean-Michel but have yet to confirm for myself that the editor will now allow SEE to be implemented without its whole replacement.)  Does that make Tim an ogre? He may enjoy acting like one, lol, but he is just doing what he thinks is right,  and when it comes to this kind of "project" some wonder why others seem not to experience the issues they experience for themselves (ack, and I tell students NOT TO USE PRONOUNS, lol.)

It is what it is, Colin, and neither you nor I will change it.

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

I have no idea what you mean by 'more MS-windows like' (despite the following explanation) so I am pretty sure that is not what I am suggesting.

Issues around editor plugins have probably been fixed in 2.4: http://docs.moodle.org/dev/Moodle_2.4_release_notes#Improved_TinyMCE_editor_integration, so you may have lost one battle, but you have won the war.

I do not enjoy acting like an ogre, but clearly I do behave like that when I am too tired, like last week. Please forgive me.

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

And Tim, just come right out and say what you are thinking, don't be shy now.... 

 
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Picture of Michael Penney
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

One of the things that other systems do is build and test the UI first, via mockups, simulations, etc. Walk through the new UI with stakeholders/target users and/or a User Experience team, and adjust the UI based on feedback before starting to write code. Mostly this is done in commercial applications in crowded markets where gaining/maintaining rapid user acceptance/adoption is key to the product's success. When Moodle started there was Blackboard, WebCT, and Moodle, and BB/WebCT had huge UI issues of their own. Now everyones uncle's brother's sister's cousin has an LMS they want to sell, and they mostly do similar things, so UI/User Experience is a key differentiator.

Moodle generally takes a code first approach, which often means that UI issues come up after the code has been written (2.0 file system is a great example), and then it is a very long process to change, plus users have already grown frustrated with the production version.

Of course UI first/design first is somewhat at odds with agile, which assumes users don't really know what they like/don't like until they use it- but agile can be used with UI mockups instead of code. Over the years, I've found that its very hard for code developers to understand the importance of  UI/User Experience to end users, so you generally need a product manager who is laser focused on UI/User Experience (a Bezos or Jobs) to make this sort of thing work smile.

We would also probably need a dedicated User Experience team to work through the UI prototyping stage as putting mockups into a public forum has not shown to generate sufficient feedback - a thorough evaluation of a UI prototype takes a good bit of time/effort.

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
Hi Michael and all

How about combining the two approaches "UI first" and "code first" into one called "design first"?

Duck and Cover !!
 
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Picture of Michael Penney
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

I've seen it lead to that awkward dance where two people want to go through the same door and neither wants to go first.

The way I do it is create a UI/UE mockup first, run it by the team for feedback, then hash out with Brendan (my excellant Lead Dev) the code design  - that hashing may lead to some UI/UE changes, but we try to avoid that. If it does we re-iterate with the team. 

I have occassionaly come up with great UI/UE that just could not be done in the time/money budget (or without massive hacks to quickforms or other core issuesad), but generally I have found very good UI/UE can be done, and it helps it it goes first.

 
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Picture of Kristen Walker
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
 

Hi Derek,

Thanks for all those links - super informative!

EDU 2.0 has come up on the radar because one of our newly hired managers comes from a school district that was using it and really likes it.  After looking at the the Prezi and digging a bit more it seems like some of the big differences are:

- EDU 2.0 has some really nice graphical displays to show teachers/students how they are progressing through lessons.

- Nice rubric features

- A grouped curriculum feature

- Looks slicker than Moodle

Some of the huge benefits I see of Moodle 2.0 over EDU 2.0 are:

- We have a lot more support in-house for Moodle 2.0.  If our teachers run into any trouble, we really go out of our way to find solutions, etc. I don't know if our instructors would get this kind of support using a free service such as EDU 2.0 - in fact I know of one instructor from the district who uses it who was really frustrated by the lack of support.

- Since we host Moodle, we have a lot of flexibility in terms of installing modules and tweaking code.

- There is a much bigger community using Moodle than EDU 2.0

- Moodle has been around much longer than EDU 2.0. I am a bit curious about EDU 2.0's profit model and if it will stand the test of time. They could fold as a company, or their profit model could change overnight and suddenly you are getting charged for something you are dependent on and didn't budget for.

Another big difference in the two seems to be how the main page of the course is organized - EDU 2.0 features a Facebook-like activity stream prominenetly on the main page, while Moodle features the course content prominently on the main course page. 

Thanks again for all your links, they were really helpful!

-Kristen

 

 
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Picture of Peter Seaman
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Kristen, just a quick observation:

I do hope your organization will be able to get some independent comparison of various systems. I've worked with several clients who fell victim to one person's (usually one INFLUENTIAL person's) preference for one system over another. Then that person left and the organization was stuck with a system they didn't really understand and didn't really want.

I'm painfully aware that even a seemingly robust comparative process can lead to a bad decision, but that process still seems to offer the highest potential for a good result. I hope it happens in your case. Oh, and I hope you'll post here again to let everyone know what your organization decided. Thanks.

Peter

 
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Picture of Kristen Walker
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
 

Hi all,

Thanks so much for these responses!  To respond to Troy's question about what our organization does and what the LMS needs to do, here is a little more background:

We have hosted Moodle on-site at our county ed office for over 5 years for the teachers and students in our county, and recently we upgraded to Moodle 2.3.  One of our programs who runs an administrative credentialing program is looking at going with EDU 2.0 instead of Moodle. They need something where they can post assignments, get assignment submissions, grading/report funcitonality, forums, etc.  At first glance it looks like both EDU 2.0 and Moodle 2+ do those things. 

Given that they both seem pretty similar, I think the big difference will be in terms of the support they will get.  EDU 2.0 does look a lot slicker, which I think is one of its big selling points and why they are drawn to it.  I am trying to compare and contrast the two because I have been asked to provide some insight regarding their decision.

 

Thanks so much!  If anyone else has experience with EDU 2.0 and would like to share their thoughts, I would love to hear them.

-Kristen

 
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Picture of Kristen Walker
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
 

Hi all,

Great conversation!  I definitely think there is a bit of "interface seduction" going on here as I compare feature sets, as well as the novelty of something new. I am more familiar with Moodle 1.9 as we just upgraded to Moodle 2.3 a few months ago. I am really impressed with the new features of Moodle 2.3.  Our local university, University of California Santa Barbara, just rolled out a Moodle install for their campus, and I am going to talk to some of the decision makers over there and pick their brains as to what they looked at and how they came to their decision.

I can't see any big differences feature-wise between EDU 2.0 and Moodle 2.3 ( I am still comparing though, so stay tuned).  Right off I do see big differences in the gloss factor though - EDU 2.0 being the glossier of the two. 

What concerns me about EDU 2.0 is that it seems to be mostly driven by one man, and that man is described on their site as a "serial entrepreneur."  Moodle being open source is driven by a community, and laregely by educators rather than entrepreneurs.  I also have questions about how sustainable the pricing model of EDU 2.0 is.  There is a free service and a premium service. I am wondering how things would change if the man who founded EDU 2.0 decides to sell and go on to his next venture or decides he isn't making money and needs to introduce advertising or raise prices. Given the fact that Moodle has over 60 million users and EDU 2.0 has around 880K users coupled with their differences in terms of open source vs commercial venture fueled by a serial entrepreneur, I would have to say that the feature set would need to be wildly different for me to lean EDU 2.0's way, but that's just me.

I will keep everyone posted as to what the findings are. I think in the coming years Moodle would definitely be well serverd to increase its gloss factor, but in my opinion the slicker look of other options does not trump a sustainable solution backed by a huge worldwide community if you are looking for something for the long haul (which we are).

-Kristen

 

BTW, I really appreciated the ideas on how to test usability - great ideas!

 

 
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Picture of Peter Seaman
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi again, Kristen:  Your mention of "the free service and the premium service" set off some alarm bells in my head.

I have some experience with other "open-source" applications (not Moodle) which employ a kind of "loss leader" model. The idea is to tell everyone that the application is open-source as an enticement to use it. But then if you want the REALLY USEFUL features, you have to buy the "premium" or "enterprise" versions of the software.

Moodle, to my knowledge, has never done this: you get the whole package, and it's all freely available. So you might put another tick in Moodle's column for this attribute.

At a minimum I'd be extremely scrupulous about distinguishing between free and "premium" features in any software.  Make sure you know exactly what you're getting for free and what you're going to have to pay for, so that you get an honest comparison.

Peter

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Peter, this is not true of Moodle.  There is a community + premium model, just not by that name.

The free version is called Moodle.  I call it "core Moodle" or "OOTB Moodle".  The Premium versions include ELIS, Joule and Totara.

If you want proper outcomes, enhanced tracking, member management, learning pathway management, decent reports, across Moodle grade reporting, enhanced video deployment, better navigation, happier administrators (etc) you can buy these.

  1. http://www.totaralms.com/feature-a-benefits
  2. http://rlcommunity.remote-learner.net/
  3. http://www.moodlerooms.com/meet-joule

There are more that are not so well known. 

With Moodle + Plugins, there is another option.  Some Moodle Partners (and other providers) make their plugins available, others keep them for their hosted servers.

There are some distributions.  CLAMP is one, (where there is a paid closed community around it) and Moodle in Schools (totally free download) is another (where there is basically no community/governance arrangement)

None of this worries me.  It's not BAD or GOOD it just IS. 

Your loss leader model is correct: but it is not the only option.  Moodle as I define it above is not a Loss leader, it is the flagship.

I'll respond to Tim and Colin in due course: but my opinion is this, that Moodle out of the box is not good enough to fulfil basic needs, except for very small stable enrolment courses, or very free and open settings. 

Core themes lack basic features that could be added in a few hours, formats are inadequate for the distance, reporting is too basic to be of any use, member management is poor, bulk course creation/delete is difficult, management of diskspace eg private files is non-existant, Moodle forums are poorly featured, scroll of death, navigation scroll of death etc. 

I'm reluctant to work with clients now if they won't pay to have a few themes and plugins installed, and I won't support hosters who don't do this, and it took me 18 months to find suitable partners.  Most of these issues are sorted well and good in the Moodle "preimum" installs (Like have you seen the doozy cool stuff in Totara?)  They can be sorted with a few plugins, to a certain extent.  This is my conclusion after 5 years of trying to get some basics into Moodle core so I can recommend Moodle core, and basically failing on most counts. 

And then working for clients or chit-chatting to friends who say "can I bulk create 30 courses?".  I want to say 'Yes, use this plugin'.  Or Navigation sucks, and I say "Use the course menu plugin".  Or navigation menu sucks, and I say "Use Decaf_green".  Or can I find a report that says who has not posted? ues, with tis addon.  This is the community + do it yourself premium you may be looking at Peter.

Moodle sometimes is too prone to say "Fix the user".  I'm not sure it is a good listener (in general, although I am sometimes suprised as http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-33688) and I'm not sure there is any user testing as has been described here.  I like the forums with coders and non-coders in, but the communication barrier is still great.  Ungratefulness and parsimoniousness on one side and "so it's open source, code it yourself" or "fix the user" on the other side.  A suprising amount happens thought with Moodle (glass half full view) and a lot doesn't happen that in another setting (eg Edmodo, EDU 2.0 or canvas) is a no-brainer (glass half empty view)

But basically I am here, because of a range of trajectories.  At the moment, most of my Moodle work I do Pro Bono.  The latest workshops I've run I've set aside the registration fees to MiS development.  (Not getting much!!)

We shall see.  Tim's elephant analogy: there are easy and hard ways to eat an elephant.  A bit more planning and prioritising, user testing (what's the quickest way to eat this limb?) and dialogue (I'll stay out of your way while you are cooking up a rib) could make the process more efficient, quicker, more fun and more satisfying.

Gee.  Longer than I meant to post.

-Derek

 

 
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Picture of Marc Grober
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

bingo

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Marc, and Peter, I understand what you are getting at, and yes, there is the intellecutal laziness, if you like, of a Windoze user, which is where I get my perspective of how the word "intuitive" has become indistinct from "familiar" in the PC. 

Bottom line is that Moodle's days are numbered unless it lifts its game. OK, I know that Oz is a very small market, supplying probably less than 5% of Moodle's 60million odd users, not counting the sites not registered. However, if a product is successful in usurping Moodle, Blackboard, Sakai, D2L, killing Canvas before it gets established, wrecking EDU while in its infancy, in Australia, how long will it be before it reaches New Zealand, then east across the Pacific? If it gets into Europe, what is the main problem then? This is just business. It is not the product that is the threat, it is the idea the product represents. How long before someone picks up on it and pushes their product even further - it might already be happening.  

I doubt Moodle is ready to face this kind of competition, and unless it is brought to the attention of the devs, it is likely they will be standing there wondering if a Moodle 3.0 is even a remote possibility or unemployed or worse, they may even be unable to be upgraded. I love my Moodle, but it will be taken away from me, and that makes me unhappy. What is worse, Marc, the people I might have to fight are not those on the other side, but those with whom I should be aligned with. Either way, I am bound to lose, but Don Quixote has always been my hero..smile

 

 
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Picture of Peter Seaman
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Derek:  Thanks for adding your perspective. But since you don't know the other OS applications I'm thinking of - and I don't feel I can reveal their names ("to protect the guilty") - let me just propose the following hierarchy:

1) OS applications that are basically unusable w/o the "premium" version
2) OS applications that are fully usable w/o the "premium" version
3) OS applications that have enhanced "bells and whistles" in the premium version.

The ones I'm thinking of fall clearly into category #1. But Moodle does not fall into that category, IMHO. It falls into category #2. I've introduced Moodle core over the years to dozens of clients, all of whom were very happy with it (with that one exception I noted). And doesn't Moodle core meet the needs of 60+ million users? Why aren't they all screaming for ELIS, Totara, etc?

Maybe what I'm proposing here is a taxonomy for OS applications. I'd be interested in hearing whether others would validate it. Thanks.

Peter

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Just thinking Peter: are you meaning Moodle core (ie out of the box) is fully useable in all but one of your clients?

And are you meaning in a software Useability sense or just "Easy to use" or 'fit for purpose'? 

-Derek

 
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Picture of Peter Seaman
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Yes to all of your questions. And in fact Moodle was perfectly useable by that one client but she didn't like it b/c it wasn't "sexy" enough: the buttons didn't make a clicking noise and the text didn't whoosh across the page. I think I've always valued Moodle for the lack of such worthless surface features, but obviously some people value them.

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

I think that there is already some things happening in some of the areas you identify. (Though these responses could just read like a list of excuses.)

"Core themes lack basic features that could be added in a few hours,"

Don't tease, us. Please give us the tracker issue numbers for what these are.

"formats are inadequate for the distance," "scroll of death,"

Have you looked at the changes in 2.4 yet? and further changes should follow in 2.5.

"reporting is too basic to be of any use,"

There is talk of getting the reporting system from ELIS, or one of the other commerical add-ons, into Moodle core.

"member management is poor, bulk course creation/delete is difficult,"

Many people solve it by integrating Moodle with their student information system, or LDAP, or some other system. It would to have better tools built in to Moodle, but I don't think that is the biggest priority for Moodle HQ, compared to some of the other things you suggest, and which they are already working on. I think these sorts of admin tools are the sort of thing that could be contributed by someone outside HQ.

"management of diskspace eg private files is non-existant,"

This would be relatively easy to add, if it has not already been done. Is there a tracker issue?

"Moodle forums are poorly featured,"

I know you know how glacial the progress towards getting forumng into Moodle core has been.

"navigation scroll of death"

This was discussed during one of the sessions at the recent developer conference, and some sensible dicisions made. See http://docs.moodle.org/dev/Perth_Hackfest_October_2012/Navigation_and_UI. Hopefully they will get implemented in Moodle 2.5.

I think that, while it may not be very visible, Martin spends a lot of his time reading forums, looking at tracker issues, going to conferences, talking Moodle Partners (who know what their clients are saying), ... all to try to work out which of the many ideas for how Moodle should develop next are most important, and hence that he should get his staff to work on. In the last year he has recruited Barbara, a web/ui designer, (http://moodle.com/hq/team/) and her work is starting to make a difference to the slickness of Moodle, although there is a long way to go.

However, Moodle development can only move at a certain speed. (See 4. and 5. of Lehman's laws of Software Evolution.)

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Tim, well done, thanks.  I do know the time it takes to look up and track this type of stuff.

I was going to post that I thought you were too hard in some of your earlier comments.  You are nearly in a unique situation.  You have been in Moodle HQ, a student and a core developer.  I'm not sure if you have ever eavesdropped on staff taining or been an admin for a core Moodle site.

You insitution has been in the lucky position of being able to enhance Moodle when it needs to.  Pedagogically you decide certain interactions are needed (like your study mode in UI) so you build NG (announced in 2009 https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=137549) User and admin things follow:  you build a new wiki, new course format, new Blog, three new questions types using drag and drop, reports, workflow etc.  It must be just different looking at others using core Moodle from your perspectice.  I was fooled by this: I met some gus from OU and heard about what they were doing pre-moodle and was impressed, then heard you had adopted Moodle (which in the early days in my country was a big plus) but then later, at aconferences, discovered the Moodle used by OU was not the Moodle I struggled with.  smile

Be that as it may, my list was just an indicative one.  I'm writing from the point of view of the basic user who is unable to do plugins for whatever reason.  I'll follow up on some of your comments.  Meanwhile:

  1. ForumNG.  You are right of course.  A little bump: Why has no-one responded to my comment here suggesting how to proceed next: http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-34144?focusedCommentId=182222&page=com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.issuetabpanels:comment-tabpanel#comment-182222  (Busyness?  No-one noticed it?  It's a stupic suggestion?)
  2. Themes: Point taken.  I'll create one later.  I did a comparison of some of the features in the docs: http://docs.moodle.org/22/en/Standard_themes#Notes_on_individual_themes - the combination of CSS changes possible, logo and nothing quirky is rare.  
    The theme tracker item that has rocketed up to 30 votes in about that many days is this one, but it may be in hand: http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-35434
  3. Admin tools: like bulk course create.  The code has been there for years from a good source in the tracker.  MoodleHQ is just not prioritising this.  Took me a long time to realise this.  We live with this.  Mind you in a serindipity, I got an e-mail this morning back from Moodle on this issue from nearly a year ago!!  
  4. Yes, Some of the other comments do sound like excuses.  smile  
  5. Some of the other points I will follow up on and create some focused tracker items.

Point taken about Martin.  This discussion has been traversed elsewhere. "the road map is pretty high level only, has only a small pending tray, and there is always a large number of items in people's minds and there is patchy visibility to outsiders"  I had not heard of Barbera (the link you post is possibly mistyped)  I'm not sure I am looking at speed.  I am looking at the smaller items, with disproportionate significance, within the general direction.

Anyway, I'll report back sometime.

-Derek

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

I have never been a Moodle admin (apart from development sites). However, I work in the same open plan office as the people who administer our Moodle site, and as well as writing our own plugins, we have improved some of the admin funcitonality in Moodle core to make their lives easier. Things like that ability to choose which user profile fields appear in most reports; the first version of the 'Check permissions' functionality (Petr later re-wrote it); there must be lots more, but I can't think now.

I only very occasionally get to eves-drop on training sessions.

1. Almost certainly business. The real problem is that any any given time, either Moodle HQ or sam marshall are busy.

3. It is a known issue that suggested patches get stuck at the point in the process where someone should peer review them. During the developer meeting Moodle HQ got as far as creating a dashboard in the tracker, to make it clear how bad the problem is: http://tracker.moodle.org/secure/Dashboard.jspa?selectPageId=13051. Now thatt Moodle 2.4 is released, hopefully they will have time to work through that backlog a bit.

Note that one of the directions Moodle HQ is taking is to make it easier for admins to find, install and upgrade add-ons from the plugins database.

http://moodle.com/hq/team/ - before I put that in brackets, and auto-linking includes the close bracket in the URL. I wonder if that is reported in the tracker? Yes: MDL-22390.

 
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Picture of Brian Peat
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

None of you guys know me, but I've been building moodle sites for my employer over the last several months and am about to move one from Desire2Learn over to moodle. I'm a joomla guy, so learning Moodle was an interesting experience. 

On the first site, in order to me more in control of the environment for the students, I actually used Joomdle to wrap moodle inside the Joomla site and used Jomsocial as the profile engine. IN the end, the students see ONLY what I want them to see, including only the topic area of the course (no top or side nav, no profiles, nothing else but the course content main column stuff).

The one benefit is I got a social area (which I was happy to see the students using!) and I was able to use the Joomla ACLs to limit students to different pages in Joomla (such as class mp3s or a live feed for online students that onsite students didn't see). Originally I was going to try all kinds of complicated groupings and multiple copies of the courses in Moodle and they just gave up the fight and went with joomla as the wrapper. 

In the end, I'm REALLY happy with the result. I acutally wish someone would write Moodle as a full Joomla component the way folks have done with things like open cart-where it FEELS native inside joomla and not just an iframe. Anyway, that's a long shot that's not likely to happen.

So, all that said, the things that I got hung up on were these:

(Keep in mind, I'm not schooled in all the plugins and work arounds that are available, this is from my perspective of being given the task to launch a new moodle install for our ministry school)

  • The admin navigation is endless. In joomla there's a front end, and a back end and I work on both in 2 tabs in my browser. In moodle, there's a sea of endless items in the side bar, and if you've also got a course open, you get an endless list of topics that you keep having to collapse. I'd love to see a better way to handle the admin stuff. Maybe I just need to mess with it more and find a way to move the admin to one side and the course stuff to the other side, but I haven't tried that yet.
  • The admin is so filled with setting screens that I can never remember where something is. I continually have to google stuff just to find where a setting was. Sometimes they're just stuck in odd places (like advanced or experimental). It's frustrating compared to Joomla, but then there are a zillion more actual settings in there. Still, I think it could be more thought out and better organized.
  • Tied to this admin issue is the wiki. My problem with the wiki is it always assumed I knew WHERE something was and it only explained to me what it was used for. So when I went to try to set up groups and I wanted to hide groups from eachother, I went in circles before I finally found mention of a special setting to turn on an advanced option and then a check box would appear in the assignment edit screen. I wasted an hour figuring that one out. And that has happened several times. My coworkers have heard me yelling at the screen...JUST TELL ME WHERE IT IS ALREADY!!!!!
  • The layouts are very limited. Why can't I add blocks to the center column? Why can't I make some home page content visible to ONLY the public, and then other content only visible to logged in users? There's a little class in there I found I could use to hide things from non-logged in users, but there's not class for logged in users. On our newest site I had to fake the front page using a css trick I won't go into, but it was a lot of hacking and experimenting just to get around a big limitation. The suggestion on the forums was to use those special personal home pages. That's great in theory, but some of our students are older. So now, they've got the Public home page and their My Home, and they aren't the same, but they're both in the navigation. Instant confusion, especially because My Home has things they'll never use on it. I completely hid My Home with CSS because it can't be turned off in the menu.
  • No course "home" or "welcome" pages. On our second Moodle install (no joomla involved) I was trying to put a welcome message or video on the course home page when I realized, there is no course home page. The only way to do this is to try to hack one in with a label in the news or general activity area at the top of the course page. I gave up and just made a few activity entries instead and called it Course Information. I won't go into detail, and this one isn't a huge issue, it's just something that I got hung up on.
  • Roles and permissions sometimes don't go far enough. I'd love to be able to set up a non-editing teacher but give them the ability to create SPECIFIC activities in the top block of a course. I don't want them to be able to delete or edit anything else, just create and edit something (such as post a video or text message). Instead, we had to set up a forum for them to post announcements and a welcome video to.
  • No auto updates. I can't tell you how amazing it is to go into Joomla and click Update and have Joomla 2.6.7 updated to 2.5.8 in a matter of seconds. I know this is on the list, but it really should be pushed to the highest priority if possible. Build in a message that warns of specific changes if something might break. I know recently Joomla started adding 3.0 to the update screen, so you can see your 2.5.x updates or jump to 3. The warning there isn't strong enough, so you'd want to make sure your warnings are VERY strong so users don't get into bad situations.
  • Installing plugins still requires ftp (as far as I can tell). In joomla, I can visit an install screen and choose a file on my mac and install it. Better yet, if I purchased a 3rd party plugin called Akeeba Backup, it gives me restore points. I can literally install something, BREAK the front of the site, go into the back and roll the site back to the point before the install happened. It's wonderful. Of course one should really do this on a dev copy first, but in a pinch, it's great if you've been stupid.
  • Menus and navigation are disorganized and cluttered. I continually get stumped by the weird menus. Things show up in multiple places and blocks take googling to figure out why they are there and what they're for. I came from the joomla side of things and the menus there are 100% customizable. You can add side bar modules, tie them to a menu and turn them on, you can add or remove anything from any menu. The drawback, of course, is that you don't have ANYTHING in your menus if you don't first add them, so you might not want to go to that extreme if you're looking to attract new users. Or you set up a default menu and allow us to remove and add things we want. And I'm talking through a ui, not that text box in the theme settings window where you can create custom menu items by entering strings in a text box.
  • A few other little things I'd love to see. We use the activity completion chart to monitor student progress. I'd love an override function on that that lets instructors check a box and make a note as to why it was overriden. Recently we had a glitch and an questionaire response wasn't being checked off. I had to figure out where in the database I had to go to fix it because there's no override.
  • Bugs. There are a few, but with each new version, I'm seeing the ones I've encountered go away, which is great!

Anyway, I know this sounds like a gripe session, and my perspective is different from those who run massive schools with a real setup (we tend to not use grading much, and we don't do true quizes, rubric, etc), but I wanted to let you know what Moodle looks like from an "outsider" just getting into it from another platform.

That said, I ignore many of my joomla friends when they say "moodle is crap" because I know what they mean. They mean the admin is complex and the layout is very inflexible compared to joomla-but I have yet to find a learning component as extensive as moodle that's built for joomla.

We're sticking with it, mostly because #1 I usually find a workaround for most issues I run into and #2 WE can control the development. We're about to pay the poodll guy to modify his video plugin for us. If we were on a hosted system we simply couldn't do that.

Overall, I'm really happy with the power moodle provides, I just hope as it progesses, the layout and other features get some love and it really moves into a more modern feeling system.

hope that makes sense! smile

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Good feedback Brian, worth reading and re-reading. One minor point, the 2.4 version that came out in the last few days means that updating both of Moodle and plugins can now done without FTP access.

It could be a while before Moodle wins any beauty contests, but I can live with that.

 
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Picture of Troy Shimkus
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
 

Very interesting observations Brian, many of which I share as a Joomla person myself.

I'd be very interested in possibly doing something similar to what you've done with the Joomla/Moodle combo. I have a couple clients that might be able to make some good stuff happen there.

 

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

It does make a lot of sense Brian, and some good observations from a developer.

For me, the interface should almost be a separate identity which allows the user to use a generic or a bespoke, or anything in between skin. I love my Moodle, and I am going to lose it over the next year essentially because it does not have a sexy look. The power of the tool is ignored or even dismissed because of that. 

The other thing that is causing me angst is the concentration on the tool as a learning tool, in an age when kids don't wear watches unless as a jewellery item because it is a "single use device". Moodle really does need to stretch itself if it want to continue to grow. The most obvious direction here is institution/school and student/user management. I am sure there would be something in Joomla that would already meet that need, at least partly, so the addition of Moodle is a logical progression.

 

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

I think you are wrong about single-use software.

There is a fundamental difference between hardware and software on the internet. On the web, the next device is just a click away. In fact think about Moodle.org. It does not matter that moodle.org, docs.moodle.org and tracker.moodle.org are all different web applications. In fact, it lets us have best of breed for each bit of the site.

There are some people who argue that you should not have Moodle at all, at least, not any of the activities. You should just have Moodle for the course structure, and all the other systems should be External tools the you connect to via LTI.

I think that is also too extreme. The scope Moodle has set for itself is the institution-provided learning and teaching space. We have decided that ePortfolio, Student information system, Repositories, ... are separate systems. We should integrate with them well, but we cannot build best-of-breed versions of these within Moodle, at least not if you expect us to spend time making the Moodle UI much slicker.

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

"We have decided that ePortfolio, Student information system, Repositories, ... are separate systems. We should integrate with them well, but we cannot build best-of-breed versions of these within Moodle, at least not if you expect us to spend time making the Moodle UI much slicker."

Hear hear

 
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Picture of Brian Peat
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

I agree with this too. I actually didn't mind wrapping Moodle in Joomla to build something bigger...I'm letting moodle do exactly what it does best. That said, I would like it to have a little bit more flexibility in design and layout (though it certainly doesn't need to be a full fledged cms). I think as long as moodle could be configured as a hub or as a spoke to another hub, that will replace needing to be a jack of all trades. What I mean is, if the APIs are good, systems could be linked to it (the way I linked joomla to it via joomdle) and information could be shared. 

We're eventually going to need some sort of student management system. I have no experience in this at all, but I'm hoping when we're ready that there's something REALLY robust and powerful that can talk to Moodle.

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

You should have a lot of flexibility in design and layout, unfortunately, the framework that exists to make that possible is currently broken. See https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=216458#p942784 or MDL-34496 if you are interested in more details.

 
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Picture of Brian Peat
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

I just skimmed through that thread. I was wondering why there aren't Moodle template clubs. We are members of 4 joomla theme/extension clubs right now and it's nice to have that to pull from. I usually start with a stock theme and hack away at it...but even the most basic joomla templates are flexible because of the joomla framework. Add something like Gantry to it and it's even more so. Anyway, I'm rambling now. We're moving TO moodle from a hosted system (or no system at all), so we're happy so far, even WITH the limitations.

 
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Picture of Troy Shimkus
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
 

I would second that Brian, a Gantry or Warp setup would be great. Not too sure it will ever happen given the stark differences between the existing moodle tempalte engine and those, but that would definitely go along way toward improving the layout options in Moodle.

 

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Brian,

I am an old joomla template club member too and we were discussing about different template and grid systems in theme forums a couple of years ago (2008-2010) very intensively. I was also testing Gantry inside "early versions of moodle 2.0" and the main problem was that moodle has a built-in YUI library that you can't "switch off" - and Gantry is using Mootools that had and most likely still has conflicts with YUI. So it was/is possible to create a separate "theme css admin page" (outside moodle) to create settings for Gantry based themes and use these settings as a part of Moodle Themes but it was not possible to use Gantry itself as a part of moodle themes. After my testing period I even sent email to Andy Miller (CEO/Founder/Head Kahuna of RocketTheme Team - creator of Gantry) and asked if they were interested in adding a Moodle Club to http://www.rockettheme.com/ but obviously Gantry development for Joomla and WordPress was taking most of their resources and even if RocketTheme has currently also a phpBB3, Magento and Drupal Template Club (sunsetting this year) their main interest was/is to create great looking Joomla and WordPress themes for growing markets. If you compare for example features of  http://www.rockettheme.com/joomla-templates/cerulean to current core themes of moodle we are now near the same situation that RocketTheme templates were before they implemented Gantry...

Basicly all moodle themes can be set to use layouts like http://demo.rockettheme.com/joomla25/cerulean/features/module-positions and you can create responsive layouts for moodle themes with lots of css and hard work and studying how different parts of moodle are using different css classes and ids - or add new theme settings - it may just take months/years to make moodle work like http://demo.rockettheme.com/joomla25/cerulean/

cerulan

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

... and there it is... Thanks Mauno... 

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

If you would like to do something about this, head over to the themes forum, and help out with what Amy Groshek is attempting: https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=216519

 
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Picture of Mauno Korpelainen
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Yes, of course I can try to help there and I will - Amy, Mary, Danny, David, You and other people in theme forum have collected many good ideas to make moodle themes better. My comment was just a simple explanation why templating frameworks like Gantry and Warp can't be used directly with moodle.

You can do a lot with plain CSS and even more by moving forward to HTML5 but one essential element of UI design is also javascript and this is partly connected to https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=188627 and some other discussions that Stuart Lamour started.

Things like Bootstrap were not originally meant to be used on top of YUI - to make Bootstrap as fast and reliable as possible you should use it without YUI reset-base-moodle base-custom theme css overwriting chains. YUI css files have the contextual version, CSS Reset's rules should be applied to nodes that descend from a node with a class value of .yui3-cssreset only - not everywhere:

<div class="yui3-cssreset">...</div>

I can't even tell in which yui widgets yui reset is actually needed and why default styles of HTML elements need reset - we have dropped support for IE6 a long time ago and other (modern) browsers render css almost equally. It's a pain to overwrite hundreds of css rules just to notice that it breaks again in the 4th list element - ask Mary about different YUI reset css bugs and she might see red wide eyes

Bootstrap has also jQuery plugins that "bring Bootstrap's components to life" ( http://twitter.github.com/bootstrap/javascript.html ) but since "jQuery" is a really Bad Word for some core developers it is banned like all other optional javascript libraries - you should use yui and nothing else but yui in moodle... so the only option to bootstrap javascript plugins might be http://jshirley.github.com/bootstrap/javascript.html

Most common joomla template frameworks use either jQuery or Mootools - or both - for example Warp that Troy mentioned is using jQuery and Mootools for changing settings in administration and for creating different vivid effects and widgets on pages - see more details from pages like http://www.yootheme.com/themes/warp-framework or http://www.yootheme.com/demo/joomla/drive . And surely Yui widgets could be used as well if somebody just had the time and knowledge to create from a scrach a similar templating framework with YUI3.

The only "exception" in moodle 2, mymoodle theme, is using mobile jquery on top of yui and it was accepted to core only because YUI had no mobile options available.

Moodle 2 themes had many major improvements compared to moodle 1.X themes, for example output renderes, configurable settings, cache and free selection of layouts Special Thanks to You, Tim, and Petr & Sam. The unfinished parts can be added to moodle 3, right? wink

 
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Picture of David Scotson
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers
My experiments so far have yet to find a place where the YUI css actually has any effect. I've not yet found a way to simply not load it from within a theme though. I've deleted it from core Moodle though and not been able to tell the difference. (To be exact, the default font changed, but if your theme sets the font then you won't notice).
 
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Picture of Brian Peat
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

FYI Joomla 3.0 uses bootstrap and they are making a new javascript manager to deal with the use of mootools along with jquery. I don't know what RT's plans are with gantry, but I have to wonder if they aren't going to move toward jquery/bootstrap or continue just rolling their own framework with mootools on top of it. I guess we'll see what happens in the coming months.

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Tim, you may very well be right, separate systems and external tools may very well be the optimum, but I am not looking at optimum. My observations of my colleagues are not always flattering when it comes to technology. Unfortunately, it is they who are in the majority. I know that they prefer things simple, the simpler the better. I expect that single systems are a more attractive option for them. This does not make the applications any better - just simpler even if actually rubbishy when seriously, honestly, compared to Moodle.

EDIT: BTW, I am also a bit of  a slacker... logging into Moodle, then having to log into Moodle Docs then having to log in to Tracker... sucks. smile 

I suggest only that the broader the appeal of Moodle the more confident we, as a community, can be of Moodle's longer term future. To maximise that appeal, I offer that the interface needs to be reconsidered, simplified, and the abilities of Moodle are broadened, to include institutional/school administration and user/student management features. It is an opinion only and I would really dislike to be proven correct here, but I am certain that I am not too far from the mark. Time will tell and if we are still discussing this in five years, then maybe I am wrong, which I would gladly be. It may be that what Brian is doing, above, is what will ensure a longer term presence of Moodle, or another solution may present itself in time - but I failed my tea-leaf and palm reading classes at school so cannot really tell, only guess.    

 

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

I agree that users want things to be simple. That still does not necessarily mean that Moodle should build everything. A good example of this is Linux. If you buy a laptop, or a server, running 'Linux' then actually what you are probably buying is some distribution like Redhat or Ubuntu comprising the Linux kernel, and numerous applications created by other projects. The distribution, which brings together all the different parts, is yet another project.

The point is that all these different projects are doing different kinds of work. The kind of things required to build the Linux kernel, or Libre office, or package it up for users, are all different type of software engineering, so it makes sense for them to be done by different groups of people. Now, a web-based VLE, and a web-based SIS are more similar than the Linux kernel and Libre office, but are they more similar that Libre office and GIMP?

At the moment, the only people packaging Moodle with other things (e.g. ELIS, Totara and Joule) are at the more commercial end of the Moodle community, so their work is not fully shared. But then in the Linux world, the earlier distros were more commercial, and the more open ones came later. I think. Actually, Debian has been around for a long time. I might be wrong.

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Tim:

ePortfolio, Student information system, Repositories, ... are separate systems. We should integrate with them well, but we cannot build best-of-breed versions of these within Moodle,

then:

comprising the Linux kernel, and numerous applications created by other projects.

Is that not what I mentioned above? Why waste time on developing a wiki when mediawiki  is available? How about tools like WordPress as opposed to the blogging mod? Would integrating such tools not be a better option? Re-inventing the wheel is not always a good option.

Building something that integrates into a single interface is a better option, as you have already pointed out, twice... then why does Moodle not do that?  You obviously support that model, otherwise you would not have mentioned it. Perhaps we are not that far apart at all.. I am sure there are any number of smallish tools that perform a single function or do a number of important functions but are underperformers in their own right. Could they benefit from inclusion into Moodle? Could Moodle use them to expand its capabilities?

I know it is certainly not a straight forward job, and may not be possible in every case, or develop a new tool without major rewrites, and in some cases it might be better writing a whole new module. I know I seem to be making simplistic statements and asking simplistic questions, but I do know a little about coding for a large, well established, products. I also understand that shortcuts do not always lead to improvements, nor to a stable product, ask Blackboard about that. But that is one way how Moodle could stay in the game and not get left behind.      

 
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Picture of Marc Grober
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Colin,

The argument for employing a rather more common API so that apps can use best of breed web2.0 components has been made on a regular basis, and has been dismissed on just as regular basis as it has been made. While I sympathize with those who have made those decisions (and can understand much of their rationale),  I am, as are you, obviously disappointed by that fact.....  and that is that. Nothing to see here folks; time to move on.

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Actually, if you want to integrate any other web app, then since Moodle 2.2, then potentially you can, using the External tool plugin, which implements the LTI standard. And then you don't have to use the standard Moodle tools, if you prefer the external tool you have found.

The main arguments for maintaining our own tools, inside Moodle, are:

  1. The requirements for a tool used in an educational setting, where there are separate roles teacher and student, and teachers may wish to grade or monitor students, are somewhat different to the requirements on a generic tool on the internet.
  2. We have a set of tools in Moodle that are the results of 10 years of community discussion and development to work out what the requirements for a forum / wiki / quiz system that is used for teaching and learning. It would be silly to throw that away now.
  3. A suite of tools on the internet will have less consistent UI that a suite of tools build into Moodle, therefore requiring teachers and student to spend more time learning the technology, rather than the subject. (Although that technology learning might be more transferable than learning to use Moodle.)
 
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Picture of Edward Bethel
Re: Moodle 2.0 vs EDU 2.0
 

Kristen

I don't know whether your organization has decided upon an LMS yet, but here's another one you might want to look at: https://eliademy.com/ Eliademy is based on Moodle, but in a very stripped down version. If you love moodle, but want something simpler to use this is something you should check out.

Let me know what you think.

Eddie

 
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