Comparisons and advocacy
Gnomio versus Moodlecloud
They both appear nice solutions to relatively small requirements (e.g. an individual teacher). MoodleCloud offers it will be running the latest version of Moodle (Moodle 3.0) , whereas looking at the Gnomio twitter feed they have just updated to Moodle 2.9.3. However this would probably make no difference at all to most users.
MoodleCloud is up-front about limiting a site to 50 users whereas Gnomio makes no such mention on their front page. So if you need accounts for 100 users Gnomio might be the way to go, but they also make it very clear they are not a company and their resources are limited. You can get some benefits by donating a fairly modest sum to Gnomio.
MoodleCloud is backed by Moodle HQ and the partners which probably means they have more resources in the long run. Both services really want you to go to a commercial partner if you have significant resource needs (e.g. running an entire school or university).
If I was a new teacher I would probably go with MoodleCloud, but I'm not, and I have the perspective of a Moodle developer who has been exploring all things Moodle for a very long time.
Going with a full Moodle partner can be surprisingly affordable. I have just copied this from one of the NZ partners sites.
Even our $100pcm starter package includes managing your Moodle site, free upgrades and updates, maintaining secure weekly backups, unlimited traffic, and free helpdesk support via email. Oh, and our customer service is truly excellent.
That sounds like a fair deal once a few tutors have got together, and have become established in getting paying students that warrant the costs of a partner. Or for say a small language centre, do we really need a partner? Perhaps progress on using a web host and installing our own moodle. I can understand large establishments needing a partner, that depending of course that they don't have their own knowledgeable staff.
What about bigbluebutton and a restriction of 6 people? Does Gnomio offer more? I see no mention of restriction with gnomio. Themes? A better choice of themes and other plugins with Gnomio?
Your web page reading is about as good as mine . However.... Any system for audio/video web conferencing tends to be wildly demanding of resources and there are very good reasons for Moodle cloud putting in that 6 user limit.
One of the advantages of MoodleCloud running Moodle 3.0 is the inclusion of the OU Drag and Drop question types. The drag words into gaps question is particularly handy for teaching languages as it is wildly easier for teachers than the Cloze question that has been in Moodle from the time of earths creation.
One of the limitations of these services is that you will not have access to 3rd party add-ons such as additional question types, reports etc.
That's definitely a plus for me, as I am into languages, and I must try that. Drag and drop sounds much better than cloze [ ] this all the time. It took me some time to understand that. Also time consuming.
However as I now have both moodlecloud and gnomio, I will continue to weigh them both up. It's not difficult to get them members, in fact gnomio.com is very easy and quick.
As This is about comparing Gnomio and Moodlecloud I've been using both, and testing the difference. I've been concentrating more on Moodlecloud these past few weeks, and have now got 40 students enrolled all from my facebook group. Unfortunately I have noticed not only has Moodlecloud got restrictions on bigbluebutton, it has a lot less plugins available in comparison to Gnomio. One that bothers me is that of providing certificates to students (Yes,Gnomio has it). Anyway, I'll continue trying them both out. I hope eventually by May or June I will start making one of them pay with paying students, but for the moment it is free for the the students.
The only plugins in Moodlecloud (apart from BBB) are supported by MoodleHQ. This brings the confidence that they are all supported by MoodleHQ and will be upgraded in line with each new version of Moodle. Third party plugins differ in how confident you can be that they will be updated and when. It is interesting to see that MoodleCloud now has a low cost "get rid of the adverts" option.
That is not in any way to disparage Gnomio as a choice, I don't know what plugins they use and if they are conservative the difference will be very marginal. As I said in my original comment, they are both nice solutions. It is very interesting to hear of your thinking on this John, keep commenting.
Gnomio has always had a remove ad option. I belive it's about 40 Euros a month. Disappointing that has a lack of plugins in comparison to Gnomio. Especiallly certificates for students. It would be no big deal for the partners to include something so important.
I think you may have missed the word MoodleCloud in your last post. It would be a big deal in the sense that support costs money. To paraphrase Martin Dougiamas software should be free but not people (he probably should have said gratis). One persons vital plugin is another persons irrelevance. I have never used the certificate plugin and I suspect you would not find a pressing need for the BTEC grading plugin I created.
I believe a significant point of MoodleCloud is to deploy core Moodle, and possibly gain data and feedback for that. Also with MoodleCloud you are getting something that is actively supported by a whole bunch of professional programmers. I have heard talk of the HQ headcount growing towards 100 people.
If they added 3rd party plugins they would then need to support those plugins, so much code so little developer time. Of course this not a zero sum commercial comparison, it is not a case of "pick MoodleCloud and Gnomio looses" out. It is more like "pick Gnomio, give feedback and people realise how important plugin x is"
(My comments are only those of an interested observer, I have no connection with Moodle HQ apart from admiration)
I have every admiration for the moodle organisation myself, and I'm a strong believer in FOSS. I also believe that moodle has plenty of potential for growth in attracting private tutors and language centres teaching English as a second language. I was concentrating on moodlecloud more recently, due to the fact of its link with moodle headquarter, however I'm now more determined than ever to give a fair and even chance to gnomio and moodlecloud. Apart from moodleclouds name of being linked to Moodle HQ, I'm afraid for the time being gnomio is coming out tops. I suppose the real test will come when both are filled with teachers, students, and courses, and they are both fully functioning. Give me a few months for that, as I'm doing this part time, and this is a busy period for a private tutor on face to face work. It'll slow down in the summer months.
My worry is this: Pretty well everybody says "Core Moodle is unuseable, you need plugins"
If person X comes to Moodlecloud to check out Moodle and finds various things . . . like . . .
- no full screen edit in Atto - or lots of other things we 'expect' in a 2006 editor
- You can't grade one person's assignment easily (no OU plugin)
- Only Moodley looking themes
- No 1<>1 file sharing (No dialogue module)
- scroll of death active and ready to go. No plugins to help with this.
- video deployment very poor
- No self sign up for groups
ie all the various things that regularly receive criticism, big criticism.
So: they will immediately think well Moodle is OK, but . . .
I find the Gnomio vs Moodlecloud debate here a little sad. These are supposed to be to 'check out Moodle', not 'use Moodle'.
Then there are statistics. Take just one example, your one: certificate would be a major draw card. It's got a history. 100's of people use it. Just do it. Install a few of the basic plugins. Especially ATTO. Moodlecloud can just say "These are third party plugins" and my not be here in 6 months, but the are here now and they are great.
At any given time I have between 0 and three people squatting on one of my servers. They are testing out Moodle in a real sense. If 100 of us signed up to do this, we'd not need MoodleCloud. Less mess, time used at HQ and more time for coding. More getting your hands dirty promoting Moodle.
"Moodle head count growing towards 100" No way. Or maybe. EFC ("Equivalent full time coder") is the real metric?
As Marcus said the same for me. I have no association with cloud, Gnomio, any partners and I don't sell any Moodle products or my time when I work with Moodle (at least at the moment).
You are the first person I have heard say that core Moodle is unusable. Where I work we use none of the plugins you mention. One persons essential is another persons 'whatever'.
Yes Derek, I have to disagree as well. Beginning with v1.7 (or v1.8, I seem to recall) I quickly found that moving further away from core, i.e. adding more and more non-core plugins, was inviting certain disaster. OK, things have gotten a lot better, even if quality control seems patchy at times, but I am still nervous about using a lot of non-core plugins. The only non-core plugins I have installed, upon request, running at the moment are the PoodLL (Online and Feedback) and Progress Bar, for obvious reasons. (A number of Staff are using them, and so far none have complained about something not working- I hope they don't as Justin will get real busy helping me pull my chestnuts out the fire- I'm tellin' ya!)
The point is that I have stuck pretty much with core only and found my time is not taken up with fixing problems. While newbies and non-Moodle users often complain initially about how complex Moodle is, once they get it, it becomes easy. (It is always good to be listening to teachers discuss pedagogy surrounding common classes rather than behaviour management of students they teach in common.)
I have two issues with this though, one is that the interface sucks, dramatically, and why is core so large? A redesign of basic themes is still required, Moodle still has that Post-Nuke feel of the then Holy Grail of web design, the three column page. And, if Moodle had a smaller, bomb-proof core, with a tiered arrangement of plugins (e.g. general and highly recommended, recommended of limited use, and experimental say) then I can chose which plugins I want to use, instead of having someone in HQ tell me what I am including whether I want it or not.
The decisions about what is "core" though needs to be refined a lot more, and it will take a much smarter person then I to make those decisions.
I don't think anybody has said 'Moodle is unusable' in such a specific manner, and I certainly didn't. In regards to let's try out Moodle, I certainly am and that goes with Gnomio also also. Let's not forget that they are both moodles, so moodle is not in competition. I love moodle No argument there.
Yes as I said, I am trying out the moodles, but I'm also seriously using them with students and teachers. We can't pay for anything yet, because to do that we would need either funding from somewhere, or the students would have to pay up, so that we could pay our teachers, and possibly pay moodle partners or other experts. That's not going to happen for at least 6 months, because we are not a major university who can afford to pay for such costs. No funding, no money.
I agree 3rd party plugins is what make moodle great, but the "everybody" in Pretty well everybody says "Core Moodle is unuseable, you need plugins" sounds a bit vague, even more looking at the plugins usage survey http://research.moodle.net/71/1/Plugins%20Usage%20Survey%202015%20Report.pdf
OK, David, Marcus and co, you are quite right, Pretty well everybody says "Core Moodle is unuseable, you need plugins" this is an overstatement. I won't defend it. Scratch it from the record.
@David. The study, Interesting, yes I had skimmed over the study, I was not sure if it was very conclusive in any areas, I did not know what the questions were from the report. From memory, I did not think they were the right questions.
@Marcus your comment
"You are the first person I have heard say that core Moodle is unusable. Where I work we use none of the plugins you mention. One persons essential is another persons 'whatever' "
I only mentioned directly in my post two plugins (OU marker and Dialogue - officially recommended by Martin to solve the problem of sharing files with individuals) and obliquely one ATTO plugin.
Some questions for you:
- Do you have any plugins in your install at all?
- Do you have any problems for instance with the scroll of death, ATTO complaints from staff or video deployment?
When is Moodle not Moodle?
I've talked about this before on Moodle.org, but I can't locate the posts. I not longer take things at face value now when people say "I like/don't like Moodle".A while back a friend in the US at a conference was interested to find out a big institution (the OU) were using Moodle (where we had decided it was too limited). I logic-ed, they were not stupid, what was going on?
So after some contact:
- How do you work with the navigation problems? (we have our own block/format - I think they still do, and it is still in house)
- How do you cope with a LOT of student contact in big classes (own forum module - forumNG)
- Blogs, how are they? (We have our own blog - OUBlog)
- and so on . . .
So the question is was what they were using really Moodle? When does a patched/hacked/plugged version become another beast?
I will never use this in any possible scenario, but I know it is popular. In actual, David's link bears this out.
My rationale for including the certificate in a "no guarantees" version of MoodleCloud is so people could test it out for themselves prior to getting their own 'real moodle'. Not because I want it.
I support some things in the tracker not because I need them but because they are best for Moodle INC as a whole.
"As the maintainer of the certificate module (and who also works at HQ) I have been asked if the certificate module should be installed on Moodlecloud and my answer has been a resounding 'no'. The module only becomes useful when you are able to gain access to the fileserver and edit the certificate types (or add your own) directly"
I think the value lies in being able to check into a site (somewhere) as a student and as a teacher and see the certificate in action. Or any plugin. It is very rare that you are able to go to Moodle plugins and find out what you know, you need to get your hands dirty. So: eventually you are going to need access to a dev version of Moodle. I'm surprised at Mark's comment on light of the numerical facts: certificate is popular, but because you think it is not good enough now you say No (resoundingly) to it being available to work with.
I think from what you say it sounds like Moodle Cloud is erring on the side of caution. Which is fair enough.
The purpose of Moodle Cloud.
I've just checked on this on the site, and it is sort of clear. It says this:
We’ve targeted the system towards small users of Moodle: very small schools or companies, or lone teachers with a few classes, or just anyone who wants a Moodle to experiment with. https://moodle.com/cloud/
I assumed it was just for "experimenting', but here it is to support teachers, but in a limited way.
@John, I take your point then. You are looking for the best system to actually use, not just test out to see if you will use. In which case, the answer is clear.
Plugins in general
I've been party to a lot of installs from scratch, or part of the specifications process. It is very very rare that ever I can get to the end and say, no you will be fine with just Moodle core.
You say "Yes Derek, I have to disagree as well. Beginning with v1.7 (or v1.8, I seem to recall) I quickly found that moving further away from core, i.e. adding more and more non-core plugins, was inviting certain disaster"
Seriously? "Certain disaster" ? I think that was then, this is now. And 'More and more'. No, you just need a few pluigins usually. And it is functionality needed first, then you look for the solution.
You say "but I am still nervous about using a lot of non-core plugins"
You are probably right to be nervous, no-one said "a lot" of plugins, just the ones where the tradeoffs (pain of a plugin vs functionality you get) actually is OK. David M's push for 3.0 ready plugins has been great. We are getting better and better with plugins I think. (Off soap box now)
Just take some examples of pretty robust plugins, with high value statistically (ie by actual use, not just my hobbyhorse).
- Want to give the SoD a big hit? Install Course menu. NO extra training needed, just a few emails each upgrade to the Course Menu Mother ship and on we go.
- Progress bar/Course Menu. Nope, not need even to ask, they get upgraded. Not much training needed.
- Attendance. Ditto.
The actual reported useage is low in David's survey, and for that reason I think the survey is flawed.
I'd surmise the usage is not higher since many people do not know what they are missing. IMO.
Again from Colin: Have two issues with this though, one is that the interface sucks, dramatically, and why is core so large? A redesign of basic themes is still required, Moodle still has that Post-Nuke feel of the then Holy Grail of web design, the three column page. And, if Moodle had a smaller, bomb-proof core, with a tiered arrangement of plugins (e.g. general and highly recommended, recommended of limited use, and experimental say) then I can chose which plugins I want to use, instead of having someone in HQ tell me what I am including whether I want it or not.
I am not sure if these are rhetorical questions or not. I think the core is pretty bomb proof. I think we are seeing HQ move towards some consideration of more plugins (like as in the paper David quoted), but as yet no action, all talk, and discussions happening out of public arena - or in Moots (as we see in Davids post: "Regarding MoodleCloud, Moodle is constantly reviewing the MoodleCloud service for refinements and improvements through 2016 but what that will be is still under review and exploration")
But this is better than nothing.
If we are showcasing Moodle, my original comment is that it is better to have a good showcase, otherwise people will bet put off Moodle, not on. Most people use plugins to some extent. It's easy to knock Moodle if you have just core. Every Moodle Partner has their special flavours.
More than I meant to say.
I like plugins, I have just counted 9 plugins where I work, some built in house. A few are important/essential and some would probably not be missed much if I uninstalled them. Several of the plugins we use would not be of interest outside our organisation.
Out of personal interest I have spent a huge amount of time installing and playing with plugins over many years, but to reiterate, one persons essential may be of no interest at all to other people. From the list of popular plugins in the survey we use only one.
In my opinion the scroll of death is a real thing, and a limitation in the default interface to courses. But where I work nobody has asked me to address it so it is still there. I am not aware of any atto complaints, but I don't work with tutors on a day to day basis.
I just created an account on Gnomio and looking at their quizzes they have a really nice selection of third party question types, including the really awesome Gapfill type which is essential for a high quality quiz experience
Yes, nice to hear you opened an account with Gnomio, and it's the only way if you wish to compare and be a critic as to one or the other, and wasn't it so quick and easy to register a gnomio?
Plugins? Yes Gnomio has the certificate plug-in, amongst a long list of others. I'm not supporting one or the other, at least not yet, as I simply don't know for the time being. Plugins is one point, But?
Derek, no, I wasn't being rhetorical, I am actually serious.
One of the biggest issues I have is that the interface is not that good looking. It is difficult, if not impossible, for non-coders to more than superficially modify, it is arguably the least attractive part of Moodle. In this age where people blabber about "their web experience" and not the value of the tool they use, Moodle is just not cutting it. For a lot of people a Rolls Royce with a Vespa engine is still a far better prospect than a Trabi with a Nissan engine. We really have to get away from this thing where people say "I hate Moodle because it is ugly, too complex, not user friendly." They then talk up something like Edmodo. This is chalk and cheese, but it doesn't make any difference to them. So I say change the interface, it sucks.
The second question I raise has two aspects. The first is that as core has expanded, there are more and more tools, activities and resources, that are included. I have noted that people with a lot of Moodle experience use a lot of those tools. People with little experience barely get past uploading PDFs and Word docs. I encourage such users to try a simple activity, but they rarely give it a try without a lot of hand holding and stern looks. So, I suggest that if a few tools are available to begin with, a Moodle can be built by adding plugins one at a time. Confidence can be built over time. (The closest I have come to this so far has been to deny the capability of teachers to use advanced tools and just have a few tools they can use. I added one tool when I thought appropriate, then had to move on so have not found out how much further that group of users have gotten.) The point here is that I get to chose what tools users get, not have someone in HQ tell me what tools the Teachers of my Moodle should use. Which leads to the second aspect.
Some programs do well for a while, then new versions come out with additional default tools. This is supposed to improve "productivity" whatever that means. Unfortunately, the program gets bigger and bigger until it becomes so chock-full of tools that few users actually need, it becomes bloatware. How many programs over the years no longer exist because of this? This presents a double danger for Moodle, the increasing size of Moodle creates its own complexities and the perception of Moodle being bloatware.
For me it would be better to have a small core with some tools and a larger, comprehensive, set of downloadable, additional tools that I can add in, confident they will work as advertised, if I have a need for them. If a plugin does not work, then my existing structure is not threatened by this additional plugin. That is my reasoning, if it suits or not. (This is IMHO, but I do not suggest for a moment that I am absolutely correct, just that I believe there is some merit in it. If so, then what can be done about it?)
"One of the biggest issues I have is that the interface is not that good looking."
I don't care if Moodle is not good looking (in the sense of not being aesthetically pleasing). I know that many people do however, which is why so much effort goes into themes. What I do care is that ordinary people who want the benefits of Moodle with minimum learning can benefit from it. Despite many years of use and a huge amount of time studying and developing for Moodle I still forget where things are.
I suspect that Improving the user interface in terms of UI design is far harder than it looks. However there are some quick wins. On is to disable distractions, e.g. now the OU dragdrop questions are in core, disable Cloze by default in a new install. At the moment there are two Calculated question types. They might as well be called, "Here be dragons, far too hard for most people", and the other is, "Tricky but learnable with effort". How about the dragons one is disabled on a fresh install by default.
Make it much much easier to import examples for each activity. Add the ability to easily install a set of sample questions for each question type, and when I say easier, I mean easier than clicking around to pull in an XML file with the import facility. How about a contest to decide on exemplars for each activity. Can anyone think of other quick wins in terms of usability?
Artists impression of the calculated question type
"...I don't care if Moodle is not good looking..."
Personally I agree Marcus, but we are living at a time where the superficial has become more important than the substance. ( I know, this is one of those statements that people will go out of their way to tell me I am wrong, but please folks, don't bother, this is just my view, which is borne of experience and a growing cynicism.) I have been coming to this conclusion with the consistent responses I get from non-Moodle (or Moodle-resistant) users, they won't even give it a try if they don't have to. The tools they point to as being "better" are complying with that superficial, "looks are everything", position that suits those users. You and I both know this is nonsense, but how do we deal with that? The only thing I can think of is a simplification of the UI, making it less like Moodle and more like not-Moodle. As long as it doesn't end up looking like this, then I really don't care how it turns out.
Thanks for providing your feedback.
As the maintainer of the certificate module (and who also works at HQ) I have been asked if the certificate module should be installed on Moodlecloud and my answer has been a resounding 'no'. The module only becomes useful when you are able to gain access to the file server and edit the certificate types (or add your own) directly. The only options provided in the UI are limited and don't allow you to fully customise the certificate (example - font colour, type, size, position on the certificate etc etc) which will mean there will be a lot of people creating very similar looking certificates. This can all be achieved by editing the certificate types .php file, and when this is possible, it is very powerful as you can do whatever you want but for obvious reasons we can not achieve this on Moodlecloud. That being said - I have been working on a new customcert module (https://github.com/markn86/moodle-mod_customcert) in my project weeks which does allow full customisation of the UI via a drag and drop interface. This is being considered (it still requires a bit of work) and could be deployed sooner than you think.That being said - for Moodle core I have been working on a new customcert module (https://github.com/markn86/moodle-mod_customcert) in my project weeks which does allow full customisation of the UI via a drag and dropinterface. Regarding MoodleCloud, Moodle is constantly reviewing the MoodleCloud service for refinements and improvements through 2016 but what that will be is still under review and exploration.
Here's what Gnomio say:
For security reasons you are not allowed to install your own themes and plugins nor have access to the database or the filesystem but feel free to suggest anything you like and we will review it. If it is of general interest and well maintained we will install it for all users
We are hosting near ten thousand e-learning sites and every month we provide service to over 300.000 students at no cost.
I can't find a list of non-core plugins they provide
It takes just a few seconds to register a gnomio moodle to find out anything you want, and all that's required is any name, plus an email. Would the plug-ins you're talking about be under plug-ins overview? 481 installed. 125 additional plug-ins. https://esol.gnomio.com/login/index.php
OK, John, done. The gnomio setup process is quick, clear, unabiguous.
I have checked out the additional plugins.
There are 125 of them, but of course some are grouped and dependencies. But most of the old favourites are there:
- Tons of themes
- One topic
- Forum engagement indicator
- maths stuff
- Group signup
Many are disabled.
I'm going to try to get a plugin added.
They are not trying to set up their own universe. There is no associated forums or anything, and they poijnt to Moodle.org. T&C's are clear and understandable.
So if you are adopting the view of checking out a reasonably recent Moodle version with what it can do with plugins, this is worth having.
Who are the guys behind Genomio I wonder?
Good luck John
Here is the list, apologies for the lousy format, I tried a PDF but was defeated by the 50kB limit
Online PoodLL submissions
Hot Potatoes output formats
HTML output formats
Qedoc output formats
Hot Potatoes source files
HTML source files
Qedoc source files
Statistical analysis report
Click trail report
STACK response analysis
Export Glossary to Quiz
Drag and drop onto image
Drag and drop markers
Drag and drop into text
Select missing words
All-or-Nothing Multiple Choice
OU multiple response
Variable numeric set
Variable numeric set with units
Adaptive mode (multi-part questions)
Deferred feedback with CBM and explicit validation
Deferred feedback with explicit validation
Hot Potatoes XML format
STACK 2.0 format
FontAwesome Icon Filter.
Persian calendar type
Moodle Mobile additional features
Thanks for taking the trouble in having a look at Gnomio, Derek. Yes it would be nice to know who they are, apparently from Spain. Due to the fact that they are directing all their applicants here, they have obviously been reading here. Perhaps they would like to introduce themselves here, as they are obviously seeking donations, and it's difficult to give donations to just a couple of mystery Spanish guys. Perhaps somebody else knows more about them, as there is very little mention of them in a google search.
They mentioned it somewhere on a google search. I must admit with such a large registration, I'm surprised they are so shy, as very little mention of them on search.
Fyi, I've been using gnomio since 2013. Very satisfied with and thankful for the service.
I've used it for 2-4 university classes per semester, with up to 90 students per class. Never had a problem with student numbers or the size of my files.
In the first year, the only problem was a great deal of inconsistency with the server sending notification emails. No idea why. It could have been me. But it hasn't been a problem since then.
If it were a bit more affordable, I would have been happy to pay to remove the ads. But I never did and the students never complained (although I would not have been disappointed if they had).