Personaly I have been using moodle for nearly 1 year now, at I have install all the latest features, and do thing Moodle is the way forward..
Your suggestions will be most welcome.. I have not use Teknical to its fully potential, so cannot comment must on its features..
I know one feature which Teknical has is where users have the own devoted file area, but I know this is on the future plans for moodle (Martin stated).
your opinions are most welcome.
Anyway, I would say that the thing that makes Moodle perfect for us is that there is this big, friendly helpful community that goes along with it. This makes all the difference in the world to us.
Just our two cents.
Aiken High School
Here is what there faq has to say about support:
We supply the following technical support:
5.1 Unlimited telephone support
5.2 On-site training (see 6 for details)
5.3 Regular attendance on site, at a frequency to suit your particular requirements
5.4 Access to support information, FAQs hints & tips via our website
5.5 Automatic software upgrades
5.6 Installation of new Teknical modules
5.7 Access to the Virtual Campus User Group (wow, this sounds like us Moodle folks)
As Gustav has pointed out, this is NOT open source software. They indicate they can either host your courses like Blackboard and WebCT, or you can purchase the server software. What is not clear is that if you elect to purchase the software, what sort of database backend do you need to run it? If it's running on MySQL or Postgre, no problem. But, if it requires one of the commercial flavors (Oracle, MS, IBM etc.), and your organization does not own licenses for this software, that's going to be another big expense on top of whatever Teknical cost.
Maybe a UK Moodle consultant could do the job and save you guys a ton of money!
Is there a list of these splendid creatures available? (I am getting ready to present Moodle to our school board, but if a Moodle consultant could do a better job, I am all for it.)
-- Art Lader
I am game also, or is this part of our wish list?, if so moodlers from uk something for us to think about..
I think you should present it (because you understand so completely how it changes teaching and teachers), but it might be helpful to pair up with a consultant who has experience selling a product like this. I met Bryan Williams last weekend on the NYC trip, and I suspect that with his 20 years of experience as a consultant and his love for Moodle, that the two of you might make a great team.
That sounds like a great suggestion. I have visited his remote-Learner.net and it looks very impressive - all useful content, no fluff. I can't imagine that he'll want to drive down to Aiken from Virginia, but I will at least ask him for some advice about making the presentation. (I have been meaning for months to ask him for more info about his Personal Insight Journal software.)
I would be delighted to assist you in a presentation to your school board, just let me know when that is scheduled. I am trying to reach out to Moodle people within the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the US, and that would include Aiken, SC. Have been recently in touch with Tom Murdock and Mark Burnet, both of whom are really bright Moodlers and awfully nice people. Mark is very gifted on the technical end and has also had years of experience as a consultant in the K-12 technology arena. Hope to harness some of the smarts these two guys have as I get remote-Learner.net Moodle hosting and consulting in full swing.
PS: dig the white facial hair
Is there anyway of video taping your presentation of moodle. After I gave my moodle presentation to the school board I thought about that. I keep asking myself WHY WHY WHY didnt I video tape that. What ya think ??
Art, having been a consultant for technology for a number of years, I can say with authority that a Moodle consultant must be able tell an audience opinions they didn't ask for, to people who already know the answer on subjects that the consultant has only read about.
Just kidding, but who is to say? Anointed by Martin? (best bet for now) A certification process? (better long term solution). It's too new and too soon to say. Therefore, it is the perfect time for someone to hang out their shingle.
I'd say there are lot of smart people on these forums, that I would be consider qualified, but if you look to any area of professional expertise, there must be a standards body that would give an objective authoratative endorsement.
Typical consultant.....didn't answer the question....
Google is your friend
Teknical uses MS SQL and I imagine the cost of the database would be part of the whole package, so I guess you ask them for a costing and take it from there. How do you judge what the costs are though for Moodle? How can you calculate the amount of man hours that could be used up configuring the product, or the costs of future maintenance. Potentially a free product could end up costing you more than a commercial one.
As this is basically a comparison between an Open Source product and a commercial one I would be interested to how this product fairs in the comparison of support. Is there actually some sort of paid support team for Moodle, or just this community forum? What about training and upgrades? Is the future of this product guaranteed? As from what I know its currently developed through the man hours of academics a.k.a public money that might or might not be there in the future.
Also if you want certain aspects of the product to be customised who do you commission to do this work?
Good questions. Many of them are addressed in great detail here in the community at moodle.org, but perhaps you should take a look at http://www.moodle.com/ before combing through thousands of posts and hundreds of discussions. I think you will be pleased with what you find there.
So there is paid support. Which is an added cost to using Moodle. I think that's an important distinction to make, people tend to only view products on their off the shelf cost. But to actually utilise a Open Source product still involves money being spent, so the advantage over a commercial product is reduced.
Conrad in the first post has explained to us that he's not even aware of all the feature of the Teknical product. This seems that some users are indoctrinated with the concept of open source rather than the reality of what is on offer.
Also I do find it disturbing that an Open Source product is funded through public money and through its existence is undercutting already available commercial products. Though I guess this proves the madness of the distributor's of educational funds and what they allow academics to spend their time on.
I respect your opinions and am sure that you are better informed than I am about these matters. And it is through honest, open, frank discussion that we grow. I can only tell you that we at Aiken HS could never have afforded Blackboard, WebCt, etc., but that we certainly are able to handle the very minimal costs of Moodle.
Without exaggeration, Moodle has reinvigorated and energized several teachers at my school, and many students tell us that using Moodle has been a wonderful, worthwhile experience for them. Parents, too, are quite pleased. In short, Moodle has been a Godsend for Aiken HS and is spreading thoughout our school district.
I am afraid this does not really address the issues that you raise, but I thought it might provide some useful context for you.
Perhaps others in the community can speak more directly to your concerns.
Is your e-mail address on here current I have e-mailed you two times now with no reply. But I see you posting on here so I know your alive
The e-mail address email@example.com should work. Several people have told me the same thing, though... But if the e-mail does not bounce back to you, the problem must be on my end.
So... I am sorry that I missed your e-mails. Please accept my apologies and try again!
I think you'll find commercial education products are generally funded through "public" money too - who do you think the buyers are? The difference is that open source products by definition are Free, and thus less likely to go under than a commercially restricted software, since anyone can take up the project and continue it. The Open Source course may be interesting for you.
Moodle development is funded by a wide variety of sources, such as (completely optional) Moodle.com services (to a wide variety of clients) as well as donations of time and money from around the globe. Many of the contributions are from people who recognise the value in the whole project and wish to help push it along. The amounts involved are quite small in commercial terms (thousands not millions) but this is improving.
I know nothing about Teknical and do not want the Moodle community to be seen as bashing ANY other products in this field. There is certainly plenty of room in this world for choices and alternatives, yes?
Just a comment on the following quote from Jenson's post:
"I guess this proves the madness of the distributor's of educational funds and what they allow academics to spend their time on."
Jenson, the "madness" of not telling academics what they are allowed to spend their time on is actually a very clever strategy.
For example: no one told the academics at the CERN laboratory that they should leave software development to the commercial players. So they invented the world wide web. Would you want to be without it now?
It's true that you can pay for support. I, as a user have found that it has not currently been necessary, as the support from the Moodle community is much more responsive than from vendors to whom I pay for support. I only wish commercial product customers would mutually support each other as well as moodle.org does.
Paid support for commercial vendors is also at additional cost. The NCS Pearson software annual support agreements that I currently pay are greater than the original initial software purchase price.
The largest cost I have is tied up in Staff Development time. Fortunately, the intuitive nature of Moodle has allowed many of my teachers to self educate. A commercial product which I initialy paid $10000 US with annually support fees of $6000 (alot for 1350 students) is being abandoned this year because even after $3000 per day staff development, no one could understand how to use it well. Teachers who never could create test and quizzes in the commercial product, figured out how to do it on their own with Moodle. Our decision to make these changes to Open Source are grounded in responsible use of public funds.
Weigh those cost in your equation.
Moodle appears to be being funded through grants from government (for people to spend time developing this product) and through paying the wages of the Prof's who develop. Now its very nice to be able to get a product for free, but I find it hard to digest that the government is doing this when long developed products such as WebCT, Granada Learnwise, Blackboard and Teknical have already invented the wheel as it were. People who work for these companies are in jobs that depend on them, where as the Prof's can just move on the next project when it suits them. Hence what the heck is the government thinking when they fund something like this?
Basically the government is aiding the undercutting of an already established industry. If Moodle was being developed through peoples own time and initiative then fair enough, but that's not the case. Also I think the true costs of having to implement Moodle would be around the same as buying a teknical product. WebCT and Blackboard are the bigger players in the market and the more more well known to Americans, but then their products are also aimed at the University level of education hence have a bigger price tag. All I am trying to put across to people is that need to be made through informed judgement and proper consideration of what it actually means to have to implement an Open Source that is not going to have the same level of support.
Also to reply to the guy that stated that Moodle is more likely to survive as its Open Source. My advice is to view the amount of dead projects on Source Forge. Do you really think a company like Blackboard (Used in most major US uni's) is going to stop being developed? History of course will tell, I just would not be surprised to see development stop on this product, or at least slow when government looses interest. This is such as specific project that I doubt you can get the same amount of people to developed for it, as compared to Mozilla, etc.
Also it appears that a lot of posters are from the US, So I am guessing you have more admins that can spend the time setting something like Moodle up. But the same cannot be said for UK collages, etc where time is an element in short supply.
Also what occurs when said admin leaves the collage taking all his knowledge of how he has set up moodle with him?
You drive in your Skoda like a Don Quichotte on his horse, fighting windmills, thinking that it are demons and that only in UK the financial situation for educational institutes has become worse and worse... Which government is supporting Moodle? Or do you really mean that professors are not allowed to have freetime and some fun, helping education to become free again like we dreamed in the 80s? Maybe you first should do your homework better and read the sparse documentation of Moodle:
- Some Phd was looking for a tool that would better fit his educational ideals then those overpriced products like BB, WebCt or.. ..yours. In a short time he wrote a clever simple product that beats these dinosaurs, showing in a painful way that they are highly overestimated and overpriced. In your letter you show your disbelieve that this is possible. I can assure you, it is: Martin found the key to make complex things less complex by applying the golden rule to limit the span of control when possible.
- Not trusting big companies is wise I can tell you. (Read my story about Oracle InterOffice version 4.0 elsewhere on this site)
- The projects you mention are just desperate actions from two companies, trying to break the monopoly of Bill. When they find other ways to fight him, they will stop to support these products.. what if they do not publish the code on that moment?
- Having the code and the free license, means that you can take over anytime and go your own way. (..for example when the well dries up, but look at the forums how active this well still is..)
- Your advise should be to look how activ a community is, how quick bugs are repaired, how quick other users help you when you make your choice on Sourceforge... instead of pointing to death projects
- ....by the way you may use that death code and incorporate it in your own, that's one good reason NOT to remove it from the Sourceforge website! (Sourceforge delivers for the visitors for each project an activity index, do you have any idea why that is implemented?
- Your argument that a product - when it aims at University levels - may have a higher price sounds like stealing from the rich and give it to the poor, an old English tradition (but do you mean with the poor, poor BB?)
- That these poor companies need our money to feed their poor employers and their children, I hardly can read this with dry eyes..
- And then your biggest mistake: thinking that you need a lot of free time to do the admin work for Moodle: I do it on my own for 9 schools with more then 5000 students, 600 teachers, lots of courses with one hand on my back and still have time and spirit to answer your letter and write educational documents and organise workshops on these schools.
- In your last sentence you show your real face: you must be an advisor or a member of a board that wants to buy security by hiring things from companies, so you can blame them when things go wrong... (your suggestion that a school becomes to dependent from a local wizzard is a false suggestion: every normal person can install and maintain Moodle by reading the clear instructions on the Moodle site. I am a lost psychologist, not an admin or a programming wizzard, all Moodlers can underline that.)
- And we can choose where we spend our money, paying for good content, paying for good support by good small local companies in our neigbourhood, instead of paying every year to much money to these far away Kings of the software industry and their local sherifs..
"Some Phd was looking for a tool that would better fit his educational ideals then those overpriced products like BB, WebCt or.. ..yours. In a short time he wrote a clever simple product that beats these dinosaurs, showing in a painful way that they are highly overestimated and overpriced. In your letter you show your disbelieve that this is possible. I can assure you, it is: Martin found the key to make complex things less complex by applying the golden rule to limit the span of control when possible."
Where did I say this was not possible or even hint at disbelief?
"Not trusting big companies is wise I can tell you. (Read my story about Oracle InterOffice version 4.0 elsewhere on this site)"
Painting everyone with the same brush is unwise though.
"The projects you mention are just desperate actions from two companies, trying to break the monopoly of Bill. When they find other ways to fight him, they will stop to support these products.. what if they do not publish the code on that moment?"
Maybe in the case of Open Office, though the code is available. Firefox on the other hand broke away from AOL when Netscape Corp was disbanded, its now funded through donations.
"Having the code and the free license, means that you can take over anytime and go your own way. (..for example when the well dries up, but look at the forums how active this well still is..)"
Yeah great, whats that got to do with how the time that is spent of programming this code is funded?
"Your advise should be to look how active a community is, how quick bugs are repaired, how quick other users help you when you make your choice on Sourceforge... instead of pointing to death projects"
Just mentioning that it could happen. Will these bugs be fixed as fast if the people given funded time to spend coding moodle stop getting funded. AOL cutting away netscape slowed down the dev process.
"by the way you may use that death code and incorporate it in your own, that's one good reason NOT to remove it from the Sourceforge website! (Sourceforge delivers for the visitors for each project an activity index, do you have any idea why that is implemented?"
Did I say it would be removed from sourceforge? You would need someone committed to continuing the project. I am not saying that there would be no one to do the coding, just that there is a chance there might not be.
"Your argument that a product - when it aims at University levels - may have a higher price sounds like stealing from the rich and give it to the poor, an old English tradition (but do you mean with the poor, poor BB?)"
Well uni's usually have higher functionality demands from VLE's than a college would. Hence why different product ranges are offered to different levels of H.E
"That these poor companies need our money to feed their poor employers and their children, I hardly can read this with dry eyes.. "
Yeah who gives a toss about people losing their jobs.
"And then your biggest mistake: thinking that you need a lot of free time to do the admin work for Moodle: I do it on my own for 9 schools with more then 5000 students, 600 teachers, lots of courses with one hand on my back and still have time and spirit to answer your letter and write educational documents and organize workshops on these schools."
Well done you. I guess you assume everyone has the same skills as you.
"In your last sentence you show your real face: you must be an adviser or a member of a board that wants to buy security by hiring things from companies, so you can blame them when things go wrong... (your suggestion that a school becomes to dependent from a local wizard is a false suggestion: every normal person can install and maintain Moodle by reading the clear instructions on the Moodle site. I am a lost psychologist, not an admin or a programming wizzard, all Moodlers can underline that.) "
Ha, that one made me laugh (Only because I am aware of what my situation is, of course your not to know either way). I also think you might be giving to much credit to normal people. I as a computer user, am also astounded when people cannot do things that I take for granted. I have heard plenty of story's of colleges being screwed over when a secretive admin leaves for pastures new.
"And we can choose where we spend our money, paying for good content, paying for good support by good small local companies in our neighborhood, instead of paying every year to much money to these far away Kings of the software industry and their local sheriffs.."
You think Tekincal is a King of the software industry? You do realize that not all software is created by Microsoft, Sun and Novell right?
Let me begin by saying that everyone is entitled to their opinion. Here is mine.
You talk so much about the "academics"; I, for one, am happy that there are academics who are responsive to input and are actually taking the time to develop such a wonderful product. Not to mention that this product started out as part of an academic research study. There is a need more significant research in the proper use and implementation of online curriculum. This project is helping to identify some of these strategies. Are the commercial products addressing these issues or are they just trying to sell a product to unsuspecting buyers?
I would venture to guess that the average K-12 MIS director in the US has little, if any, instructional experience. How can these people make informed decisions on a LMS packages? They rely on information the company provides? A salesman is going to tell them anything they think will sell their product. Moodle, is a no pressure, see for yourself alternative
Moodle saves institutions money. How? The institution can try it and if it doesn't address their needs they can alter the code or not use it at all. They're not locked into a 3 year contract at $9000 a year. Moodle has a a significant place in academia!
To give you some personal perspective let me describe my situation. I teach computer applications at a middle school (6-8) in the US. My school district will be $25M in the red by the end of the next school year (2004-05). Using Blackboard, WebCT or any other commercial package for the implementation of a LMS is not feasible. Moodle IS an affordable alternative.
To ensure that my students and their parents have access to my classroom materials, I personally pay for a domain and to have my Moodle site hosted on a shared host. Moodle was EXTREMELY easy to set up. When I did run into trouble, I had a solution within 24 hours. Since July 2003 I have upgraded 3 times without trouble.
Three week's from now, I will wrap up a year long study on the perceptions of Moodle as a LMS in a secondary schools. Early results show that students' experiences have been very positive. Parents love it and without it they would have been less informed.
Bravo to the developers of Moodle. They are providing a service that the commercial packages have not, and possibly cannot, offer.
Given your complete lack of knowledge about Moodle I'm about ready to call "Troll!".
I think Jenson Green is trolling too. What interest would a car salesman (with an obviously anonymous e-mail address) have in an open source learning environment?
(Note, that the car dealership is located in the same area as the company that makes aforementioned VLE Teknical.)
Yeah who in Hull would not buy a car from Rotherham?
I don't think that Jenson Green is trolling.
I think that Jenson Green means that Moodle is supported by the work of salaried academics (such as Ray Kingdom for instance) who are in turn funded (perhaps - are you in a public or private institution Ray?) by governments.
I am funded by a government too. I think that I put in overtime to use Moodle because I think that it will decrease my workload in the future. Also more importantly, I contribute little to development. What proportion of Moodle developers are government employed?
But...desisting from slagging off competitors...I think that that the threat that Jenson points out is very real. Assuming Moodle continues as it is (and other than the enourmity of the implications, I see no reason why it should not) then it seems to me that Moodle will be putting people out of business. When there is a product as good as Moodle, with as diverse features as Moodle, which the price tag of Moodle (i.e. support-costs alone) then competitors will be able to compete on neither quality, nor niche specialisation nor cost.
When people like Technical do start to go out of business then I do see our "reinvention of the wheel" (& patents) becoming an issue -- those that cannot survive in the market place often resort to legal action.
So while Ger makes a joke out of it, I do weep for people like Technical. I have given a presentation against a commercial developer, and since his excellent, and expensive, system could not provide signifcant advantages over this free one it will not be purchased. I could hear the quaver in the developer's voice if not the tears in his eyes. The fruits of his considerable effort will be worth zilch because of the massive, "M$oodle" machine that is going to put him out of business.
The use of the "$" in this neolgism does not represent money, nor even a phoneme, but serves to remind us of a multinational association which tremendous power. That is, or will be, Moodle. Even if in "M$oodle" the $ is silent, and realised primarily as a cost saving for users, I think that we should aware of the dire financial implications to competitors.
Where you do seem to be misinformed, Jenson Green, is that Moodle is very easy to administer. I am a teacher not a 'sysadmin' but I 'administer' 4 Moodle installations in my spare time - in fact I do almost nothing since Moodle intalls and administers itself.
So "what the heck is the gubmint thinking?" Whatever it is, it's not Moodle.
Sorry, I missed that.
Perhaps Jenson Green has heard of the money going towards Chris Tebb at The University of Leeds?
Sadly it seems to me that the grant in question may go towards reinventing parts of Moodle for no particular purpose other than the requirment that something standalone and accountable be produced. I sincerely hope that Chris Tebb comes up with some wonderful new Moodle additions but it seems that government grants have a way of going towards double-wheel-reinvention. No grants so far.
To clarify, the project I am working on (http://edukalibre.org) needed a VLE to host the tools we will be producing, we decided on moodle, as it was modular, and would let us implement our tools, but still leave us with a system we could de-couple from moodle if required.
My funding comes from the E.U, and believe me, it's not much (I'm eating mushy peas on toast here, as I type).
I do not think we are re-inventing the wheel, like many academics, we are taking a closer look at this wheel thing everyone seems to be riding into town on (Collaborative content creation).
Personally, my interest in moodle goes far beyond the scope of the edukalibre project. If things go to plan, I'll be developing a HUGE quantity of additional functionality for moodle, though some of it will be of little use to you unless you are a U.K secondary school ( I'm hoping to work on integrating moodle into schools in the U.K) so I'll be developing a lot of moodle middleware to allow old student management systems to be binned etc,...
I hope this clarifies my position a bit. I found this post after my father googled for my name, and said there were some people somewhere bitching about the money I was getting.
(keep on moodlin')
You are an empathetic man. Hugely commendable, of course. I feel bad for the developer you mentioned, but I know of a good place where he can share his talents and code. What he puts into the project, with the scrutiny of many eye$, will clearly make his ideas better.
Remember though, too, public universities spend gigantic dollars for research into various fields. Few would complain that a professor finding a cure for cancer steals from the profitability of a commercial lab.
And how rare is it that good instructors look for ways to share teaching success with others? Or that software follows philosophy? Or that developers bother to ask a bunch of teachers BEFORE or AS they develop costly code? Did the other distance learning software make these goals? Or did they build up their sales forces to sell something inadequate but profitable, first?
Think, too, about how at least one of the bad-boy commercial companies responded to a looming Moodle model: they hiked up their support fees significantly. How dedicated are they to education? Do they recognize how a price increase like that will devastate an academic budget?
"I feel bad for the developer you mentioned, but I know of a good place where he can share his talents and code. What he puts into the project, with the scrutiny of many eye$, will clearly make his ideas better."
I am sure that the developers are all big girls and boys and realise how nasty a place the world can be. But nobody owes them a living - they have to earn it by bringing value to their customers.
Don't forget the other side of the coin - How many teachers and support staff will be out of work when programs are cancelled in order to pay for the multi-year 'contracted' support contracts ?
Any decent supplier will be working to understand the needs of their client, and what better place to see LMS in action but the Moodle forums. It would also help them to understand, and 'out feature' one of their competitors.
I wonder how many are listening in ?
Thanks for pointing out that commercial software costs jobs elsewhere, and that there are some industries (such as the academic world) that is open source by design. I wonder which way it will fall.
I don't mean to make out that I am empathetic, or nice or anything. On the contrary I would like to buy shares in M$oodle.com if they were available! But merely, I mean to say that this is serious (you knew) and I think it is going to get hot. Sooner or later.
So Tim, you now only have to make an apology to Ray. You and Jenson did suggest that these heavily paid (what a joke) dirty academic rats do the work for Moodle in the time of their boss.
If you and Jenson just would look at the strange working hours of these academics when they are helping other users in the Moodle forums (Do not forget the GMT correction!) and would compare this with the normal opening hours of their university you would feel: + +
Another point with open source is that you pay for the work only once!!
I think this is even more threathening for these commercial guys. So when a Dutch University hires a company to improve a FREE publishing system for 20,000 euro, that company cannot sell this same product again to another University because it is given away to the community. The university hopes that other FREE users will improve the product. (Keeping it inside the university, they would have to pay again for these improvements, so would that other university. For them it is a win win situation.)
Commercial guys must get used to the idea that they only get money for honest labour..
I am sorry Ray, I did not mean to suggest that you are a dirty academic rat, high paid or that you are doing things that you should not in the time of your boss.
But then again, I Moodle on my boss's time. I think that it benefits my boss.
Is Moodle showing Australian time? What time does it make it in The Netherlands?
I still think that Jenson Green has a point though. These commercial systems cost a LOT of money. Enough to support a goodly number of software programmers and their families. This open source alternative however, does not generate revenues of the same magnitude. How many of the developers make their crust from developing Moodle? I am surprised that even Martin is making a living (assuming, mistakenly, that everyone else is as un-generous as me).
I am so mean that I would like to be better paid. This is why I would like to buy shares in M$oodle.
My boss pays me to support fulltime 9 schools in choosing eLearing tools and showing the teachers how to use these in educational settings, a rather unique situation in The Netherlands, most teachers do Moodle on top of their normal job, like you do.
We try to realise an educational situation where students really get the control over their own learning and we offer them all the help for that in a scaffolding way.
We started two years ago with a wishlist of 20 separate programs or more to cover that, ending up with only one free tool: Moodle.
Moodle 1.3 covers all our educational wishes and dreams for at least the next three years.
- OK,OK, I wish more student entries in the moduls, like in TeLeTOP, look for yourself http://www.teletop.nl/teletop.nsf/home/en
- And yes, WE PAY a company to make some changes to give students better overview of their work.
No, at the end we did not choose that (now) commercial product TeLeTOP.
We even could get it for two years for a bargain, but we dropped it because no one could tell us the price after these two years.
And yes, my team created it with hard labour in 1997 and it must now offer three nice guys and their families a living. It has better options for students in control, but falls short in the richness of modern educational moduls, especially the future oriented ones Ray created.
In these days when we coded that TeLeTOP there was no alternativ - BB did even not really exist - and WebCT or FirstClass or Lotus Learningspace did not fit our needs and we looked more then once before we started to code..
Where other systems need special new staff to support their new eLearning tools, we -with Moodle - take place on the shoulder of our already existing admin organisation and give the control back to our teachers: a tremendous way of saving money!
That's why I can handle moodle on my own and spent time and money on other things like:
- introducing computer use in the schools
- introducing "the student in control concept with the teacher in the monitoring chair as manager by exception".
- looking for resources and additional tools that can change/create these resources
- asking/begging on the Moodle forums for changes that fit our local situation
- talking with publishers again and again, explaining that we really do not need their systems, just their content and please in one of the import formats
- talking with local companies to study the tuning for a secondary school together, documentate that and then give away Moodle and let them earning a living with tuning Moodle and integrating it in an existing schoolsituation for other schools.Our payoff will be the exchange of content in moodle-backup-files with other Dutch Moodlers in the future.. (So yes, Martin and others can live from free Moodle, just by offering additional paid work/services!!)
It is now 2 o'clock in the afternoon on the first day of my holliday, yes I am adicted to fun.
(Martin's website is showing this in Dutch, with help of this company my website will soon also show it in Dutch, because onthis point no Moodler could give me the right answer, I gave up.)
And it is Possible Ger . Don't give up!
No, it's a hosted website (Redhat Linux)
This should do the trick (can't imagine otherwise than working on a rather standard installation)
Do I now have to pay Mike before he tells me what to change on my Apache server?
Maybe the wrong place to discuss this but...
the nl_NL locale isn't always installed on a server. I had to ask my German provider to install it.
"Remember though, too, public universities spend gigantic dollars for research into various fields. Few would complain that a professor finding a cure for cancer steals from the profitability of a commercial lab."
They also tend to patent their discovery.
The competitive marketplace is a Darwinian instrument that cuts the weak from the herd. Open source is a player with greater influence than just a few years ago. The grief this is causing those who do not understand how to compete in the new paradigm is not something to shed a tear over. It is a natural part of our human existance. One may pity the inidvidual who has lost their job to competition, but the evoloution does not sleep. (The buggy-whip makers complained bitterly over the coming of the automobile.)
You are right about the unnatural aspect of patents for general ideas. They are antithetical to a free market, and I can hope that eventually this will be seen for what it really is: Life support for the weak and diseased.
Moodle is an open source LMS grown out of the contribution from a large number of developers under the leadership of Martin. When it is remarked "govt funding" it is a way to suggest that the "prof" paid by the Govt is involved in the moodle work as "Pro".
It is always a risk in the Open source that the users change the product often since it is free. Individuals and institutions are likely to experiment with innovation. However, running a Moodle service for online learning is a serious business. Uninterrupted quality service in terms of technology and content is crucial for sustainability. The 'Unesco' has listed a number of Open Source LMS
Moodle is listed under courseware tools.
I have tested majority of the products. Out of all only the moodle is easy to implement with instant support. This positive factor of success is due to the "invisible grants" and contributions of moodlers.
For making Moodle as a top rated LMS please do not compare with BB /WebCT. Moodle has to chalk out a strategy similar to the successful implementation of Zope.
The dual nature of moodle as moodle.org and moofle.com should be more concerted and synergised as envisaged by Martin. In this sort of arrangement "Experimenters" can be comfortable at moodle,org and the "Providers" get 24/7 support from moodle.com
In the meanwhile I suggest the following as it was indicated earlier by MartinL
Having read your specious arguments, I have 4 comments:
1) You obviously don't understand Open Source AT ALL! I never seen anyone (except you) argue against developing open source products to compete with existing commercial products. The point is competition, darwinism and freedom. Noone is stopping you from paying for BB or WebCT.
2) How development is funded is supposed to make a difference that a GPL project is ok by you or not? Hmm... How about GPL MySQL? Developed entirely in-house and funded by support dollars and IPO dollars. How about SELinux funded by the U.S. Govt? That's goverment dollars spent to directly undercut Solaris and Windows, etc. You argument is just non-sensical.
3) Moodle is just as much a community driven product as Firefox. In fact, there are 1454 currently registered users of the 'Using Moodle' course. If that is not a community, I don't know what is.
4) Now, go away, Troll!
If Moodle was being developed through peoples own time and initiative then fair enough, but that's not the case.
It is the case. Exactly, what planet are you from?
I hate jumping into an already inflamed discussion (), but I must say that I'm surprised by the lack of empathy displayed by the educators in this discussion.
I am a software developer by trade; I have seen vast changes over the 20 years I have worked in the industry. Open Source, while an exciting new development in our industry, is a frightening one. The software development industry (like many others) developed on the notion that the efforts they put into developing products needed by consumers would be rewarded through sales. Creating businesses to do so requires large investment (money and time) and its not unreasonable to desire rewards from these.
Here in North America, we have no problem being offended when we buy cheap products imported from under-developed nations using child (slave) labour. Our own products can't compete on price because we want to value our own employees' efforts more than these other countries.
Open Source creates a smilar issue - competing with products being developed by under-paid workers (free). Granted, these workers are doing it of their own free will, making it more difficult to justify being offended. And, in a lot of cases, they are being paid through public funding (Universities, government workers, non-profits, etc.). It is understandable why commercial companies might see this as an unfair advantage.
BUT - that said, it is a movement with large momentum and one that isn't likely going to stop (Darwinism). I've had to adjust how I will earn a living; others have had to as well; still others need to.
As educators, you all should be concerned about this. Your students are going to enter this world and will need to earn livings. How many of them are being educated as programmers right now? Do they realize that there may not be as many jobs requiring pure software development? If the industry is undergoing a radical business model change, you need to determine what this change will bring and prepare your students. That should be one of your tasks.
Its too easy to say "evolve or die". We need to take a more active role in defining what these new-economy roles will be. Aren't we the visionaries?
But I do think you're overstating how much things are changing, Mike.
For example, moodle.com is set up explicitly to earn funds (through services) so that I can hire programmers to do pure software development on Moodle. Currently these are on a contract basis, but eventually I hope to have a full time staff of gun programmers.
My aim is for an almost traditional software house co-existing with the open source model.
I also have to say that I think the idea of charging for digital data as if it were a commodity in itself was a flawed idea to start with (based on Toffler's second wave of industrial revolution). In software these days the production cost (once you have a master) is zero. To me it makes perfect sense to charge directly only for research and development, then give the software itself away.
However, like I've always said, the world is big enough for everyone, and any particular product or methodology is not going to suit everyone.
I'd like to continue this..
Can you post where you move it?
Mike, I didn't mean to sound so cold. You are right, it is the future generation that is effected profoundly by evolution. But the current generation is the one most surprised by it. By reason of contrast. The youth today growing up with file sharing , term-paper sharing , and so on have a different social construct to frame their perspective. They will need guidance on how to make a living in such a world. It is said that they should expect 5 or more careers over their lifetimes. Life-long learning skills are essential to this, so their should never be a need so great as that for Teachers.
Excellent post. I had a look at the Open Source forum but your post had not moved. How about if you post it there to save Martin the time? This forum below seems to be appropriate. http://moodle.org/mod/forum/view.php?f=262
I'm gonna play Devil's advocate for a bit on this and, hopefully, try not to offend anyone. I'm not a software developer or an educator, just a Moodle enthusiast and technology user.
Why does the concept of Open Source frighten you Mike?
The current state of affairs in the "for profit" software development industry has ordinary users ducking for cover every few weeks as a new weakness or error surfaces. The perception may be worse than the reality vis-a-vis reliability and/or usability of software. My experience is that the average user is getting fed up with excuses and is looking for value. This value doesn't necessarily mean affordable, more like reliable or maintainable. Open Source is becoming less exotic to the average user and is quickly losing it's "geeky" reputation. This is in turn being replaced with a perception that Open Source, in many cases, means "built right" by people who care enough to get it right the first time. Now that the honeymoon is over and we've got to be able to live together with this new way of getting the job done we need software that actually works, period. Who even cares how it gets built or by who? Someone deliver a product that works and tell me where to send the money, apply this revenue as you see fit but keep the good software coming please. How is this any different than having to "upgrade" every now and again in order to receive the newest version that "will really make a difference in the way you work, we promise, this one's really going to work"?
"Here in North America, we have no problem being offended when we buy cheap products imported from under-developed nations using child (slave) labour. Our own products can't compete on price because we want to value our own employees' efforts more than these other countries."
I don't think the average North American could really care less where the cheap stuff comes from, just send lots becasue we want everything in large quantities, period. The only reason we pay some local workers more is because we have to but that will change as more and more jobs head off-shore. Soon we'll compete head-to-head with workers in the Third World. This will include some technical as well as un-skilled workers. We are not living in our parents world. Our children will not live in ours.
"Open Source creates a smilar issue - competing with products being developed by under-paid workers (free). Granted, these workers are doing it of their own free will, making it more difficult to justify being offended. And, in a lot of cases, they are being paid through public funding (Universities, government workers, non-profits, etc.). It is understandable why commercial companies might see this as an unfair advantage."
No figures to back this one up but I would reckon that the total value of all the development being done in Open Source would be far less than one percent of the value paid in licences annually to very profitable software developers. Absolutely off the radar in comparison although they aren't laughing as quickly or loudly as they were only a short time ago. Put even more bluntly I think the executive secretaries of the ten biggest software developers could likely finance the entire Open Source budget out of "petty cash". That's ok though because they're developing the market for software and convincing us to buy the newest product. This manufactures a need and an Open Source developer has an opportunity to fill this need with a better product. This product can be financed with better support or a maintenance contract that will help to deliver a product that is better suited to an individual need rather than a "one size fits all" approach that a large developer has a difficult time dealing with as scale is everything when profits run the show. This creates a very loyal and satisfied client for the Open Source developer. Business sees everything as an un-fair advantage. The bottom line is all that matters, period. If they don't they perish, evolve or die, consume your competition or they'll surely consume you, that's business. If they don't do this they're actually a charity. If they don't receive a tax advantage by donating to higher learning and non-profits those will disappear or scale back anyway. The taxpayer will then decide individually what institutions remain.
"Its too easy to say "evolve or die". We need to take a more active role in defining what these new-economy roles will be. Aren't we the visionaries?"
You can always be the visionary but the new economic realities are going to help you clarify your vision a bit. We need stuff that works and we need it at a price we can afford. We're competing against the whole world now in the supply and demand of these better products. Everyone can produce them and, soon, many more will be in the marketplace buying them. It is really becoming a much more honest and fair world in many respects. We have been invited to live with the rest of humanity where it's always been "evolve or die".
Finally, I believe we are witnessing a new way of doing things. Each day people are waking up and developing code for the love of it. They are doing this because they like to do it. They aren't all just doing it for the big payoff. They'll do it anyway, just because they love what they do. They are some of the richest people we know. I don't know how they pay their bills. I know it's difficult at times. I think many people help them when they can. I think many of us envy them. How many of us tell our children as we send them off to school in the morning "Spend a few moments thinking about what would make you happy"? How many of us wish we could remember what it's like to spend our day doing what we love instead of what we must? Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to let someone else have some of the production so that we could spend a few generations doing what we like. Maybe during this "sabbatical" we could try and learn to live with a little less and and learn to enjoy life a little more.
Open Source works. Moodle is a perfect example of this concept. One guy has a need. This guy has ethics. He's a good citizen. He doesn't just talk about it, he does something about it. His name becomes synonymous with quality and a great attitude. His idea develops into a movement through hard work and consistently improving on his idea. A huge community grows up around his idea and this community is sustained by his dedication to the idea. Someday the community is self-sustaining because it attracts many like-minded people and achieves critical mass. The developer is able to enjoy the rewards that come with hard work and dedication to an idea. If we're lucky he is able to come up with another idea. The best part? A group of shareholders can't destroy his idea or cloud his vision.
Just thinking out loud here...
I use Moodle at three colleges with over 40,000 students total. A lot of these students are still using blackboard but we are slowly changing over to Moodle and will never go back.
Moodle costs nothing. I've never paid for support and probably never will. Moodle takes 15 minutes to install which I did on my own time. Moodle sames time. I have more free time on my hands because Moodle has made me more efficient. Moodle is changable. When my student have a problem understanding something I change it (in my own time). This is a luxury that I never had with Blackboard.
Moodle will save the state government a lot of money that can go into buying better equipment etc... This summer when I have time off I will be adding a class scheduling module which will save about $20,000 more dollers a year for the state colleges. This of won't cost the government anything.
We have 8000 ACTIVE users, and our support people claim this is one of the largest out there- but 40,000 is way more, so I'm confused. We have 70,000 overall. I'm pushing for Moodle, and if I can get one key class over, it'll mean 150 sections (and all chapters, tests, etc.. that that conveys) to go with it... and our BB users group drops by half...
Here are two threads about developing converters:
Gathering Development Funds for Blackboard Converter
Consolidating Knowledge about Blackboard to Moodle Conversions
Here's a good place for stories:
Blackboard and Moodle
I hesitated if I should answer to an obviously FUD-troll posting...
Just some comments:
(1) "But to actually utilise a Open Source product still involves money being spent,..."
Sorry for saying this, but I think you don't know too much about the concept of Open Source (or you are trying desparately some FUD). As I've already said somewhere else... open source doesn't mean that we're back in the time of slavery. For sure you have to pay the servers, your sysadmin, your teachers, ... what do you think???
(2) "Also I do find it disturbing that an Open Source product is funded through public money and through its existence is undercutting already available commercial products. Though I guess this proves the madness of the distributor's of educational funds and what they allow academics to spend their time on."
Apart of the fact that Moodle is less funded through public money than the over-priced commercial products (think about that a moment! )... I think one should also consider the following facts:
- Academics are more innovative than many people particularly "in the industry" want to make us believe... And astonishingly, quite often the same people who don't want to fund educational institutions "too much" are expecting on the other hand that academics aren't too innovative or active. They should rather give the money (which one?) back to the industry. IMO this is a bit perverted.
- It is natural that from the point of view of a commercial vendor the ideal situation is something like this: "Give much funds to institutions who buy our products. Reduce funds to institutions who want to buy our competitor's products".
- Btw, ever spent a thought about the customer needs? (see also the posting of David Lamotte)
- I think it is mainly an efficiency issue: Many companies have developed an overpriced administrative overhead who also needs to be paid (I just wonder for which performance and use). Frankly, it remembers me a bit the "administrative overhead" of some ancient socialist countries... Therefore, I think open source could be very curative to companies with commercial products: Refocus on efficiency and customer needs.
Believe me, I know a bit of what I am talking. I was on "both sides", in the industry and at educational institutions.
(Btw, my experiences were that there are actually not the two sides "industry" and "public institutions" but people with some ethical standard and some without. Just a footnote...)
Troll? Cheers guys, I know my opinion might not be to your liking but as soon as someone states something that you don't like it does not automatically mean they are trolling for attention. If I was doing that why would I waste effort posting anything other than "moodle sux lol!!"
I also have read comments that I have no idea about open source, ok fair enough if you feel you can make that judgment then ok. Its not the truth though, I am quite active in some open source software. The difference for me is that the software I deal with is not a goverment funded effort to replace a commercial solution. Which is the key distinction for me, if it was acedemics spending their time making this software after their working day then all power to them.
See thats the key difference I see with moodle (as stated before) is its an effort on behalf of the academic community, with backing and initative from the government to replace what already exists as software. This is no community effort by some guys down at sourceforge.net. Its an effort by the goverment to undercut an industry.
Now I am actually really am pro open source software. Suse Pro 9.1, Open Office 1.1.1, etc, etc. But I see a difference between how this software is developed.
I guess you guys don't want to take the step back and just review what the scenario is, thats ok, there is nothing illegal in developing open source solutions. I noticed a reply that discussed the risk to jobs, and in the future, I can see that occurring. Its very real for smaller software company's who deal in VLE's, look at how many have gone bust in the UK. So where will these tech jobs be in the future? Are all software solutions for H.E going to be developed in house by academics on the side? For all these I.T students that are being churned out, where are the jobs that moodle provides? Compared to Suse where the money is made from providing manuals and tech support, moodle just removes jobs from the market (Though maybe someone wants to fill me in on how many people get employed by moodle tech support).
So yeah I guess you can either mull over what I have said or discount me as a troll, though it is interesting to note the stink the academic community made when the concept of VLE's were first introduced into the class room. So maybe fearing your job is not only limited to programmers.
So you are telling me that Moodle is coded in the personal time of the Academic community involved? Or is it done in during office hours? If its done in personal time then please except my apologies for miss reading this project. For what its worth I am not trying to troll. This is a topic about teknical V's Moodle (commercial V's Open Source). I just want to point out the ethics of the situation, if this product is solely coded in personal or from money gained from support services then there is no issue.
So anyhow taking it for granted that this coding is done in paid time....
Its interesting to note that people keep replying "I have 40,000 users" its saved us loads! Yeah, fine, thats great. Its the reasons why you can save that money that is the crux. If it is a fact that the Dev's of this project are funded through the public purse, then there is in fact a paid development team. Its just that the costs of this team are paid for by the public rather than a commercial body. So it might not appear on your college / uni cheque books but its still come out of public money somewhere, as a general rule having software at a high level of quality has to be paid for by someone.
Also people have been throwing the GPL at me, ok fine, thats just a method of distributing code. That does make a project "Open Source" in that the source can be had and modded by anyone. I have no issue with the code being free, its the method in which that code is created i.e. In the paid time of academia.
For example if the government funded workers to product a free car don't you think ford et al might be a little put out by that?
Fact 1: I've spent over four years of my personal time getting Moodle off the ground.
Fact 2: For the past year and a half I have been totally full-time on Moodle, existing almost entirely on money gained from support services via my commercial business.
Fact 3: Lots of source-code contributors to Moodle do work in their own time and don't work in academia. Some of them are directly employed by me.
Fact 4: Those that are in academia are people with technical jobs who are scratching itches or fixing small flaws to get their daily job done. They'd be doing it anyway (in a more constricted way) even using a closed-source VLE.
Fact 5: Almost all the Internet infrastructure you use every day (commercial or not) contains input from academic communities. It's in their nature to share information and ideas and open sourced code is a natural evolution from that.
I shan't be replying further .. I only hope this helps you.
Thats cool, I appreciate that your income and effort is funded through a services that you provide. Thats how Open Source in my eyes should work and it naturally allows for competition.
I would still like the question answered one way or the other if there is publicly funded individuals working on the project though. Thats my only issue with this software when compared to a cooperate solution.
Whether you can see the code or not is irrelevant, if you can mod it, use it for nothing, etc great! Its how it can be created that interests me. For instance if someone does it at home in their spare time then fine! You would not expect the code to be as good (or at least be developed as fast) as that offered commercially. If a company can create the code through selling support, great! The model works! Its just when I heard that people were spending publicly funded time on developing this software that the alarm bells rang as this idea does seem anti-competitive.
See the difference is that if you make a product to sell the support, but no one buys your support then you go bust and the project takes a hit. But at the moment if no one pays for moodle then no one takes a hit (except you I guess) in the overall moodle team as the academic devs are not relying on it as an income.
As for fact 5, thats true of the Internet standards but it took commercial company's to put it into practice. Also how much open source hardware do you see on the net?
Hi Jenson -
I was going to avoid getting into this conversation again (still stinging from the last time ).
I think you, too, are trying to oversimplify things. Of course there are people using paid public institution time to develop and maintain Moodle and other Open Source projects. That's that nature of the beast. The part that's hard to measure is how many of them are doing it with their institution's blessing, so let's not try. Let's assume they all have that blessing.
No matter what solution is picked (commercial or Open Source), those people will exist in those institutions - paid to support and maintain a commercial venture, or paid to support and maintain an Open Source venture.
If those institutions hired a staff of programmers to create their tools from scratch, you would likely be pissed off, but you wouldn't really have a valid complaint. Public institutions hire many people to do jobs that are offerred by other commercial ventures (janitorial services, office staff, IT services, etc.).
What you are taking issue with is that they didn't hire those programmers, but rather found a community of them available to develop what they needed. Where it leaves a bad taste is that this community is developing products that directly compete with your commercial product and takes some of your business.
There is nothing wrong with this. In the complex issues of public institutions, they cannot always exist to support commercial ventures in their society. If they did, we'd be back to the $700 hammers.
Open Source is here. It ain't going away. You need to figure out how to live with it, or face extinction. You aren't alone. And, we do need to make sure, in each of our societies, that we educate our youth to the new opportunities.
Don't lets fuel this stuff - lets go and do some proper (government funded) work!
And believe me, his services are almost unreachable in all aspects: quality, competence, cost/performance ratio, friendliness,...
Btw, this was my last posting in this thread. I have more important things to do.
This might sound like an accountants answer to your question. "I would still like the question answered one way or the other if there is publicly funded individuals working on the project though."
I, as a manager of IT staff consider the time that spent and paid through their salary to develop custom applications that solve problems as part of their normal duties. We often write code to track service request, vehicle maintenance, etc. If these applications were used only by our organization, it would still be a wise and economical investment of public funds. We do this much like the corporate world. We develop applications that solve our problems. Since these applications were developed using public funds and are for the public good, my agency has no issue with sharing these applications with others. If these applications need support, my contract states that I have release days to conduct and bill for that support. This is done seperately from my paid salary and allows me the flexibility of providing good value to my agency and to help others who may not have the resources to solve these problems on their own.
I am a member of a business and civic organization called "Rotary" and we have a test for ethical business decisions. "Of the things we think, say or do:
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?"
Moodle and this arrangement meet this test.
Opinions are like assholes - everybody has got one
(and I never though I'd find a reason to post that here)
"Things" that are directly involved with the main purpose of any institution should be treated as the have a cost. It's true that educational institutions have to deal with very limited/tight budgets, and usually technology (software specially), as something that is not tangible is very hard to justify to our bean counter; is usually at the bottoms of our wishlists. BUT it is matter of been councius and try to payback, somehow, the effort the developers.
It's great to being recognized by the users comunity, but we can't go to the market to buy good with "thank you post cards", please take this last comment in the good way, sure it's great but in order to ask for a professional application you need to pay (something). Donations of any extend work nice. Passion drives great projects, but developers are not alone, most of them have families and we cannot feed them with nicely crafted code. Devels need peace of mind to be good .
Just something to keep in mind.
"See thats the key difference I see with moodle (as stated before) is its an effort on behalf of the academic community, with backing and initative from the government to replace what already exists as software."
Where does software like moodle, with all it's features and that can be tweaked or changed at the drop of a hat exist in the commercial market?
Well, I guess we took care of that Troll!
Looks like 'smiley central' great fun !
I've heard of 'ice breakers' is this a technique for the other end of the scale ?