[Olpc-open] CMS, Moodle, etc

gnome gnome at greenglim.com
Thu Dec 6 09:52:19 EST 2007

This is the first issue on the forum I can address as something other 
than a rank amateur.  :-)

I've used Moodle, WebCT (now Blackboard), Blackboard before they merged, 
and have looked at Sakai.

Moodle seems to me to be the clear winner.  Not so much necessarily on 
technical grounds, although a good case could be made for that, but because:

1) it has by far the highest rate of adoption in schools.  In 
universities, it's a close second and gaining on WebCT/Blackboard fast.  
If OLPC adopted Moodle, they'd be plugged into what is already the 
widest network of educators.

2) It is open source, and has a truly excellent set of support forums.  
My simple questions have been answered within hours -- the advantage of 
a global community is that someone's always awake ;-) -- and more 
difficult questions take a few days.

3) Technically, it is full-featured course management software.  In some 
ways, such as uploading some content, it is easier than WebCT.  I have 
yet to find a way in which it is harder to use.  WebCT has some new 
whiz-bang features not available in Moodle, such as the ability to hold 
quizzes in class where the questions are projected onto a screen and the 
students choose one of the multiple choice answers with remote 
clickers.  While this is very nice, it's hardly essential, and is rather 
unlikely to be very useful outside of a fully electronics equipped 
classroom.  (At our college, I think we may have two.)

Sakai looks very interesting, but from what I've heard, there will be an 
institutional fee in the thousands of dollars, and it's not yet widely 

Speaking of institutional fees, WebCT charges us $65,000.  That's per 
year.  An individual license is a few hundred ($300?).  Support is 
somewhere in Pennsylvania.  Or something.  Like most commercial tech 
support it's similar to a cardiac defibrillator.  When you need one, 
it's never there, and you hope never to need it in any case.


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