Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Moodle for Corporate Learning?

A few weeks ago I put a question out to the Moodle community regarding the appropriateness and usage of Moodle in the corporate learning environment. I have to say, so far I have underwhelmed by the level of response and interest, with only a few prviate responses so far.

Elearnity is very interested in the potential for open source learning solutions in a corporate context, but frankly, we currently are skeptical at the degree of corporate fit and focus they have today. We know of some organisations who have been doing some successful work with Moodle in particular in the corporate arena, but would be keen to here from many more.

I am also happy to provide a summary of our research view to people making a good contribution to me/us. Happy to start a discussion here, or for more sensitive inputs please email me directly.



Martin Dougiamas said...

Keep an eye on http://www.elearningguild.com as they have a major survey report coming soon with interesting conclusions in this area (Moodle is a LOT more popular among medium-sized corporates than you might think! ;-) )

- Martin Dougiamas

David Wilson said...

Martin, thanks for tracking this ...

Yes we will look at what the guild comes out with, but our own research has already unearthed a picture of positive interest from the mid-tier companies and smaller commercial providers which is understanding, and interesting. After all, these are guys largely excluded from the corporate LMS players due to entrance cost. They are also organisations that are likely to adapt their own working approach around a usable system, rather than the other way around.

The corporates are different though. They can afford to invest in formal systems (they spend a lot more currently on their core HR systems), but they are questioning the "enterprise" price tag and implementation model more than previously. But for Moodle to work for them it has to fit the evolving corporate learning model directly including short-duration courses, fragmented administration, mandatory training, certification, competencies and so on. These are either less important for smaller companies, or more likely, easier to create workarounds to make the system achieve the right outcomes, even if it wasn't core.

The other aspect to this whole discussion is not about the advantages of Moodle as a no-cost open source application, but more about the flexibility of the application as open-source to be adapted to an organisations specific needs. I.e. it is also critically about the service chain and flexibility of implementation versus a locked-down enterprise application. This is potentially the biggest win it has, but only if it has a credible service chain that can support its use at enterprise level.

Again, the current Moodle Partners seemed more geared to either the academic market (naturally), and smaller businesses ... (that should create a response!). I'd be interested in your view on this.

Regards, DAVID

Barry Sampson said...

I'm a big fan of open source, both the general ethic and the software. But I see some issues that currently seem to stop corporates from adopting it.

1) The first I think you have already covered, which is the focus on the needs of academic organisations and the associated lack of support for implementation in a corporate environment.

2) The lack of any real technical know-how within corporate IT departments. They seem to be largely populated by people who can only manage prepackaged solutions. The fundamental driver of any open source solution is the need of the software author to solve a particular problem. The corporates just don't have people who can develop those solutions.

3) This lack of knowledge leads to the ill informed view that open source solutions must be inferior to commercial counterparts.

4) The primary driver behind having a robust support solution isn't always (if ever) about really being able to support technical needs. It's often more about the simple politics of covering one's own arse! (Sorry, I couldn't think of a more appropriate way to put that).

5) And finally (and controversially I'm sure) Open Source doesn't pay back-handers (be that cash, the promise of a consultancy job with the supplier or whatever). I have seen decisions made to adopt systems so appalling that either the IT people involved are just very, very stupid (a possibility I'm not discounting) or they are getting something out of it.

Barry Sampson said...

P.S. Moodle is not the only Open Source LMS, even though it often appears that way. ATutor, Claroline, Docebo and Dokeos are all worth a look.

Martin Dougiamas said...

Our main mission with Moodle is to bring e-learning to those who could not otherwise afford it, so we do have a focus on those people.

That said, a lot of what we're working on right now in 1.9 and 2.0 (completion certificates, competencies, better admin integration) will probably interest large corporates just as much as it interests smaller companies, universities and schools.

About the services side, a number of Moodle Partners already support some very large clients. It can be hard to generalise about these things, since education needs can vary a lot.

David Wilson said...

Barry - we are also looking at some other open source LMSs as well, but this question was specifically targeted at Moodle as it is receiving a lot of attention at the moment.

Martin - point taken on your target for Moodle, but I'm sure you wouldn't stop us being interested in its corporate potential as well. I also believe that whilst corporates can significantly distort a requirements picture, most of the time they need the same stuff that everyone else does. The difference is they typically want it to be adapted specifically around their needs rather than the other way around. This dynamic is also relevant for smaller companies - its just their desire or ability to pay for the priviledge of doing it is more limited.

Skip said...

I must agree with Martin regarding the popularity of Moodle in medium sized orgs. I'm an e-learning manager for a US corp. We adopted Moodle a couple years ago for many of the reasons mentioned here. We could have purchased a closed system LMS, but we like the flexibility Moodle offers and currently use it as the foundation for our corporate online university. While it's true that it doesn't meet all of our needs out of the box, we are able to make the customizations necessary (including custom blocks, learning activities and even a training dashboard). We handle all of the support and development in house and enjoy the flexibility Moodle offers.

Lisa said...

I work in State Government in the US and we have a customized version of Moodle as our LMS in our agency. I am interested in your training dashboard - could you tell more about it?

WeeChuen Blog said...

I agree that Moodle is popular in colleges and universities. I'm the head of centre for teaching and learning of a college and i also involve in R & D in educational technology. Recently i also think of the feasibility of the use Moodle for corporates and training purposes. Think I would like to include this in my research focus for 2010. I can see the potential of Moodle for corporates.