Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Follow-on to Moodle Paper - Comments from Totara

David Wilson Thanks Richard for your comments. Very constructive and I think reinforcing some of the key points we were trying to make in our report.

Our research into Moodle in the corporate environment was started a few years ago, and part of it obviously pre-dates the existence of Totara (and some other corporate-focused Moodle variants). We see Totara as specifically trying to bridge the functional gaps to fit into corporate learning models and environments, and we will continue to track your progress with interest.

The main point here is that Moodle gets frequently described as a) an LMS, and b) a suitable corporate solution, without any real understanding of the context of these things. The reality is there are real questions with both parts of this.

Moodle has started to become extensively adopted in corporates, but not as a true LMS, more as an e-learning portal. It is also often used tactically for specific programmes rather than as the global enterprise-wide solution for all learning programmes.

That's fine, but organisations need to understand the difference. It's also interesting that (at least from our research to date), Moodle is rarely used inside corporates as a true VLE either - i.e. to support collaborative asynchronous blended learning programmes.

The second point of suitability is not just a functional issue, but also one of service, deployment and support. Suitability is actually more about the types of service partners supporting corporate customers, and their scope/capability to offer trans-national or global services and enterprise-class solution infrastructure and SLAs.

Overall, we want to help to make corporate buyers more aware of the realities of Moodle today, and to positively influence their approach to Moodle as an opportunity. We also want to continue to encourage and challenge the supply-side of the equation too; to help improve the value for corporates and decrease their risk.

Best regards,

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Moodle: The Corporate Reality Uncovered

The popularity of Moodle as an academic learning platform is now migrating into the corporate market too. But, built originally for an academic audience and learning model, what’s the reality of Moodle’s usage and suitability for corporate learning?

Here's an Extract from our Corporate Moodle Report Summary:

Moodle’s Origins 
Historically, Moodle has been primarily used within the academic community as a virtual learning environment or VLE, a software system designed to support teaching and learning in an educational setting. Virtual Learning Environments such as Moodle are designed to deliver a programme of learning and its associated activities over a period of elapsed time, with one or more facilitators/tutors interacting with students, and with focussed interaction between students. Whilst a VLE does provide some management functionality and some content functionality, its primary role is to support the delivery of learning, through a structured educational programme, resources and collaborative activities. 

Moodle’s Place in the Market Today? 
There is no doubt that there is significant interest in the potential to use Moodle for corporate learning, but our  research shows that corporate usage of Moodle today is quite limited, and there are still very few public domain large-scale corporate Moodle case studies. Unlike the academic community, few corporate organisations have yet adopted Moodle as a strategic learning technology platform. And if they have, Moodle is typically just one component of a more traditional learning technology infrastructure (alongside a learning management system and other virtual learning/elearning tools).
From our research, the most common role of Moodle within corporate organisations today is as a tactical, low- cost elearning launch platform where an organisation does not have a suitable LMS already. Some organisations have used it on a more extensive scale but even then it is for a distinct audience or to meet a specific need. 
Despite Moodle’s success in the academic market, where it has become established as a common platform to  manage the delivery of educational programmes with facilitating tutors, there is limited evidence of corporates  using Moodle to deliver a blended approach.   This should probably not be a surprise, as a real commitment to blended delivery is often lacking in corporate training, irrespective of the available delivery platforms. 
For the sake of clarity, here the word “corporate”, doesn’t mean quangos or small to medium companies, but is used to describe large private sector companies with enterprise scale operations. 
The use of Moodle as a collaborative learning platform or conventional VLE within a corporate environment is also limited, with few good reference examples. In this guise, Moodle is being used for collaborative activities and tutor facilitation, but not generally to manage the overall blended programme. Whilst this type of usage  is growing, it will be slow relative to Moodle’s overall growth, as corporates slowly shift to blended and virtual learning as a mainstream approach. 

The Future of Moodle
There is strong evidence that Moodle can provide a tactical elearning launch platform, and interest in using Moodle as a broader lightweight LMS solution is growing. But currently, Moodle, unless significantly modified, lacks the functionality to manage this effectively in a corporate training/learning context.  Nothing illustrates this more than the decision to develop Totara and the other commercial distributions of Moodle.  In almost all corporate deployments, Moodle has been heavily customised by partners and independent vendors, and even now, the enhanced functionality that’s needed is part of vendor modules, rather than core Moodle code.

Learn More
To learn more about Corporate Moodle, you can access our latest free research report.  This provides 40 pages of insight into the Moodle supply chain, the challenges involved for end user organisations when implementing it as a solution, the functionality profile and the development of Corporate focussed Moodle distributions:

Insights into Corporate Moodle