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Learning Management Systems
July 2022
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Technical Client Manager at LinkedIn
Real User
Provides a lot of flexibility, helps in creating training for all types of learners, and supports backup in an industry-standard format
Pros and Cons
  • "One of my biggest pet peeves is that many LMSs do not offer a course or site-level backup that is an industry-standard file. So, if you decide you don't like Moodle or some other LMS, you should be able to back up all your data and take it and go somewhere else. Moodle does offer that. There are several others that do that as well, but there are some LMSs that don't, which isn't a very good business practice because they hold their clients hostage. That's one of the things I really like about Moodle."
  • "Where Moodle could definitely improve is the user interface. You have a lot of themes and you can customize themes, but if you are going to use Moodle off the shelf, even with a hosting company, a lot of training is involved. Training is available, but if your faculty or your development team isn't highly technical, it's going to be a challenge, whereas there are other interfaces that are much easier, but they don't do as much. So, there is a give and take there. If Moodle could find a way to make the user interface for the instructional designers and the learners more intuitive, it probably would be a huge improvement. The manager area and the admin area are fine, but when it comes to the people who are using the system but might not be highly technical, it needs improvement."

What is our primary use case?

I am working with Moodle just a little bit currently. It's not the main focus of my position, but I have been working with it since 2009. I've been doing some side work, and I also spoke at Moodle conferences all the time before COVID. I've done a lot of solution architecture and project management around custom add-ons and configuration with Moodle.

Its use cases really depend on an organization. When I work with an organization, I look at their technical requirements and their business needs and try to find the best LMS that fits their infrastructure and their business and training needs within their budget. Moodle does fit most companies as an option. So, when it is a good fit, I recommend it to the company or organization.

It is a cloud solution, and the cloud provider depends on the client's needs, but normally, it's sitting on AWS.

How has it helped my organization?

All organizations should have training for their users, and all LMSs should address all different learning styles because nobody learns in the exact same way. Some people are visual, and some people are auditory. Some people read, and some people are tactile, kinetic, or hands-on learners. Usually, everyone has a little bit of all of these traits, but one of them is a stronger trait. Therefore, it is very important to have the ability to:

  • Create quizzes and engagement within a course to address all learning types
  • Offer an option to do hybrid training
  • Track the grades for the items that are not handled on the LMS 

Moodle handles all these very well.

We worked with a foreign military group that needed to add a way for helicopter trainers to assess the pilots. There was a specific way in which they wanted it graded. They had a specific assessment. So, we built that onto the grade book and a separate module for the flight instructors to be able to grade exactly the way they wanted it. Moodle is modular, and you can do something like that very cost-effectively, which is important.

Another project I worked on was with a Silicon Valley company. Their education foundation had a grant, and they funded a study to see if you created a hybrid learning program, could you have at-risk students pass algebra 30% better. The project was successful. We built an analytic engine on a publisher server with LTI, and Moodle was the consumer. We were able to pinpoint down to the question, like a quadratic equation, the exact problem that the students were struggling with and serve up additional training, such as videos and additional information, specifically on that area. The project was successful. Being able to use LTI, build a custom analytical engine, and easily build the add-ons to pull Khan Academy, HippoCampus, and other online sources to help students with algebra were the main reasons why we picked Moodle for that project.

What is most valuable?

It is very flexible. It is like a salad bar. You can put anything that you want into Moodle and top it off with whatever you want.

One of my biggest pet peeves is that many LMSs do not offer a course or site-level backup that is an industry-standard file. So, if you decide you don't like Moodle or some other LMS, you should be able to back up all your data and take it and go somewhere else. Moodle does offer that. There are several others that do that as well, but there are some LMSs that don't, which isn't a very good business practice because they hold their clients hostage. That's one of the things I really like about Moodle.

I like the flexibility of the globally collaborative community that creates plugins to solve various problems. It works with LTI very well, and it integrates with H5P, which makes it very easy and cost-effective for organizations to create their own content and do the customization for 508 compliance for the visually impaired. You can set up themes for visually impaired people or for other disabilities to help streamline the user experience. It is very easy.

What needs improvement?

Every LMS has room for improvement. There isn't a perfect one out there, and with all the projects I've worked on since 2009, there isn't one LMS that fits a company's 100% requirements and needs. A lot of them come close, but in my experience, there has never been one that fits 100%. Moodle is one of those solutions that come closest, but it's overwhelming if people don't understand it. You have to shut things down. Where Moodle could definitely improve is the user interface. You have a lot of themes and you can customize themes, but if you are going to use Moodle off the shelf, even with a hosting company, a lot of training is involved. Training is available, but if your faculty or your development team isn't highly technical, it's going to be a challenge, whereas there are other interfaces that are much easier, but they don't do as much. So, there is a give and take there. If Moodle could find a way to make the user interface for the instructional designers and the learners more intuitive, it probably would be a huge improvement. The manager area and the admin area are fine, but when it comes to the people who are using the system but might not be highly technical, it needs improvement.

In terms of additional features, I'd like to see whether you could take and do a 3D virtual world on-the-job site training within Moodle.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with Moodle since 2009. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It depends on who installed it and set it up and whether it was set up correctly. If it was set up correctly, it's incredibly stable. I've seen Moodle being used in a university where they have 40,000 concurrent users online every day, and it's stable. It's all about knowing the infrastructure and scaling it for the number of users that you're going to have tasking the system. Just like any LMS, if you go and use it and you don't have enough memory or storage, or your bandwidth is horrible, it would not be a good user experience. So, it is very stable as long as somebody knows what they're doing.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Its scalability is really impressive. The United Nations was using it. The army is using it. It is very scalable, but you've got to make sure whoever is managing the infrastructure knows what they're doing.

How are customer service and support?

I have not interacted with them in the last few years, but I worked very closely with them previously. Our experience depended on the area. Different people managed different parts of Moodle. So, the grade book was managed by somebody, and then the other pieces were managed by somebody else. I would put in a lot of bugs for the clients I was working with, and 80% of their support people were really good, but all of them were over-tasked. That's probably a standard in most LMS companies. I would rate them a four out of five because there is always a person in there that gets one.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

On my LinkedIn profile, there is a recording of a presentation that I was doing globally before COVID hit. It is about how to find the right LMS. I worked with this company, and we started with 86 LMSs and got it down to 14 for which we sent out RFP requests. Six of those got to be on-site to demo, but the whole process—the details, the ranking, and how we looked at it—comes down to what your company needs. I've worked with Adobe Prime, Cornerstone, SuccessFactors, Docebo, Absorb, Blackboard, WebCT, and ANGEL. 

I have also heard about Google Classroom. There is something going good for it, but most of the time, people go away from it. Google Classroom is K-12 centric. Some LMSs are education-centric, and some are higher-education-centric. Some are corporate. It comes down to what are your needs and what fits the best.

How was the initial setup?

I have been a part of its implementation many times. Its implementation is complex. It is always complex to bring an LMS into a new company and get them on board to buy into a constant training program. It requires a lot. You can't just bring in an LMS and say that here are the classes and use it. You have to market it, and you have to incentivize it. Otherwise, you're paying for something that nobody will use. There is a holistic approach to bringing in a training system or a new LMS. It doesn't matter if it's Moodle or anything else. It's a very complicated project that touches every single department within the organization. With Moodle or any other LMS, you've got to get full company buy-in for it to be an effective and successful project.

All LMS solutions—such as Moodle, Adobe Captivate Prime, or Cornerstone—have a learning curve, but the learning curve is really getting the mindset of the company to actually use it and understand that training should be part of their everyday life. That's the biggest challenge when you bring in a new LMS to a company and help them set it up. There are technical pieces in terms of getting people logged in, importing users, setting up single sign-on, etc. These tasks are standard, no matter which LMS you're using.

What about the implementation team?

When a company selects Moodle, I always recommend working with a Moodle expert because it's overwhelming with everything that it can do. We look at what that specific organization is looking for and we turn off everything else, so the system is streamlined for what they need.

I don't recommend companies installing Moodle and setting it up on their own. You can go to so many different hosting companies where you can get Moodle with about 5,000 licenses for under $10,000. It might even be extremely under $10,000, but you can't hire somebody to install and manage it and manage the AWS or Azure infrastructure at that price. Companies that think that they're saving themselves money are really causing themselves a lot of anguish and money. If you can go and get Moodle on a hosted system that has an uptime of 98% or more for $10,000 or less, why would you try to find someone who can configure this for $50,000, $80,000, or more a year?

In terms of maintenance, just like every LMS, you need an administrator. Its administrator is a database person. A lot of times, the IT team thinks that they can manage it, but it really needs a database administrator. It requires an understanding of the ed-tech space of e-learning, but it's really the skillset of a database manager.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It varies depending on the partner you're going with. It depends on whether they are a certified partner or not. It also varies depending on the demand. Usually, with Moodle and other LMSs, there is concurrent licensing. It's hard to figure out the best way to do it at the company that is selling the LMS. Moodle is usually one of the most cost-effective LMSs you can get.

What other advice do I have?

I would highly recommend going with a hosting partner that is a certified or real hosting partner to Moodle, not the one that is not part of the Moodle official network. You would get better support from them. For $10,000, you can't install it and run it yourself. You can just start from there. If you outgrow the host, you can install it on-prem or on the cloud and run it yourself, but start with a hosting company because they usually also give you a lot of training.

I would rate it an eight out of ten because there is always room for improvement.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Susan Nash - PeerSpot reviewer
Director of innovation at AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PETROLEUM GEOLOGISTS
Real User
Top 5
It's free and integrates seamlessly with many tools
Pros and Cons
  • "I like that Google Classroom is free and integrates with the entire Google Suite, which includes Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive, etc. I also like its flexibility, which makes it perfect for synchronous, asynchronous, and blended courses, and including live and archived webinars, as well as other kinds of content."
  • "I would like to see a better user experience, a more engaging interface, and more templates. Google should develop templates or at least encourage developers to share them. You'll only get a basic framework when you create a new course. You don't have different themes to choose from like you do in Moodle."

What is our primary use case?

I first used Google Classroom because it’s easy, free, and I needed a quick solution.. Later, I started to see how it seamlessly integrates with the Google apps that most people find very intuitive to use, and so it was simultaneously powerful, flexible, and facilitated collaboration.  I have only used it for a certificate course For the certificate courses, students either worked individually or with a cohort. The cohorts were the most fun with Google Classroom because they could collaborate on projects and also post their own presentations, both with Slides and with a video. Google Classroom is a good learning management system for adults because you can easily develop an instructional strategy that relates to real-world problems and solutions. It allows you to develop an instructional strategy that builds on the learners’ experience and prior knowledge and gives them the ability to use it as a launching pad for new skills they need now. 

What is most valuable?

I like that Google Classroom is free and integrates with the entire Google Suite, which includes Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive, etc. I also like its flexibility, which makes it perfect for synchronous, asynchronous, and blended courses, and including live and archived webinars, as well as other kinds of content. 

What needs improvement?

When students don't have Gmail accounts, it creates a lot of hiccups, but the main issue is that the interface is somewhat primitive. It’s intuitive and you can be up and running in no time at all.  However, it is not very attractive. But that may be because I installed it myself and I'm not using any fancy templates. It's primitive because that's how I've been able to get it going.

I would like to see a better user experience, a prettier interface, and more templates. Google could make templates readily available or users could design and share them. As it is, you’ll only get a basic framework when you create a new course. You don't have different themes to choose from like you do in Moodle.

Most learning management systems also have a dashboard. It would be useful to have a dashboard with blocks on the side that lets you navigate all of your courses. It would like to have the ability to navigate at a glance and breadcrumbs.

By breadcrumbs, I mean it should be designed to leave you a trail like you would use to find your way out of a forest. Go back to where you were and pick up where you left off. So, instead of going back, it shows you where you were. Moodle does something like this, but you don't see it in Canvas or Blackboard. I think that that would be a big advantage.

And then, a dashboard would just be when you go to the front page, in addition to having your courses listed there, you would have something like other activities, as well. Further, the dashboard would include your calendar, you could have a calendar there, you could have different productivity apps.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used Google Classrooms since 2019, but I was aware of it for a few years before that.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

As a cloud-based solution provided by one of the largest companies in the world, I think that the platform and the solution are as stable as it gets. That said, Google has deprecated a number of products over the last few years, and there is no guarantee that Google Classroom will continue in its present form. It will be interesting to see how Google Classrooms will fare in the future. The pandemic and the overnight transition to online made Google a hero for many K-12 districts because it was free and also intuitive. That does not mean that classroom teachers were effective in the new online space, and it does not mean that schools maintained their Google Classrooms in 2021 as students started to come back to face to face instruction. How will Google deal with such wild fluctuations in demand? What was the value proposition for them?

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Classroom is a scalable solution if you’d like to create individual classrooms / courses. It’s easy. All you have to do is to create a template and then share it with all the teachers. To scale for an entire school or organization, the key is to be able to manage the course creation, course deployment, permissions, and enrollments. Google Classroom does not seem to have an enterprise version, so it would be necessary to write programs that would integrate with one’s student (for education) or member (for training) information system.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I did not switch to Google Classroom, but used it because it was required. It would never be my first choice except in cases of super-shoestring budgets and students who need something simple, but who are not annoyed by the clunkiness of it. Currently, I find myself using Moodle, Blackboard, and Canvas. Those are the most commonly used. In the past, there was Desire to Learn, Angel, and others.Google Classroom doesn't have as many features or plugins as Canvas or Blackboard, but that's okay.

I started using Classroom because many of the users were accessing the course from work because the training was required by their employer. . It was the only platform they could use because the others were blocked.

How was the initial setup?

I've always set it up from scratch. It's super easy compared with Moodle or commercial options such as Blackboard or Canvas

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

If you do a certain size and build, it's like any Google solution. You have to pay for storage, but you don't need to pay extra to use the interface. There may be Google Classroom partners that provide more integrated solutions, but I don't know. I'm strictly DIY.

What other advice do I have?

I rate Google Classroom eight out of 10 because it integrates with different products. Other solutions like Canvas integrate with Microsoft 365, but with Classroom, you don't have to worry about problems integrating with Google products. 

Classroom is wonderful for collaboration, and it integrates well with YouTube so it’s easy to incorporate live and archived video content. It’s easy to create content within Google apps, but one can also use other content creating apps such as Screencast-o-matic, and then link to the recordings. . I will say that Google Classroomhas room to improve because the interface isn't inspiring, and there's no dashboard.

My advice to new users is to play around, explore, and organize it. The modules are pretty simple. Before you do anything, open up a Google Doc and create a storyboard to list the learning objectives and outcomes, then create a course map. 

Organize it to map every module to the learning outcome, assessment, and course content. Do that first, and place the videos where you want them to go inside in the storyboard. Also, make sure to use a universal design for the learning approach. Google is good for this. Ensure that you use multiple modes of representation for every type of content,

Use Universal Design for Learning principles. For example, if you use YouTube, make sure you have a transcript and audio that students can download separately. If there is reading, make sure they can listen to audio. The design and navigation must also be clear so people with mobility, vision, or hearing impairment can use it. Google is great for accessibility because it has all those different integrated products.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Google
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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James Phelps - PeerSpot reviewer
Adjunct Professor at Nova Southeastern University
Real User
Intuitive, easy to learn, and easy to adapt to various teaching methodologies
Pros and Cons
  • "Its easy adaptability to whatever form or methodology you are using to teach is valuable. It tends to be seamless, and it is very much a self-intuitive product. It requires almost no instruction, and you can be fully up to speed and ready to run on it. You can bring someone in who has never worked with any online learning or LMS system, and in a week's timeframe, they would almost be fully functional because Canvas is so simple to use."
  • "The high-tech interactivity with other software, like ArcGIS or RSA Archer, can be better. It is not as easily compatible with them. You can put apps in it that the students can then access, but the routing of apps through the Canvas system slows down functionality on the other types of products."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for all on-campus and remote course deliveries, all assignment submissions, and all exams, except for medical school exams where you have to do practicals, but even there, you have to record the practical exam results in Canvas. So, it has got wide applicability from standard undergraduate school right up through medical college and hard sciences. We can do everything with it.

We are using its latest version. I don't know how the IT department has deployed it at the university. It is probably cloud-based because they have multiple campuses, but I have no way of knowing.

What is most valuable?

Its easy adaptability to whatever form or methodology you are using to teach is valuable. It tends to be seamless, and it is very much a self-intuitive product. It requires almost no instruction, and you can be fully up to speed and ready to run on it. You can bring someone in who has never worked with any online learning or LMS system, and in a week's timeframe, they would almost be fully functional because Canvas is so simple to use.

What needs improvement?

The high-tech interactivity with other software, like ArcGIS or RSA Archer, can be better. It is not as easily compatible with them. You can put apps in it that the students can then access, but the routing of apps through the Canvas system slows down functionality on the other types of products.

As much as I've used it, I don't need any additional features. For what it is used for as a learning management system, it really does work. I haven't seen anything that would indicate it was a problem.

For how long have I used the solution?

We migrated to it in 2015. So, it has been seven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. I see very few glitches with it, and updates don't have to be propagated halfway through. We don't have to propagate emergency fixes and patches during the semester. It is a stable system to use.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable. There must be 20,000 people using it on that campus. We run a medical college, a public health department, and the hard sciences department. We also have a lot of things that are spread out across the state of Florida through Canvas. So, it is pretty scalable.

In terms of our plans to increase its usage, I don't know what the university is going to do, but right now, the university is saturated with Canvas. Even if you're doing classes in a regular standard classroom, all of your exams, all of your quizzes, all of your practicals, and all of your teaching are recorded and loaded into the Canvas system for future review by accreditors. So, it is pretty well saturated on that particular campus.

How are customer service and support?

I've had to get technical support from the Canvas people themselves on occasion. When that happened, the campus IT people, who were the Canvas people, actually stayed with me while I was working with the software design people. They were very helpful, and they very much understood right away what was needed to fix the issue, but it was very rare that I needed help

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We switched from Blackboard to Canvas. I was around when we transitioned from Blackboard to Canvas, and everybody was like, "Oh no, we finally learned Blackboard." When we transitioned to Canvas, we never ever heard a complaint. Everybody suddenly said that this is nice. Unlike the constant grumbling about Blackboard, which everybody still grumbles about, when it came to Canvas, everyone found it easy.

How was the initial setup?

It was probably easy. 

What about the implementation team?

Initially, it was an in-house deployment. I have no idea if it was with assistance from the corporation. I also have no idea if it is hosted on local servers or on the cloud because I'm not a part of that process.

I have no idea about the people required for its maintenance, but I have had to have very few interactions with IT over trying to manage, manipulate, or make it do something different. There were very few instances where I had to pick the phone up and say to IT that I got a problem. In every one of those instances, it was because connections from certain countries back into the system were blocked. They had to make special exceptions or rules for my specific computer while I was traveling. Other than that, there were virtually no problems with it.

What was our ROI?

We have absolutely seen an ROI. It has made our accreditation reviews and our outside monitoring much more seamless than the last version of Blackboard that I have had experience using.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

When the decision was made to shift from Blackboard over to Canvas, they also concurrently looked at Moodle as a system that could be utilized. Moodle is open source, but it has some inherent issues with it. That's why they went with Canvas LMS instead of Moodle at that particular school.

What other advice do I have?

It functionally works, and it is intuitive and easy to learn, which makes it significantly more advantageous than the Blackboard LMS or Moodle LMS.

Canvas is definitely up there at level nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Buyer's Guide
Learning Management Systems
July 2022
Get our free report covering Google, and other competitors of Blackboard Learning Management. Updated: July 2022.
619,967 professionals have used our research since 2012.