I posted the following as a response to Paul McMahon’s post “Where do we Mash to?” Whether we are talking about students in Hong Kong and other parts of east Asia (as Paul is) or here in Oklahoma, I agree with Kent Brooks that Moodle is as close to a “killer app” as we can find today in education with respect to blended learning, particularly when it comes to organizational portals (the subject of Paul’s post.)

Paul: I think the key is helping students as well as parents develop their own capacities and dispositions as “digital citizens.” No, teachers can’t take and shouldn’t take responsibility for everything students do and encounter online at school or away from school. The analogy of driving is appropriate here. What we are doing (or should be doing) is helping equip kids to be responsible and ethical decision makers when they are outside the direct control and supervision of adults and teachers. Will they make bad choices? Will they mess up? Inevitably. The world is and will remain a dangerous place filled with diverse options, and we need to help our students make good choices.

In terms of the “portal” idea, I was struck a couple of weeks ago following a conversation with Scott Charlson and Kent Brooks about how “un-needed” technology support departments are from a certain perspective. For teachers and students who want to utilize web 2.0 tools, everything they need is “out there” on the web and available. The reality is, of course, that the majority of teachers are NOT innovator / early adapter teachers, and therefore won’t use these tools without formal support and encouragement.

Portals are therefore important to help the early majority, late majority, and (perhaps) laggard teachers with respect to technology integration get on board and utilize these tools. The experiences of Scott and Kent at WOSC suggest that Moodle may be “the killer app” when it comes to organizational elearning and blended learning portals. My suggestion, if you have not already, is to setup a Moodle server and invite several of your more adventurous teachers to utilize it as a sandbox with students. Moodle is free, very robust, has a great user community, and can take away some of the important excuses teachers as well as administrators may put forward when it comes to elearning portals: EXPENSE. Moodle isn’t free, you still need a server and bandwidth, as well as technical folks to support the installation, but comparatively speaking I think there are VERY compelling reasons for utilizing it as the sort of portal it sounds like you’re looking for.

Good luck.

Everett Rogers Diffusion of Innovations graph

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31 Responses to Moodle as “the killer app”

  1. John Peters says:


    I have to agree with you about Moodle. I have been using it for two years now in all of my classes and it is wonderful.

  2. Ben says:

    I’m not sure I agree that Moodle is a “killer app.” It’s not that I think Moodle isn’t worth anyone’s time, but two of the major reasons I’m interested in using tools such as blogs, wikis, and discussion boards is to have a method for authentic publication of student work and to provide the possibility for collaboration with students or professionals from outside the classroom. In my Moodle experience, neither of these were possible. It does allow for online collaboration between students at the same school, and allows for other powerful tools to be easily used.

    I think Moodle is a good tool, but it should be geared more towards the Late Majority teachers as opposed the earlier adopters. There are a multitude of excellent free blog and wiki services out there for those who care to look.

    Moodle might also be preferable for use in elementary setting where authentic publication of student work comes with more concerns.

  3. Terry Smith says:

    I used Moodle for the first time this year for a university educational technology class. I teach another edtech class using blogs. I have to agree that the blogging platform is way more open for one kind of sharing, but Moodle has also worked very well. Wikis, for example, can be embedded in Moodle, videos embedded, docs uploaded and shared, and forums are easy for people to contribute and share back and forth. As an instructor, I really like the fact that I can display all of the postings of a single individual. I also found Moodle to be very easy to configure and construct exactly the way I want…

    But back to blogs – I like them also and use them with elementary kids as well as with college students. I think I’ll try out Moodle with the little kids next year just to see what happens. — Terry

  4. Ben Chun says:

    Moodle is far from being a “killer app”. The learning curve is too steep and it is too unpolished. I say this as a computer scientist and someone who has built web apps. I am your “more adventurous teachers” that will “utilize it as a sandbox with students”. So it’s not that I couldn’t figure it out, it’s that it’s a pain when it doesn’t need to be. It’s confusing when you first get there. Simply editing things on a course page is far too difficult. If I want to move something from here to there it’s a page reload to do it. It needs AJAX everywhere. That’s from a teacher’s perspective. The overall administration pages look too much like a thin wrapper around the code or database schemas, and less like tools that give me abstract conceptual choices. It’s bristling with options at times, but none of them just do the right thing.

    Don’t get me wrong — it’s free and it mostly works for what it does. It’s about a 1.5 on a scale of zero to Web 2.0. For example: it lacks commenting on blog posts, which is a huge problem. There are bugs. It needs the ability to produce RSS feeds. These are details, but important ones.

    So this is not the tool that’s going to take people who don’t see what all the fuss is about — the majority — and convince them. Sure it works for the “techie” teachers in the crowd, but it’s not in the kind of shape that you’d see a consumer product intended for mass consumption. A “killer app” will need to get there before it can kill anything. I feel like the open source community can pour a whole ton of effort into doing this and end up with something that still requires “a server and bandwidth, as well as technical folks to support the installation” or a few people can learn Google App Engine, write the good version of this, and make it free (not just the code but also the service) for every teacher everywhere.

  5. John Peters says:

    In response to Terry Smith’s post. A good friend and colleague of mine, Rhonda Curtsinger, will be presenting a couple of student showcases of how she has used Moodle and other Web 2.0 tools with her elementary students Sunday night June 29th at NECC.

    Four of her students were also invited by NECC to come and show how they use these tools. It should be very interesting. If you would like some more information, I would be happy to get it to you, or if you are planning on attending NECC stop by on Sunday night.

  6. Ben Chun says:

    On the other hand, I’m reading some final essays. This quote, from a 9th grade student, says a lot:

    “I really enjoyed going on Moodle to post what we’re thinking; I think it’s a really great way of communication, speaking for ourselves, and for others to know what you’re thinking. I soon realized after a few sessions of going on Moodle that everyone has their own point of view, even if some may be similar to a few others, they’re all unique in themselves, and it’s a great opportunity for teacher and classmates alike to see things from another perspective.”

    I’m not sure if that counts as “killer” but I’ll take it.

  7. Wesley Fryer says:

    The key is encouraging learners of all ages to engage in blended learning experiences which expand interactive opportunities beyond the traditional boundaries of the bell. I heartily agree that Moodle can be limiting in many respects, and personally I like having students create their own blogs and post on the “open web” more than I like locking up conversations behind a CMS login (Moodle or otherwise) or even permitting the Moodle to be open, but not having conversations there indexed and aggregated in the same way open blog posts can be.

    I still think there is a relatively smaller subset of teachers who are willing or even able (due to school district restrictions in many US states at least) to utilize web 2.0 tools that are available now for free… It can seem more challenging and daunting to setup blended learning opportunities for students using these tools than it can seem in Moodle, in my perception. I think Moodle is a great way to encourage faculty to try additional tools and options on a blended learning menu, because they are “all there” (or at least many are) and the teacher can directly add different elements when ready. In so many cases, at least with the teachers I work with the most, what is needed are opportunities to take baby steps along the blended learning journey. I don’t think Moodle is the ultimate web 2.0 tool, but when considering strategies and tools to help large numbers of instructors and teachers make a move into blended learning, I think Moodle should figure high and potentially at the top of that list.

    “Killer apps” for teachers who are already pursuing their own professional development online via blogs and online learning communities may be quite different than those teachers who have never used a website with students before to interact and post thoughts. I think the quotation you shared in the last comment was wonderful Ben, and reflects that in many cases, just the simple use of a threaded discussion can help change some basic perceptions learners have about each other and the learning process.

    I look forward to my next opportunity to use Moodle with a class of students, which I think will be this fall for an adult education class I’m putting together. I’m sure my views on this will continue to evolve. The appropriateness of using the phrase “killer app” to describe Moodle is highly dependent on the context in which it is used, I suppose. Google documents could likely be an equally beneficial and transformative “killer app” in many learning environments, I’d guess. An important key for broad-based adoption, however, is outside instructional technology support / hand holding for teachers and instructors. I think there is great benefit in organizations choosing to support a robust interactive blended learning environment, like Moodle or Google Docs, to help the late majority and laggard teachers get on board. The child privacy issues and age restrictions which come up with Google Docs but are not a player when it comes to local Moodle installations are also a big issue, however, esp in the United States in elementary and middle schools.

  8. While Moodle is a great tool, reading posts like this reinforces how poorly Drupal is understood within the edtech community.

    When it comes down to the ability to generate rss feeds, cleanly and easily integrate with other apps and services, separate public and private content, aggregate and tag content from external sources, create private working groups alongside public community spaces, build rich user profiles, etc, Drupal’s flexibility makes it an ideal fit for many educational uses. It does particularly well in a blended learning environment, but also works very nicely for online courses with no f2f component.

  9. Wesley Fryer says:

    Bill, your comment is timely, I was just selecting the session I am going to attend at TTT here in Wichita Kansas today, and was looking at John Jones’ session “Drupal for Education.” Your comment has sealed the deal, I’m going to that session next. 🙂

  10. Dean Mattson says:

    Great! Maybe you’ll be able to explain how to use it!

    I actually installed Drupal a couple of months back, but didn’t know where to get started. It seems to give you a blank canvas and leaves it up to you to figure out how you want to start. Moodle, on the other hand, gives you “courses” in which you can add “topic” where you can add “activities.” It was much easier to get my head around, perhaps because it gave me a more conventional structure.

    If I’m wrong about this, let me know. If Drupal is better, I’d certainly like to know more about it.

  11. Be sure to check out the Drupal in Education group — http://groups.drupal.org/drupal-education

    RE: “If Drupal is better, I’d certainly like to know more about it.” — Drupal and Moodle are both excellent tools. Moodle provides the initial structure, and that allows people to get up and running more quickly. Drupal, however, requires more time up front, but is incredibly flexible. This type of flexibility allows for an enormous range of teaching and learning to occur —

  12. Jim Klein says:

    I’m not sure I agree with Drupal as a viable alternative to Moodle. Drupal is very capable to be sure (we are heavy Drupal users here, hosting a number of sites with it and have written a number of modules), but to get it to do all of the things Moodle does would be pretty difficult. Moodle has the benefit of the community around it that is actively engaged in improving it with a focus on education, which Drupal lacks. Drupal is a fantastic content management platform that can be extended to offer a number of useful functions, but with that flexibility comes a steep learning curve. I believe a better approach would be to look for some integration, a la the Elgg/Moodle link.

  13. Using Drupal to replace Moodle, or as an alternative to Moodle, is silly — Moodle exists, it’s stable, and does a great job managing a classroom structure. If you want what Moodle does, replicating Moodle in another platform is a waste of time. When you want to move beyond a classroom structure, or want to work with broader swaths of the web, or want to import content via rss, or want to clean up the user interface, or want to give students greater control of their learning, want more coherent and flexible tagging of content, or [fill in the blank here], then Drupal starts to make more sense. But they are different tools, used for different purposes.

    The Elgg/Moodle integration is interesting as a proof of concept, but is hardly replicable on a broader scale. It requires a degree of expertise that will be taxing, both during setup and over time. To the best of my knowledge, the original integration is no longer actively maintained, and the group that wrote it subsequently wrote Mahara to provide the eportfolio functionality. If you’re looking to to that road, a Mahara/Moodle link will probably be easier to maintain, as the Moodle/Mahara integration is under ongoing development.

    And all of this goes to my original point: there is an incomplete understanding of what Drupal offers in the K12 edtech community — and perhaps this is part of a larger issue involving perceptions around using open source tools, and when it makes sense to use different tools to support different goals.

  14. Jim Klein says:

    Hmmm… “want to give students greater control of their learning.” Give me a hint where you are coming from on that one – I don’t see it. More control of their content maybe, but learning? Greater than Moodle? I think that’s a bit of a stretch. What I was suggesting was a Moodle/Drupal link, in a similar fashion to the Moodle/Elgg link. Leveraging the capabilities of both could create a powerful combination.

  15. Bill,

    I’d encourage you to submit a proposal to the K12 online conference on just such a topic. Sounds like we all could use a more in depth look at this tool and even as a comparison to Moodle which is likely the more popular and familiar.

  16. @Jim, re: “Hmmm… ‘want to give students greater control of their learning.’ Give me a hint where you are coming from on that one – I don’t see it. More control of their content maybe, but learning? Greater than Moodle? I think that’s a bit of a stretch.”

    Thank goodness I’m feeling flexible 🙂 In general terms: Moodle is calendar driven, with many activities deriving from teacher prompts. The default UI supports this paradigm, and Moodle’s primary organization centers around courses. For this reason (and others), activities taking place outside of courses often don’t fit cleanly. For context, look at the threads in the Moodle forums on introducing the blog, and the attempts to differentiate the Moodle blog from the forum. While class forums can allow for free discussion outside a class, and student blogs provide a place for individual voices, the ability to freely and easily connect between classes, or to connect classwork to outside interests, isn’t readily supported by the UI.

    Within a Drupal site, content can be readily cross-posted to multiple groups (if the siteadmin allows this, of course), and taxonomy allows for common categorization of content across courses, clubs, blog posts, forum posts, embedded media, or any other content on the site. So, if a person tags a post with the term “Hemingway”, that tag becomes a link, and clicking on the link automatically pulls up all other posts tagged with “Hemingway” — so exploration can begin in a class, but can quickly lead outside it, in a way that is not readily possible in Moodle. Thus, students (and teachers) have a broader range within which to indulge their curiosity, and control the path of their learning.

    Then, expand that out by different types of content that can be created and tagged with a common vocabulary: bookmarks, images (from inside the site, and embedded from third party site), video (both internal and embedded), blog posts, assignments, etc — a Drupal site can be structured to allow for a broad array of content from multiple sources to live within the same site. Drupal sites set up within an organization can replicate (on a smaller scale, of course) the network effect that we discuss within the blogosphere. FWIW, you could also create a school-wide twitter network w/in a Drupal site if you wanted — set up a content type with a 140 character limit, and pull that content type within a view — and this could live alongside course content, clubs and extracurricular content, etc. Breaking out of the course paradigm and looking at information within a site as possibilities for connection around ideas (as opposed to responses to prompts on a calendar) makes a subtle but important difference. This difference can be reinforced by the user interface (UI) within a well-designed site.

    Also, Drupal’s development community is incredibly vibrant — while only a percentage of us focus specifically on education, we also reap the benefit of the cutting edge work of developers working in social media, community development, and best practices with web standards. This is a valuable overlap.

    Getting back to “More control of their content maybe, but learning?” — I equate more options within a broader context and the potential for cross-curricular connections where students have the potential to create their own path to knowledge with more control over learning. If that equality doesn’t hold for you, then my comparison probably doesn’t hold either.

    @Dean, re K12Online — I’d love to. As this thread (I think, anyways) suggests, Drupal has a learning curve — its flexibility is simultaneously it’s greatest asset and greatest barrier to adoption. With that said, I’ll look over the application, and possibly try to wrangle some of my verbal excesses spilled on this screen into a proposal.

  17. Jim Klein says:

    @Bill, thanks for clarifying your view. I absolutely agree with you, Moodle really isn’t designed as an open content management system. As you have stated, Moodle is class centered and calendar driven, which aligns nicely with the structure of school today. Drupal’s core functionality, on the other hand, is “taxonomy centered”, revolving around the subjects (tags) of each piece of content. As you have stated, this creates an environment of open-access to information, which can certainly be a good thing.

    That said, you and I both know that setting such a system up with Drupal is far from easy. In fact, it can be downright nasty, which explains why we don’t see more of them in the wild. What Drupal gives in flexibility, it takes back in ease-of-use, even for the end users. Uploading files and pulling in media from multiple sources can be a real chore for even the most tech savvy end user. Add on layers of input filters, node types, taxonomy, etc, and you can find yourself with quite a confused group of content creators. Sure, you can hide much of it from them, but eventually someone asks to do something that requires them to have access.

    Also, while Drupal is great at delivery, it’s only so-so at creating a social media environment. Social media tools are generally “people centered” and are far more loosely structured. While Drupal can be a great platform for building a blogging infrastructure, our experience has been that Drupal is just OK for creating a real social environment, where the links between people are the key. The indexed, search-able, free-tagging capability is great, but is somewhat sterile with regard to audience (ie friends, groups, followers, etc.) This is OK, considering it is primarily a content management system, but is less than ideal for creating a social system.

    Don’t get me wrong, we love Drupal. We have just found that when you start to step outside the bounds of content delivery and aggregation things start to get a bit scary. Moodle might as well not have a blog at all, it’s so useless. I’m just not sure Drupal is the right choice for an alternative.

  18. Ben Chun says:

    Jim, Bill: I’m telling you guys, it’s time to build our own system on Google App Engine. Do you know Python? I’m looking for something fun to do this summer. 😉

  19. Jim Klein says:

    Now there’s a thought! I’ve always wanted an excuse to learn Python 🙂

  20. Hi all, the ‘default’ Moodle formats are indeed course centered. But new formats can be added. For Cisco’s Entrepreneurship Institute, we’ve built a portal using Moodle: http://www.ciscoinstitute.net. This is just scratching the surface of possibilities as we head toward Moodle 2.0:-).

  21. @Jim — thanks for the comments — I’ve been thinking about them off and on through the day. I have a blog post in here somewhere, but until I can de-contextualize it enough to have it stand on its own merits I’ll leave this comment here — as this conversation has developed, it feels less like we’re talking about function, and more like we’re talking about design.

    RE: “Drupal’s core functionality, on the other hand, is ‘taxonomy centered’, revolving around the subjects (tags) of each piece of content.”

    I’d actually say that, at the outset, Drupal is balanced between users, content, and taxonomy — and some simple sites don’t use taxonomy at all. But, once the process of building out your site begins, even this simple relationship can get muddled, as any one of these elements can have many different relationships to one another. Content can be related to other content, to users, and through multiple taxonomies; users can be related to other users, and categorized via taxonomy, etc. But once the site admin figures out the relationships between the different elements of the site (and this should happen before the real work of building the site begins), they should craft a design that makes the conceptual framework governing the site intuitive to the point of invisible.

    RE: “our experience has been that Drupal is just OK for creating a real social environment, where the links between people are the key.” — I’m not sure what you’re describing here in terms of functionality. The Buddylist module, BuddyList2, the Bio module, the Friend module, the Advanced Profile module, the Activity module, the User Relationships module (to name a few) all allow for extended connections to be created and navigated between users within Drupal sites. Drupal’s use of OpenID offers even greater possibilities here. In reading through your comments, I get the feeling we’re talking more about the UI exposed to the user than about actual functionality. But more on that later.

    RE: “What Drupal gives in flexibility, it takes back in ease-of-use, even for the end users.” — and this is where I get the distinct impression that we are talking more about design, and less about functionality. And when I say “design” I’m talking about more that simple look and feel; I’m talking about Block and Menu visibility (based on role, url path, content being viewed, etc), and the way that the goals of your site have been described before you started building the site. This is also an area where graphic design has a lot to offer education — some of this filters down through instructional design, but even within instructional design there is a lack of emphasis on creating the cleanest, simplest online learning space possible. In thinking about Drupal, I encourage people to think about the modules/functionality as a starting point. This starting point gets refined by a skilled use of the theming layer. Using the theming layer is well outside the realm of the end user, but it falls clearly within the realm of a site admin. From what you are describing, it sounds like there are some tools available within the theming layer (and also among the available codebase) that you are not using to your full advantage. Having built social learning environments within a variety of platforms, I feel very comfortable saying that rich social environments are very achievable within Drupal. I’d love to hear about the elements you were not able to achieve within Drupal; feel free to contact me off-line (so we can stop trespassing on Wes’s blog — sorry, Wes).

    But finally, this thread has been incredibly valuable wrt my initial question/comment: “While Moodle is a great tool, reading posts like this reinforces how poorly Drupal is understood within the edtech community.”

    One of the things that has emerged from this thread is that Drupal needs to do more with design, and default options. Moodle provides a clear set of options. While the UI is less flexible than many other open source applications, new users are presented with an array of pre-set options. In short, there is *something* to click, and the paradigm of Moodle (course-centered) is familiar enough to get people started. Drupal, on the other hand, presents a blank slate – the options are what you make them, and making them requires a degree of familiarity with how Drupal works.

    RE: “you and I both know that setting such a system up with Drupal is far from easy. In fact, it can be downright nasty” — I don’t know — one person’s nasty is another person’s fun 🙂 All kidding aside, from some of what you describe, it sounds like you are facing issues that could be effectively and efficiently addressed via some quality time with Drupal’s theming layer. The job of the webmaster is creating simplicity, and it ain’t easy. The idea of simplicity unmasked is one of the things I’ve actually been enjoying about the issues with Twitter: Twitter is a relatively simple service, but the Twitter outages have done some work raising awareness about the complexity behind applications that appear simple.

    Obviously, your average Drupal site doesn’t need to address the issues of Twitter, but the analogy holds: making something easy and simple and intuitive requires planning and work. It doesn’t happen by accident. “Easy” is often a function of design, and good design is hard to explain, While most people know it, or at least feel it, when they see it, they cannot explain what it is. While I’m not holding Moodle up as an example of good design, it is familiar. One of the things I’ve gained from this conversation is a greater appreciation of the role that design needs to play in Drupal’s adoption.

  22. Jim Klein says:

    @Bill – thanks for your comments (and sorry Wes, for using your space to hash this all out.) I too have been working through this, and I think our discussion has come full circle, to a certain degree. I think what we have exposed here are some of the “ideals” that we, as bleeding edge education technologists, would most desire to see evolve into mainstream environments, while simultaneously uncovering Moodle’s potential. As you have so well stated, Moodle gives you “something to click on,” which can be extremely important as a springboard to more sophisticated design and processes. From that first click, Moodle often goes from clunky to down-right goofy, but that initial click remains, and it can be a powerful thing. It leads people to explore the possibilities and reconsider their conceptions of the role of technology in education. Moodle starts with delivery, which is familiar and comfortable, then builds to interactivity, creativity, resource building, sharing, and discussion. From there, its limits are often exposed, yet the thought process has changed and, perhaps most importantly, so have habits. It moves people from their comfort zones in a non-threatening way, and prepares them for that potential “next level” you so eloquently describe. In that sense, it has the potential to be that “killer app”, or the game-changer we have considered here.

    In reading my comments, one might come to the conclusion that I am a Moodle fan, which I am not. As I think we have both described, in a round-about sort of way, Drupal is far superior in its capabilities. That said, I have always considered and referred to Drupal as a “platform” for building systems, and not a system unto itself. It’s an engineer’s tool whose great strength is also its greatest weakness. Putting all the pieces (modules) together to create the ideal system (I believe you listed about 7, which represent only a fraction of those required to complete a site), and dealing with all of their idiosyncrasies is the challenge. Using the templating engine requires knowledge of programming in general and PHP in particular, neither of which most education technologists have. Consequently, I think we have to conclude that Drupal, while perhaps the ideal platform, probably will not be that game-changing springboard in the near term.

    And so we find ourselves at a moment that reminds me much of the past, when Microsoft first began to tip the scales. Did they have the best software? Nope. What they did have was the right timing, software that met a need, and a path which has led people to more sophisticated use of technology. Ironically, it looks as though that path is now leading people away from their software to something better. Perhaps we’ll see that same natural progression here.

  23. Wesley Fryer says:

    Jim: Please, no apologies are necessary for continuing a valuable conversation that has benefited me as well as (I hope) many others. I agree that although the possibilities of Drupal are potentially greater than Moodle, the design and function of Moodle is very instructor-friendly and as such is supporting (and will likely lead to even more) adoption by larger numbers of teachers who might NOT have previously embraced an educational technology which permits them to blend learning in transformative ways.

  24. Hello, Jim and Wes (and any other interested parties),

    RE Wes’s comment: “Moodle is very instructor-friendly and as such is supporting (and will likely lead to even more) adoption by larger numbers of teachers who might NOT have previously embraced an educational technology” — agreed — what’s interesting is that some of the more avid Drupal users I have encountered started out using Moodle, got frustrated after reaching what they felt was the end of Moodle’s functionality, and switched to Drupal.

    RE: Jim’s comment: “Consequently, I think we have to conclude that Drupal, while perhaps the ideal platform, probably will not be that game-changing springboard in the near term.” I don’t see this as an either/or situation. Both Moodle and Drupal have their uses; what’s been great about this conversation is how it has circled around the issue of design — and design is something that can be done well once, and reused an infinite number of times.

  25. sewsarron says:

    yup – too true. Here’s more info about adult webmaster podcast

  26. mark vernon says:

    We have been working on a product called eduslide for the last year, and we will be launching it as open source in July 2008. It is an LCMS as moodle is, but concentrates more on the creation side. We’ve also created a lot of free content for school subjects, covering mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, geography etc, as well as offering the first 3 chapters of VTC IT courses (about 12,000 screencasts).
    I’d be interested in constructive feedback so we can make the experience better

  27. Scott Charlson says:

    Come on in the water is fine….
    I’m beginning to settle into my new job at the K20 Center as the new Director of Technology for Learning Support. So this is my first real diversion in about a month. And, oddly enough I find myself back in the middle of this conversation about the “killer app” for education. It’s like…. “ladies and gentlemen in this corner wearing orange trunks we have Moodle and in this corner wearing blue trunks we have Drupal.” It’s a pressing issue here at the center as we try to make the best decisions possible on how to establish and scale a vibrant learning community.
    I’m finding myself trying to listen to my colleagues more than I speak. I’m listening to the various visions of how Drupal can be designed and modified and molded like clay to fit (it sounds like) anyone’s vision of the perfect learning/social environment. And, please believe me, I’m not opposed to keeping an open mind about the potential of great and intelligent people to do great and intelligent things every day. In fact, I see evidence of things I never dreamed of as possible every day. Things like a gas-powered blenders for backpackers who enjoy that late evening Smoothie in the outback. 🙂
    When I do get around to opening my mouth, I tend to lean toward educational tools which appear to be practical to me – the slightly aged trainer of teachers. I find myself talking a lot about Moodle and it’s “extraordinary fit” for the educational environment as we know it. Moodle in it’s current form, is sort-of like the “Model T” of social-constructivists learning environments. I think Martin Dougimas is the “Henry Ford” of open source course management systems.
    In essence , Martin has given the world a vehicle that everyone can drive and will have a profound effect on the way many of us teach and learn and share information. We can have any color of Moodle we want, as long as it is orange and those of us who use it know where all of the controls are. We can drive it around, we can back it up, we can leave the keys in it and let everyone in the neighborhood drive it around, without concern of breaking it. It’s familiar… you can get in it and go.
    This is my point, (about Moodle) it’s ready to use. The transition from the physical traditional classroom to the virtual classroom is not a stretch for most folks. Perhaps we might think of it as a course management system with training wheels. Although, I’ve seen a number of Moodle sites with enough bling and polish to impress most anyone. And, the Moodle support community is incredible along with a number of Moodle hosting services like MoodleRooms.org
    This posting started as a discussion about “Killer Apps” a notion that I think I gave up on some time ago.
    However, if I were asked about which course management system I would lean toward deploying in the current k12 learning environment, I would have to go with Moodle.

    As for Drupal, my mind is open to it. I’m learning and exploring its potential every day. But, will someone please show me where the hood-release is located?

  28. […] system to be used in student courses, you certainly want to consider Moodle instead of Drupal. My post from June “Moodle as ‘the killer app’” has a great conversation thread discussing Drupal versus Moodle, and John Jones’ presentation […]

  29. Re Bills comment: “what’s interesting is that some of the more avid Drupal users I have encountered started out using Moodle, got frustrated after reaching what they felt was the end of Moodle’s functionality, and switched to Drupal.”

    While others kept on extending Moodle:-).

  30. Seth Camacho says:

    Moodle is no cost, very solid, has an excellent customer group, and can take away some of the essential reasons instructors as well as directors may put ahead when it comes to elearning portals: EXPENSE

  31. Wesley Fryer says:

    Even through Moodle can be downloaded and used free of cost, Schools or individual instructors still have to load it on a hosting server of some kind, as well as maintain the Moodle installation with updates. Compared to commercial LMS solutions Moodle is very cheap and affordable, but there still ARE costs involved with using an open source solution on a hosted server.

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