Moodle and Corporations: A Match Made in Heaven or Terrible Twosome?
In trying to think of an appropriate analogy for Moodle and business I got to thinking – why do so many companies choose Moodle? It’s open source and free, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t costs associated with it. Clearly the key word here is free, but when you have a training budget in your hands and you choose something which needs a high degree of customization and resources, it almost seems counterintuitive not to enlist the help of a company that knows what it’s doing.
What this article aims to do is give those that are looking into Moodle as a possibility, or are poised to commit to it, a bit more information to help them make the right choice for their company. There are a lot of things to be aware of when looking at Moodle, aspects that are often missed whilst blindly following the Pied Piper of the elearning industry down a potentially very costly rabbit hole.
We all love a bargain. We love it even more when things are free. Going to the opening of a new bar and getting a free beer is one thing, but downloading Moodle as a free, fully-functional LMS? Sadly, it falls into the category of too good to be true. Moodle is more like getting a free pet monkey. He (or she – I’m told monkeys can be female too) may be what you always wanted, and you are psyched you got him for free, but did monkey care costs really come into your mind when you got him?
Firstly, he needs toys and clothes (or plugins and UI customization if you will). Secondly, he will need someone to look after him when you aren’t there (technical support) and lastly he needs somewhere to live (storage and server space). I think I chose the monkey analogy because I’ve always felt my life would be better with one, but then as soon as I started thinking seriously about it, it seemed ridiculous and very expensive, much to my disappointment.
Blinded by the prospect of getting something for no cost, many organizations make the mistake of jumping on Moodle because it’s billed as free, and not considering a) any hidden costs or b) other moodle alternatives.
The bad news is the hidden costs are many and, for the most part, undetectable until you have committed. The good news is that even more numerous than hidden costs are the alternative corporate LMSs available. What follows is a list of a number of features that corporate trainers should be aware of with Moodle when they are looking into it.
- Moodle is not a turnkey solution
Free and open source it may be, but for corporations new to the Moodle party what you get when you download the source code is the basis for a great product, but not the product itself.
- Moodle was built for education, not for business
Moodle was actually not originally designed as an LMS, but a CMS, so it’s key to know exactly what you are buying. Moodle was created to be a companion for teachers and students in the education industry and has far more educational clients than corporate. The needs of businesses and corporate training differ greatly from those of schools and universities, so before you even start looking at Moodle or any other LMS you should be sure of your requirements.
- Training is not provided
Within the elearning industry Moodle’s documentation is well-known to be lacking. There are a number of free (free like a beer) online resources which you can use to learn more about how Moodle works, but past that Moodle don’t offer any tech support. They did all the hard work so that part is in our hands. The best LMS providers, like Paradiso Solutions, provide full system onboarding and training plus telephone support and access to the “Customer Portal”, where you can find PDFs, documents, videos and other reference material.
- No automatic updates
Part of a contract with a learning provider includes a clause which guarantees that they will take care of any system updates, bug fixes and maintenance you run into. If you were to opt for the solo path and develop Moodle in-house you would be responsible for all of this, as well as keeping abreast of the latest industry trends.
- Moodle customizations
This is where the costs really start to pile up. In order to take Moodle from its raw downloaded form to what companies need – a functioning, personalized learning management system – it is going to take investment. Here you have two options:
○ Go for it yourself – hire Moodle developers or use your own in-house team to create a workable LMS
○ Engage with the experts – work with an LMS provider like Paradiso Solutions who can take your requirements, objectives and brand and create for you a tailored LMS. Clearly this is a difficult choice for some – many clients of LMS vendors are disgruntled Moodle customers who bit off more Moodle than they could chew and ended up spending thousands on a system they weren’t happy with. If you choose the former option and go at it yourself, then it is highly important to hire developers whose area of expertise is Moodle.
- Server space and hosting
This is another area which is often overlooked, and where lies a veritable snake pit of hidden costs. When you download Moodle you need to store it somewhere. If you are a smaller company with few users this may not be a problem, however if you are a large company with various users spread across different countries then things may get heavy, in more ways than one.
Paradiso LMS is cloud-based LMS and SaaS built on Moodle code. While devoid of any truly divine powers, it does have a magical place in the cloud to store your system and and all of its associated data. This SaaS option frees up much more time for your organization to concentrate on more important things than managing Moodle technicalities – like creating great learning content and tracking learner progress and development.
Paradiso LMS is built on Moodle, and much of what makes it great comes from the original Moodle code. However, if you are an organization with a training budget you need to know of all of the options available to you before you commit.
To speak to one of our advisors about Paradiso LMS, or to organize a free demo, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by following this link to Contact Us.