Moodle 2.0 Versus Blackboard 9.0/9.1

Here’s a video highlighting some of the features in Moodle 2.o, which is expected to be released some time in the next couple of months:

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You can see a video of Blackboard 9.1 highlights here. (Sorry, it’s not embeddable.) Note that neither of these videos are “official”; they are both made by adopters.

It’s interesting to note that the highlights list of the Moodle 2.0 release has a fair bit of overlap with the highlights of the Blackboard 9.0 and 9.1 releases:

  • Both tout improved usability
  • Specific improvements in test creation usability
  • Both now support searching for and embedding external media (e.g., YouTube videos, Creative Commons-licensed photographs, etc.) within their UIs.
  • Both now support mobile clients
  • Wikis (new in Blackboard 9.0, improved in Moodle 2.0)
  • Improved support for blogs

Developing a good LMS is hard and I happen to think that both development teams have done some good work on improving their respective platforms. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to feel a little bit of that frustration of the edupunks when looking at these highlights. For example, I have been able to search for and embed videos and images inside of WordPress for years now. There is a balance that needs to be struck between creating a coherent, supportable environment and getting out of the way of the unbelievable pace of innovation on the consumer web. We’re making some progress toward that balance, but we’re clearly not there yet.

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About Michael Feldstein

Michael Feldstein is co-Publisher of e-Literate, co-Producer of e-Literate TV, and Partner in MindWires Consulting. For more information, see his profile page.
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13 Responses to Moodle 2.0 Versus Blackboard 9.0/9.1

  1. James says:

    It will be intersting to see how Blackboard and Moddle compete, since they are the two biggest CMS’s now

  2. sam marshall says:

    I agree there’s a balance but, from experience with students where I work (distance learning, mostly adults not traditional students), I believe that balance is some way away from anything involving ‘innovation on the consumer web’.

    On the consumer web, everyone supposedly has a Facebook and Twitter account. Back in education, we can’t just throw away students who, never mind Facebook and Twitter, have trouble understanding a scroll bar. That’s not a made up example – that’s from a usability test video I saw, on a real [and perfectly intelligent] student.

    For example, a problem with Moodle 1.9 is not that it doesn’t have an integrated feature to search images from Flickr (which by the way is very nice in Moodle 2, good job etc) but that it doesn’t have a standard way for students to upload images to a blog comment etc at all [some subsystems have separate 'attachment' features]; they can only link to images on the public web, so in other words, it’s ironically requring students to use the ‘innovative’ web 2.0 world in order to operate. And they can’t.

    Luckily, amid the pretty Flickr integration, Moodle 2 does provide the fix to do exactly that, as well. I need to check if it solves the ‘digital camera images are massive, we need to resize them to 500 pixels across or something sensible’ problem as well because that’s the second one in that list…

    Maybe for schools, and for universities which have a vast majority of student-age students, it’s a lot more acceptable to assume high levels of computer literacy. But that really isn’t appropriate in all cases and I think educational systems should place simplicity and ease-of-use (for students at least) at their core.

    Students need to learn about – say – Shakespeare, not scrollbars.

    Well, okay. They will probably have to at LEAST learn scrollbars first. But then it’s right on to the Shakespeare, okay? none of this Flickr rubbish. :)

    –sam

    PS Opinions are mine, not my employer’s!

  3. Pingback: Moodle 2.0 vs. Blackboard Comparison «

  4. Michael says:

    Sam, I like your perspective.

    I also think that UI simplicity is important. Good design isn’t “what it looks like” but “how it works.”

    Unfortunately, in the race for continuing relevance I think many of these platforms are stuck adding new marketable features (to catch up with Web 2.0) before they can clean up all the legacy cruft.

    One of the things that drive me nuts with CMS platforms is endlessly clicking to accomplish anything. Hopefully AJAX can solve some of that over time.

    Terence, you’re so right that we have been embedding and sharing with blogs for over 5 years now. By the time Bb catches up, where will WordPress (and other new, yet-to-be-seen platforms) be?

    (Don’t make me start talking about the “wiki” in Angel. Ugh.)

  5. The gradebook in the current version of Moodle (1.9) is fairly powerful but challenging to use for initiates. The video doesn’t highlight improvements in 2.0. Are there significant ones?

  6. I don’t know, Luke. I’m working on getting a guest blogger to write about Moodle 2.0 with more knowledge than I have.

  7. When we decided to adopt a second LMS we became quite frustrated with what was on offer here in North America. Then one day we decided to look up from our N.A.-centric navel gazing and found a world of different LMS in Europe and Asia. We eventually opted for the “it’s learning” LMS out of Norway (yes folks, Norway). It turns out to be very similar to Fronter which Michael F wrote nice things about several months ago and which we found to be an excellent LMS. Best part of all is that both had all these capabilities out of the box and costs less to run than the Moodle option we considered. There’s something going on in Norway folks.

  8. Pingback: Twitter Tweets about Moodle on Twitter as of July 17, 2010 | Moodle Magazine

  9. Reynard Hilman says:

    Hi Michael, thanks for the comparison, what do you think of Haiku LMS (if you have heard of it)? I think we have the web2.0 UI simplicity and by the way we’ve had embedding features since we first launched in 2006. Ok I’m biased since I’m the developer, but I think we deserve as much attention as Blackboard and Moodle :)