I’ve been meaning to comment on D’Arcy Norman’s frustrations with not being able to export Moodle courses to a common standard. He makes a very important point:
Moodle happily ingests those formats, acting to absorb content into what then becomes an inescapable pit of quicksand. It’s a one-way trip. Content can check in, but it can never leave.
If Blackboard did that, there would be villagers marching in the streets with torches in hand. The Blackboard SCORM import/export stuff might not be perfect, but at least they try to let people move content out.
With Moodle, it’s currently a vendor lock-in proposition. The only saving grace is that the vendor just happens to be an open source project. But it’s still lock-in.
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Now, I don’t know any of the specifics around Moodle’s export capabilities but, in general, universities should insist on support for some standard export capability in any platform they adopt. We all know that the cost (in time and/or dollars) of moving content from one system to another is one of the major barriers to universities who would otherwise be motivated to switch. So unless you plan on sticking with your next platform forever, make sure you press your vendor or open source community hard about supporting some sort of content exit strategy. Heck, even if your school loves Moodle (or whatever) and plans on staying with it as long as, say, John McCain wants the U.S. to stay in Iraq, individual teachers move from school to school and, depending on their contract, are usually entitled to take their course content with them. That is, if they can get it out of the LMS.
To be fair, supporting a robust, standards-based export facility is a hard problem, in part because we keep adding tools to our learning environment and each tool needs an import/export format to work in the standard. Nevertheless, basic support for export (focusing maybe on a handful of widely used tools) is far better than none.