Are you one of those educators tasked to completely transform your learning program from traditional face-to-face to online or “distance” learning in a matter of weeks? If yes, you’ve probably encountered these two terms – LMS or “Learning Management System” and Moodle, wondering which between them is better. In this article, I’ll share with you everything you need to know about LMS and Moodle – what they are, how they work, their pros and cons, and how to choose between these two platforms.
The only way to know is to clearly define your audience, needs, expectations, and other considerations that you and your students need for a participative and effective shift from traditional to distance learning – all with the help of a custom LMS development.
Understanding the terms
Before diving into the deeper details between LMS and Moodle, first, you need to know what these two terms mean – which are the following:
What is an LMS?
Depending on the organization’s goals, a Learning Management System (LMS) refers to a digital learning ecosystem in charge of all aspects of a company’s training efforts. It also manages user information such as user profile, job roles and responsibilities, and preferences, among others, for more personalized delivery.
During operations, an LMS platform maintains all kinds of eLearning courses, assess their completion, and track the learners’ progress.
What is Moodle?
Moodle stands for “Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. It refers to a free and open-source type of LMS coded in PHP and developed under pedagogical principles – which study how skills and knowledge are imparted in an educational context. With lots of customizable management features, Moodle is used to form private websites with online modules that can be used for distance education, blended learning, flipped classrooms, and other online projects in schools, workplaces, and other sectors. Thanks to its community-sourced plugins, Moodle students and educators can extend and tailor their learning environments according to their preferences.
How do these LMS platforms work?
The simplest explanation of how the LMS platform works is to look at it like a “gated” website where only those with authorized accounts and passwords can access. Learning can be done in two ways – online and blended, with the former following something similar to “open universities” where learners are based off-campus and interact with instructors asynchronously. On the other hand, the latter allows physical interaction between students and teachers, but with an added LMS support where course materials can be given, stored, organized, and assessed. Blogs and forums are ingrained within the system so that students and teachers can have open, online communication, its entirety being accessible to multiple gadgets such as smartphones, computers, and tablets.
The basic structure of Moodle is organized around courses – which include areas or pages inside Moodle where instructors can present their course materials to the students. These courses can be as short as a session or a year’s worth of lessons, automatically grouped into categories such as Science, Mathematics, and Languages, among others. There are three ways how students can enroll – they can either self-enroll, be manually enrolled by their instructors, or be automatically enrolled by the administrator.
What are their pros and cons?
- Since lecturers can experiment with different learning techniques such as storytelling, social learning, and blended learning, among others, these can make learning more effective and engaging.
- Allows your audience to have unlimited access to various online course materials either via smartphones or tablets – making them convenient for classes with students using different time zones
- Offers a consolidated system that allows you to easily check and report on the status of organization-wide programs, identify users with pending or completed qualifications, and more.
- Saves you money by reducing travel, material, printing, and site accommodation costs
- Some roles simply cannot be tested or learned online, since they require the acquisition of a physical ability
- Despite the variety of learning designs available today, LMS platforms simply cannot accommodate them all
- Despite the diversity and efficiency of Moodle, it comes at a relatively low cost
- Multiple modes of communication, ranging from blogs, chats, forums, messages, and more – accessible between enrolled individuals and designated instructors
- Because of its open-source nature packed with a great community, users have loads of widely accessible content
- Content creators can sell their content online
- Lots of different content formats that students and instructors can use
- Only ideal for small- to medium-sized colleges and universities, might not work perfectly with bigger projects
- The more students enter the platform, the slower the system becomes – which can be a barrier for taking course materials or when taking tests
The Key Take Away
Although both LMS and Moodle exhibit unique advantages and disadvantages, there is no foolproof answer as to which between these two online learning platforms is better.