Summary: Moodle is another open source solution with advanced features that can work well with Articulate.
Difficulty: Medium

Following on from our previous overviews of Efront, Dokeo and Docebo open source Learning Management Systems (LMS), we take a trip to Australia to meet Moodle.

The Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment (Moodle) was originally named Martin’s Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment after its original developer, Martin Dougiamas, a WebCT administrator at Curtin University, Australia.

It has become on of the most popular open-source LMSs with universities throughout the world, competing with proprietory solutions such as Blackboard.

The British Open University (a distance learning institution) is Moodle’s second largest user ( after Moodle’s own site) while many universities throughout the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, Argentina, India and the United Arab Emirates (to name but a few) have adopted Moodle as their LMS of choice.

However Moodle is not just limited to the educational sector. Kineo, in the UK, customize Moodle installations for large corporate clients such as BP, MacDonalds, Nikon and Toshiba and have also developed their own custom version of the LMS called Totora. And, as the McDonald’s demo above shows, Kineo, like many others, have discovered that Articulate works just great with Moodle.

Interesting Features In Moodle

One nice and useful feature of Moodle is the ability to limit the number of attempts to a quiz or a course. Often administrators want the user to have “only one go” maybe to avoid cheating etc. Typically, relaunching an Articulate course or quiz is sufficent for the student to retake it (even with the resume option) but in Moodle you can stop that happening and so be sure that the first attempt is indeed the only attempt recorded.

Another related feature is to be able to pick the first or best or last result from multiple attempts. Of course, picking the first result is similar to limiting the attempts to just one go.

See For Yourself

Take a look at a couple of quizzes that I have loaded onto a special Moodle test site for this blog.

  1. The first quiz called “Population” is single-question quiz for which you have only one attempt. While you will be able to review the question again, you will not be able to change the recorded score on the LMS. If you manage to, let me know!
  2. The second quiz called “Gay Marriage” is another single-question quiz but for which this time you have two attempts. I have set Moodle to record the highest score, so if you get the question right on one of those attempts, it will show as passed.

Access Moodle Platform

You will need to create a student access login so that Moodle can track your attempts. You can self-register and confirm your registration by email.

What Is Good About Moodle

  • Without a doubt, one of the biggest attractions of Moodle is that the main software is free. That doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay anything as you might need people to set up, install, customize, and maintain the system and that can get expensive. But if you have the infrastructure for all that, then it might make financial sense. Even if you are a lone operator, you could still consider Moodle as a solution as many web hosting providers provide a free Moodle solution as part of their service.
  • Another nice feature of Moodle is the ability to “skin” the design of the site. You can find Moodle themes for sale or for free by doing a simple search on Google, or even create your own theme. Moodle maintains a database of available themes. This means that you can customize the look of the LMS to your company or organization.
  • Surprisingly for an open-source solution, Moodle can be a relatively sophisticated tool offering features that many mainstream LMSs do not offer.

How Does Moodle Compare With Other Open Source LMSs

Moodle compares well with other learning management systems. The last update, in particular, seems to have improved reporting with Articulate Studio and has added some features not found in other solutions. The interface can look a little austere and reporting is still pretty limited.

How Does Moodle Compare With Articulate Online

Comparing Moodle with Articulate Online is a little like comparing oranges and bananas. They might seem similar but they’re not.

  • Like the other open-source systems, Moodle requires you to find your own hosting or host the system yourself, as well someone to set-up and maintain things. With Articulate Online, just about everything is done for you automatically. As with Articulate Studio, the whole Articulate Online experience is designed to be as user-friendly as possible so that you concentrate more on making great content and less on being a programmer.
  • Articulate Online is specifically designed to work with Articulate Studio whereas Moodle can work with any SCORM or AICC compliant course. As such, Articulate Online is able to leverage to a maximum its access to all the scoring and reporting data that Articulate Studio passes to it.
  • The whole Moodle system is generally more complex than Articulate Online. Articulate Online is designed to be as transparent as possible for users requiring nothing more than a simple logon before launching a course and designers need just click a publish button to tranfer content. Moodle requires users to logon, and then navigate through the LMS to access the course. Publishing to Moodle requires publishing to SCORM or AICC and then tranferring a zip file to the LMS.
  • As mentioned above, Articulate Online has brilliant reporting features that you simple won’t find in Moodle which now include the ability to customize your reports. Moodle does the basics which include recording scores and user answers which isn’t bad.
  • Moodle does have features that do not exist in Articulate Online including the ability to set prerequisites for access to courses, or to define the number of times one can access a course.

What is important to remember is that Articulate Studio will work with any SCORM or AICC compliant LMS AND it also works perfectly with Articulate Online. What system you decide to adopt is up to you.

Importing Articulate Content Into Moodle

Importing Articulate content into Moodle is relatively straightforward, particularly if you use the SCORM format. Dave Mozealous did a Screenr showing the basic steps needed which you can find here.

Here is an alternative view using a slightly different way of importing content. I have also shown how you can limit the number of attempts.

I’d recommend watching this full screen as it is recorded at high resolution.


Reporting Issues In Moodle

You might have difficulties with reporting and sometimes just trial and error will determine what parameters you need to use. There is an issue that our Articulate support department have documented which affects certain installations of Moodle (and that includes my test Moodle site). When a course is passed or completed by a student, it shows as suspended in Moodle. Articulate Support have provided a solution to that issue which you can find here. It is not that difficult to implement and certainly solved my problems.

Conclusion

If you are able to do a little exploring, file editing and trouble-shooting, then Moodle is a solution worth looking at. It is not ideal and collecting reporting data is limited but it does have some interesting advanced features.

Notes

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11 Responses

  1. Kevin says:

    Perfect timing Dave! This is exactly the type of research material I need as we’re considering moving to the Moodle platform

    Thanks!

  2. telse says:

    Hi!

    Just a quick note (or two): the sample video also included the creation of a course for the material, so importing Articulate stuff seemed a bit more complicated than it actually is. Normally, it takes about 30 seconds to upload and create a link for a piece of material made with Articulate.

    Another point I’d like to draw attention to is that it often is a good idea to publish Articulate stuff for web, not as SCORM. This is to give the students a chance to practise things freely without teacher control.

    In my experience, any material produced with Articulate works well in Moodle.

    • daveperso says:

      Hi telse,

      Many thanks for your comments. Agreed about adding content but I did want to show how to create a course too as I don’t find Moodle intuitive to use at first. Also, if designers are building a complete independent course in Studio ’09, they may well want a separate independent course in Moodle.

      Regarding publishing to the web, rather than SCORM, one needs to remember that you will not be able to track your students. If you want to give free access to content and track their efforts, you could always give unlimited attempts and maybe track the highest score obtained.

  3. Rajat Sadana says:

    Hi all,

    I agree with all the comments above. I would like to add the following in brief:

    1. Moodle is excellent if you want to deliver a complete curriculum where courses are required to be taken in order. This is something that is not possible with ArticulateOnline.

    2. With Moodle, you can blend SCORM based, and HTML based learning.

    3. Moodle, bland out of the box is extremely customizable.

    4. Moodle gets all the data that is available with Articulate online. You can customize the backend to get very similar reports.

    5. One of the biggest strengths of Moodle is the intergration options that it offers with LDAP, Webex, Adobe Connect, payment gateways and a host of other systems.

    http://www.e-gmat.com is built on Moodle. Check it out and see how we have create a custom course delivery through Moodle. You can sign up for a free trial.

    Bottom line, articulate online is a great system if you need to deliver content that is made up of 2-3 articulate files. However, Moodle is a better choice if you want to deliver structured courses, blended learning or integrate with other systems.

    -Rajat

  4. Adriana says:

    HELLO,
    I was wondering if anyone knows someone that develops Articulate skin/player for a moderate cost. Please contact me URGENT!!! astockton@solutionspr.net

    Thank you,
    Adriana M.

  5. Gilles says:

    Good morning,

    I can not access the test server.. I get the following error:

    Warning: Illegal or truncated character in input: offset 248, state=0 in /home/mediaeng/public_html/lms/lib/adodb/adodb.inc.php on line 2651

    Parse error: syntax error, unexpected $end, expecting T_FUNCTION in /home/mediaeng/public_html/lms/lib/adodb/adodb.inc.php on line 2651

    G

  6. Gilles says:

    Another note:
    Dave, i really like the theme you use in the video.

    Could you share which one it is?

    Cheers,
    Gilles

    • daveperso says:

      Hi Gilles,

      There seems to be an issue with the Moodle test server. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. And of course, without that, I can’t tell you what the theme was! Hopefully it will be back up soon.

  7. Adam says:

    Interesting article my company Scholarix e-Learning Solutions uses moodle to deliver services to clients. I think one of the most important factors is that it’s not about just using the LMS it’s about managing the LMS which are the biggest daunting tasks once your user base grows.

    Great article on moodle!

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