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Tuesday September 2nd 2014
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Blackboard vs Moodle 2.0: 100+ metrics compared head to head by @MoodleRUB

This post is cross-posted at LMSWatch.com (comprehensive news and resources for all Learning Management Systems)

Ralf Otto of Ruhr-Universität, Bochum in Germany provided me with a wonderful resource he’s created recently.  Ruhr-Universität utilizes both Moodle and Blackboard (as a growing number of colleges and higher education institutions are doing) and over the last two weeks was charged with comparing the two LMSs head to head, he said in his message.

The comparison matrix covers 103 different aspects of the LMS and whether or not each is capable (and sometimes how).  How does each measure up?

According to Ralf’s comparison Blackboard Learn 9.1 (SP3) and Moodle 2.0.1 are extremely similar in their capabilities in about 95% of the features and tools.  With a few extensions and additional plugins, according to Ralf, the LMSs can mirror each other in 100% of the functionalities they set out to provide.  It’s a great resource for any institution considering Moodle or Blackboard.

For the full comparison that Ralf created please visit: http://moodle.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/file.php/1/Feature_Comparison_Moodle-Blackboard.pdf

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13 Responses to “Blackboard vs Moodle 2.0: 100+ metrics compared head to head by @MoodleRUB”

  1. Greg says:

    This is awesome. I would love to see someone familiar with Canvas by Instructure to add it into the chart as a third column. I would love to see how it stacks up.

  2. Joseph Thibault says:

    Greg, it’s a great idea. I’ll see what can be done. There are a lot of LMSs out there that might stand a good bird’s eye comparison for people wanting to consider all the options.

  3. Greg says:

    Have you ever compiled a list? I’ve googled and come across stuff like this: http://www.leftbrainmedia.com/2.1_lms_systems.html, but how do you even begin to weed out all of the garbage? It’s especially difficult to get a feel for a lot of these because they’ll don’t make it easy for you to create an account and “play”. Let me know your thoughts.

  4. Joseph Thibault says:

    Greg, I have a list of LMSs that I’ve tried out, but you’re correct: even though some LMS might be worth trying they put barriers up that prevent the end user from doing so. I’ll do my best, if there are specific LMS (like Instructure) that you’re curious about let me know.

  5. Greg says:

    Don’t have any specifics, but it probably isn’t worth it to include the ones that are far inferior to blackboard/moodle.

    I’ve just about built half a course on Moodle 1.9 and would love to see if the grass is greener elsewhere.

  6. While I agree this is useful, I think the real issue is always the usability of these features and the frequency of effective use of these features in instruction. I would love to see real world case studies measuring the number of times certain features are used with different LMSs. Even better would be the impact on student learning correlated to the use of different LMS features.

  7. Joseph Thibault says:

    Colin, those would be great metrics to look at; but they are much harder to get at without a great model for capturing that data and a lot of students over time taking courses as separate sample populations. My sense is that even usability would be hard to measure (we as computer users easily adapt even to the most difficult step-by-step computational processes). The comparison chart that Ralf created, in my opinion, is an honest look at the tools available (just as you might compare two cars or two computers by their included parts/features and hardware).

    What some institutions have done are tried to nail down the differences in LMS by asking the question “do students prefer X LMS over Y LMS?”. My sense from the NCCC feasibility study was that it essentially doesn’t matter: http://oscmoodlereport.wordpress.com/. That said…What does matter?

  8. I sat/sit on my uni’s CMS committee, and over the last decade we have read and created many of these comparisons.

    I find that the comparisons rely heavily on how much one person knows about the particular CMS/VLE/whatever you call it. Tellingly, the preferred CMS is usually the one in the column farthest left (near the labels in the most left column).

    To disagree with Colin, measuring how many times a feature is used isn’t really what Moodle is about. Every Moodle course comes with an autocratic forum called “News,” which is a one way Teacher –> Users tool that I find offensively fascistic and thus is never used.

    To get a better sense of what Moodle is about, go look at the plugins and modules section of moodle.org. There you will find a wealth of tools way beyond what Blackborg can offer and way beyond Ralf’s ability to incorporate into his quite lovely chart.

  9. Joseph Thibault says:

    while true (the plugins available for Moodle seem more numerous and cast a much wider net in terms of functionality) I would fear incorporating non-standard features otherwise you risk an “LMS arms race” in functionality listed and hacks and tips and tricks which can be employed to bend X LMS to any desire.

    thanks for the comment though, you raise some great points about community and 3rd party support/products as a broader (clearer?) picture of an LMS.

  10. Michael says:

    “To disagree with Colin, measuring how many times a feature is used isn’t really what Moodle is about.”

    I think Colin’s point is still good though, I’ve seen a committee decide to have a public uni pay 5 times more for a commercial LMS because 1 feature was missing from Moodle.

    When my uni decided between BB and Moodle, we did a report on features in use in both systems & number of courses using various features (we had both systems running in full production for several years, so that was possible) and found the results instructive to the committee.

    If an LMS Committee still decides to commit the entire university to pay much more (or go through an expensive conversion process) for a feature that is not widely used, at least this is a decision informed by data with the sort of information Colin recommends having.

    I’d fully agree that feature vs. feature comparisons miss many metrics that should be involved in a decision.

    On the other hand, feature by feature comparisons seem to often be a big part of the decision, and I’d say that when they are used, they should be accompanied atleast with an informed estimate of how popular/useful/actually used the various features are.

  11. Brigitte says:

    Michael, I agree with you. If you haven’t found out about your specific requirements, you’re not able to choose an appropriate lms or whatever. And, as well as moodle may be less costlier then Bb, open source is not for free. So don’t forget about ongoing customization and support.

    Anyway, Ralphs table is very helpful to get a first impression on similarities and differences. Thank you.

  12. Mark says:

    In the end, and choosing a hosted environment for both LMS (Bb and Moodle), what is the head-count at your institution relating to supporting the LMS?
    I attended a Moodle conference recently and one institution has 10 people working full time on conversion and projects 3 full time once the system is stable.
    A hosted Bb system where I worked before took 2 full time and one contractor.
    If you consider the long-term cost of hosting, patching, and remove the license fee for Bb I think Moodle is much more $$.
    Thoughts?
    Cheers

  13. Michael says:

    Sometimes, after switching to Moodle institutions will take some of the savings from Blackboard license fees and use that $$ to hire more LMS support staff – this doesn’t mean Moodle _requires_ more staff, it means that with Moodle institutions can afford more staff.

    Teachers very rarely will they say they have enough LMS support people, but the savings from Moodle let institutions get closer to enough – if they use them that way.

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