Moodle vs TotaraLMS: A Comparison One Year After The Fork


By Iris Vermeren, Channel Marketing Manager, Totara Learning

In 2015, when it was announced that TotaraLMS would fork their code, posted a comparison of Moodle vs Totara. Now, a year later, we thought it was high time to give an update as to how these two LMS platforms compare.

Many people have a hard time understanding the differences between these two Open Source LMS (Learning Management Systems). With Totara and Moodle sharing over 65% of their code, it’s only natural to ask that question. Moodle and Totara LMS are both robust and flexible LMS and both offer complete software license freedom (no vendor will lock you in).

So, in terms of functionality and features, what are the key differences?

Moodle provides a solution designed primary, secondary and higher education in mind. If you are a school or university, Moodle is likely going to fit your requirements. Moodle (acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) lets you extend and tailor your learning environment using plugins made and supported by an enthusiastic user community.

Totara LMS was built upon Moodle, with extended e-learning features designed for the enterprise. It includes much of the same functionality and community-sourced plugins as Moodle, but offers a host of tools to help you manage hierarchy, performance, certifications, assignment of courses, competencies, learning programs and reporting out-of-the-box. In short, a platform designed for professional training and development.

Totara is specifically designed for corporate learning in contrast to Moodle’s educational orientation. Large corporations such as Samsung, Sky and Sony as well as a number of government agencies use Totara. That’s not to say Moodle is not in the enterprise: adjustments and customizations could make Moodle replicate Totara’s functionality.

In the past few years, Totara has added hundreds of thousands lines of code comprising a series of modular, interwoven extensions layered on top of Moodle. All the additional features in Totara, such as reporting and audience management, reflect the different needs of businesses. Totara is now almost independent from a standard Moodle installation.

Making a decision to choose, or even change LMS, will depend on what you want your LMS to do. We’ve put together a Totara and Moodle comparison table to help you understand what you’ll get from both.

The comparison table looks at everything from learners to IT considerations and even the marketing and design of your LMS, so provides a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know when you’re thinking about upgrading to Moodle or Totara LMS.

The main differences are hierarchy, assignment of courses, competencies, program management and reporting. A few other features could cater to your internal management of staff learning and development needs. Some functionality and benefits we have not highlighted here, so make sure to check out other comparison tables to get a clear idea of what you get with each platform to ensure you make the right choice for your organization.

Download the comparison table (in PDF) here: Moodle vs. Totara Comparison Table

Note: Totara is an advertiser on

  • Pieter van der Hijden

    Totara is an advertiser on Moodle News. So, I understand that this form of sponsorship may lead to some “airtime” like this article in MoodleNews. I further read that Iris Vermeren, it’s author, is Channel Marketing Manager at Totara Learning, so I understand that she will tell us a positive story on Totara. Keeping this in mind, I found the text of her message reasonable and sometimes even interesting.

    Whatever IMHO is totally unacceptable and misleading is the Moodle/Totara comparison table, Iris is using. The list is presented as an objective table where readers can conclude themselves which product is the most interesting, Moodle vs Totara. Such a list should be composed and rated by some independent party and contain items of equal granularity. This list, however, is all Totara’s work.

    As insiders know, Totara is nothing less and nothing more than an extension to an older Moodle version. How easy then to create a comparison table for a certain product (Moodle) and extensions to that product (Totara). By defintion Totara will have the most tickmarks in that case.

    The fact that Totara is no longer an extension to the current Moodle version is not mentioned at all in this list. This is IHMO the outstanding biggest disadvantage of Totara and very risky and potentially harmful for its customers.

    Interesting that Totara itself in its fine print at the bottom of its list where confesses it “cannot be held responsible and extends no warranties as to the suitability of the information for any particular purpose or actions by third parties”.

    So, I would appreciate if Totara’s form of marketing information around its competitive advantage would be more modest in the future. If, on the contrary, this article should be representative for Totara’s appreciation and respect for its (potential) customers, I would like to add another item to the comparison list.

  • Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Pieter.