In July 2015, Moodle launched MoodleCloud, a free hosted Moodle platform that offers the tantalizing prospect of running your own Moodle without having to pay a third party to host it, or engage in complex IT work on your own servers.
The platform is aimed at small Moodlers and startup Moodlepreneurs with little or no launch budget for whom paid hosting isn’t an option. So, for Moodlepreneurs seeking to get their first foot on the ladder, it offers an attractive option to have a fully functioning live Moodle to build their courses on, test marketing ideas, and get familiar with managing online courses in Moodle.
Once the 50-user limit is reached it’s time to gather as much revenue as possible from your mini-moodle before looking to the next step: a third party or self-hosted Moodle that can handle lots more users. MoodleCloud is a bit like the first stage of a rocket that gets it to an altitude where the second stage kicks in.
Here’s why third-party hosting companies or an in-house server room are necessary for 2nd (and 3rd and beyond) stage larger Moodles. According to Moodle.org’s advice on installing Moodle, a rule of thumb is that Moodle can support 10 to 20 concurrent users for every 1GB of server RAM. ‘Concurrent’ means users interacting with the system within a window of a few seconds – it does NOT mean logged in users. If you extrapolate this figure to many hundreds or thousands of concurrent users, it’s easy to see why MoodleCloud has placed a cap on it. Otherwise they’d have to build a new data center.
Just like you should know the ins and outs of any other aspect of your business, it is a good idea to understand the limitations of Moodle Cloud. Here is a simple breakdown for you:
- 50 users maximum – as described above, this is plenty to get your business started and, when you (hopefully) outgrown this number, you’ll be ready to move to another hosting option;
- 200Mb disk space – as with the above, this should be plenty of space to get your business off the ground;
- Only core themes and plugins are available – while this may put some limitations on your creativity and branding, don’t let this be a showstopper. There is plenty of goodness in this package and you should be able to integrate it with the rest of your online assets;
- One site per phone number – this is just to make sure there is no abuse of the system;
- A yoursite.moodlecloud.com URL – as with the theme options above, don’t let this freak you out because it isn’t your domain. If your courses have real value, your learners won’t have an issue with this;
- There are three hosting location options: Ireland, USA, Australia – just pick the servers closest to your base of learners; and
- Moodle Cloud has Ads – but ads can be turned off on your Moodle for $5 AUD. A worthy investment.
Your database size is unlimited, which means you get to create as many text pages, posts and activities as you want. The look and feel can be tweaked via the web with the custom MoodleCloud theme, based on the standard More theme. With that 200Mb disk space limit, you’d better go light on images and video. But early adoption stats showed a healthy uptake, indicating that people are doing plenty with ‘just’ 200Mb.
As we recently reported, Moodle has created a place to report any bugs found in MoodleCloud so that, just like core Moodle, MoodleCloud can stay on a path of continuous improvement. Also, we understand that Moodle may begin offering new “tiers” of MoodleCloud that will allow for more users, etc. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.
MoodleCloud is free, so why not create your own today (it only takes a few minutes) and tinker with it, trial a course on it, kick the tires and see whether it’s the platform that could launch your Moodlepreneur career!
This Moodle Practice related post is made possible by: Course Merchant, the leading provider of eCommerce, Training Management and Digital Marketing software for the Education and Training industry. Click here to learn more.
Do you use Moodle Cloud for your business? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!