Moodle will always be an open source project

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Moodle

In 2001, Moodle was launched as an online solution for educators to freely adopt as a tool to reach and engage students in the learning experience within their own websites. Today, Moodle’s design and evolution continues to achieve this goal as a free and open source learning platform with clear pedagogical principles, adopted by over 50 million users in pretty much every country that has computers.

Who owns Moodle?

The Moodle project is 100% independent and privately held by Moodle Pty Ltd (Moodle HQ) located in Perth, Western Australia with a dedicated team of developers and admin support working transparently with the community—to support users, share resources, notify of issues, and develop plugins. Community contributions also assist the efficiency of coding and enabling upcoming releases.

Moodle HQ is not reliant on community contributions but has a healthy business model that helps support a dedicated core team. A network of over 60 certified Moodle Partners provide services to support the learning platform ranging from hosting, integration, and ongoing training and support. The royalties they provide and the process of becoming a Partner are clearly documented at moodle.com

Blackboard and Moodle

Contrary to some reports, Blackboard did not buy Moodle. In 2012, Blackboard purchased two of the Moodle Partner companies (out of 60) as part of their strategy to diversify their support for various educational technologies (as covered on Opensource.com). These two companies are Moodlerooms Inc (in the US) and Netspot Pty Ltd (in Australia). They remain Moodle Partners and still contribute royalties to the Moodle project as they always have.

What does the future look like for Moodle?

Education technology is a very dynamic area, with a lot of trends going in various directions.

Moodle will stay an open source project (licensed under GPLv3), and will continue to follow its core philosophy that any educational situation (including software development itself!) is improved by enabling rapid, high quality feedback among participants. The ultimate goal is real-time feedback wherever you are, on any device. Moodle listens closely to the needs of the community and responds by implementing what they ask for, steadily making Moodle better and better in each release.

To find out how to contribute to the open source Moodle Project, visit moodle.org.

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Samantha Gartner is a Marketing and Outreach Officer for Moodle. With over 5 years of experience in the field of Marketing Communications, ranging from tourism, photography and mining services and riding the wave of digital and social marketing.

8 Comments

"Moodle listens closely to the needs of the community and responds by implementing what they ask for, steadily making Moodle better and better in each release."

Interesting choice of words : "steadily". Moodle has become very slow to improve. Some examples:

Possibly more than 10 years to implement a per-discussion subscription in the forums. The feature was requested in 2004, and we're still waiting. See https://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-1626

No way for instructors to bulk configure dates in courses that are re-used for a new semester. Imagine 20 activities with open/close dates, etc. It's hundreds of clicks for just one course to re-set the dates for the current semester. Now multiply those hundreds of clicks by the number of sections of that course (I have sometimes three in one semester). We have to hire a "moodle clicker" person (aka secretary) to do this, as instructors complain. The feature was requested officially in 2013 (but was suggested in the forums long ago). It is still not assigned and as it's not a sexy feature, probably not many developers want to jump on it. See https://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-41652

On the other hand, native mobile (Android, iOS, etc.) apps are sexy. Moodle developers spent energy developing app versions of Mobile, which provide little value (since most of the work is still done by the Moodle site).

Open source developers have the freedom to scratch whatever itch they want. I'm not knocking open source (it's free), but I think your article makes Moodle sound much rosier than the reality (at least for instructors). The students may love it, but I feel my university didn't consider enough the ease of use of it for instructors.

Joe,
If you want to see a change or new feature in Moodle why not encourage someone at your university to work on the improvement and make it available to all Moodle users? That's how open source works. Given the myriad requests we see at Moodle HQ each year it's hardly balanced to use your pet issue as an example. Moodle has made thousands of improvements over the last few years, steadily and consistently.

In reply to by Joe Moodler (not verified)

Do you think 10 years to implement a feature that 150+ users voted for (those are the ones who created an account in the JIRA and know what a bug-tracker is!) is reasonable?

Michael I didn't appreciate your reference to my "pet projects" -- it seems not a constructive comment and is part of the reason I'm annoyed with attitudes from Moodle. I'm not trying to be a troll, here, but pointing out that Moodle is a challenge for many instructors. I'd frankly like to see more priority given to instructor needs. More and more of us are required to use it. The Mobile App offers nothing for instructors, as an example.

Many people suggest lots of important features in the forums, and the attitude of some Moodle staff is not so encouraging. I have lurked in forums with Moodle for more than 10 years. Perhaps the staff are (rightly) burned out a bit because they're tired of people complaining. However, some of us instructors didn't have a say in the choice of Moodle for our university. Having to click 900 times to configure my three groups of courses at the start of a semester makes me a little frustrated with the tool.

I have seen IT professors in the forums volunteer students to work on Moodle, but the proposed method (at least from what I saw in the forum) is through Google Summer of Code. In 2013 only 6 projects made it through http://www.google-melange.com/gsoc/org2/google/gsoc2013/moodle and only 2 in 2014 http://www.google-melange.com/gsoc/org2/google/gsoc2014/moodle -- I'm not sure how many of those have to do with improving the instructor interface, or how many actually got coded (don't have the time to trace it through). My university has senior projects during the academic year (fall, spring). Those students could work on Moodle projects.

Given the footprint of Moodle, I'd argue there needs to be a lot more student contribution and something better than GSOC to facilitate collaboration.

In reply to by Michael Blake (not verified)

Hi Joe,

Thank you for taking the time. Feedback of all kind is always valuable, even more so from active Moodlers and when borne of frustration.

The lack of discussion subscription issue you referenced started out being a feature of Moodle, but once we resolved to implement that feature it was actually surprisingly complicated to solve. The good news it that HAS been solved in Moodle 2.8, along with a great deal of work on the gradebook UI and other things. We agree that this has taken a considerable amount of time, but our resources are limited and there have been many other issues as noted by the community.

Student code submission, and even from other contributors can be a mixed blessing, as it generally requires additional time and work to review, test and implement. With a larger core team at Moodle we would have increased capacity to do this, and as such be able to genuinely encourage submission and work from students. We're hopeful that the community will get behind our fundraising activity coming later this month.

Your comment about the attitudes of Moodle staff is concerning. Those that are with Moodle HQ are certainly active and helpful - granted I have not been in the forums or conversation as long as you. Clicking nearly a thousand times would make the most patient and zen person frustrated. Whilst we've addressed the subscription feature, should there be any others that you feel strongly for within course settings or anything else, please contribute to the Tracker.

Moodle aims to accelerate the development of the learning platform through Moodle Partner and community contributions, allowing the team to increase and address more issues.

Again, we appreciate your comments and views. I hope that the upcoming release of Moodle addresses some issues. For your insights into a student submission programme, I would be happy to take these on board and work with the team on the best way to encourage these. If you are willing, please email me at samantha@moode.com

In reply to by Joe Moodler (not verified)

You mention Blackboard acquiring both Moodlerooms and NetSpot. These are two companies that dominate Moodle in the US and Australia - two significantly large markets. While they are only 2 out of 60, do you have any insight or commentary into what percentage of total revenues they contribute to the Moodle organization? Sure Blackboard may not own Moodle, but they may effectively own Moodle if they contribute greater than 50% of their moneys.

Moodle Partners are an important contributor to the Moodle project, however it is important to understand that they aren't driving the priorities of the project. This is a process with the Moodle community, Tracker and core development team at Moodle HQ.

The wide network of Moodle Partners provides a diverse choice for people to access services for the implementation of Moodle. Moodlerooms (US) and NetSpot (AUS) are certainly strong players within their markets, there are many others that support the project, even with contributions from the community of Moodlers.

In reply to by Concerned Moodler (not verified)

You seem to be driving at some notion that partners could "control" Moodle. This is simply not true. And even if it was, hypothetically, it is unlikely to be a bad thing. Let me explain:

The Moodle Partner contract basically states that a partner must contribute royalties to Moodle in return for certain rights to use our trademarks and to be promoted. That's the meat of it. Moodle doesn't guarantee anything else to Partners, although of course we try to support them as much as we can.

If you think for more than a second about it you'll easily see that the issues Partners care about (and which would form their "agenda") are exactly the same as the ones their clients are wanting to have improved. Interests are aligned and it's always a win-win. In many years of doing this we've never had partners suggest anything that wasn't generally useful to most Moodlers.

Hope that clarifies things.

In reply to by Concerned Moodler (not verified)

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