Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Course Management Systems

Moodle is a course management system (CMS) or learning management system (LMS), depending on who you talk to, that is open source and free to use. Moodle is used worldwide by universities, schools, companies and independent teachers. At my new job as an Instructional Technologist for DePauw University, I have been introduced to Moodle. So I suppose I can now officially be called a Moodler! Previously, I have used such CMS as Oncourse(Indiana University's CMS) and Blackboard (Vincennes University and University of Southern Indiana's CMS).

There are many pros and cons for each CMS mentioned. I have less familiarity with the ins and outs of Oncourse, since I have only had a user's experience. However, I have used both Blackboard and Moodle through the faculty perspective. I will become DePauw University's admin for Moodle over the course of the next few months. From this outside perspective, I can see many benefits for University's switch to Moodle over Blackboard. Moodle's most obvious appeal is that it is FREE. Blackboard, on the other hand, comes at a significant cost for any University or Organization that wishes to use it. It also seems that Blackboard has taken note of the threat of Open Educational Resources (OER), since they have recently implemented a way for content sharing in their CourseSites.

One of the biggest concerns that I have noted is the question of security. With Moodle being completely open source, there are concerns with that hackers will be able to access student information such as grades if a course is being hosted on Moodle, or even worse post pornographic materials that the students will unknowingly access. Moodle's quick response to these security threats, updated security patches and other measures, can calm nerves. It seems there will be no tolerance for the security holes in Moodle. With both CMS having pros and cons it seems that the final decision boils down to available funds and preference.

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