Saturday, 21 November 2015


by David Hill
Moodle has come a long way since its first release in 2002. By 2009 it had already become the number one LMS worldwide with a 30% share of the market. Since then it has faced stiff competition from Blackboard, Desire2Learn and Instructure in the higher education market and SumTotal Systems, SuccessFactors and Saba Software in corporate training. But it remains resolutely popular for general-purpose e-learning and is still the cheapest way to get a quality LMS up and running. It is the most popular choice for those who wish to start a business selling courses online because it’s free, open-source (hence a wide range of free plugins), simple to set up, robust, and scalable.
As all Moodlers know, Moodle is an open-source e-learning platform which is continuously developed by a team of 30 coders at Moodle HQ in Perth, Australia, and financed by a global network of certified service providers who contribute 10% of their revenue to the Moodle project. It was originally written as part of a Ph.D. by computer scientist and social constructivist Martin Dougiamas, who is still overall head of the project.
So can Moodle please everyone with this new version? Well, they’re trying. Here are some of the improvements that stand out:
  • Open University-style quiz plugins are to be baked in: select missing words (cloze), drag and drop images into place, drag and drop into text, drag and drop markers. The OU is the world’s biggest Moodle installation and some of the features most appreciated by their students end up making it into the core code of Moodle. This is one example of that.
  • ‘Number of tries left’ indicator in interactive quizzes with multiple tries
  • Atto text editor: ability to edit tables, math notation now included, new keyboard shortcut to add hyperlinks (ctrl+k)
  • New web services
  • Multiple improvements in the plugin installation and update system
  • Masses of bug fixes
Most commentators agree that although the changes Moodle version 3.0 brings are very welcome, they do not constitute a major new leap but rather an incremental set of improvements. Moodle 2.x had reached 2.9, so the next one had to be 3.0, really. Moodle isn’t like Android, where a jump up to the next number is a major rollout and always brings a revamped user experience. Rather, Moodle 3.0 is a milestone. Its developers are doing what they have always done: quietly improving the LMS, a few steps at a time, towards the ideal.


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