Moodle – DIY or Buy….(in the expertise that you need to make it work…….)
This is an increasingly common question we are asked, and we have worked on a couple of projects where “Help my Moodle is falling down” was the cry for help………
Some advice from Learning Light to Learning professionals seeking to understand the best way to get a Moodle led e-learning project off the ground.
Moodle shall we do it ourselves? Get IT to deliver? or find a Moodle partner to get an e-learning project off the ground?
This is a question we are increasingly being asked as more and more organisations are attracted to the Moodle solution for a Learning Management System (LMS).
Moodle, as a growing number of organisations are realising is a very successful Learning Management System that comes from the education market. It has been developed over a number of years and is now likely to be the most widely used LMS in education in the world, and growing rapidly in popularity in the corporate market (to be fair it is quite probably the market leader there as well) oh…. and by the way it happens to be an “Open Source” solution.
The benefits of open source
It is the potential savings offered by an Open Source solution that has (in large part, but not exclusively) attracted so much interest from business…..in short the initial cost of ownership is very low – you pay nothing for the license, no fees to register learners and you can benefit from the Moodle communities many years of development.
For avoidance of doubt, we should also add that Moodle is really a rather good LMS solution. It is ideal for organisations seeking to launch induction or compliance led e-learning courses.
As companies such as Tesco and organisations such as the Open University have adopted Moodle it certainly has some pedigree.
Where do I begin?
In choosing Moodle, the decision faced by many organisations is who is going to be responsible for its installation, configuration and on-going support?
e-learning has always sat in a difficult position in corporate thinking when projects are being considered. There are usually a complex set of stakeholders to be addressed when a new e-learning project is being developed.
We have worked with a number of organisations that have assembled decision making teams made up from the HR/L&D role, the Business units (sales and marketing, legal, production etc…) IS and IT, the OD and Change or Performance Improvement and more.
All are valid stakeholders, we just try and make sure they all remember the learner!
However, we are coming upon an interesting conundrum in many organisations, when a Moodle has been chosen as the solution – with all those cost savings, that the temptation is to load the burden of delivery on to IT/IS department in the quest for yet more savings…..!
So what are the Pro’s and Con’s of IT/IS doing your Moodle installation and configuration?
It’s all about learning
This is about learning not technology, and as such the approach should put learning outcomes first, not technology, and lets be unkind for a moment, IT departments are not experts in learning, they are experts in technology. These are two different worlds.
We do not doubt for one moment that IT professionals have the ability to download and install a Moodle LMS, but the design and configuration of the platform is best left to learning professionals.
Learning, learning, learning…..to paraphrase a former PM. But it is right, an IT led project is very likely to be skewed to IT’s view of the world.
Remember, Moodle was conceived in the education world. It really does need tweaking to meet your needs, and this can be a frustrating and time consuming task, given that the LMS is just one part of the e-learning project. Do you and your colleagues in IT really have time to do this?
Learning design is the key
The design, the look and feel, “the ambience” of the installed and ready to go Moodle is key if learners are to engage with the platform, make no mistake! This is one of the 3 keys to success for your project, unless your IT department is expert in learner interface design get expertise with a track record of designing and configuring Moodle LMS’s .
For the record, the other 2 keys to success are well designed effective engaging e-learning content and solid learner support.
Our best advice is to focus your efforts working with your learners to make sure they are on-board and bought in to what you are doing!
Diminished Responsibility? –No! take responsibility!
In our view (and observations) if responsibility is spread across an organisation, overall accountability or ownership will often diminish and the project will suffer accordingly. If you wish to succeed take responsibility do not allow it to be diluted. You cannot plead diminished responsibility if it goes wrong!
Actually it’s more than just saving money
Any cost savings can be quite easily lost when measuring the Impact on Business (IoB), which should be one of your 4 measures of success, along with RoI, learner feedback and performance and the L&D department’s performance itself. Do not spoil the ship for a ha’peth of tar!
You really should have a throat to choke!
It is vital that you have a robust Service Level Agreement (SLA) with any organisation that supports your LMS. While Moodle forums may provide some help, can your IT department keep up with the updates and patches, do they really understand the ethos that underlies Moodle? You really should have a throat to choke!
Moodle offers a very cost effective solution to launch “tactical and practical” e-learning programmes, and as such is ideal for induction or compliance required e-learning.
It is however important to ensure that learners engage with the platform and the content and the first experience they have is often key. The design of the platform is therefore crucial, learners should be able to navigate to courses, track their progress and dip in and out of a supportive learning environment as and when required.