Forum .LRN Q&A: Interesting chat about moodle / .LRN
I recently carried out a comparitive study on a few CLMSs such as dotLRN, Atutor, Moodle, Blackboard and found dotLRN to be behind in some key areas such as community, direction and support.
Once you arrive and register at Moodle it is so obvious what is going on. They use the features of Moodle to build a an active community. There are forums on a whole range of topics and for a whole range of roles and responsibilities. From new feature forums to teaching forums everyone is catered for. There is access to detailed documentation and a high level of organization. There is also a clear roadmap for the future of the product, something which dotLRN seems to lack.
The lack of obvious activity from the outset of arriving at the dotLRN community site is quite dissapointing as the openACS side of things always seems to be ticking over nicely. It is almost as if the dotLRN community is hidden away. I'm not saying that dotLRN should be a seperate entity from OpenACS, more that OpenACS development should feed into a more public facing dotLRN community of developers and users, or something along those lines. A more public facing community is definitely key...
As an educational platform there is also a lack of support on the teacher front. We have faculty using the platform who do not have the support which would be found in other products. Shared experiences are a highly valuable resource and bringing the users of the platform together could provide excellent feedback on usability and such.
Who is in charge of mainting the dotLRN site and what would need to be done to turn it into a proper dotLRN site where we could show off what it's all about?
Some of my other findings are as follows for those who are interested...
.... With the features so similarly matched other components of the whole package became more important. For the open source solutions there were stark differences between the size of the support and development community and leadership therein. Moodle was stated as having an almost 50% market share for LMSs, similar to that of WebCT/blackboard. Obviously this leaves the dotLRN and ATutor as small fish in a big sea. The importance of the community size cannot be overstated when it comes to open source platforms. The nature of open source platforms is such that the development has usually been spread amongst a large group of people and the quality of the products cannot be guaranteed as much as the commercial products. At these times you need support from the community from people with the relevant expertise to help out. Millions of hours of development time have been spent on the open source solutions and the expertise lies with these people. The more people actively working on the product then theoretically the better support you should receive. For many of the platforms user groups meet regularly to discuss their experiences.
The manner in which we can authenticate users of the platform is key to the successful integration of the learning environment to a potential student information system. The LMS should cater for a range of authentication and provide a very easy interface for doing so.
From a students perspective, on logging in to the LMSs Moodle provided the clearest outlook of what was expected of a student. All of the tools at their disposal were clearly visable as was an excellent schedule of activities highlighting what was expected of them throughout the duration of their course. The other LMSs did not provide that level of organization and structure.