Open edX vs. Moodle: A Comparison
Open edX and Moodle are open-source online learning platforms that are geared towards different types of educational approaches and business models. To know which one is right for you, it’s important to see the differences between these two top online learning platforms.
Meet Open edX and Moodle
You can begin to see a difference between Open edX and Moodle through the way each describes its own platform. Open edX describes itself as “a free–and open source–course management system (CMS) […] used all over the world to host Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as well as smaller classes and training modules.”
Moodle describes itself as a platform “guided by social constructionist pedagogy” and that it “delivers a powerful set of learner-centric tools and collaborative learning environments that empower both teaching and learning.”
While both Moodle and Open edX have years of experience, when Moodle first arrived on the online learning scene over 15 years ago, things weren’t moving quite as fast as they are now. Open edX came out a number of years later in 2013, and has a more modern feel and was designed to be flexible to our ever-changing digital world.
Although both platforms were initially designed with educators in mind, Open edX puts the power back in the hands of instructors and allows rapid and frequent changes to the course or site by the instructor. Additionally, Open edX was built for the MOOCs world of online learning, whereas Moodle was originally built for more traditional models as an online learning version of a classic classroom.
While many of us are familiar with a traditional classroom, and can therefore understand the viewpoint of Moodle, it is important to understand a bit about MOOCs in order to see the difference between Open edX and Moodle. As opposed to Moodle’s perspective on creating a platform for classrooms between 5-30 as is traditional in schools, Open edX, with its MOOC perspective, seeks large-scale audiences and are geared for anywhere from one to one million users.
MOOCs were also created to have more interactive participation than a simple online classroom, so Open edX allows you to add interactive elements via XBlock plugins more easily than you can with Moodle. Although both Moodle and Open edX allow you to add features like videos, quizzes and exams, Moodle does have a larger library of plug-ins available out of the box for users. But where Moodle wins in volume, Open edX wins in the quality arena, with XBlocks made to seamlessly integrate with the authoring experience and far easier to design.
Community is an important part of choosing a platform, and both Open edX and Moodle have different but active communities that drive the direction of platform development. The Moodle community grew out of its base of K-12 education, whereas the Open edX community emerged from higher education, with the idea of sharing more complex and advanced information via MOOCs.
Ease of Use
Moodle is a stable platform but some users find the functions a bit unnatural, and the look of the site can feel a bit dated. Additionally, Moodle has chosen not to prioritized mobile-friendly development or APIs, which makes things difficult for some users. Open edX has better usability and uses APIs which make for even easier use. Additionally, services such as Appsembler’s Tahoe exists on Open edX to help take care of the technical aspects, and allow even easier use of the Open edX platform.
Open edX Success Stories
Sometimes the differences between two products are made clear by who is using the products. Prestigious institutions like MIT, Harvard, and Stanford, as well as large innovative companies like Google, Amazon Web Services, and IBM are all using Open EdX. Moodle’s users include State University of New York, the London School of Economics, and companies such as Shell.
While both Open edX and Moodle have a large customer base, in recent years some customers have chosen to move from Moodle to Open edX. For example, CognitiveClass.ai (formerly known as Big Data University) has switched from Moodle to Open edX.
Both Moodle and Open edX are excellent platforms and each have their advantages. So ultimately, choosing the right platform is about knowing your perspective: are you a modern user seeking a big audience or are you a traditional educator seeking a standard classroom experience online? Moodle is the right choice for folks who aren’t concerned with how the platform looks, but care a lot about the K-12 audience, and feel more inclined to create traditional experiences.
However, if you are looking for something that has a more updated feel, that is geared for a massive user-base, and something that has a lot of versatility and flexibility, then Open edX is the right choice for you.