Jonathon Sweetin of the North Carolina Community College System Office and co-author of the Open Source Collaborative: Moodle Assessment Report (August 2009) presented the NCCC’s most recent research and follow-up report at the Moot Monday in Austin.

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The presentation focused on recapping the original findings and what their continued research (which will be released next week at

Report Part I

This report is available for download here.   A few background details

  • NCCC is the 3rd largest state CC system in the US
  • NCCC began evaluating Moodle in 2006
  • The “Open Source Collaborative” provides training, pilot hosting, and some guidance to schools as they are trying Moodle
  • The majority of NCCC sites are still Bb clients

The original Moodle Assessment Report, asked if Moodle was a viable alternative to Blackboard.  It answered this question by evaluating Moodle based on it’s ability to facilitate communication, to hose content, it’s core functionalities, ease of use, and navigation.  The report found that Moodle and Blackboard (in these terms) are fundamentally similar.  The biggest difference was due to students’ perception of the instructor’s comfort with the LMSes.

Another important finding was that the faculty preferred Moodle over Blackboard.

Report Part II

This will be available on next week.  Mr. Sweetin’s presentation focused on it’s goals and findings.  This second report’s charge was to evaluate Moodle and Blackboard in terms of sustainability, 3rd party integration, compatibility and interoperability, upgrading, migration and total vendor cost analysis.

They found that on several aspects Moodle and Blackboard were again similar.  In terms of cost however they diverge significantly.  Migrating from Moodle, it was estimated, increased LMS costs initially but were subsequently followed by as much as a 75% decline in annual expenditure.

In terms of cost per Full Time Student Equivalent (FTE), Blackboard figured at over $15 per FTE per year while Moodle (based on costs associated with contracting official Moodle Partners) cost per year, per FTE was less than $4.  There was no estimate of how much expenditure was necessary for self-hosting.  Jonathon went on to mention that post migration satisfaction rates directly correlated with using a vendor and taking longer to accomplish the migration (more time, with help = higher satisfaction with the LMS).


The presentation concluded with a quick overview of the growth of distance enrollment at NCCC and it’s correlation to the disruptive innovation as described in Clayton Christensen’s “Disrupting Class”.  The books thesis was that truly disruptive innovation exponentially grows until it replaces an existing technology.  This, as evidenced by the growth at NCCC, was corroborated (at least in the microcosm of North Carolina Community Colleges).   It was a great presentation overall and I look forward to the release of NCCC’s Open Source Collaborative Moodle Assessment Report (part 2) next week.

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