Opinion – Why a delayed Moodle 2.0 matters

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I can’t stress enough how much I value the work and efforts of the Moodle community to bring Moodle 2.0 to fruition.  Without their work, you definitely wouldn’t be reading this blog and I’d have nothing to write about.  I am also not pointing fingers or appointing blame for why Moodle 2.0 has taken so long to be released. The facts are: Software development can take a long time.  Moodle 2.0 is a huge undertaking and redesign.  Open source projects rely, at least in part, on volunteer efforts.  I have a few current projects that are indefinitely delayed (and it’s not for lack of effort).

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Colin Matheson commented a little while ago that there’s a good quote at Moodle.org that sums up the delay:

As someone said on the moodle.org forums, “Users will quickly forget, or never know, that Moodle 2.0 was late by a few months. However a bad release will be remembered for a long time.” [link]

But the fact that Moodle 2.0 is not released yet does in fact matter (at least in my humble opinion).  Here’s why:

The current landscape (battle?) of learning management software has not reached it’s peak usage rates.  There are billions of people who’ve never experienced online education on any web-based platform.  Which means that the Learning Management Systems market collectively remains in a growth phase (where the rate of change, perhaps, has not yet even met it’s steepest trajectory).  While Moodle remains at the top of the LMS market (arguably), the playing field is increasingly crowded.   Some of these new players have fancy new gear, are built from the ground up with more social features in mind, and are rapidly prototyping their new features with 1st adopters (all marks of innovation in the standard view of an LMS).

Granted Moodle has a large current user-base and a long track record of growth with it’s pre-2.0 releases.  The absence of a new release may cause new adopters to opt for one of the newer, fresher, more flashy Learning Management System (despite any inferiority they may have compared to Moodle 1.9 or even 2.0).  Therein lies the problem.  As the market matures and more and more educators consider web-based instructional tools they often compare other available learning managements systems to Moodle 2.  It’s unavailability (in a stable release) automatically puts it at a disadvantage to the Edu2.0’s and Edmodo’s of the world. Anecdotally I’ve read of teachers opting for another LMS because “I don’t know when Moodle2.0 will be released”.  For new adopters, once that 1st LMS is chosen it has an inherent leg up against any future competition (familiarity and comfort make it hard to move).  Furthermore, once a school has locked into a LMS decision, it’s a much harder task to lure them to another LMS (no matter how much better or even cheaper).

For Moodle, I think that growth = success (but I’d be curious what other metrics might be used).  With the release of 2.0–no matter how delayed–I believe there will be a marked increase in adoption.  Total registered sites and total worldwide users will increase.  And the ease of use will be markedly higher with a vibrant community repository of courses.  The direction Moodle and the community are headed in now is definitely the right one to be on.  But there are more cars on the highway (and they aren’t all orange).

What do you think?

7 COMMENTS

  1. I love this….

    As someone said on the moodle.org forums, “Users will quickly forget, or never know, that Moodle 2.0 was late by a few months. However a bad release will be remembered for a long time.” [link]

  2. The problem is… we need it now! We are moving from Blackboard Vista to Moodlerooms Joule and nothing can be done without Moodle 2.0!! Time is of the essence, and it makes Moodle Partners look bad when they can’t support the needs of the schools that want to use them. I would rather have something now so we can get prepared for the move than some supposed “perfect” release… something that never happens anyway. There are ALWAYS problems with LMS’s… they are software, and rather complex software at that! Stop the delay and get us something NOW!

  3. I agree that the world is constantly moving forward and in that sense a delay is a bad thing. I guess the question is rate of change. Is Moodle changing as fast as the other LMS/LMS alternatives? I think it is.

    Where Moodle isn’t changing as fast is the “delivery model”. A lot of other LMSesque sites alternatives offer 1 click free set up. While, you can set up your own server for free, got a lot of people on board in 2003. We need some real high quality click and go Moodle providers.

    I think once the Moodle Hub goes live, the power of the Moodle teacher community will finally reach the power and reach of the Moodle developer community. I know I am looking forward to co-creating a bunch of free courses with other teachers around the world.

  4. Even if Moodle 2.0 is realised, I think that there will still take a while until most of the universities, colleges, etc can upgrade to it. This is because of the upgrade of third party modules. In August 2010, it was estimated than less than 5% of these modules were ready to work with Moodle 2.0. We have that problem at Sloodle too. According to our developers, calls to databases need to be re-written as we cannot use the deprecated code.
    I would like to us somebody from Moodle HQ why they are not supporting deprecation in Moodle 2.0

  5. The delays in Moodle 2.0 are causing me serious problems when negotiating with the IT people at my uni. We have over 8,000 students on Moodle. Professors responsible for eLearning direction and training want 2.0. Our IT people and partner wanted 2.0. But, looking at the delays and unpredictability they are getting cold feet. The school year in Japan starts in April. If we don’t see a stable 2.0 soon, IT will give up on it for 2011 and maybe beyond. They look at companies such as ALC as more reliable.

    From the point of the people who make final IT decisions, a predictable and reliable path is important.

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