Moodle HQ is celebrating a milestone that might have looked unthinkable a few years ago: Since Moodle 1.0 in 2002 enabled contributors to add special functionality, 1,500 public plugins have been developed by companies, including Moodle itself; but above all, the armies of volunteers have made the open source LMS what it is today.
(Given that Moodle is an Open Source project anybody can modify, the number of plugins or custom development built on the LMS that is not available for the ordinary user is unknown.)
Of course, not all plugins are made equal. Much like application stores where everyone is welcome to contribute, there will be vast differences in popularity, quality and usefulness. Some plugins have enjoyed bursts of popularity here and there. Others have stood the test of time and remain at the cusp of the Moodleverse, release after release. Despite there being dozens of plugin types, themes are without question the most popular type. 6 of the 10 most popular plugins of all time are themes, with “Adaptable,” “Essential” and “Fordson” at spots #1, 3 and 4, respectively.
Here are some interesting stats about Moodle plugins:
Total registered active sites (as of early October 29th): 105,232
Total plugin downloads in the last 90 days: 370,200 approximately
Average number of plugins per site: 3.5
Despite the flagrant flaws on this average, the figure can actually be more explanatory than it might seem. The actual number of current active Moodle sites is unclear, as registration is optional. It is not even required to download or install a plugin. But even taking unregistered sites out of the account, the fact that the average Moodle site has less than three and a half plugins feels like under-utilization.
Average plugin last 90-day download: 246.8
Average plugin last 90-day download, 30 most downloaded (Top 2%): 4,370
The top 1% of plugins account for 27% of all downloads. “Adaptable” alone has 4% of all the world’s downloaded wealth. For the 2%, the figure is 35%, with each one downloaded almost 20 times the average. It is of course, understandable that there are “niche” plugins with a handful of users.
The number of downloads also does not mean the plugin has been successfully installed and used by students. Moodle HQ does not reveal aggregate numbers of currently active sites using plugins.
Finally, it is necessary to acknowledge that the previous analysis was made using Moodle HQ’s rounded figures. It is unclear if the figures include MoodleCloud sites.