Blackboard vs Moodle: Comparing Features, Costs and Services

Blackboard, and Moodleare two learning management solutions that mainly appeal to K-12 and higher education. Blackboard also provides many solution types to target businesses and government, and Moodle is open source and flexible enough for any organization to customize it.

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Comparing Products

The following are product descriptions pulled from our comprehensive reviews on each solution, Moodle and Blackboard Learn.

Moodle: Moodle is an open-source learning management platform designed to help schools educate their students. Moodle is based on a modular design that lets teachers and administrators build their own curriculum using plug-ins for various workflows, content and activities.

Users have a choice of either installing their Moodle account on their servers or in the cloud. The cloud-based platform, called MoodleCloud, provides several benefits, such as accessibility anytime, scalability and a very short implementation process.

Blackboard: Blackboard Learn is a web-based LMS that’s used in both academic and business environments to help students and employees improve their learning experience. It’s easily customized to an organization’s needs and integrates with Microsoft OneDrive, school information systems and Dropbox.

Blackboard Learn’s main features include testing, assessments, discussions and a dedicated user learning profile. However, some features are market specific, such as the analytics feature in business and government markets. The solution can be deployed in three ways: cloud, self-hosting or managed hosting.

Two Core Differences

1.) Pricing

Moodle: Moodle is an open source solution, which means you can download it for free. However, once the solution is downloaded, you need a way to host it so others can access it, which comes with its own set of costs. Moodle can either be accessed through cloud-hosting options where Moodle charges you based on your number of learners, or through self-hosting options where your team purchases and maintains a server for your organization. There are additional hidden costs that come with self hosting, such as the pay for employees to maintain the server and overtime hours for the solution to go live. We’ve given a thorough explanation on what to expect in our Moodle Pricing article.

Blackboard: The price of Blackboard isn’t disclosed. We’ve attempted to estimate these costs by gathering all available information online, but in order to know how much Blackboard will cost, you must reach out to Blackboard for a quote based on your industry and number of learners. As an out-of-the-box LMS, Blackboard has a reputation for being pricey.

Bottom line: Moodle and Blackboard pricing can’t be directly compared without knowing at least your industry and number of learners. Different hosting methods drastically change the costs as well. The costs for both of these solutions are unique to each company.

2.) Services and Community

Moodle: Open-source solutions rely on their users. Developers are able to download Moodle and add their own customizations. Then, they can share those features with the community. Open-source communities all use a free product so they can share and adopt free improvements. This is a cornerstone of Moodle, but it can be viewed as a downside. If your organization doesn’t have the right technical staff to take advantage of Moodle’s community, implementation and ongoing updates may be difficult to execute. Moodle has third-party partnerships to provide some services at a cost, but many resources are available for free online if IT staff have the skills.

Blackboard: Blackboard provides a variety of implementation services and training options to support new and ongoing users. The vendor has a community space similar to Moodle called Behind the Blackboard for developers and administrators to troubleshoot problems.

Bottom line: The biggest difference comes down to implementation. For Moodle, you’ll need to be very hands-on or get assistance from a third-party partner, or use cloud hosting where either Moodle or another vendor charges you for any services. On the other hand, Blackboard has a thorough training program for implementation and more. Beyond implementation, Moodle’s user community is more involved, but Blackboard provides similar resources, plus many paid services.

Comparing Offerings

Features

Both Moodle and Blackboard have a lot in common, but some features are unique and can make a big difference in your decision. Here, we’ve described a few features only Moodle and Blackboard have, then noted the general features they have in common.

Moodle: 

BigBlueButton – Users can meet with video conferencing. A presenter can upload PowerPoints or other documents, share presentations with whiteboards and communicate with students through public or private chat. This feature has webcam capability and allows desktop sharing.

Quizventure – Students can take tests as if they’re playing a spaceship game.

Level Up! – Moodle’s gamification module sets progressive checkpoints throughout the course. As students reach a specific checkpoint, a Level Up! notification is sent congratulating them, and students can receive an “experience point” that’s awarded at the discretion of the teacher.

Additional modules include a word count for writing assignments, a chemistry editor, group choice for group projects, and checklists and attendance tracking.

Blackboard: 

Blackboard Open Content Tool – Users are able to create, find and share resources without having to import or export anything. They can also copyright their own content.

Surveys and evaluations – Teachers are given tools to measure performance across courses through survey data reporting functions. They can export this data to SPSS or Excel.

Simpler discussions – Learners can take advantage of social learning and have the ability to view and participate in discussions directly from the Activity stream.

One-click access – All of the user’s most important icons (profile, activity stream, tools, messages, courses, calendar, etc.) are in a navigational bar on the left side of the screen for one-click access.

Bottom Line: Blackboard’s unique features prioritize assessment tools for teachers, while Moodle focuses more on engagement tools for learners. Both solutions have the following common LMS features:

  • Asynchronous learning
  • Employee training
  • Gamification
  • Content library
  • Mobile learning
  • SCORM compliance
  • Synchronous learning
  • Testing & assessments

Shortcomings

No product is perfect. The shortcomings of both Moodle and Blackboard should be carefully weighed with your learners in mind.

Moodle: Moodle for School plans, Moodle’s cloud-hosting options, are only intended for up to 500 users. This may be an issue for educational institutions that require a solution for over 500 users.

Blackboard: Users have reported that Blackboard Learn can sometimes get buggy (e.g. a page won’t load correctly). Also, unlike other learning management solutions, it doesn’t integrate with Google Apps.

Bottom line: Learners will see ads through Moodle unless your organization pays, and users may experience minor bugs with Blackboard. Moodle’s customization includes Google Apps while Blackboard isn’t compatible.

Takeaways

Blackboard and Moodle are often the two LMS front runners for companies, but each one needs to be individually priced and compared through a series of decisions specific to your organization.

However, Blackboard and Moodle aren’t your only options. If you’re still in the research phase, we’ve created The Definitive Guide to Learning Management Systems. It discusses all the features and benefits of LMS software, and it has a buyer’s guide to help you identify the right fit for your organization.

 

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