Google Classroom vs. Moodle: Compare Core LMS Capabilities and More

Google Classroom and Moodle are two learning management systems (LMS) that target teachers and students in both K-12 and higher education settings. In this post, we’ll compare the two solutions on several factors to help schools make the right purchasing decision.

What is the Main Difference Between Google Classroom and Moodle?

  • Google Classroom is only targeted to schools, whereas Moodle has solutions for both schools and corporate learning.
  • Google Classroom has a free plan for teachers and students, but MoodleCloud, Moodle’s cloud-based version, only has as 45-day free trial.
  • Google Classroom is only deployed in the cloud, while Moodle has both on-premise and cloud-based deployment.

Product Overviews

Here are excerpts from the Google Classroom and Moodle reviews that summarize each solution:

Google Classroom

Google Classroom targets teachers and students in both K-12 and higher education markets. One of its biggest benefits is it’s simple to use and encourages collaboration between students and teachers. Teachers can create a class and list educational apps, such as assignments, in a few clicks. They can add students by name or send them a code to join. Students can then see what assignments are due, participate in discussion forums or message the teacher (either in private or via group chat).

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.

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Features Comparisons

Content Development

Google Classroom

Teachers can set up assignments directly within Google Classroom, including uploading the necessary files. Not only does the software support other Google Apps (e.g., Docs, Forms, Sheets), but teachers can also upload videos, images or PDFs. Once the assignment is ready, students receive a notification. Additional content development features include the ability to distribute the same assignment to multiple classes, saved templates for future use and the ability to schedule a distribution date.

Moodle

Users can set up personalized learning paths for individuals or teams. In addition, they can add on several of Moodle’s plugins for creating and saving course content, such as the lesson and SCORM modules, a feedback module, the Level Up module for gamification and a quiz module for tests.

Bottom Line

Both solutions offer similar content development features. But for schools that want gamification functionality, Google Classroom requires integration with a third-party software (e.g., Classcraft), whereas Moodle has dedicated gamification plug-ins.

Collaboration

Google Classroom

Students and teachers can access the same Google file, such as Docs or Sheets, simultaneously (based on access permission settings), including leaving comments, sending chats or making edits within the file. In addition, Google Classroom has a Stream feature that works like a social media feed. In it, students can create a post where they can add an image, file, link or video, and other students can add comments to the post. Teachers can use the Stream to make announcements. There’s also a Question feature for teachers to set up short questions for students to answer.

Moodle

Moodle has several collaboration tools. First, learners can send messages to teachers or peers, and they can also participate in forum discussions. The Workshop feature allows learners to submit their work for peer reviews, and the Blogs tool lets them write, publish and share blog posts. Additional collaboration features include a calendar and notifications.

Bottom Line

While both solutions have messaging/commenting capabilities, Google Classroom allows students to collaborate within a specific document or assignment, while Moodle does not. Also, Google Classroom has a built-in chat feature, whereas Moodle does not (although it integrates with Slack).

Virtual Learning

Google Classroom

Teachers can host virtual classes via Google Meet. Google Meet allows them to record the sessions, enable captions for accessibility and receive questions from students via chats. The basic Google accounts support up to 100 participants in one meeting, but depending on the pricing plan the school selects, Google Meet allows up to 250 or 500 participants per meeting.

Moodle

Moodle has a built-in video conferencing solution, BigBlueButton, for virtual classes and meetings, where instructors can share audio and video content, add notes on a whiteboard in real time and create breakout rooms. Learners can also interact via chat individually or in groups. For institutions that want to use a third-party virtual tool, Moodle developers can add a Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet plugin.

Bottom Line

Although Google Classroom primarily uses Google Meet for video conferencing, it can integrate with Zoom. However, it doesn’t integrate with Microsoft Teams or BigBlueButton. Moodle, on the other hand, allows integration with Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet.

Mobile Learning

Google Classroom

Both educators and students can download the Google Classroom mobile app to their Apple or Android devices. Teachers can set up a course, post assignments, add comments and contact students. Students can see and complete their assignments, add comments to discussions and reach out to their classmates or teachers. Note that teachers and students will need to add on the Google Docs, Sheets and Slides apps to fully use the Google Classroom mobile app.

Moodle

With the dedicated Moodle app, learners can access course content, even offline, send messages and receive push notifications. While the app is free, it has additional Pro and Premium plan features that cost extra for the open source version (free on MoodleCloud and if an organization works with a Moodle Partner). The Pro plan includes additional features such as QR code login, multimedia push notifications and custom search results, while the Premium plan adds on basic custom branding. Institutions with multiple sites can opt for a fully branded Moodle app with unlimited access and advanced features like a separate notifications server, Google Analytics, mobile app support via email and full app branding.

Bottom Line

Google Classroom and Moodle have similar mobile learning features for students. But Google Classroom doesn’t offer optional advanced features, like QR code login, that Moodle does.

Pricing

Google Classroom

The Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals platform is free for qualifying institutions and includes Google collaboration tools (e.g., Docs, Sheets, Slides), communication tools (e.g., Meet, Gmail, Chat), data loss prevention for Google Drive and Gmail, and compliance with GDPR, FERPA and COPPA.

There are three paid plans:

  • Google Workspace for Education Standard – This plan costs $3 per student, per year and includes all of the features of the Fundamentals platform, plus a security center, advanced device and app management features, Gmail and Classroom logs for export into BigQuery, and audit logs.
  • Teaching and Learning Upgrade – This plan costs $4 per license, per month and includes all of the features of the Google Workspace for Education Standard, plus advanced Google Meet features (e.g., meetings with up to 250 participants, interactive Q&As, breakout rooms), unlimited originality reports and the ability to check for peer matches across a private repository.
  • Google Workspace for Education Plus – This plan costs $5 per student, per year and includes all of the features of the other plans, plus livestreams with up to 100,000 in-domain viewers, up to 500 participants per Google Meet session, syncing rosters from SISs to Google Classroom, personalized cloud search and prioritized support.

Moodle

Moodle as an open source software is free to download. MoodleCloud has a 45-day free trial that includes 1,000 users and 5 GB of storage. Then, there are five pricing tiers that include all the features of Moodle, such as unlimited courses and activities, a mobile app, a personalized site name, session recording and web conferencing with BigBlueButton. Pricing is in U.S. currency.

  • Starter: $110 per year for 50 users and 250 MB of storage
  • Mini: $200 per year for 100 users and 500 MB of storage
  • Small: $360 per year for 200 users and 1 GB of storage
  • Medium: $850 per year for 500 users and 2.5 GB of storage
  • Large: $1,620 per year for 1,000 users and 5 GB of storage

Moodle is now providing Premium and Enterprise hosting plans for organizations with over 1,000 users, with higher storage requirements or that want more customization and flexibility. Pricing for both plans isn’t available, so companies will need to contact Moodle for a quote.

Bottom Line

While Google Classroom has a free plan for teachers and students, MoodleCloud only has a 45-day free trial. Also, prospects should note that although Moodle’s open-source service is free, they may incur costs in the form of implementing and hosting the solution on their school’s server.

Customer Support

Google Classroom

Google Classroom has the following resources for teachers and administrators:

  • The Help Center knowledge base includes articles and troubleshooting tips on various Google Classroom topics.
  • The Community forum is where users can ask troubleshooting questions and share advice with other users.
  • There are dedicated IT guides for schools’ IT administrators.

Google Classroom also offers users new features and other product upgrades each month.

Moodle

Moodle provides a community site where users can find information on product upgrades, download the latest release, access documentation on software features and communicate with other users through a forum. MoodleCloud users that need further support can contact their designated Moodle partner.

Moodle also hosts user conferences called MoodleMoots that allows users to network with Moodle developers and partners, as well as learn new things about Moodle. MoodleMoots are held throughout the year at various locations.

Bottom Line

Google Classroom and Moodle don’t offer phone or email support. Instead, they rely on a knowledge base and community forums. Both vendors include timely notifications of product news and updates.

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