Moodle v. Blackboard: the main factors in deciding which to use

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There’s a good article posted to the Morehead State University school paper that highlights why the school opted to continue using Blackboard rather than making the switch to Moodle (which they were considering in a head to head matchup).  You can read the full article here.

While Blackboard did come out on top and MSU will upgrade to Blackboard Learning 9.1 rather than changing over to Moodle, there are some good points about what really matters when it comes to a huge transition or LMS adoption, especially when there’s a legacy system in place.  I’ve been through this process once already and can attest that the major drawbacks of switching to Moodle from Blackboard or another LMS really comes down to convenience, time and effort.  Blackboard has a huge advantage of being the first to market with lots of schools on board already, which gives it that much more clout when it comes to consider a switch.

Here are a few of the points raised by Morehead State and from my personal experience,

  • If it ain’t broke…: while cost is a major factor, all other things are pretty equal between Moodle and Blackboard.  There aren’t that many functional/technical differences between the two LMSes if you compare each feature.
  • Content: it’s a huge undertaking to convert all content from one LMS to another and still have everything (quizzes, discussions, etc.) work flawlessly.  If no LMS is in place yet then the decision is that much easier.  But if you’ve been using X LMS for years then there’s a lot of baggage that will accompany a move
  • Features/Plugins: one issue that MSU raised was that SafeAssign, a plagiarism detection tool, was included in the Bb price.  While tools and features are comparable between the systems, a simple “extra” feature can make all the difference (especially if it’s somewhat different or lacking in the alternatives you’re exploring).  Note that Moodle does have support for a few other Plagiarism tools like Crot and Turnitin.
This is a particularly good quote from the article,
When you make a decision like this you weigh everything; it’s not just the technology versus the technology, the budget versus the budget, it’s all of those collective issues. So, when we really got down to looking at it, the savings in the budget did not singlehandedly override the advantages [link]

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