Google, Pearson, and Misunderstandings of Moodle

The recent announcement of the partnership between Pearson and Google is certainly an interesting one. Many people have been calling for Google to get into the LMS business for years and years (although, I believe most were hoping that Google would actually design one and not just add someone else’s ideas to their Apps for Education). New ideas are always good, but we’ll have to wait to see if this new partnership actually goes anywhere.  Google, unfortunately, has a track record of being involved in great projects that go nowhere.

I still haven’t gotten to look inside of OpenClass, but I hope it is cool as the slick video they made to promote it (even though the video really shows nothing more than a bunch of buzzwords). Funny that they think the LMS is dead… even though the numbers are showing that more and more courses are going into walled gardens every year. Love ’em or hate ’em, LMS’s aren’t going any where for a long time. They haven’t even started declining yet.

I don’t like it either, but I can’t deny reality. Not all the time, at least.

The interesting thing I keep seeing posted over and over again is how Moodle ends up being a drain on resources – you need more people to keep it running and upgraded and all that. To me, it is weird to claim this because all the IT people I have ever talked to about Moodle rave about how easy it is to keep going. At least when compared to other systems that track things like enrollment or issues like that. What I hear most often is that if you have a modern enough IT department, the people you already have in place will be able to easily keep Moodle running.

The problems tend to come when you have to modernize your systems. In other words, that 10 year old student enrollment system is not going to work with a modern LMS. So don’t try to pin the costs of modernizing your systems on Moodle.

I also find it interesting when people talk about having to fix your own bugs in Moodle. Unlike… what competing system? In Blackboard, we discover bugs every month, and then we can’t even fix them. At least in Moodle, you have the option of fixing them. In Blackboard, you send a ticket off into Bb Tech World and hope the fix shows up in the next release. Which is usually doesn’t. So how is the ability to fix your own bugs bad when compared to this?

No program of any kind is going to be perfect, but at least try to get those downsides right :)

So, the question is: will OpenClass be the iPhone moment for the PLN? Even if I end up hating it, I still hope it is. We need something big that takes us in another direction.

I actually have three sister-in-laws that work for Pearson, so I should see if they can get me an inside scoop. I doubt it – so much of this seems to be kept under wraps and I bet most employees were kept in the dark until right before the announcement. But I did sign up to be in the know when they open it up to the public – so hopefully that will happen soon.

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

One thought on “Google, Pearson, and Misunderstandings of Moodle

  1. I believe the point about “sophisticated IT” can easily support Moodle is an accurate statement. What I find interesting is Higher Education institutions that find the need to be in the business of managing and supporting learning management systems. I often hear the comment that Moodle is free like a free puppy. Higher Education needs to puts its focus and dollars on developing quality online content that is instructionally sound not creating IT Kingdoms for the sake of an option that seems cheaper at the time. They should be encouranging the vendors like Blackboard and Pearson to advance and evolve. Leave education up to the colleges and university and managing the LMS up to the vendor.

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