In last week’s recap of the Learning Technologies 2019 conference in London, we included a few exciting new announcements from both the eThink Team and Moodle HQ, including the launch of Moodle Workplace.
Since Moodle HQ announced Moodle Workplace, we’ve been fielding a plethora of questions from current clients, prospective clients, and many colleagues throughout the industry about Moodle’s newest product offering. What is Moodle Workplace? What does this new product addition mean for Moodle HQ’s strategy? How does this affect all users of Moodle, including K-12 and Higher Education institutions? Lastly, what does this mean for the eThink Team and our clients and partners? Let’s take a moment to break down each of these.
How Moodle is Currently Utilized for Organizational Learning
As you may already know, Moodle is the world’s most widely used Learning Management System, with a very high percentage of users in “non-academic” spaces. Organizations in Government, Healthcare and other Corporate sectors utilize Moodle to provide professional education (or “pro-ed”), onboarding, compliance, and much more for employees and external users.
Currently, about half of our clients’ current Moodle use cases are pro-ed. These types of organizations that are using standard core Moodle successfully to meet their training needs run the gamut. For example, large and small nonprofits, including the United Nations and the Peace Corps, use Moodle to train geographically disparate groups of both internal employees and external learners. City and state government entities, like statewide Departments of Education, use it to onboard and provide continual training to employees. Associations use it to provide training as a benefit to their users. Lastly and most commonly, small and large businesses use Moodle to not only onboard, provide continual training, and track and report on the learning progress of their employees, but also to provide training to external users such as customers and channel resellers. All of these use cases currently use the standard, freely downloadable, core Moodle that is available to anyone.
What is Moodle Workplace?
Moodle Workplace is “The Best of Moodle, Fine-Tuned for Organisational Learning.”
Moodle Workplace simply amplifies the standard core Moodle (which will remain freely available). It contains a very specific set of modules that were developed to meet some of the more complex workplace needs.
Moodle HQ, alongside several partners including eThink, have been developing Moodle Workplace for the last year. This solution includes corporate-specific functionality to better meet the needs of workplace learners, making it easier to manage, train, and connect teams within Moodle.
Moodle Workplace will include added functionality to reflect your organizational structure, automate workflow, integrate with HR or other systems, provide accessible training, and much more. It allows users to further maximize open-source Moodle by tailoring their LMS to support learning goals that align with business objectives.
Moodle Workplace is similar in concept to the popular enterprise LMS Totara Learn, which actually began in 2010 as a fork of Moodle with a set of plugins that were added to the Moodle code. With this new product, Moodle expands its focus beyond academic institutions to also support the pro-ed market similar to how the Totara project currently addresses it.
It’s important to note that this is not a shift or a pivot to the pro-ed market and doesn’t take away from its historic importance or massive worldwide adoption at academic institutions. Instead, Moodle Workplace will actually provide significant support to it.
What does this mean for Moodle users worldwide?
In short, this is fantastic news for all Moodle users of both academic and pro-ed usage worldwide. Here are 4 reasons why:
Moodle Workplace Supports Moodle Users Across All Use Cases
Pro-ed learning is the fasting growing segment in the LMS market. With another open source option in Moodle Workplace, this trend will only continue to grow. Since Moodle Partners like eThink pay 10% of their revenue to Moodle HQ, more clients using Moodle means more funds and support will be given to the Moodle project. This increases the speed of new developments for both academic institutions and pro-ed users regardless of the version they select.
Moodle Workplace is Only Available Through Your Moodle Hosting Partner
While the original Moodle core version will still remain free and fully accessible from Moodle HQ, the Moodle Workplace version will only be available through Moodle Partners or through Moodle HQ’s own cloud (due out later this year). This is essentially the same model thatTotara has used very successfully for years. This is a great strategic step for Moodle HQ to provide value to their partners and ensure that all revenue for the new product flows to Moodle HQ. This move seems to be a shift away from the problem (financially speaking) of non-Moodle partners being able to support the product since those groups don’t pay anything to Moodle and therefore don’t further it’s development.
By offering Moodle Workplace solely through Moodle Partners, Moodle HQ ensures the stability of the project for years to come. Both Moodle core, that will remain freely available to any institution, or the new Moodle Workplace, with its extra modules available just through partners, will be licensed as GPL, allowing users of either product the freedom to edit the code and add their own modules.
Professional Educators Get Another Open-Source eLearning Solution.
Another great open source option in the pro-ed market is always a good thing. Another choice for customers and further competition in the open-source LMS space will push the pace of innovation, as well as allow L&D managers and training professionals to leverage Moodle’s global and active user community.
Moodle Workplace Features May Help Improve Moodle for All Users
With the exception of the Moodle Workplace specific modules, many of the developments that have already been made during the creation of Moodle Workplace and many of the upcoming changes will be added at the core level of the product. Thus, these new features will be made available in the freely available open-source version that any user can download. This in itself may be the most exciting aspect to this news for all users of Moodle, especially those using it for their university, college, or K-12 institution. This change in strategy by Moodle HQ will push the product advancement for all users for years to come.
What does this mean for eThink?
As a Certified Moodle Partner and Platinum Totara Partner (as well as Totara’s Global Partner of the Year), the launch of Moodle Workplace provides many benefits to both eThink and our clients as we continue to provide services for both open-source learning solutions.
Our role as an eLearning provider has been to remain agnostic, assessing our clients’ needs, and providing recommendations on which of the two products will best suit their needs. Moodle Workplace simply adds a third option, and 3 options are always better than 2!
The LMS market continues to rapidly evolve, with more feature parity across the various Learning Management Systems. We find that service, in the way an LMS is implemented and supported, is the true differentiator for a company. Most importantly, it’s a differentiator for a client’s likelihood of successfully meeting the learning goals they have set for themselves and their LMS.
Open-source learning platforms such as Moodle and Totara are the only options in the market where clients are really only paying for service and support. More importantly, because there is a network of over a hundred certified partners worldwide for each product, LMS hosting partners like eThink are incentivized to offer the best service at the lowest prices to ensure client retention and satisfaction. Because, and here’s the main advantage of open source, if you’re not happy with your hosting partner, you can take your database and simply move to a different provider who will provide the support you require.
It’s a completely different business model from the closed-source LMS alternatives. Closed-source vendors traditionally have poor service quality and fail to understand and support their client’s needs. Having Moodle Workplace as a third major open-source option in the market is a significant win for the customer. We are excited about the potential benefit this brings to our current and future clients and partners.
We believe this is some of the best news from Moodle HQ over the last year from both a product and strategy perspective. Moodle Workplace has been an ongoing project, some time in the making behind the scenes. It represents what we believe to be an important shift in strategy for Moodle that ensures the project’s success for many years to come.
Stay tuned for more updates (including upcoming eThink webinars) on Moodle Workplace!