Moodle, a Blackboard Alternative: Do we REALLY need either?

Blackboard is ubiquitous on College campuses.  And most teachers use it to varying degrees.  Now there is an alternative, Moodle, an open source version.  UCLA has made the switch.  But, really, regardless of the platform, do these systems really make all that much of a difference in the quality of teaching?  I understand that they help desseminate information easier.  That’s good.  But, I’ve had far too many teachers over use it to the detriment of their students.

I’d rather they use the actual blackboard most of the time.  Maybe I’m just old school.  Maybe an abacus is where it’s at.


8 responses to “Moodle, a Blackboard Alternative: Do we REALLY need either?

  1. If you aren’t doing everything on blackboard/moodle (distance learning), then very little of the features should be put to use. I take a classroom class because I want to be in the classroom and get the experience that comes with it.

  2. I completely agree. paying for a teacher in person certainly implies a more “hands” on experience

  3. Learning management systems definitely have a future. I just started using a free service called ( They have most of the same features as Blackboard & Moodle, except they are free of any license fees, hosting costs, or other IT nightmares.

    I took it for a testdrive this quarter and hosted my History 97 course. Couldn’t have been happier. The signup process took 2 minutes. The support staff had very prompt response times, and interface is remarkably cleaner than Blackboard (although Moodle already managed to beat them a long time ago! Sheesh Bb!)

    Anyway I encourage any other course instructors reading this to checkout
    I was refered by this site:;_hbguid=c1a1fc5d-258d-486a-a765-f7950b754d2c&d=site-of-the-week
    And I managed to dig up a press release dated last month:

    I’d say this is a sign that LMS’s have a future, and are just beginning to evolve. I imagine they will fuse more with the “social” movement of sites like Facebook, but only time will tell. For now, I’m just happy I can manage my students for free, without needing to involve any IT staff from my University.


  4. Smokey Burrito

    In many science departments in universites academic staff have posted course materials on the internet for the last 20 years, but there are some staff with no clue about html and Moodle/Blackboard is a boon to them. Online forums are probably most use for distance learning.

    Automatically generated and graded tests have a place, really just fancy “programmed texts”, but it should notbe exaggerated. BBV is especially bad for mathematical subjects. You can give an answer as a number but thats it. Other systems can check algebra.

    There is a funny story about a University choosing Blackboard over Moodle here

  5. I began using moodle to supplement my teaching. Mainly I need the randomized testing with automated grading. Imagine grading 180 quizzes every week…

    I find that the time I spend to make quizzes is less than the time I spend grading; plus the students get more accurate grading and their results are immediate.

    As for all the fluffery of chat, wikis, etc. I don’t benefit much from it. I’m still exploring the possibilities but mainly the automated grading is worth all the trouble.

    I use multiple choice for all my tests and with Latex and jsMath, I am satisfied with making my math tests in moodle. I am trying to get TexMacs to work with the moodle exports so I can print paper copies of exams for in-person proctored paper tests.

    Overall, I am saving paper, time, and giving my students more accurate grading. I can now spend my time more productively creating additional questions and activities for the classroom rather than making photocopies. 🙂

    • I can understand how you might save time doing multiple-choice quizzes, but how do you keep students from collaborating? (even with the randomization) Or do you do it in class?

  6. I think there is something so hugely awesome for teaching in these kinds of systems that we can’t even see it yet. But the technology isn’t the important bit – it’s the social models we don’t yet realize are due for replacing.

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