Brian Carlson, CEO of Moodle Partner eThink Education, reports in Learning Solutions Magazine that last February Moodle surpassed the 100 million user mark worldwide. Over a hundred thousand installations serving K-12, higher, and corporate education around the world make this Open Source LMS the number one in the world. Arguably, no other learning initiative has had such an impact in history.
The road ever since has been steady, though not without momentous episodes. Carlson tells the story in two threads. First is the Higher Ed market, with which both he and Moodle itself are more acquainted. Moodle’s main drawback as an Open solution, its lack of support, did not have as much of an impact across campuses, as they were already collective knowledge creators and organizers. “Homebrew” technology clubs, not unlike the one where a young Wozniak and Jobs would meet, deserve some credit in the widespread adoption of Moodle.
The corporate thread describes a more hermetic landscape. Same as with other Open Source technologies, the business world took a while to overcome the skepticism behind a free LMS. Initial attempts to implement Moodle resulted in confusion and complexity. When all seemed lost, a stroke of genius brought some likely saviors: the Moodle Partners. They were critical to establishing Moodle’s dominant role in the enterprise and remain so today. Moodle Partners serve as a high-quality layer of support, making for a comfortable business case and ensuring the technology stays cutting edge.
The decade and a half of winning, however, does not exempt Moodle from some words of caution from Carlson about the future. Competition is fiercer than ever. In recent years, marketing strategies by commercial counterparts keep securing larger shares of new business, arguably Moodle’s Achilles heel. The strength of some of the Moodle Partners is also hard to translate across regions, particularly as compared to efforts by multinational EdTech companies with deep pockets.
But there is one thing the competition will find it hard to match: Moodle is free and Open, with new developments every other month. The fact that teams of developers anywhere can offer Moodle services worldwide creates real incentives for innovation at the heart of the platform. While commercial companies, offering closed-environment solutions, can keep customers captive, companies who are customers of Moodle services know they can take their business elsewhere, keeping their sites intact, if they want the cool new toys. Early adopters of EdTech have no other way to go.
There is still plenty for the competitors to do to keep Moodle at bay, maybe even for years, but the path towards real EdTech progress is unmistakably Open.