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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Moodle versus Sakai

I received a question about how Moodle compares to Sakai. I'd like to share it with you.

What are the advantages to a ... university of 20,000 faculty and 5,000 students to using Moodle over Sakai?

I found several advantages to Moodle over Sakai:

1. Moodle is better documented from every angle than Sakai. Administrators, Teachers, Students, and Developers all have better documentation in Moodle.

2. There are more official vendors ("Partners") providing service for Moodle than Sakai. Note that the term Moodle Partner is a trademark, and is managed by the founder to ensure that anyone awarded that label knows their stuff.

3. There is a much larger active community for Moodle. It's no advantage to have the most popular software in a category if the community of users don't help each other. But Moodle's community is both larger and more (inter)active than Sakai's. Put simply, if you don't want to or can't pay for consulting, you have a better chance of finding answers from the Moodle community than from the Sakai community.

4. Moodle's user interface is more consistent than Sakai's. And I don't just mean in the traditional sense, where you compare the icons, colors, menu actions, and layout on each page to ensure they match. As you go through a Moodle site, things look, feel, and function consistently. But more importantly, you interact with each activity, your classmates, and the teacher in a consistent way, whether it's in the chat room, a forum, or leaving feedback on a workshop.

This is because Moodle is designed around an educational philosophy called "social constructivist learning." Sakai, on the other hand, is designed around a technical framework. Try as I might, I could not find anywhere on the Sakai websites a statement of their instructional philosophy, or what instructional strategies they strive to support. To an IT person like those I work with every day, this isn't a big deal. But to teachers and students, it is a key point.