A while back, I wrote a post giving advice to small schools about selecting a new LMS. That post turned out to be reasonably popular. Today somebody sent me a link to a study done by the North Carolina Community College System comparing Blackboard to Moodle and, in particular, talking about the experience of some small colleges that had migrated from the former to the latter. The results are pretty consistent with the advice I gave.
Here are the highlights, along with their correlations to my earlier points:
- "The end-of-term student and instructor surveys showed that Blackboard and Moodle are not that different." All of these systems are pretty good/bad.
- "The real difference is found in student perception of their teachers’ comfort level with the application. There exists a significant correlation between student survey scores of both Blackboard and Moodle with the perceived comfort level of instructors using either application. Thus, student perceptions of both CMSs were influenced by instructor experience, training, and skills." The fact that your faculty reviewers are more familiar with your old system than some of the alternatives may bias their evaluations significantly.
- "The CMS application functionality comparison by online administrators (application and network) and online instructors indicated that Moodle 1.9x has a higher perceived functionality than any version of Blackboard evaluated. The large number of “did not use” responses suggested that neither CMS platform was utilized to full capacity." Having a system with 39,000 seldom-used features that require a course to learn how to use is not as valuable to you as having a system with 39 features that most people will find useful and can figure out how to use on their own.
- "Case studies of four exclusively Moodle institutions indicated that while transition to Moodle was challenging, ultimately the case study students and faculty preferred Moodle over Blackboard." Migrations are hard, but small schools do them all the time, and they often are worth doing (and sometimes are unavoidable).
- "The analysis revealed the total pre-transition year cost for all four case study colleges totaled $184,410. There was a 35% increase in total cost in the transition year to $248,300, due to supporting two CMSs simultaneously. Lastly, the post-transition year cost of ownership was $52,296, which accounted for a 72% decrease in total cost compared to that of the pre-transition year. The total cost savings from preto post-transition years for all of the case study colleges was $132,114." Consider long-run costs as well as short-run costs. Migration may be cheaper than staying put, and the more expensive migration in the short run may be cheaper in the long run.