Monday, July 6, 2015

How might the new MoodleCloud change the Moodle landscape?

MoodleCloud has just been announced at the Moodlemoot in Australia.

My quick impressions after checking out https://moodle.com/cloud/

Key facts

  • It's a turnkey Moodle solution for teachers and organisations who have small-scale online education needs (up to 50 users). With MoodleCloud you can set up your own Moodle site in a few clicks. No IT expertise needed!
  • It's free of cost, but you'll have to be okay with ads in the footer of your Moodle site. I imagine these will be like the ads on free WordPress blogs.
  • Your Moodle site will be automatically updated whenever there's a new Moodle release, so you'll always have the latest Moodle technology. 
  • You can host video-conferences for a group of up to 6 people using BigBlueButton integrated with your Moodle site.

This is major edtech news. How might this change the Moodle landscape?


1. Explosive growth in small-scale Moodle sites?

For those who have small needs in online training/education or want to make a small start in this area, there are no longer IT barriers for using Moodle. They don't need to rely on an IT expert to get a basic Moodle site online, and they don't need to pay anything.


2. More people perplexed about what to do with a free Moodle site?

Moodle is not Candy Crush. Just because anyone can now host a small Moodle site for free doesn't mean they'll know what to do with it, unless they have Moodle experience. If you don't, please, please get yourself or a staff member trained on Moodle, or hire a Moodle administrator or course creator (you can post an ad on the Moodle jobs forum). Otherwise you might end up using a fraction of Moodle's potential.


3. More people stuck at the freepaid interface?

What if your small-scale Moodle site is a success and you want to scale up beyond 50 users? You'll then need your own hosted solution. Moodle Partners and other companies will be happy to provide commercial support. Costs will vary depending on the specs of your future Moodle site and the level and quality of support. One good approach might be to contact a Moodle Partner beforehand to inquire about these costs before you jump into the Moodle world, unless you're sure that your needs will remain small for the foreseeable future.


4. Trouble for companies providing clients with small-scale Moodle hosting?

If you're an IT company and have clients with fixed and small-scale Moodle hosting needs (such as less than 50 users), your clients can easily move to a free, always up-to-date Moodle site with MoodleCloud. Why should they stay with you? And why should people who want to get started with Moodle in a small way come to you? You might need to revisit your strategy for clients with small-scale needs!


Summary

This might seem like a skeptical outlook, but I do think it's very important for people to know what they're getting into when they start using Moodle for online or blended education. Moodle is a vast application with a tremendous number of features. With MoodleCloud it's now a lot easier to take the first step. But going beyond that won't be as easy as a few clicks.

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