Thursday, June 13, 2013

WordPress LMS versus Moodle

A few weeks back I met Vasumathi Sriganesh, a medical librarian who runs a fascinating non-profit called QMed Knowledge Foundation in Mumbai, India. We shared our experiences with the problem of availability and access to scholarly journals in developing countries. We also spoke about e-learning and how to run online courses. Vasumathi knew about Moodle but she had recently heard that WordPress has its own LMS or LMS-like features. This was news to me and I wanted to find out more.

A quick online search led me to this comparison of some options to make an LMS in WordPress:

The advantages of WordPress seem compelling, but not this one: “[WordPress is good if] your courses are independent learning courses and your users don’t have to interact with each other or an instructor”.

And here’s a pro-Wordpress piece from the makers of one of the plugins:

One of the lines in this piece caught my attention: “…you would author all of your content within one Experience API (Tin Can API) compatible software packages such as Articulate or Captivate.”

Apparently the plugin is compatible with “Experience API”, a recent standard for e-learning content. But it sounds like one would need expensive authoring tools such as Articulate or Captivate to create modules in this standard. I don’t know if there are any free authoring tools for this purpose. Of course, one option is to present simple text and multimedia content, but then it may not be possible to track what learners have done.

Obviously more research is needed, but I've often noticed that people considering e-learning don't know enough about Moodle's constructionist philosophy of education, where students have the ability to share and create knowledge. When one has seen this happen, as I have, it’s hard to look at e-learning as just content.

When I wrote up a report following the recent AuthorAID online courses, I found a statistically significant correlation between a participant’s forum activity and whether they completed the course. For example, all participants who made more than the median number of posts completed the course. Then, two-thirds of the participants said that both the forum posts and course content were equally useful for their learning.

So I’m a firm believer in the value of interaction in an online course and I try to look to the heady Moodle philosophy ( for inspiration.


  1. Ravi, thank you for this post. When we interacted and you later mentioned Moodle's philosophy (actually reminded me about it) I have decided to stick to Moodle.
    I am back from the US and will stay in touch with you now!

  2. Thanks for the comment and welcome back to Mumbai! You might have noticed that our email discussion was the inspiration for this post :-) I'm looking forward to being in touch with you.

  3. We are currently running a LearnDash based LMS over WordPress. We are also using bbPress as a forum for interaction between user and teachers. The use of TinCan API or Experience API is optional and we can do all the tracking through tests completion. We are quite happy with WordPress as a LMS although not all the Moodle capabilities are available right now.

  4. You dont need a specific LMS plugin to run wordpres as a LEARNING tool.
    In fact those lms-plugins (wpcourseware,namaste..) do no so much more that collect plugins already create.
    Use wp-proquiz, use mycred, use buddypress,, And u can get amazing learning experiences like u can se at http:///www.desocupadolector or