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Advantages of WordPress over Moodle as an LMS

Open-source software has ushered in a new era of possibilities in the learning space.  For a while now, Moodle has been the world’s most popular open-source learning management system. It  has enabled organizations of all sizes to deliver and track learning to (likely) millions of people across the globe.   Lately, however, Moodle is becoming rather stale.  Unless you are a skillful programmer, removing the clunkiness that Moodle has out-of-the-box can be quite the task.

Not too long ago, I met Patrick Selby from On Learning Point.  A seasoned learning professional, Patrick and I shared a similar viewpoint on the advantages of choosing WordPress over Moodle.  Patrick was kind enough to write-up his opinion on the matter and allow me to post it here on the LearnDash blog.  He raises some very valid arguments that I’m sure you’ll find intriguing as well.

What are the advantages of using WordPress over Moodle?

There are several advantages to using WordPress over Moodle but before we dive in let’s take a look at the history of WordPress versus Moodle. As you may know, Moodle started to be developed back in early 2000. WordPress came along much later and so some of the major key differences that you’ll see between the 2 products are the ease of use.

Certain technologies were not available when they were architecting Moodle, although Moodle has come a long way in getting plugins installed and installations and upgrades. WordPress is still the easiest platform to get set up and starting deploying content with. One of the key similarities between Moodle and WordPress is that they both act as a CMS or Content Management System.

While both are content management systems, Moodle has added features that allows for tracking and scoring of content, something that WordPress was unable to do until the LearnDash project started. LearnDash is able to take advantage of the elegant simplicity of WordPress and add the tracking and scoring and convert it into a Learning Content Management System (LCMS). This lets you not only author content within the system, but also deliver it to students and track those changes.

Who would use WordPress instead of using a Moodle site?

Anyone from large to small businesses, Non-profits or even Academic, could potentially use it. It would be a good fit for anyone creating a special purpose learning platform where you would not need to take advantage of some of more formal learning tools and ridged structures that Moodle has built in, such as assessment tools. Rather, you would author all of your content within one Experience API (Tin Can API) compatible software packages such as Articulate or Captivate.

Audience Features – One of the main features of Moodle is the ability to create and manage audiences, but many people do not realize that WordPress also has good robust group and audience features where you can limit access to certain pages based on what group you are in. This also enables you to set up a membership type of site where you can charge for training and even charge for training right at the point of the transaction.

What Organizations would not benefit from having this type of LMS?

Some organizations still have a big investment in legacy content that communicates using the SCORM or AICC formats. Since SCORM/AICC is such an old standard, the newer platforms such as WordPress will not support it.

What type of technology is implemented within WordPress?

It varies depending on your installation, but certainly Experience API (Tin Can API) will be able to be used for course communication. This will help you to track and get the score back from your course where the LMS is and then record into a database.

What type of programs could I run?

  • Compliance -One thing that comes to mind is compliance training. And while it’s always a bit tricky to get set up WordPress should be a good fit particularly if you have a narrowly defined audience that you would like to target.
  • E-Learning – Delivering e-learning should be no problem on this platform either. You can upload media or you can create pages that communicate the course status directly to the server and then launch it from there.

Simplicity is the key

Having such a simple structure makes it so easy to learn and navigate around in immediately, whereas in Moodle you would need to dive deep and dig into a lot of sub menus. WordPress has a relatively flat infrastructure with everything being maybe 2 or at the most, 3 levels deep.

For instance, when you’re creating a page you would just go to the pages section and then click on add page. It’s less than 2 clicks, making it very simple to create those.

Using WordPress and Moodle together

I use WordPress in conjunction with Moodle since the blogging platform is much stronger. The ability to leave comments is much better than in Moodle. In Moodle you need to be always authenticated in order to see certain blog posts, which can be a real drawback when you are looking to get the content indexed by search engines.

It really shows the divergence in philosophy that the 2 platforms took. Moodle uses blogging as a teaching tool and so at the time when they implemented it they added on a blog for a particular course or for a particular instructor. This results in a closed ecosystem which may work great if you have a very large organization and a very large class that you’re segmenting for each blog. But normally for smaller sites that typically doesn’t work so well on the web. Tracking training right from the WordPress site solves this problem.

The document management on both platforms has come a long way in the last 3 or 4 years, although Moodle still does have some catching up to do. It’s more difficult to implement document management and sharing files and resources files in Moodle. Having the capability for students to upload their own files is a great benefit when teaching certain classes

Because of the way that Moodle was written with PHP it has more security concerns than WordPress. WordPress has had its own share of security issues as well, but Moodle suffers from more of them. As a result they have implemented some workarounds that make it more difficult to use, but were done in the name of security. For example, Flash files that are uploaded to the file area are prohibited from running on certain pages, which is more secure but not helpful when you have a secured site and trusted content. There is no way to enable Flash without changing some of the core code, which most people would be unwilling to do.

Search Engine Optimization

When I set up a for profit site or a site where I’ll be charging for revenue I find it very helpful to have good SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization which basically means how well Google is able to index your site. Is it able to get to the content that you have available? This is everything that is going to be public facing content. You want this because obviously if more students are able to find your content, then they will be able to sign up for your course.

There are 3 areas which WordPress really does a great job with SEO that Moodle does not.

  1. The ability for the title page to be changed or the title on the page, whereas Moodle has a static title and it is not easy to rename the title at the top when you name that page. WordPress lets you change the title as well as the page name. Providing a good description for the page is just as important as doing the correct title page or creating a title for the page. The description mole will be normally less than 170 characters. You can have it longer but that’s usually a good target that you would want to hit. The description is always what you see when you do a search and that page shows up in the Google index.
  2. When you look at the URL you want the top of the page to be the same as your course, for example, SITEURL/CourseNumber1. Moodle does not let you change the name of the page, and the URL will show SITEURL/lessonID?=5 for instance. That little bit of metadata helps when trying to index your site in Google.
  3. Another item that I find particularly useful is integrating Google analytics into my site; it gives you the ability to see how many people are coming to your site. This is useful for marketing purposes, as well as learning a lot about how the students find and navigate through your site. Moodle is a little more difficult to set that up in than it is in WordPress and WordPress actually has a very nice plugin that you can use in order to implement it. To setup Analytics in Moodle you have to actually go find the code, copy and paste it and put it either into the header or footer section. Just a little bit of a different approach and while not difficult, it takes extra time to set up.

Conclusion

In conclusion everything is much simpler under WordPress. So if you want something very simple, very quick, easy to install, and very extendable using plugins, then WordPress would be the right platform to use. If you’re looking for a lot of assessment type tools and more of the formal learning structures that’s what you’ll find in Moodle.

Most organizations don’t really have a formal learning need when deploying a purpose built Learning system or need to manage the additional overhead. Both WordPress and Moodle have huge user bases so you know the products won’t go away and are safe to invest in. That combined with easy upgrades and simple elegant design makes either a very compelling platform to deliver learning on.

To learn more about e-learning platforms, please visit On Learning Point. On Learning Point is a site dedicated to helping everyone learn about e-learning platforms and e-learning technology.

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the Founder of LearnDash, a WordPress based LMS and Learning Strategy provider. He also works as a Learning & Collaboration Consultant where he implements large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies.

30 Comments
    • Hi Faizal-
      Thank you for your comment.

      Quizzing can be done in WordPress in a variety of ways, most common by implementing the various free and premium quizzing plugins available on the market. Go to WordPress.org and type in “quiz” and you’re sure to find something.

      LearnDash will also enable quizzing for users with a built in quizzing functionality – so it can be done :)

  1. Hello, I was in the process of downloading moodle when i came across this post. I think learndash is a great initiative and i hate the retro look of moodle. But, moodle features a who lot of option including managing teachers who would want to monetize content and various assement features. What about the ability for parents to supervise or get grades from the platform. etc. Is learndash equiped for that? Your feature list looks a bit short compared to… What is the road map for learndash?
    Thanks in advance for your reply. This is an awsome tool

    • Hello Wishmaster-
      thank you for your comment. The great thing about WP is that you still have the ability to do many of the functions Moodle does by utilizing plugins. For instance, you can manage a set of teachers quite easily in WordPress out of the box, but you can also enhance the feature with the buddypress plugin to create groups, profiles, and so on (much like Facebook). I have seen some schools do this to great success. If you setup your site as a multiuser WordPress site, you can have each teacher use the LearnDash plugin to monetize/manage their content individually as well. WordPress let’s you explore a lot of possibilities like this.

      We plan on launching version 1.0 in early 2013. From there are goal is to enhance the functionality over time based on community feedback.

      Thanks for writing, keep checking back in!

  2. Hi Justin

    Good points, in fact when we were considering going from Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2.2 we had briefly thought about using WordPress as our LMS. Although we had not approached this correctly (otherwise, we would have ended up with a huge plug-in!!), but we realized that in the end, the features that Moodle has (and those which we are using) are so well developed (such as Quizzing for instance) that it would be a shame to leave Moodle.

    Instead we ended up customizing Moodle 2 to meet our needs instead! We still use WP for our outreach site (easier to work with, SEO benefits … all bang-on!!)

    An affiliate of ours has used a memberlist function and created multiple WP-based course sites, but an integrated WPLMS would be an awesome idea! (was briefly flirting with this idea myself when I found about learnadash.com!)

  3. I think this article misses one rather MAJOR point. It comes down to what you need to achieve. I am a major WP advocate. I use WP for all my sites EXCEPT elearning. When I need elearning I hook up WP and Moodle together.

    Why do I do this? I want the functionality of Moodle. It is an open source software specialised in one core mission. The delivery and assessment of education materials. It has many features that no other software offers because of this. But likewise, it is not a CMS. It lacks many features that WP has.

    We live in a world of integration now. We no longer need one piece of software to be our jack of all trades. Instead, I find the right software that is the perfect fit for what I need and then I ensure that these separate packages can work as one.

    I want WP for a nice entry point. Solid funky design and SEO. Also at times for its ecommerce as well. I use Moodle for highly detailed and functional courseware. I even occasionally fall back on Joomla (but please don’t hold that against me) ;)

    I dont want to take away from the great work the dev’s have done on LearnDash. I came across this post because I installed learnDash today and have started playing with it. Liking what I see. But it lacks large amounts of the functionality Moodle has. This is not a criticism. Many of these decisions have been intentional to keep simplicity a focus. But in short, it is a very different toolkit to Moodle.

    So what I am trying to say here? Evaluate what it is you need to achieve and judge the software based on how it meets your requirements. For many Moodle may be overkill. LearnDash may be a far better fit. Awesome. Grab it. But do this based on the needs of your organisation. Not because it fitted into WP. If you think Moodle is a better fit then grab it. Here is information on how you can connect the two together – blog.giuseppeurso.net/moodle-and-wordpress-single-sign-on-in-20-minutes-part-1/index.html

    Great work and look forward to seeing how LearnDash continues to grow in the future.

    Julian

    • Ian

      Couldn’t agree more Julian. WordPress is a far better CMS than Moodle, and Moodle is a far better LMS than WordPress. I’m sure Learning Dash suits the needs of some organisations, but Moodle has over 10 years of development as a dedicated LMS. This means it has solved a lot of the problems of managing large scale online learning, such as handling the enrolment data of hundreds or thousands of students, dealing with grades generated from multiple different learning activities, all the advanced options required by an advanced quiz engine (question bank, random questions, enforced time limits, secure browsing, mathmatical questions etc etc…). The great thing with Moodle is that even if you start with simple requirements, as your requirements grow you nearly always find that Moodle already supports what you require. I’d rather work with something that is more than I need than only just what I need.

  4. No doubts WordPress is providing better facility than the another CMS but we can’t avoid Moodle as Moodle is the standard open-source solution for building educational communities and portals. It’s been around for years, it has huge community, regular updates and contributions.

  5. No Doubt WordPress is wonderful tool for the online business but Moodle is the conventional open-source solution for building academic areas and sites. It has huge group, frequent up-dates and efforts.

  6. Jez

    Im afraid you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    I look after a Moodle instance with around 20,000 current / active users.
    I also look afer a substantial WordPress Multi User installation.

    My guess is you are trying to sell or offer some very simple resources, a few tutorials perhaps, for which wordpress is fine, that does not make in an LMS.

    If you understood Moodle 2 it is increasingly a “hub” into which you plugin in other services. In our case we connect Moodle to many other systems / 3rd party services through its API’s / Plugins.

    Sure you can sell lightweight training courses from wordpress, just as you can sell an ebook or video course, but you cannot use it at scale for formal education.

    • Hi Jez, Thanks for the comment.

      I’m glad you look over a substantial Moodle instances, so you can understand the difficulties people face with Moodle. Everyday we receive inquires from people flat-out unimpressed and dissatisfied with the out-of-date Moodle platform. I feel their pain. WordPress offers user management; WordPress offers the ability to host/launch courses. Moodle isn’t really needed anymore in all honesty. With the advent of TinCan API, the traditional “LMS” as we know it is pretty much a dying breed. I’m sure you are aware of this though. What will become more relevant are learning record stores (LRS) as they make sense of TinCan data – will Moodle catch up? Yeah, eventually. Is it a good option for everyone? No – mostly not actually. In my consulting, I cannot recommend Moodle to large organizations, but point them in the direction of more robust, user-friendly applications.

      • Jez

        Hi Justin,

        First let me apologize for the opening line on my previous comment, clearly you do know what you are talking about but guess you have a different perspective.

        I think a previous comment kind of summed up my view on it:

        “Couldn’t agree more Julian. WordPress is a far better CMS than Moodle, and Moodle is a far better LMS than WordPress.”

        And for your customers WordPress probably makes a lot more sense :)

  7. Hello
    I just found this page with a big surprise. The main subject of my dissertation, covered by a 4 years’ research was based on the hypothesis that Moodle and similar LMS are extremely difficult to be used by teachers and students of primary and secondary education. Instead I applied and evaluated the use of a forum (phpBB) accompanied by WordPress for the non-learning material.
    This is an ongoing research which I will follow on my PhD and already, one year after the initial research, the findings are repeatedely the same.
    Moodle was designed and applied mostly in Higher education (Colleges and Universities) also in professional organizations or companies. Indeed it is used in primary and secondary education as well (but much less) and this created the need for many modifications to make it more “user friendly”.
    We must also admit the Moodle is basically an one to one e-learning tool, not permiting much interactivity among students. Thus, it is absolutely not useful in collaborative learning methodologies.
    To my opinion, a real Forum platform is much better and much more simple to use, but I will be happy to investigate WordPress in this role as well!
    It is easy to acuse Justin for trying to “sell” his plugin. This may be true!
    But we all have to admit that gradually, a new nomenclature has risen in higher education. The “Moodle specialists”, accompanied by companies and organizations trying to sell “Moodle administrator certifications”.
    If your hypothesis for Justin is true, then, maybe my hypothesis is also true…
    As a teacher, I want a system simple to set up and simple to use, by non specialist teachers, theologists, philologists, physical training teachers e.t.c., and 10 y.o. students.
    And -to my opinion- Moodle is NOT such a system.

    You can have a look here http://bit.ly/papei but… you will not understand much… there are some useful diagrams though at pages 74-75.

  8. Kim Myers

    a product that integrates with wordpress that can help manage and track training programs will help take learning to the next level. having separate LMS systems is cumbersome and it makes it hard to connect learners with other real-time resources that could enhance learning. the web combined with mobile learning is the future for corporate learning as well as post and secondary education arenas. learning and tracking of learning should be easier – not harder.

  9. I always choose Moodle because it provides a simple, obvious perspective of all studying actions and sources for a device, such as all evaluation information and task distribution.

  10. I’m using and developing LMS via moodle for such 5-6 years…I’ll found that..it’s quite hard
    to convert into wordpress…..is that so simple to install and run the LMS? please help…let me know
    the related url that guiding it’s procedure.. step by step…

  11. Ghada

    Please send me more information and helpful links on how to apply word press for teaching English to university students. Thank you

  12. paul

    Great little article. Though I don’t see why the PHP issue with wordpress vs moodle is an issue as they are both written in PHP?

  13. CFA

    Both wordpress and moodle are great tools. I’m using both for training our students various program like CFA, FRM. However, if we can integrate both of them in one like WP. It may be better. However, creating a plugin of moodle for WP? Is it possible? Won’t be this become too heavy for wordpress?

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