March 22nd, 2012 WordPress

Taking a page out of the WordPress model, Moodle’s free and open-source offering is an attractive option for organizations big and small… but is it the best? The learning management system industry is relatively new and like most new industries, there are major players and then there are the bottom feeders. Moodle is a major player, but that doesn’t always equate to the best option.

I am by no means claiming that WordPress based LMS should be chosen over Moodle in all situations – that’s silly as we all know that a one-size fits all approach isn’t really practical. But I can think of three immediate reasons why I would choose a WordPress LMS over Moodle – hear me out:

1. CMS integration – there are already thousands of organizations out there that use WordPress as their CMS, and who can blame them? The interface is intuitive, it is constantly being refined, and the support community is second to none. Naturally, if an organization is already running WordPress CMS, then integrating a WordPress based LMS just makes sense. The learning curve is nearly zero, users are already populated, and integration takes all but 10 minutes.

2. Intuitive – I touched on this briefly in my first point, but I think it warrants to stand alone. Simply put, WordPress is user-friendly, even for the amateur with no experience… and it was designed this way on purpose. It doesn’t take a technical genius to get any WordPress platform up and running, and then customized (layout, colors, plugin functionality). This makes WordPress especially ideal for medium sized businesses who thrive on their ability to be flexible and cost-effective.

3. Social – This is an area that really stands out to me as far as why I would choose WordPress over Moodle. The WordPress culture is engrained in social interaction (heck, that’s the whole premises of a Blogging). We are entering an era where people expect the ability to be engaged with their learning, including the system it is hosted on. “Facebook-like” walls can be set up in a snap, dialogue can be encouraged by administrators, forum formats aren’t clunky, and video capabilities are just a plugin away. The amount of flexibility with integrated social learning is staggering, and at this point completely unmatched by Moodle.

Perhaps there are other reasons why you would choose a WordPress LMS over Moodle, or, maybe you believe Moodle is the be-all, end-all for open-source learning. In either case, I strongly believe that WordPress LMS addresses the needs of a particular segment that Moodle isn’t capable of meeting. This is not to say that Moodle isn’t a viable option for LMS – quite clearly it does a great job. But hey, it could be better.

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As a LMS Admin, I see one glaring thing missing from your list: pedagogy. The whole point of an LMS is the Learning part, social is great, but to meet the requirements the government has placed on education, pedagogy needs to trump the social and “cool”aspects.

Avatar Vicke

Hi Vicke-
Thanks for the comment.

You’re right, every successful LMS need to adhere to the appropriate standards in order for it to be a serious LMS contender. Being that wordpress currently adheres to elearning standards via the ScormCloud plugin option, I purposely left out the point above. For the wordpress setup in particular, the pedagogy setup (referring to the style of instruction) for the system is left to the admin (or whoever) to mold and shape for maxim impact in their particular org.

Avatar Justin

A SCORM plugin is just one dear little part of an LMS and does not in any way turn an overgrown blogging platform into an LMS. I think you appear to know very little about what you are talking about.

Avatar Jamie

Hi Jamie-
Thank you for your comment. You are right, a SCORM plugin doesn’t make an LMS, nor did I say that. It is well known that wordpress is known well beyond blogging, a simple search will reveal that it is used as CMS, static website, directories, marketplaces, etc… the list really goes on. Truth of the matter is, this project receives emails daily from organizations looking to convert their wordpress CMS into an LMS (for a variety of reasons) – the demand is there. In fact, Rustici Software even has their own version of a plugin that enables SCORM capabilities for wordpress sites with some very powerful case studies with large organizations adopting the wordpress lms model – I suggest you take a look.

While I respect your right to have an opinion on this matter, it would be appreciated if you did a little more research so as to provide comments that provide value and discussion rather than insults.


Avatar Justin


I agree with Vickie.

In the educational arena the popular ‘learning management systems’ lack the learning element. Most of these ‘LMS’s’ are content management systems, or knowledge management systems.

The paradigm change to incorporate truly personalized learning is being met with great resistance, even though it’s consistent with organizational objectives

The new learning model must be adopted for real learning (and learning transfer) to occur; instructor facilited, truly personalized learning, in a blended learning environment, supplemented by truly personalized learning technology.


Hello Tom, thank you for the comment.

I agree, the first component of any LMS is the learning part. The LMS is just a tool, how effective it is used is up to the organization, their culture, even down to the individual instructor level. My point in the article is to demonstrate that the tools are there with wordpress, waiting to be utilized to enhance learning and knowledge acquisition.

Like the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

Facilitators/organizations need to start drinking the water! 🙂

Avatar Justin

Hmm, is Moodle the only LMS you’ve looked at, or are you able to compare your WordPress LMS to other LMS’s in the marketplace? Is WordPress better than Saba? SumTotal? Plateau? Blackboard? Or do you just want to pick on Moodle?

How is WordPress LMS a better LMS than SumTotal? Does it offer superior tracking? More flexible grading options? More detailed reporting? A more granular and customizable roles system? Does it enable credit expiration and renewal? Superior adaptive learning options?

Or is a better LMS for people who don’t really need an LMS?

Avatar Reuben Charis

Hi Reuben, thank you for your comment.

I decided to compare WPLMS to Moodle for a couple of reasons. First, more people are familiar with Moodle and its functionality than other LMS packages. Secondly, I find that Moodle’s open source mantra is similar (derived from?) WordPress, putting them in the same family and allowing for easier comparison as I see them in the same “family” of sorts.

That said, your comment does give me some good ideas for future posts, particularly comparing WPLMS to other LMS systems, thanks!

Avatar Justin


I pretty much disagree with much of what you say, yet I am looking forward to seeing the beta version of WPLMS.

To me, Word Press is blogging software – the CMS aspects are pretty much added on capability. As an example, wordpress requires that every page be checked to inhibit blogging. WordPress themes can be difficult, confusing and they vary widely in their characteristics and features.

Personally, I don’t find much about wordpress intuitive. As an example. using the “visual” editor, one might expect the visual editor would display in a way that the page renders on screen, this is seldom the case. I find the editor has a nasty habit of rewriting html – this is not intuitive to me.

Because wordpress is fundamentally a blog system, I would agree it is strong in the social category. Since my philosophy of training, doesn’t particularly embrace the social constructivist model, I’m not sure of how important this is. From a learning management perspective, someone has to supervise/guide all of the discussions/blogs/tweets etc – so I am unsure of the wordpress advantage.

In my opinion, what could make a wordpress LMS very unique are the plug in aspects. What I mean by this is the capability of the system owner to define and customize a LMS. A small enterprise or school might want to start out with a very simple LMS and add features as the need arises. The capability to plug what you need and unplug what you don’t may be a real advantage.

Hi Joe, thanks for your comment. Your opinion on WordPress is understandable, as I wouldn’t expect wp to be the choice of everyone. Where I see it fitting the best is with educational institutions where often there is already a presence with buddypress, and its capability to consolidate classes, push asignments, engage learners, provide grades, feedback and so forth. In an educational standpoint, this isn’t really “supervision” as much as it is the natural teaching/learning exchange (social aspect). Can wp still be used for corporations? I am a firm believer that it can, but I am also a realist in that it might not be the best solution for larger companies.

As you rightly pointed out, the plugins offer a great deal of flexibility. A non profit can decide to deliver their content internally, or perhaps sell it just with the click of a button. To me, WordPress is great for anyone who doesn’t fluently speak code (I would include myself in that list) and the learning curve is minimal at best.

Thanks for stopping by, keep checking in on the project.

Avatar Justin

“but I am also a realist in that it might not be the best solution for larger companies.”
Why is that so. ? What would be then a good solution for larger companies.?
Thanks for the info!

When do you see WPLMS up and running? I am launching an online art school with Moodle as our LMS. However, I long to be free of Moodle’s ‘technical’ look and have something that is much more simple and intuitive in function and design, i.e. more akin to a good iPad app. I’ve checked in on WPLMS for a while, always eager to find the solution I’ve been looking for… when will it be ready? Hurry!

Avatar Tim

Hi Tim, thank you for your comment. Right now we are targeting a Jan 2013 beta testing phase, but there is a possibility we will be able to enter that area prior to then. The scope of the project has grown significantly since its inception. We are excited about the eventual outcome, and we certain understand the frustrations in having to wait.

If you are in need of a solution sooner rather than later, as in “RIGHT NOW”, then please send me a note via the contact tab and I will try my best to offer up some other viable options.

Thanks again Tim.

Avatar Justin


“meet the requirements the government has placed on education”…, “appropriate standards …”, “,,,,”????
Guys, there are no new technologies, just ONE: the net. There are now just 2 elements you and the knowledge.

The CHANGE is not to change the blackboard by the whiteboard, the notebook by Moodle and the paper class book by the virtual book.

The change is that anyone now has access to all knowledge.

The traditional school/education (even the physical building itself) is obsolete.
It is an antique that the bourgeoisie must impose what to learn.

Moodle is a -closed- dinosaur (and, yes!: the knowledge and the learning will be social forever) .

I repeat, there are now just 2 elements you and the knowledge. To teach and learn, to live on the net, we just need a text editor online: and that is wordpress.

(excuse me for my “englush”!)

Wow, some strong opinions here. I agree a lot with Carlos, fundamentally. However, his comments don’t address the question of whether or not Word Press can function as an LMS better than Moodle. I have more experience with Moodle than WordPress, but having used both I can say that WordPress is certainly a more-attractive and fluid interface. Moodle is clunky and requires a lot of modification to try and get it not to appear that way. (Forums are happy to advertise that you can build your own theme. Great, let me master PHP and CSS and I’ll get right on that). Their RSS, blog, and wiki integration is terrible. While text is text, the ability to format it attractively on the page is important. Furthermore, Moodle has fewer plugins and these are more difficult to install. That being said, it is a valid point to ask from an academic viewpoint how to get the most out of a learning MANAGEMENT system. Yes, Carlos, all the information is out there. But while in the past the job of the educator was to transmit education, it is becoming increasingly important for the educator to help students learn to process information. And for that, you need something in between you and the ‘knowledge’ (I would use the term information; knowledge implies something within the individual). So what features DOES WordPress have that enable an educator to facilitate organization of content and lessons? Can you make assignments with customizable rubrics? Can you create branching lessons? Can you grade comments on forums? Can you set deadlines? Can you assign roles to course-creators, teachers, students etc. and customize their access and permissions (Moodle has 8 standard roles with well over 300 permission setting that can be customized for each one).? Can you create quiz sets? Everyone has forums and blogs; and social interaction itself does not constitute learning. Guided social interaction can enhance learning. I wish I knew more of the actual specific features a WPLMS system would have. Easy, pretty, and fun does not = good learning outcomes.

Avatar David

Brilliant post! I think WordPress can make an excellent LMS – especially with Scorm Cloud. There is no arguing that SCORM Cloud is a top LMS and meets all the standards expressed by ADL.

That said, the premise of this post is spot on. The LMS part is just as good as any other (and better than most) and the social and CMS side of WordPress is superb (enough that big players like the ESPN site is built on it).

I run thre MOODLE LMSs and see about 70,000 annual users BUT also mess with SCORM Cloud extensively so using SCORM Cloud and the Tin Cam API in conjunction with WordPress gets my vote.

And to the comments that say you can’t do a quiz or this or that – they simply don’t know much about SCORM Cloud (btw, Mike Rustici of SCORM Cloud contributes to MOODLE dev).

I am currently trying to find the best LMS for , I do agree WordPress is a better way to go. I will try as many of them as I can. The most important thing is ease of use for students. I am a developer so on my end I can handle the complexities. In my opinion the important things are Usability in terms of access of courses , progression for students from one step to the next and intuitive design that leaves users less frustrated. Not so much for me, but for the ultimate target who happens to be student users. I want a simple solution with less features (unlike moodle), that can help me teach web development courses efficiently and effectively.
This article was insightful for me and I will keep some of these in mind as I continue to search.

Interesting article – not sure I agree. I would like to see a feature comparison list between Moodle and WP LMS.

There are many plugins written for Moodle (attendance registers, assessment tools, assignment submission tools, plagiarism detectors, learning analytics, etc), not just SCORM. WP LMS would need to have all of these before most people would consider switching.

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