The battle of Moodle vs Blackboard was inevitable. As people continue to increase their value for the commodity of digital education and the divergence from traditional learning methodologies, so will loyalties and affinities for certain frameworks to support this grow. While there are a ton of digital learning platforms out there, some designed entirely around the much-loved wiki model, others modeled after popular social networks, it seems like Moodle and Blackboard get the biggest amount of attention and have the widest adoption of the bunch.
This is for good reason, and while there are distinct differences between these two platforms (which we’ll get into in a minute), there are also a lot of key shared traits in philosophy and mentality across these, and these shared points are what people love about them.
But, before we get into the comparison of Moodle vs Blackboard, there’s something important to point out. Often in software comparisons like this done by us or really most other good journalistic sources, a point for point comparison of features is the format of choice. However, for these, given their flexibility and extendibility, this isn’t really practical, so we have to really compare their branding models and philosophy behind them.
Moodle is perhaps more popular if you look online and research learning platforms outside of niche groups that focus on the topic. This is for good reason. Of the two, it is definitely the more accessible choice. This is largely due to its open source nature, which means that a myriad of builds and modified models of this software are created and distributed under certain license types.
This also gives Moodle an extendibility beyond the extension system it does offer, because anyone decent with web based programming can pretty much add any functionality they want to this thing, within reason. But, out of the box in its “true” form, Moodle has a boatload of features that instantly set it apart from simple wikis or the like.
Along with basic course delivery systems capable of rich audio, video and graphics, it also allows for easy configuration of teacher and user permissions, modified grading standards (no need to use letter grading unless you want to), along with compartmentalized sections for additional resources, wikis, projects, forums and chats for students and teachers, scriptable tests and a lot more. It’s very easy to install (see our piece on installing or upgrading this software to see just how easy), and with the new community hub features, it does have a lot going for it that jives with the new social attitude.
Blackboard is a different animal. It’s proprietary, meaning that it’s available only through one distributor, and is pretty much as-is. Not being open-source, it’s inherently a little less customizable, aside from extensions available.
They do offer much of the same features, such as wikis, integration of video and graphics, automatic testing and grade tracking, and does offer improved usability over previous platforms.
This one has more notoriety with big businesses and professional training services due to the standardization and longer history (and thus time to perfect things) which this suite has.
So, it can do everything Moodle can do out of the box, and most of the extensions are more or less equal.
Moodle, however, kind of wins the battle of Moodle vs Blackboard, because of its open source capacity and its ease of installation and configuration. Blackboard might have more history, and it might be more “in” with corporations, but one day soon, we’ll blink, and see Moodle where it used to be. It’s almost already happened.