A public answer to a question about my experience with/thoughts on Sakai or Moodle …
I have not used Moodle or Sakai except for playing around with demos, which does not really qualify me as an expert. But that aside, in each case I came away feeling something like Michael Feldstein; that all LMS’s are pretty good/bad. On my superficial look, however, I would give the nod to Moodle for three reasons:
- Usability: notwithstanding absolutely atrocious default design aesthetics, Moodle seems to be pretty clean and intuitive.
- Hackability: Moodle is built on PHP, not Java. While I really dislike PHP, there’s no denying that it’s widely used, and easy to find people that can work on it.
- Community: there seem more people contributing to Moodle’s development; I suspect this goes back to my ‘hackability’ point. OTOH, when I read comments like this from people I respect, I have to wonder about Sakai. Projects without strong communities tend not to do well.
So I’m not exactly supremely impressed with Moodle or Sakai, though I think either are at least as good as Blackboard.
In my ideal world, however, I’d really like a seamless melding of the traditional course-centric LMS, with the more free-flowing learner-centric model enabled by social networking applications like Elgg. This is the vision behind the in-progress Sakai 3 effort (try the demo; promising, but not as nice as Elgg). It is also surely what will be at the core of the nascent Pinax-LMS effort (Pinax is a new generic social networking and site development framework, so the LMS features would just be added as modular applications). I would expect that the best way to achieve that now is some sort of integration of Elgg and Moodle, though I am unsure of how seamless that integration can be technically.
Anyone with more direct experience with any of this have feedback?