Blackboard v Moodle (Part 2)

A few weeks ago I posted a comparison of what have become the two leading VLEs in UK higher education, namely Blackboard and Moodle. I don’t want to get into arguments about which is “best” here because any system is only ever as good as its users. We have some excellent Blackboard sites across the university that take full advantage of the available functionality, but that’s by no means universal.

However, a number of institutions are apparently moving from Blackboard to Moodle, ostensibly because of the much lower costs associated with the latter. However, it seems, according to members of the Association for Learning Technology, whose mailing list I follow, that the transition is not a simple one. (It’s a subscription only list, so I won’t post a link to the relevant postings). I quote: –

“We moved from Blackboard to Moodle just over a year ago and at that time there was no way of bringing material (courses, forum, documents etc.) into Moodle from Blackboard, I presume that is still the case I suspect that the two databases are just to different to map tables and content to each other in any meaningful way.”

A number of other contributors describe similar difficulties. What that means is that were we to move, every single Blackboard site would have to be recreated afresh. As another contributor to the list pointed out, that’s actually a good opportunity for an institution to review its e-learning provision. I’m not aware that Lincoln has any plans to move as yet, but we are committed to Blackboard until 2014. That’s still a significant amount of time, (Essentially it will see all our current undergraduates out.) but there’s a good case for beginning to think strategically about what we want to do now. If we do decide to change (and there are other VLEs that I haven’t mentioned here which we could consider), I suspect the transition is likely to take some time.

7 thoughts on “Blackboard v Moodle (Part 2)

  1. Thanks for the comment, Nick

    As far as I know, no-one is looking seriously at any alternatives at the moment. If we do want to bring about an effective change, I think we should be looking now, and be designing a few pilot projects with some other systems. Come to think of it, that would be worthwhile even if we decide not to change – at least we’d be making an informed decision when the time comes to renew Blackboard (or not).

  2. Using Moodle 2 you can connect to the Blackboard WebDAV interface and pull the files over.
    You can also migrate quizzes quite easily.

    So that at least is a start 🙂

  3. Blackboard Learn also has the ability to export courses in IMS common cartridge format which I think is supported by Moodle. Not perfect because IMS common cartridge supports less features than Blackboard and Moodle, but at least a start.

  4. Conversion is difficult due to the different internal structures of the two systems. Actually it’s 3 due to there being two completly different “Blackboards” – the Academic Suite version and the Vista/Campus Edition version which are the old WebCT product lines Blackboard is phasing out. We have tools for converting both to Moodle at Remote-Learner. It is also a fact that after converting the content, tests, etc. there is still a learning curve as the interfaces are different, and for best results Blackboard courses should be re-designed to be more “Moodley” after a straight conversion:-).

    Many Official Moodle Partners like Remote-Learner offer conversion services and consultancy services for helping with this redesign and retraining process. Of course it can also be done yourself as we did at California State, Humboldt back in 2007, with mostly student help:-).

  5. You should all look at Canvas. It has a fantastic migration tool from Blackboard. It grabs the content for you once you tell it what content in each course to bring over.

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