Moodle™ vs. Totara Learn: An Effort to Compare eLearning Platforms That Are Very Different
Choosing an LMS is never an easy task. With so many options available in the market, it can be hard to pick one! A careful look at all of them before making a choice is crucial.
And that’s when you compare eLearning platforms.
Now, it’s time for another highly requested comparison – Moodle™ vs. Totara Learn.
Both of them are extremely popular eLearning platforms. While Moodle™ is a platform with 297 million users worldwide, Totara Learn also has more than 16 million users globally.
To help you choose between them we decided to compare these eLearning platforms in a detailed manner. So, without taking any more time let’s jump straight into it.
#1. Target audience
First of all, there’s a significant difference in the target market of Moodle™ LMS and Totara LMS. While Moodle™ was built primarily for academic institutions, Totara is designed for corporates and enterprises.
As a result of this difference, the features of Moodle™ are more heavily academic-oriented while features of Totara Learn are oriented towards business users.
Eventually, Moodle™ tried to fix this issue though by including more broad-based features that can be utilized by all types of eLearning websites so this gap became narrower.
But since this difference was there from the very beginning, it still affects the functionality, UI, and other elements of both these best eLearning platforms to some extent, as you’ll see in the sections given below.
As explained above, Moodle™ and TotaraLearn are built for two completely different markets. As a result, there’s a significant difference in the functionality and feature set of these top eLearning platforms. That difference looks something like this:
Common features like synchronous learning, asynchronous learning, blended learning, mobile learning, in-built course authoring, learner portal, gamification, SCORM Compliance, and video conferencing are available in both of them.
But you can see from the comparison table given above that Moodle™ is more feature-rich than Totara Learn LMS. Moodle™ has 24 unique features, while Totara Learn has only 9.
However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to which features are the most important ones for your needs. An LMS with hundreds of features may be useless to you if none of those features are capable enough to work for your use cases.
We have already discussed the features of both platforms, now let’s discuss the user interface too.
Moodle™’s interface is very minimalistic, which leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not easy to find your way around it, especially because a lot of things need to be performed with the use of coding, HTML, and CSS. But a good part of it is that it’s highly customizable, as you’ll see in the customization section.
Totara LMS, on the other hand, is well designed because it’s a company’s proprietary product that was improved year on year with public feedback. So this difference becomes visible in their offering very clearly, as you can compare in the screenshots given below.
Totara Learn UI
As you can see, Totara LMS has a UI that is more neatly organized with categories, filters, and menus. While Moodle™’s UI seems to have just one sidebar that tries to fit everything into it. There are similar issues in the admin dashboard area too.
The good news here is that Moodle™’s UI can be transformed with help of themes available in the market, plugins, and a little bit of coding knowledge. There are many free as well as paid templates available to transform the UI of your Moodle™ site.
Winner: Totara Learn
#4. Ease of use
A better user interface obviously translates into greater ease of use, so no surprise that Totara LMS has a little bit of an upper hand over Moodle™ in this department too. It’s quite easy to use and learn in comparison to Moodle™, mainly because the latter requires the use of code for various purposes.
However, that scene is changing quickly as new plugins emerge for Moodle™ to make it more user-friendly. It already has a library of more than 1900 plugins, and with their help, a number of features can be added to it or a number of processes can be improved by eliminating the need for coding.
Winner: Totara Learn
#5. Ease of customization
While Totara is more well-designed and easy to use, it certainly doesn’t mean that we can discount the capabilities of Moodle™. Its UI may not be the best in the world, and it may require coding for a lot of changes, but it’s significantly more customizable than Totara LMS.
To customize the UI, it has many themes that can be installed to give a fresh look to the interface of your website.
To customize the functionality, there are a great many plugins that can be installed to add new features to the LMS without any hassles.
And finally, to customize almost anything…. You can always take help of a Moodle™ developer who knows PHP and a thing or two about Moodle™. So basically, almost anything and everything can be customized in Moodle™.
In the case of Totara LMS, on the other hand, the number of customizations available is very limited. Themes are available, but only a few. And there’s no option of using code or 3rd party plugins to customize the functionality of your LMS.
Both Moodle™, as well as Totara LMS, come with grading functionality and complete gradebook for more control and oversight on your grading system. However, some features are unique to the grading systems of both these platforms.
Moodle™’s grading system, for example, allows for anonymous grading, which is not possible in Totara LMS. Totara’s grading system allows for manual grading and passing grades, both of which are missing from Moodle™.
Totara LMS gradebook
But a good part of Moodle™’s story is that you can add both manual grading as well as passing grades with the help of plugins. However, you can’t add anonymous grading to Totara LMS. So it’s not really a win for Totara here either.
In Moodle™ you can further improve your grading in Moodle™ by using the Edwiser RapidGrader plugin.
This one particular criterion almost always belongs to Moodle™ only, mainly because there is a large number of integrations available for it while other top eLearning platforms struggle from the lack of them.
Moodle™ has 100+ integrations to link it with popular 3rd party services for performing various tasks. Totara Learn, on the other hand, has only 16 integrations in total.
In Moodle™, there are integrations for Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, Zoom, and Facebook, all of which are not available in Totara.
But Totara too has some unique integrations that are not available in Moodle™. They include Microsoft Teams integration, PayPal integration, and Google Analytics integration.
But from an overall perspective, Moodle™ comes out as a clear winner in this department due to the sheer number of integrations that are available for it.
Use Edwiser Bridge integration to connect your Moodle™ website with WordPress and sell your courses globally with the combined robust e-commerce functionality of WordPress and WooCommerce.
Now let’s discuss the thing that makes or breaks the deal for most people: money! How much do both these platforms cost, and how do they justify their price tags?
Let’s look at Moodle™ first. So the thing is, being an open-source software Moodle™ is completely free of cost. You can just download it from its website, install it on your server and set up your eLearning site right away.
Or if you like paid solutions only, then Moodle™ also has a workplace offering for corporates. Its pricing is revealed upon request only.
Totara Learn, on the other hand, is a high-end premium solution with no option of a free plan or trial. The company hasn’t revealed its pricing, and it’s revealed only after you request a demo of their LMS. But based on industry insider’s information we know it’s more than $3,500 per year. Overall, not something for a lean business.
The difference between Moodle™’s open-source and Totara’s proprietary approach becomes visible in the hosting situation too. While Moodle™ is hosted locally on your own server, Totara is a cloud-hosted solution that is hosted and managed by the company.
Now, none of these two models are better or worse than each other. When you’re hosting the LMS yourself, you enjoy total control over its functionality, safety, accessibility and everything. That control, however, also increases your responsibility because you can’t blame anyone if your website is hacked or something goes wrong with it because of maintenance issues.
Cloud-hosted LMS like Totara saves you from the issues of security and maintenance, but that also means you can’t enjoy total control over who accesses your server and who doesn’t.
It ultimately boils down to your personal preferences and needs.
Winner: No clear winner
#10. Implementation Technology
Moodle™’s tech stack is well known due to its open-source nature. Everybody knows that it is built in PHP, HTML, CSS, and JS. It follows a modular architecture in which various parts of the functionality can be added by installing separate modules/plugins.
In addition to that, many things in the tech stack can be determined by you (i.e. server, operating system, security software installed, etc).
Totara LMS is someone else’s proprietary LMS solution. You can use it, but you can’t know much about its tech stack. In fact, you can’t know anything about it, and even if you know you don’t get to do anything with it because you don’t own the code.
Due to this reason, it’s fair to suggest that Moodle™ is a better choice for those entrepreneurs who want more information about the implementation technology of their eLearning platform for students.
Help is easy to find for both Moodle™ as well as Totara Learn, albeit in different ways.
While Moodle™ has built a solid community of its users and developers who are willing to help each other, Totara LMS has built a robust support team to help out its customers in need.
Both platforms also have extensive documentation to explain almost any part of their functionality.
In a nutshell, it’s not difficult to find your way through the issues that you face in any of these platforms.
Winner: No clear winner
Conclusion: Which eLearning platform is best?
Finally, it’s time to wrap things up. Here’s how Moodle™ vs. Totara LMS comparison pans out at a glance:
|Ease of use||Totara LMS|
|Grading and scoring||No clear winner|
|Hosting||No clear winner|
|Help and support||No clear winner|
Now it’s your choice which of these LMS platforms you choose to develop your eLearning site on. Both of them are robust platforms, and both of them have their own strengths and weaknesses, as you can see from our comparison done above.
Which one will work best for you depends on your needs, as none of them has a clear upper hand over the other option. So have a look at your requirements and then choose either of them accordingly.