Moodle or Google Classroom

Moodle or Google Classroom – What’s better?

There are dramatic changes in the way education is delivered since the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. Moodle – one of the most popular LMS has witnessed a great deal of activity. Close to 50,000 Moodle sites have been registered since March 2020. Similarly, another edTech giant, Google Classroom is making rapid progress in the education market. Since the pandemic, the active user count of Google Classroom has doubled to more than 100 million. Now you might be confused about which platform to opt for, after reading these statistics. Let’s do away with the confusion!

Here’s our take on the two leading learning platforms.

Moodle vs Google Classroom

#1 Basics

Moodle – Moodle, is a full-fledged Learning Management System that can deliver custom learning experiences as well as efficiently track them. The platform’s modular design is fully customizable. It offers support for a number of content authoring tools and even allows uploading courses in bulk. Also, it is flexible enough to be customized to generate specific reports that you need to look at, to track the progress of students. Moodle is preferred by many teachers and professionals as it is – open-source, has many collaborative tools such as Chat, Forum, and Discussions, facilitates efficient course and user management to and allows for easy integration with 3rd party applications as well as custom plugins

Google Classroom – Google Classroom is a free collaboration tool that allows instructors to create online classrooms, invite students, and conduct classroom discussions. For teachers and students to be able to use the platform for e-Learning, their schools must be first registered with Google Classroom. It simplifies the process of creating, distributing, and grading assignments. Grading, class organization, and administration can all be managed in its interface.

#2 Ease of Use

Moodle – Moodle does everything that Google Classroom is capable of. But the vice versa is not true. Moodle is huge, vast, and offers a lot more features than Google Classroom. Simply because Google Classroom is not officially an LMS. 

Moodle is a little complex to understand because of its clunky interface. But it can be improved using a wide range of free or paid  Moodle themes and course formats of your choice. 

Teachers can design the entire curriculum right from scratch as Moodle supports plenty of content authoring tools. Moodle also provides parents with access to the grades of their wards. However, this task needs a bit of effort on part of the teacher or the admin. Although accounts for parents aren’t offered in Google Classroom, it does keep the parents or responsible guardians regularly updated on student progress. 

Apart from this, Moodle provides multilingual support, attendance tracking, videoconferencing through BigBlueButton, plenty of gamification modules, enables gamification of tests and quizzes, etc. To make sure, learners stay on track and do not drop off,  viewing trends of participation, submissions, and other data makes sense. It improves the overall e-Learning experience, vastly helping retention rates and student successes. Moodle scores well when it comes to e-Learning analytics and reporting. The Reports tab in the Course Management panel gives instructors access to tools that can be used to edit dates and groups for activities or resources, or run reports on course activities at different levels.

Google Classroom – As far as Google Classroom is concerned, you cannot design your own curriculum in Google Classroom but it is fairly easier to set up classes and assignments. You can even reuse tests or assignments for future classes, set access rights, export grades to Google Sheet, share study resources in the form of videos, links and images with the students. With Google Classroom, you can easily manage classwork and homework assignments into one simple thread. It has everything top-down in one fluid thread for students and teachers to be able to easily find and access. 

As a beginner, you could opt for Google Classroom as it has a less steep learning curve. Google Classroom is a cloud-based platform that integrates Google Apps for education and helps teachers co-ordinate day-to-day training activities. Given that, almost every person has a Gmail account, Google Classroom could be a good option for those who don’t want to invest their time, money, and effort in setting up a dedicated LMS using Moodle.

However, if you want richer functionality, richer activities, and assessments, Moodle is the ideal option. It also works in offline mode via the app, unlike Google Classroom that works purely on the cloud.

#3 Target Audience

Moodle – Moodle’s modular design makes it a very versatile LMS. It can be tweaked to suit learning needs outside academic context . Moodle LMS can be customized to suit the requirements of K-12 schools, colleges, universities as well as corporates. 

Moodle also offers a separate, dedicated LMS called Moodle Workplace. It’s upgraded and refined to comply with all your corporate needs. 

Pro Tip -: Free themes such as Fordson and Moove work best for kids and if you are keen on opting for a paid option, the Edwiser RemUI theme can provide a great interface for the kids and teachers to work with. Make sure you use more clickable activities, gamification, audio, and video-based learning instead of going for text-based learning. Also, students love learning through games, points, badges, puzzles, crosswords, treasure hunt, and embedded videos. 

Google Classroom – Google Classroom primarily caters to education in middle and high schools. It’s available for free for schools and is included in G Suite for Education making it a very convenient option for delivering online classes. Moreover, Google Classroom offers a comparatively simple structure and interface. So, it is more suitable for all those who lack the technical understanding of using a high-functionality LMS. 

#4 Ease of Customization 

Moodle – Apart from customizing the look and feel of your Moodle LMS, Moodle offers a tremendous scope of customization of functionality. Whether it’s theme customization, customization of individual Moodle blocks or core Moodle customization, Moodle can be easily tweaked to suit your requirements. 

Moreover, the latest version of Moodle (v3.9) is tightly integrated with H5P. So, adding interactive elements and gamification has become much easier now. Once you get the hang of Moodle, it is much easier to use and customize it. Moodle is far more superior with plugins, themes, grading and customizing. 

Pro Tip -: If you’re planning to use Moodle for kids, It depends on how much effort you can put to make your content interesting and visually appealing. Experimenting with different fonts, dressing it up with images and text in labels to point things out for children -all of this is possible in Moodle. But this is not possible in Google Classroom. The Moodle Games Plugin allows educators to use popular games such as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Hangman and Sudoku to drive engagement in their learning experiences.

Google Classroom – Google Classroom integrates with a range of applications for in-classroom use, it is more limited in the administrative integrations it offers and is also not suitable for business use cases.  

#5 Deployment/Hosting

Moodle – Moodle offers both cloud (MoodleCloud) and server solutions for e-learning. There are three alternatives:

  • Do It Yourself (Unlimited users and free forever)
  • Start With Us (A free trial, a limit of 500 users and has paid plans too)
  • Find a Partner (Complete setup and e-learning support with the help of certified Moodle partners)

There are three options offered by MoodleCloud as well:

  • Moodle for Free (No trial, no credit card, 200 MB storage space for maximum 50 users)
  • MoodleCloud Starter (AUD $80/year with 200 MB storage space for a maximum of 50 users, ideal for a single class)
  • Moodle for School(has 3 sub-packages – Mini, Small, Medium, perfect for multiple classes and workplaces)

Google Classroom – Google Classroom is a free web-based service provided by Google for educational systems. Since it is on the cloud, no setup and maintenance costs are incurred. You can easily register and access Google Classroom for free with your school/college/university email ID. Simply type classroom.google.com  in your browser, sign-in and you can start using Google Classroom right away. 

#6 Integration

Moodle – To enhance the learning experience, Moodle also offers several free and paid integrations.  Some of the certified integrations for Moodle are – BigBlueButton, Bongo, Intelliboard, SimCheck, GO1, JFusion, Joomdle, and Promoodle. Programs such as Respondus, StudyMate, BigBlueButton, Turning Tech, Turnitin2, Certificates, Attendance, Tegrity, Questionnaire, Virtual Programming Lab, and Badges work right in with Moodle. Instructors can even use Camtasia and Snagit software for effective in-screen capture, recording and video editing. Moodle has also developed integrations with other education systems, such as Student Information Systems (SIS’s). 

Pro tip -: You can even integrate Moodle with WordPress and WooCommerce for selling your Moodle courses via multiple payment gateways on WordPress powered by WooCommerce plugins. 

Google Classroom – Google Classroom lacks any meaningful integration with the major SIS providers. However, it provides seamless integration with Google Drive. It is easier for teachers to attach G Suite files such as docs, slides, sheets, or forms to improve learning outcomes. It also provides smooth integration with several education applications such as Squigi, Writable, Pearson education, Activity learn, Aeris, Google apps etc. Integration with other edTech tools such as Pear Deck and Edpuzzle is a great plus as teachers can link to external resources or assignments on other programs they often use in their classrooms with their students.

#7 Grading 

Moodle – When it comes to grading, both Moodle and Google Classroom serves the purpose. However, grading is much more refined and diverse in Moodle as compared to Google Classroom. Moodle supports more than 12 types of assessments. There are multiple grading alternatives available to grade different assessments in different ways in Moodle.  Moodle’s Gradebook is simple to use where the grades get recorded automatically since all the assignments are integrated. Also, in Moodle, an assessment can display questions from a pool, questions can be randomized or if required each assessment question can be assigned a time limit. This is not possible in Google Classroom.

Google Classroom – Google Classroom also provides a gradebook. But the grade book does not sync with all the district’s gradebook. So, in order to achieve this, you will be required to manually transfer the grades received.  

In Moodle, a teacher can easily set a time limit to answer a single question in a test. This functionality is not available in Google Classroom. You can impose a specific duration or time limit on an assignment or a quiz as a whole but not for a single question. In a nutshell, grading or reviewing assignments in Google Classroom is convenient and efficient. But the grading options are limited and are not as dynamic as Moodle. If your school uses IB (International Baccalaureate), or AP (Advanced Placement), or standards-based learning, setting up the grading features correctly can be a bit difficult.

#8 Pricing

Your budget is another key factor to be considered before you zero in on the right e-Learning platform.

Moodle – Moodle is an open-source platform that is free to download and install. If set up on a dedicated server, you will have to bear the configuration, set up and overall maintenance costs. In case, you don’t have enough resources to manage a separate server for Moodle. 

There are three options offered by MoodleCloud:

  • Moodle for Free (No trial, no credit card, 200 MB storage space for maximum 50 users)
  • MoodleCloud Starter (AUD $80/year with 200 MB storage space for a maximum of 50 users, ideal for a single class)
  •  Moodle for School(has 3 sub-packages – Mini, Small, Medium, perfect for multiple classes and workplaces)

Google Classroom – Google Classroom is a free service for teachers and students. However, they can’t sign up unless their school has registered for the free Google for Education package. Google also offers optional products and services, such as Chromebooks, authoring tools, and professional services.

#9 Support

Moodle – The Moodle community provides 24×7 free technical support. It may be a little difficult for beginners to understand Moodle. So, it offers the assistance of Moodle certified experts to help you get started. These experts provide you with all the technical support and other services if need be.

For top-class knowledge sharing, there are MoodleMoots organized across the globe – a conference to share the best practices, updates and new discoveries in Moodle.

Google Classroom – Google Classroom offers limited tech support. 

Your Needs are of Top Priority

First things first – Figure out your needs! What matters is what you want, how you design your courses on your LMS and your level of expertise in handling new EdTech systems. Your needs will ultimately decide the ideal LMS for you. 

For your advanced e-Learning needs, we would say that Moodle is definitely a better tool as it offers immense scope for improvisation and customization. It gets even better with the great variety of supporting tools that can be easily incorporated in Moodle to take your Moodle experience to the next level. 

Google Classroom is well suited for beginners and new learners. It might be less appropriate for classes that need interactive, in-depth teaching of concepts since it lacks a convenient way to record video. But if you want to keep it simple and want an easy-to-use learning platform to deliver notes, share study resources with students, provide students with assignments, and conduct online tests, you could go for Google Classroom.

Hope this was a good read for you. Let us know what you think about this article in the comments below. 

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