In July, 2015, Moodle launched Moodle Cloud, which allows you to deploy a Moodle LMS for free without installation or hosting fees. This is great news for people that want to dive into eLearning but don’t have a large budget or student base. It lets you dip your toes into creating online courses without a large time or money investment.
Reasons why Moodle created Moodle Cloud:
- Not everyone is tech savvy and wants and easy way to create an LMS
- While many pieces of Moodle are easy, installing software on a server, managing it, upgrades and maintenance aren’t for everyone
- This is geared towards small schools, companies or entrepreneurs that have small courses with a small audience with no budget
- They update the software for you to the latest version which allows all the safety security patches, features and flexibility available
- It’s responsive out of the box
- It includes a free version of BigBlueButton their solution for full online conferencing, including video, audio, whiteboards and desktop sharing.
What Moodle Cloud Includes:
- 50 users maximum
- 200Mb disk space
- But, you can host your large files with Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud or others
- You can host your videos with Youtube and it will automatically embed
- Core themes and plugins only
- One site per phone number
- In MoodleCloud the free BigBlueButton sessions are limited to 6 people, with no recordings, but we hope you’ll find this perfect for small classes and even study groups. You can add a conferencing session to your course just like any other class activity.
- There are ads in the footer
Sign up for Moodle Cloud
Watch my video review and signup steps of Moodle Cloud:
Welcome back to another great episode of the Online Course Coach Podcast. I have a really special late-breaking news podcast. As I’m recording this, Moodle has released something this week. You may not hear this for another week or two or month or three, but as I announce this and release this podcast, it will be breaking news. As you get this, it may not be the most recent breaking news, but I think it’s important to talk about, because learning management systems are always improving, always growing, and I like that because they’re fighting for our attention.
There’s the big players. There’s open source software like Moodle. There’s WordPress plug-ins like LearnDash and LifterLMS. I think it’s good that there’s a broad variety. There’s paid services. There’s one-time fee services, and there are open source services, and that’s good for us, because we get to choose. There are many choices.
If you like to get in and play with the code and tinker and build from scratch and then do a lot of these things like I do and my company does, then there are services for you. If you’re not technical, if you don’t want to bother with it, if you don’t have a huge budget, there are services for you. That’s what Moodle just released this week is something called Moodle Cloud.
I think it’s really important that we talk about different learning management systems or LMSs as they’re called in the industry, because it’s really cool that we get to pick, we get to choose and they’re always coming out with better features, better updates. Quite honestly, it reminds me of the iPhone, Android, Windows phone, all of that competition. They fight for our money, for our eyeballs, for our usage, and that’s what a lot of these LMS services are doing.
This week Moodle launched Moodle Cloud, which allows you to deploy a Moodle LMS for free without installation or hosting fees. Let’s talk about this. What are some of the reasons you may want to use Moodle Cloud, and then we’ll also talk about maybe some reasons why you may not want to use Moodle Cloud.
Let’s start off with the good things about it. Not everybody’s a tech-savvy person. Maybe they don’t want to dive into the code. They don’t want to build it from scratch. They don’t want to do it themselves. My company does that. We have a clientele that it doesn’t want to spend the time. They don’t want to waste all the time. They’d rather just pay a company to get it up, running, working, and use somebody else’s expertise, but not everybody is like that. Maybe you as a listener, maybe you want to do it yourself. Maybe you don’t have a huge budget.
While many pieces of Moodle are easy, installing software on a server, managing it, upgrades and maintenance, they’re not for everyone. You may not want to bother with that. You may think, “You know what? I’m not an IT guy. I’m not a tech-savvy person. I don’t care about that. I don’t stay up late at night thinking or dreaming in HTML,” and that’s fine. That’s where you can either pay a company. You can find one of these do-it-yourself solutions or all-in-one solutions, and Moodle Cloud might be geared for you.
Moodle Cloud is also geared towards small schools, small companies or entrepreneurs that have small courses with a small audience and no budget. Maybe you’re just starting something up, and you want to see the viability of, does this class, does this course, does this information, does it have an audience. You could use Moodle Cloud to spin that up.
It’s really cool too, Moodle Cloud updates a software for you to the latest version, so this allows all the safety, the security patches, new features and flexibility that the latest version of Moodle allows. If you’re familiar with I guess the normal version of Moodle, it’s not Moodle Cloud, or WordPress or some of these others, you have to update. You have to hit that Update button for plugins, for themes, for core, and sometimes that can be scary, and sometimes it can break things. Again, if you’re not an IT person, if you don’t want to mess with all of that, Moodle Cloud might be for you.
One thing I did like about Moodle Cloud, one of the many things I did like is it is responsive out of the box, which means it works on an iPhone or any Smartphone, for that matter, a tablet, laptop computer. It doesn’t matter where your students are, and we have a lot of clients that that’s very important. Their clientele may not be tech-savvy themselves. They might not even own a computer.
One of our clients, their students are tradesmen. They don’t really have access to computers and laptops a lot, but they generally have a Smartphone, and so it’s important that these courses come up in a responsive way on their phone that looks good, so not pinching and zooming and squeezing and squinting their eyes, but it comes up automatically.
Something else that’s really cool about Moodle Cloud is it includes a free version of what’s called BigBlueButton software, which is their solution for full online conferencing, which includes audio, video, whiteboards and desktop sharing, so you can do a lot of cool things with this BigBlueButton software.
I’ve had a chance to dig around in it. When you install it, when you sign up for this service … I guess “install” isn’t the right word, because it’s in the cloud. When you sign up for this service, and you can sign up at Moodle.com/Cloud, it’s pretty easy. You just sign up, enter your name, email, user name, a couple other pieces of information, and you actually have a authentication code that’s tied to your phone. That helps reduce spam, and I really think they’ve thought that through a lot, because that’s one of the things with some of the courses that might be free, or even if you have affiliate codes or affiliate spammers or people that are doing things illegally or unethically.
There are some really cool reasons why you may want to use Moodle Cloud. Again, if you’re not tech-savvy, if you’re a small school or company or entrepreneur, with a small course or audience, and maybe you don’t have a budget, maybe you like that it’s responsive and there’s some freebies that come with Moodle Cloud.
Here’s the best part. I haven’t even really talked about this. Moodle Cloud is free; all right? There’s no cost, and that may appeal to a lot of you that don’t have a budget, have a small budget, or you want to test something out. To me that’s one of the biggest reasons why to try this out is it’s free. You really have … I don’t want to say nothing to lose, because let’s say you do grow it, you do grow it to a substantial size, I would imagine, it looks like from my research you have to then go to a self-hosted installation of Moodle. I don’t know. Maybe Moodle Cloud will start having paid options. Once maybe you reach a certain maximum of users, maybe you’ll start having to pay them out. I don’t know. They haven’t released that from what I see.
Let’s talk about what Moodle Cloud includes. It includes a 50-user maximum. That could be good. It could be bad, based on your needs. A lot of our clients, that’s way too low, but for somebody that’s just starting out, it’s a good amount. Fifty is a good way to test out your course.
It has a 200-megabyte disk space limit, so you might be thinking, “Man, 200 megabytes, that’s several PDFs and what about videos, and I’m going to blow right by that. Is there any way to upgrade that?” Well, at this time, from what I’m reading, there is not, but the good thing is is you can host your large files, so PDFs, Word documents, photos maybe even. You can host those and embed them with Dropbox or Google Drive or iCloud or some of those other cloud services.
Then if you have videos, and in my company one of our specialties is video-based training, this is something we always recommend is host your videos outside of your LMS, especially Moodle and some of these, because that can really slow down your system. Now, I know some systems, even Udemy and some of these others, you almost have to upload your videos to them. It’s mandatory.
For a lot of these it’s recommended that you don’t host your videos with companies like Moodle or Moodle Cloud. You can host with YouTube, and it will automatically embed into the course, so that’s pretty cool. You can only use core themes and core plugins with Moodle Cloud. Moodle has its own set of plugins and themes that are available, so that’s really good, but it does limit the functionality. I know some of our courses, we had to either custom-create plugins, custom-code them, or we use existing plugins that were outside the repository or custom-created by somebody that we were able to use.
Then in Moodle Cloud the free BigBlueButton sessions, which are online conferences, are limited to six people, and you can’t record them. This could be good, but maybe if you want to record them, one option is you could use ScreenFlow or a screen-capture service to record those and post them that way. I don’t believe that’s against their terms of service. You might want to read them yourself.
In fact, I encourage you to read their terms of service. It’s a one-page document, and it’s actually something that’s easy to read. It’s kind of funny at times. It’s kind of intriguing. I read through that. I didn’t see that, but they might be adding or changing those terms of services at some point.
Here’s a kicker. Here’s maybe on of the cons of why you may not want to use Moodle Cloud is, yes, it’s free, but there are ads in the foot, and you can’t disable those. You can’t turn those off. In fact, those ads pay for the free service, and so if that’s a big deal to you, you may not want ads in the footer, and so Moodle Cloud may not be for you.
Here are some reasons why Moodle Cloud may not be for you, kind of summarizing the cons, the negatives, of Moodle Cloud. It’s a 50-user maximum. Again, that could be good for some of you, but it might really limit you both in the midterm and in the long-term. It has 200 mgs of disk space, so you may outgrow that, and you can only use core themes and plugins only, so again, this might be some limited thing.
One thing in their notes, it said it’s one site per phone number. I would imagine you can really only have one system admin, so for you that are just entrepreneurs or a single person owned business, that’s fine, but for corporations or companies of any substantial size, you may have multiple admins, multiple people that are in control of the site. We’ve had that instance before, and so this might not work for those. Then the video conferencing is only limited to six people you can’t record, and then there’s ads in the foot.
I’m really excited for this, because I think it opens the doors to a lot of people, the Moodle Cloud does, but just know what you’re getting beforehand. It’s a rented space. You’re using their system, and sometimes that can bite you in the long run. That’s why I always recommend thinking through what learning management system is best for your needs? Is it a free service, or is it a paid service.
Back when I first started my business, I always went with the free versions, and as I grew, I learned, you know what? Free is good, but sometimes free limits you and it holds you back. To be honest, there have been times where I was a cheapskate, and if I would have spent just a little bit of money or sometimes a lot of money, I would have been better off in the long run.
With Moodle Cloud, you don’t probably own the space. Maybe you own the content. Again, check out the terms of service, but you don’t own the space, so that might be concerning as well. That’s where maybe a WordPress based LMS or a different, maybe … I don’t know what the term is … the normal installation of Moodle would be, but consider those things.
Moodle Cloud reminds me a lot of WordPress, and the reason I keep bringing up WordPress, I have an extensive background in WordPress, and no, I don’t think that all courses should be or have to be on a WordPress site. I’m just a big WordPress fan. I’m a big part of the community. I go to WordCamps, but I don’t think that you have to use WordPress, nor do I think you always should use WordPress, but Moodle, the self-hosted version, and Moodle Cloud, remind me of WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
With WordPress.com, it’s free. It’s like your own private or personal blogging platform, but you’re limited. You can’t use a lot of themes or plugins. You only can use what they give you, and there are some limitations with that. A lot of times when I’m consulting or coaching different businesses, I absolutely tell them, “Do not use WordPress.com.” I just haven’t found an instance where my clientele, that it makes sense to use WordPress.com.
The self-hosted version of WordPress is called WordPress.org. You have it on your own hosting platform, so HostGater or GoDaddy or whatever, which I’m not a big GoDaddy fan, but that’s neither here nor there, and that’s how it is with Moodle and Moodle Cloud. Moodle Cloud, it’s hosted on their servers. They worry about the updates, upgrades, hosting, all that good stuff. The self-hosted Moodle install is on your server, so again, it could be on HostGater. It could be on some others that are more built for that.
That’s just a brief wrap-up of Moodle Cloud. I could go on for a while. I just wanted to give you some updates. I’m sure we’ll come back to this and talk about this in the future. I think it’s really cool that Moodle and other learning management companies are coming out with different systems that fit different audiences. This may be just right up your alley, a perfect fit for you, and you’re going to jump on this. If so, go to Moodle.com/Cloud and sign up. It might not be for you, and that’s fine. You may want to go with Moodle or a WordPress LMS or something, maybe even Udemy or something like that, and that’s fine.
We’ll talk about the differences in the future. We’ll have some guests on that are successful in these different platforms. I don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all. I think that it depends on your needs. It depends on your audience. It depends on your vision, your goals, and so that’s something that I coach my students with. We’ll talk about that in the future.
Thanks for tuning in to the show again. I’ve had a blast with these shows, releasing them. I’ve had a lot of good feedback. Man, it’s been a blast having this podcast. I’m really excited. We have a bunch of interviews and topics. I was just looking over my list, probably 80 to 100 different people and topics that I want to talk about, so we’ve got some work to do. We’re going to release these episodes on a weekly basis, and I’ll be having these on a regular basis, so keep coming back for more.
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That’s all for this show. I really appreciate it. I’ve had a blast, and we’ll keep coming back with more episodes in the future. Keep teaching, keep learning, and keep coming back to the show to learn about online courses.