Chicago elearning and technology showcase

Kineo U.S. CEO Steve Lowenthal led a breakout session entitled Moodle: Changing the Face of Corporate Elearning at the Chicago Elearning and Technology Showcase on August 19th.

Change in the Air

More than 180 Chicago learning and development professionals gathered at Roosevelt University in the heart of Chicago on August 19th. The morning keynote, Ana Belyaev, Founder CEO Type A Learning Agency set the tone for the day as she highlighted the unique confluence of factors bearing down on learning organisations and professionals. She delivered a sober message about the intense financial pressure the industry is feeling including her own decision to wind down the company she founded more than ten years ago. She warned of new competitors coming from non-traditional places as the lines between learning, web technology, marketing and communication blur more and more each day. Finally, she challenged the audience to recognise the needs of today’s web savvy, information overloaded employees and to embrace new technologies and approaches to meet their needs.

Cool Tools

The afternoon keynote was Nancy Munro from Knowledge Shift. Nancy built on Ana’s call to action and provided whirlwind tour of some of the free tools (or close to) she uses to market her company and create learning and communication. Below is list of some of tools that she shared for creating, editing and distributing audio and video that you may find helpful.

  • Audacity: Audacity is an open source software for recording and editing sound.
  • HipCast: HipCast helps you create audio or video files and podcasts that can be posted on a blog.
  • Feedburner: Feedburner is a Google owned company that has tool to create the actual “feed” link and the one click URL that you can distribute or provide as a link on a website or email.
  • Animoto: Animato is cool app that creates a unique video that can include music and text from your still images

Kineo’s Session on Moodle

More than 45 conference attendees filled the room to learn more about Moodle. Not surprisingly, the big motivator for most to attend the session was money. For some that meant an escape from annual licensing fees, but for many others it meant getting paid for the training they’ve developed.

Saving Money

As an open source solution, Moodle is license free, so the typical $6-10 per person annual payment is a thing of the past. But as they say “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. To use Moodle, you will need to host the application and backend database. This can be done internally at your organisation or you can partner with an organisation like Kineo to host your solution. Hosting costs can range pretty dramatically. Our own Kineo Open Source offers packages starting at just over $1,000 per year. Larger implementations that require multiple redundant servers, load balance and other technical hoo hah can be over $50,000 per year. Best to get some expert help if you fall into this category.

The other cost to consider is maintenance and support. Again these costs can vary quite dramatically depending on your needs. For some, a simple time and materials approach makes the most sense. Remember because Moodle is Open Source, you don’t have any vendor lock-in and can go to multiple vendors to get the best value. For larger implementations, an annual maintenance and support agreement often makes sense.

Making Money

With the economy stalled, many consultants and not-for-profits are looking at elearning as a vehicle to monetise their intellectual capital. They’re embracing easy to use authoring tools like Articulate and cranking out the courses, but then they hit at wall with questions like how am I going to host, launch, track and get paid for it? Aside from the cost advantage we discuss above, Moodle offers a number of great benefits to support this group:

1.It Looks Great

Well maybe not out of the box, but with the help of an html / Flash programmer or a relatively small investment of $1,500-$3,000 with a company like Kineo, you can make Moodle look like your website or your elearning courses.

2. It’s easy to implement ecommerce

Moodle comes with a PayPal enrollment plug-in for straight-forward needs or there are a number of custom plug-ins available for a fee. At Kineo we like a product by Course Merchant that brings some nice features like “shopping cart” and “buy now”.

3. No high tech skills required

Moodle was originally designed for University Professors to create and manage their own courses, so making changes and adding resources is done in a What You See is What You Get (WYSWYG) editor with simple drop downs, icons and forms.