Hopefully by now, you’ve heard of Moodle Workplace – our new product designed especially for learning and development in the workplace. I want to take this opportunity to give you an insight into this new product, and how we will be managing it going forward.
Contrary to how many think about it, Moodle Core (our primary product, open source under the GPL) is focussed on ALL sectors of education, but it’s true to say that our open development process has certainly allowed higher education in particular to have the most influence on the core development process, including contributions and the setting of priorities.
A number of people in our community have been asking for Moodle to put more explicit effort into the workplace market for a long time. There are discussions in the Moodle community about “Moodle Enterprise” going back as far as 2005.
Over the years, a number of Moodle Partners and others have created extra plugins on their own for Moodle specifically to address the Workplace market, with varying designs and degrees of success. Some people have even forked Moodle for this purpose.
That is, of course, perfectly legal with open source, and has helped many clients, but it has also fragmented the options available to new clients and taken resources away from core development.
And so, for the past few years, Moodle HQ has been discussing with Partners how we can make a Workplace product that is symbiotic with core, while providing a high baseline for them to create quality solutions for their clients.
Finally in 2018, we put together an expert Moodle HQ team for developing this product, with a group of helpful Moodle Partners for expert advice, guidance and development.
This, subsequently, led to the development of a new product that is neatly built on top of Moodle Core, addressing the primary needs of the Workplace sector. As an extension of open source core, everything in Moodle Workplace is also licensed as GPL.
However, we are restricting distribution to our Moodle Partner program for now (by contracts) so that the only way you can get Workplace is by working with one of our Partners (or by becoming certified as a Moodle Partner).
Why have we chosen this path?
The main reason is for the sustainability of our company. Like any enterprise, we have to find revenue to pay our people to work on our projects, and most of our income comes through our certified Partners. By supporting our Partners in this way we can add more value to the Partner program, enabling those that have helped create Workplace, and in return helping us with increased revenue (around 10% of all revenue that Partners make comes to Moodle HQ via royalties).
As proud as we are with what we’ve achieved with Workplace, it is important to say that Workplace is a secondary product for Moodle HQ, and that our Mission of “Empowering Educators to improve our world”, as well as our Values, is best met through improvements to our main open source product, Moodle Core.
So how does Moodle Workplace help improve Moodle Core?
There are two main ways this will happen:
- The increased revenues from Workplace users via our existing (and future) Moodle Partners will allow us to grow our team of core developers, researchers, educators and UX specialists. This will help us improve Moodle Core by developing new features, fixing bugs, synchronising and supporting the thousands of developers in our community, and so on.
- The Workplace team have many features on their roadmap that are beneficial for users in higher education and schools. Each case will be evaluated individually, but over time, you will see continual new features incorporated into Core that have been derived from Workplace. Not all Workplace features will migrate to Core, and Workplace will always have (old and new) features that are not in Core.
I hope this has given you a better understanding on how things work in a true open source project such as Moodle and how we have to balance between giving away all our software and paying salaries to the 75 people (and their families) who work for Moodle HQ.
I’m very happy to at last welcome Moodle Workplace to our Moodle family, and if you’re looking for a Learning and Development solution in your organisation, then I hope you’ll consider Moodle Workplace.
CEO and Founder, Moodle