The open source way

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The term “open source” refers to something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible.

In the case of software like Moodle LMS (and associated projects such as Moodle Apps and MoodleNet), the “source code” is licensed in a way that allows anyone to download the entire software for free, to change how it works by writing new code to add features to it, or to resolve a fault.

At Moodle we follow the four freedoms that traditionally define open source

Freedom

1

The freedom to run Moodle LMS as you wish, for any purpose.

Freedom

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The freedom to study how Moodle LMS works and change it as you wish. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Freedom

3

The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others.

Freedom

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The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Open source values

“Open source” also designates a broader set of values—what we call “the open source way.” Open source initiatives embrace and celebrate principles of open exchange, collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, transparency, meritocracy, and community-oriented development open to anyone in the world.

“Freedom in education technology is fundamental to allowing education to flourish and grow in a more equitable and accessible way”.

Open source benefits

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Moodle follows a distributed model of sustainability which provides maximum stability to Moodle as an independent online learning solution.

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The Moodle community

As an open source platform, Moodle LMS has a large community that has grown around the project. Since humble beginnings in 1999, thousands of developers, system administrators, educators and learners have participated on moodle.org, fixing bugs, writing new features, updating documentation, sharing tips, helping new users, sharing resources and debating new ideas. The Moodle community is an organism that contributes to and supports the evolution of Moodle LMS in an ongoing cycle of improvement.

Being open source doesn’t mean everyone is expected to work for free. Contributors are usually employed by their own respective organisations and the work they do on Moodle also contributes to their organisational goals.

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Moodle HQ

At the heart of Moodle development is the work done by Moodle Pty Ltd (distributed across many countries including Australia, Spain, US and others) and usually referred to as Moodle HQ. Moodle HQ has teams of developers, designers and support staff distributed globally that focus on growing the development of our core open source software and coordinating our community of developers and users.

Moodle HQ is funded primarily by our network of over 100 certified Moodle Service Providers, who pay around 10% royalties on their gross revenue towards the Moodle project. Without our network of Certified Service Providers and Partners, Moodle’s growth and reach would not have the same global impact it has today. We thank them for their commitment to Moodle and more broadly to facilitating the development of high quality learning environments.

Moodle LMS, the open source project at the heart of the Moodle ecosystem, contributes to the development of Moodle Workplace, a Moodle HQ proprietary software only available from Moodle’s network of Certified Service Providers. In a mutually beneficial relationship, enhancements created for workplace learning in Moodle Workplace contribute knowledge to our community of developers and Moodle LMS as open source code and features.

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Moodle Users Association

In addition to this, our friends at the Moodle Users Association are an independent organisation with hundreds of organisational and individual members that pool their resources to pay Moodle HQ to work on particular priorities that their members identify and vote on.

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Stability

This distributed model of sustainability provides maximum stability to Moodle as an independent online learning solution. However, even in the extremely unlikely case that Moodle HQ ever ceased to exist, the open source licenses guarantee Moodle LMS software would continue to be available and would continue to be developed by the community. This is completely unlike proprietary software from a single provider that can suddenly disappear because of organisational instability.

At Moodle, thousands of developers contribute to delivering a learning management system that’s secure and protects the privacy and security of learner’s and employee’s data.

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Thousands of developers

Writing any kind of complex code is difficult, a balancing act involving millions of lines of code requiring constant maintenance and review to make it as reliable and safe as possible.

Moodle has over 1000 developers participating in Moodle development through the various tools provided at moodle.org, coordinated by the core teams at Moodle HQ. The sheer numbers of developers looking at the code helps affirm Moodle’s reliability.

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Security by design

Moodle’s development practices include security by design. This means that we embed a security mindset right from the start in all of our development to deliver a secure platform.

Unlike proprietary software, where the code is hidden and bugs might be exploited, the Moodle community is constantly monitoring the source code and collaborating in making it more secure through public, well-established processes. This means that any bugs are detected and fixed quickly, reducing the impact of vulnerabilities and security breaches.

To protect all of our users, we practice responsible disclosure, which means we publicly announce issues that come to our attention only when fixes are available and after registered Moodle sites have had time to upgrade or patch their installations.

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Privacy Commitment

As an open source platform, Moodle LMS also enables your organisation to have complete control over your data, including how and where you store it. And, on top of that, we provide you with the best features and tools to ensure you can keep your learners’ data private and secure.

For those hosting their own Moodle site, we also offer guidance and best practices to enhance the security of your installation.

As the most customisable and feature-rich learning management system in the world, you have flexibility to design your LMS how you want it plus own your platform and data.

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Build your own platform

Moodle can be extended or modified by any organisation or developer, which means it can be moulded into solutions that are perfectly adapted to the needs of a particular organisation. This can range from simply changing the look of a site through a new “theme”, or it can involve extensive integrations to automate common processes. Moodle is actually an “LMS maker” rather than simply just an LMS.

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Own your platform & data

Because Moodle is so open and standard, you have complete flexibility over how and where you run the system and keep your data, and this can be changed at any time. There are no license fees or restrictions – you just need to find your own resources for hosting and support. If you have the capability, you can run it completely on your own servers, your laptop, or even a raspberry Pi on your desk! Or, obtain expert assistance from over 100 Certified Moodle Service Providers worldwide.

Unlike most proprietary software, open source software like Moodle means your choice of the product is separate from your choice of service provider.