Rumblings of the Drupal LMS

CMS, Drupal, e-Learning, ELMS, LMS, Moodle, WordPress

I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter recently about Drupal as part of the university landscape.  One system that has yet to be created but there seems to be rumblings of is the Drupal LMS.  Conversations with various colleges and universities about the potential of using Drupal as the next LMS seem to be popping up more and more as well.  There are lots of closed source LMS out there, which I’m obviously in love with but a Drupal based LMS is a massive undertaking and currently, one does not exist (that’s an open distribution at least).

I was accused of starting to build an LMS a couple years ago when we started talking about ELMS (pronounced elms like the tree not E {pause} LMS).  I say accused because many open source LMSers will tell you to use Moodle and that anything else is a replication of effort.  As a side note just to make sure its in writing: ELMS is not an LMS, if anything it’s closer to a LCMS — Learning Content management system but as there is no fine grain user tracking or grade book component it’s not a learning management system.  I’m writing this to give exposure to a larger movement that seems to be afoot to make drupal a LMS.

Now as I’ve found in the past, you don’t bad-mouth Moodle, especially not while sitting in a MoodleMoot presentation ;).  Trust me, I’m sure you’d get a lot of platform fan-boyism from me about Drupal if criticized too, everyone loves their own kids :p.  But here are the reasons I usually steer people to Drupal away from Moodle.

  • Moodle is just an LMS
  • Drupal can be anything
So applying these logical conditions to the following problems, which makes the most economic sense long term (not tomorrow)?
  • We want to build a website for our college (Drupal)
  • We want to build an intranet for our department (Drupal)
  • We want to build a community site for our students (Drupal)
  • We want to build a mailing list for our alumni (Drupal)
  • We want to build an asset management system (Drupal)
  • We want to build a content management system (Drupal)
  • We want to build a LMS (Moodle?)
  • We want to build a blogging platform (Drup…ok no seriously just use WordPress)

So let me get this straight.  You’re telling me that Drupal can be used for all these different systems?  And that we will hire Drupal people and train people in Drupal for all these different purposes and can share employee knowledge / skills across the different units of our university… except for the LMS?  That’s a special exception because of the size and scale and it just can’t be done.  We need specialized programming knowledge in order for that to be achieved.

Really? I think what we need is access to specialized end-user knowledge.  Based on some discussions and presentations floating around the web I think you’ll start to see some movement towards a Drupal LMS.

Some postings I’m referencing as my “evidence” that there is movement here:

Ultimately I think various Drupal LMS platforms will start to emerge or at least good recipes for people to follow in building their own.  A few reasons as to why since I don’t need to go over them endlessly:

  • Drupal’s community is huge
  • Wide variety of Drupal themes
  • Tons of Drupal usage in higher education
  • Drupal is NOT educationally focused, so solutions are tailored to solve big architectural problems of the web (= lots of devs) and then viewed through the lens of an educator, modules can be selected and developed
  • Quiz, Gradebook, Content Outline Designer modules already exist and I’m sure others will start to pop up
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5 thoughts on “Rumblings of the Drupal LMS

  1. Good to connect with this project. I am a Drupal fan and currently seeking to implement an LMS solution for our company. Drupal is an awesome foundation for an LMS, but sadly there are few contributed modules that propose to an LMS features and the ones that do exist are just beginning. Another one to add to your list of Drupal modules above is http://drupal.org/project/cck_scorm. That project is seeking to link the http://www.vsscorm.net/ opensource SCORM player into Drupal. However, VSSCORM only supports 1.2 and not 2004 standards.

    I am not an expert on the various learning content standards, but if your project has some serious backing please do yourself and your potential users a great service and research the various learning content standards such as SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004, AICC, IMS, and more and leave room in your design to be able to upload these standard content types into your Drupal module.

    I would love to have something like that right now. If you are looking for an Open Source example of a SCORM 2004 player I think http://www.ilias.de get the prizes for the only Open Source software to be able to do it right now.

  2. Still yet I have seen Drupal as a good CMS only, it will take hard for me o accept it as a LMS as already have Moodle in first preference. Yet it can’t be said anything about Drupal as it has to deal hard to make it position as a good LMS.

    1. Maybe you’re just not looking in the right places. I know of many institutions / colleges, companies (Going On / Schoology) and organizations using Drupal and selling Drupal as an LMS. There is a very active education community on Drupal.org’s groups community (http://groups.drupal.org/drupal-education) and I imagine based on some work I know I’m engaged in over the next year that adoption will only expand. Moodle is fine, but long term I view Drupal as a Singularity technology that can be used to build and power all applications within an organization. This unifies development / management efforts and reduces costs after the initial learning curve as you then own and can manage all systems while distributing content entry to the individuals in the organization that need to add it.

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