Moodle v Blackboard. Does less mean more?

The following chart is showing the average hits on the Blackboard and Moodle websites for each grade group of flex students.

The main point of interest in this figure is the considerable difference in hits between the two systems for each of the grade groups. For example HD students on Blackboard averaged 730 hits while the HD students on Moodle averages 533. The obvious reason for this is that Moodle has a very flat interface compared to Blackboard which requires more clicks by the students to get to the information and tools they require. Consider the following figure that shows on the left, the average number of pages per visit by users, and on the right the average amount of time on site.

The average number of pages per visit result aligns with the previous statement about Moodle having a flatter user interface that requires less clicking around by the users. However the right hand figure I find quite surprising. To me these results are saying that while students are spending almost the same amount of time on site with Moodle as they were on Blackboard, they are spending less time clicking around the user interface. Does this mean that ‘out of the box’ Moodle is better? It will be interesting as more of this sort of data comes to light and comparisons can be made on a range different metrics.

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6 thoughts on “Moodle v Blackboard. Does less mean more?”

  1. Hey Colin,

    This is really interesting stuff!

    I had someone in a training session a couple of weeks back who was also an experience Bb user sum up Moodle in one sentence:

    “Moodle: Less click, more scroll.”

    I laughed at the time, but the more I thought about it the more it seemed to ring true from my (granted, limited) experience with Bb.

    Thanks for sharing the data.

    Mark.

  2. Same time and less clicks may also mean that Moodle is responding slower. Taking the user more time to achieve what they want to do.

    The less clicks/more scroll that Mark points out could be either a bad or a good thing. A click tends to suggest that the user knows where they are going (they may not). More time between clicks might mean the user is having to scroll and find/figure out where to go next – they might be more lost. It might not mean that.

    You’re starting to get into the difference between the “what” – the pattern you show above – and the “why” – the reasons this is happening. More research, different methods required.

    In this case, a straight user interface comparison trial between the same course in the two systems would seem to be the way to go.

  3. Very intereresting work Colin. Here at Uni Canberra we’ve been working with our colleagues at ANU to compare past WebCT and curent Moodle usage – early toughts were that Moodle generated maybe 20-30% less apache ‘hits’ for similar course activity, all other things being equal.

    My take on your average time graph is that this cohort of students may not have changed practice, but that Bb could just be sending more http ‘stuff’ down the pipe in response to a student action- not necessarily requiring many more clicks.

    We’re now focussing on comparisons of Moodle ‘actions’ ( = view- + post-types) for each activity, rather than web-server ‘hits’, on the assumption that view-actions might be a proxy for ‘delivery’ practice (download a doc, read a forum etc), whereas post-actions could be indicatve of more student interaction (answer a quiz, submit an assignment, submit a forum post etc).

    Would be very interested to compare notes …

  4. HI

    We are just moving to Moodle from Blackboard and I am interested in this data but find it hard to interpret. During our evaluation of the two systems it was often quoted that Moodle required less clicking as if that in itself was a noble thing. I voted very strongly for Blackboard and I have yet to be convinced that Moodle is superior. I HATE the flat structure. It doesn’t easily allow for sophisticated design, as far as I can see. It seems to me like everything is presented to the student at once with no sense of depth and organisation. I am hoping that I see something at MoodleMoot that changes my opinion and that makes me less anxious about our impending change.

    1. G’day Lilian

      I understand your dilemma as I’m not a fan of the flat Moodle structure or the ‘overly’ hierarchical Blackboard structure except in specific contexts where they suit the discipline. For me I don’t think the question is which LMS to choose but why choose a particular LMS.

      Most Universities offer a range of courses across a range of disciplines, and the assumption that a single enterprise LMS will meet the requirements of all the courses is flawed no matter how clever the course designs. Unfortunately most universities seem to be managed according to business rules where reducing cost (duplication) is an overarching goal and this is especially true of IT departments who have a strong influence in the eLearning sphere.

      Personally, I believe that LMS are too ‘content’ focused and are not yet harnessing the interactive potential of the medium. Interesting and often frustrating times to say the least. I look forward to catching up with you at MoodleMoot.

      Col.

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