Can I build my Learning Management System on Drupal?

Can I build my Learning Management System on Drupal?

eLearning can mean different things to different people. A place to view wide assortments of content – an a-la-carte menu of material organized by learning topics? Some equate eLearning to distance learning, i.e. a live delivery of courses for people who do not have time to attend real time classes. Others swear by DIY videos, assignments, tests and group activities. Probably, as we speak, a class blended with all of the above, is being conducted in a university, a corporate training facility or even a remote school somewhere! The possibilities are endless.

Learning Management systems (LMS), binds these endless possibilities – learning pedagogy, styles, content structuring and classroom methodologies to robust technology platforms. If you’ve probably guessed by now, Drupal along with Moodle, Joomla and many others have become industry standard technology platforms for supporting eLearning classrooms across the globe.

If you’re a teacher/university prof/corporate head of a learning and development division, you must have already heard about Moodle. Chances are, you’ve got multiple learning solutions on Moodle too. This blog doesn’t speak about Moodle and its fallacies or its greatness; however, it wishes to bring to you the perspective of why Drupal needn’t be struck off your selection list, if you’re looking at options to build your next LMS.

So, how do you know if Drupal is right for your business / institution?

  • When learning content is varied, learning requirements change frequently and technology resources are limited

It is a common misconception that ready to use learning related functionality does not exist in Drupal. Due to its large community base, today, Drupal boasts of multiple re-usable modules, themes that cater to eLearning needs. Also, if your requirements for an LMS are prone to frequent rounds of changes, Drupal offers a lot of flexibility.

The framework has no fixed agenda for eLearning related functionality, and is open for variety of industries. This offers development teams flexibility, while customizing code for organization specific needs. Some of the learning related features that Drupal offers:-

  • Support for Courses, Resources, Assignments, Work, Quizzes, Timetable, News
  • Support for H5P interactivity – interactive video, games, presentations, flash etc
  • Support for Videos – upload, play and transform videos to any format
  • Support for Mobile Availability – Responsive web design allows Drupal based portals to be viewed on various mobile devices
  • Support for SCORM trackable output, HTML authoring
  • Language Support for 55 languages including English, Arabic, Persian and Hebrew
  • Easy to use interface
  • When other interoperating existing learning / operational systems are non-Moodle based

In most universities, colleges, schools, other learning or non-learning based content management systems are based on the Drupal platform. Choosing a Drupal based learning platform eases not only maintenance of these systems, but also allows for reuse of in-house expertise available for Drupal.

  • When other interoperating existing learning / operational systems are Moodle based

As the Drupal platform is based on the PHP framework, integration to an existing Moodle system becomes simple. There again, folks who helped you build your earlier Moodle portals can help complete the integration process with ease. Drupal also provides various connectors for these integrations.

  • When cost, performance and responsiveness are important concerns

Drupal is open source, free for usage and distribution in 71 universities of the top 100 in the United States. Due to such large implementations, performance and scalability concerns are also addressed by Drupal via several features and configuration options. These options are present in both,- core install and contributed modules. These include:

  • Internal Page Caching and Persistent Caching features – Minimizes database lookups and decrease page load times
  • Compression – Drupal provides an option to compress cached pages
  • Updating with unexpected messages to be logged by the operating system rather than the database, which can help to reduce load on an overworked database server

All in all, an LMS needs to be flexible, extensible and configurable. The Drupal framework definitely fits the bill and can be the right platform for tomorrow’s learning needs. The question is – will you let it?

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