EdTech Times had the honor to speak with Martin Dougiamas, Founder and CEO of Moodle.
Company at Glance:
Founder: Martin Dougiamas
Founded: 2002 (see more at https://docs.moodle.org/en/History)
Category: Learning Management System, Education
Product stage: Market
LinkedIn company page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/moodle-pty-ltd
Company Twitter: @moodle
Founder Twitter: @moodler
Other social media: https://moodle.org/social/
ETT: What is the market segment your company is in and who are your core customers?
Although we are often called an LMS, we refer to Moodle as an open source learning platform because we do much more than a strict definition of an LMS can allow. Moodle is currently used in more than 230 countries with more than 70 million users worldwide. The focus of Moodle is to provide educators (individuals, schools, universities or workplace) with the tools to build their own highly customized site for online and blended learning.
In the 12 years since its first version, Moodle has been adopted by many renowned organisations across the globe, including Australia National University, California State Universities, London School of Economics, Google Mount Sinai Hospital, Shell, Mazda, ING, Allianz, and Open University as a few examples.
ETT: How did you come across the problem you’re addressing and how did you define it – what was your process in identifying it?
When I started Moodle, the web was fairly new and was largely a one-way publishing medium. As an Internet developer since 1990, however, I knew a lot more interactivity and collaboration was possible via computers, and I started researching the latest in pedagogy and working on Moodle as a way to blend this into the growing web technology.
ETT: And how did you develop a solution to this particular problem and what was your process of arriving at it?
In the beginning, I did a few successive prototypes of Moodle using various backend technologies before settling on PHP as it allowed Moodle to be a platform that could run even on very cheap web-hosting servers. This was critical as it allowed even educators with very few resources (which is most of them) the chance to build an education platform quite easily. PHP is also a language that is easy to learn and use, and quite a few of our contributing developers have started as teachers who wanted to improve something small in Moodle and learned from there.
ETT: What it is that you’re doing differently than your competitors? And do you expect to develop other differentiators in the future?
Moodle will continue to be an open source learning platform and to try and take open source to new heights.
Unlike many .com companies in the edtech sector who may be driven to produce profit for investors, our main drive is to provide free tools for educators to use as they wish. Even though we do have a range of commercial services via our Moodle Partners (see moodle.com) all of these are designed to help pay developers to produce our free software.
ETT: Please describe your product development strategy and product stage. What we should expect to see from your company in the next 12 months – i.e. describe your potential next milestones?
You can see more details on http://docs.moodle.org/dev/Roadmap but in short you’ll be seeing better analytics, better tracking of competencies, easier maintenance, simplified UI, and a strong focus on mobile access.
ETT: Are you a disruptor, and why so? Do you believe you will remain as a disruptor in near foreseeable future or become a more mature company? Why is that so?
After 12 years, we are a fairly mature software product! We focus on providing a solid platform (a sort of LMS operating system) so that our community can innovate on top of it by writing plugins and integrations. We have a developed a lot of processes around core development that ensure good levels of stability.
That said we have a long list of great core features still coming down the pipeline and plans for growing our core team to 100 full-time developers.
ETT: Could you tell us about other startups or product builds that you have been a part of and what your role was?
Before Moodle I was briefly involved in a .com startup as the main product developer from which I learned never to put money first.
ETT: Where is education technology market going in the next few years, especially for LMS/CMS market segment?
Education technology is always diverse, and I think it will always remain so. A lot of trends seem to come along promising to be “the next big thing” and they always end up as yet another technique that we can all use, depending on the education needs of a particular group of people.
In such a huge diverse and global market there will always be the need for web sites to “be” educational institutions online, as places for educators and students to go to interact in specific ways.
For these reasons I think Moodle remains an exciting place to be and we are still having lots of fun here.
ETT: What advice, if any, do you have for someone thinking about launching a company in the education technology market?
I think you need to think very carefully about your own motivations for doing so. Education underpins nearly every important thing we can do on this planet and you should think seriously and respectfully about how you think you can assist educators do their critical work.
EdTech Times extends its gratitude to Martin for taking the time to reach out to our readers, and we suggest you learn more about Moodle at:
Yevgeny Ioffe, or as people call him, Yev, has been working in both the startup world and established companies. His career spans from joining Xplana Learning as it launched to Cengage Learning to MBS Direct when it acquired Xplana in 2009. Yevgeny brings to EdTech Times his passion for start-ups and technology, along with his interest in the ever evolving world of edtech. Yevgeny obtained his BSc and MA from Brandeis University and MBA from Boston College.