Drupal & Moodle combo - the best of both worlds?
How putting Moodle and Drupal together can provide you with the best of these leading open source solutions.
Moodle is a great Open Source LMS. It's well supported and actively maintained by a committed, expert community. But it's very focussed on what it does best - e-learning. It may be used in more or less every sector that requires on-line learning, but it feels most at home in the tertiary sector rather than supporting younger learners. Sure, you can change the look and feel, but its reputation with many developers suggests that advanced theming can be difficult. And crucially, its workflow is not as flexible as that of many modern tools when teams are contributing content.
So how to integrate Moodle within a wider intranet? When Sereno has been asked to add a twist of e-learning to a secure CMS intranet in the past, we've chosen to plug Moodle into bespoke PHP Symfony-based pages. But we've never yet bitten off a project which has called for the integration of Drupal with Moodle.
A couple of recent conversations in the Drupal community has made me think about this possibility, so I was interested to come across a talk called Moodle and Drupal CMS Integration by Meredith Henson of Catalyst IT at the Moodlemoot 2011. It's available on-line.
Meredith talks about the high points of a Drupal site - its user-friendly social networking capabilities, its taxonomies and above all, the availability of advanced content workflow. This allows content to move through pre-defined steps towards publication, based on activities of users with special permissions.
She talked through several projects she's worked on which have successfully combined the two webs apps. Drupal is used as a content platform and incorporates Moodle, which feeds course information into the Drupal front-end - using the MNet module - via RSS.
It seems to me that potentially, bringing single sign-on to a Drupal/Moodle combo would make for rapid development and a great user experience. It would let users make seamless transitions between forums, quizzes, courses and communities of practice without compromising the usual Moodle management tools for tutors.
Case studies include Moodle in Schools - a community resource for primary and secondary teachers. This allowed a child-friendly site, fronted by Drupal, to leverage the power of Moodle as an LMS once the user has joined. Moodle accounts are created on user registration to Drupal. Meredith highlights a few crucial Drupal modules which have been particularly helpful here - workflow, organic groups and profile installer.
Interesting stuff. Have a look at the video here. And leave your thoughts if you have had good or bad experiences of combining Drupal and Moodle.