The Case for Moodle & Totara

Understanding the Open-Source eLearning Ecosystem

By Adina Sapp

Not surprisingly, recent data from CLO’s 2018 Learning State of the Industry survey found that budget is one of the greatest L&D technology challenges for the next year, along with data integration and the need to align L&D technology operations, practices, and systems across different business units. Pricing is the top consideration for any new L&D technology platform, followed by ease of use and product features. Analytics, ease of integration with existing ERP/in-house software and vendor support are also highly prioritized.1

Corporations of all sizes around the world are finding that open source eLearning is the best answer to their budgetary, integration and analytics requirements for enterprise education. Of the many learning platform options out there, Moodle is the most widely used, with a user base of more than 130 million worldwide.2

“Open source clients are incentivized by the fact that it is free,” says Brian Carlson, CEO and Co-Founder of eThink Education. “But it is also a very powerful solution. The fact that it is open source is an enormous advantage from a technical and functional perspective. The code is open, and you can do whatever you want with it. It is extremely flexible.”

Founded in 2008, eThink has been an official Moodle Partner since 2016 and an official Totara Partner since 2017. Moodle has been the best-known open source LMS in the world for more than a decade,3 and Totara emerged in 2014 as a “fork” of Moodle that builds upon Moodle’s core structure with features tailored specifically for the corporate, health care and government environments. Totara is also ranked as one of the world’s top learning portals.4

CLO’s 2018 Learning State of the Industry survey also found that cloud-based software is the most preferred method of acquiring L&D management software, followed by in-house custom development. Moodle and Totara support the implementation of both.

“Moodle and Totara excel at streamlining the educational lifecycle of the employee. Both platforms provide the ability to assign personal and company training goals while offering engaging educational opportunities for employees and can monitor learner progress to provide valuable analytics for informed decision-making regarding your training programs.”
— Cheryl Patsavos, COO and Co-Founder, eThink Education

“The corporate and pro-ed market is following a similar trend to what we saw in the college market about 10 years ago,” Carlson says. “Many organizations are moving from closed source legacy systems to open source. It is very much a best-of-breed market right now, and clients are buying multiple technologies and tools that fit together in their open eLearning environment. Having solutions that integrate and play well together is imperative to achieving eLearning success today.”

What makes Moodle and Totara exceptional from a technical and functional perspective is their extreme flexibility and the active user communities that continually provide new solutions and modules. There are thousands of active users in the Moodle forums and more than 1,500 free plugins that can be used by anyone.5 While the technology across organizations may be different, the business problems are often the same. “The community doesn’t just provide edits and contribute code; they talk to each other about how they solved problems and configured their sites in a certain way to achieve certain goals,” Carlson says. “There is a wealth of information in the community to take advantage of.”

For service providers such as eThink Education, the fact that Moodle is free lowers the price point for customers; they pay only for services. “That makes us, as a company providing a free solution, very powerful in terms of providing options. This unique model means that we have to be very strong with the services we offer. The benefit to the market is competition on services. eThink is able to ensure exceptional service quality, and because of this we’ve held a 99 percent client retention rate over 10 years of business. Open source solutions enable a different model than what you typically see in the closed source market,” Carlson says.

In addition to education on integration, coaching, video solutions and analytics, eThink can help companies decide whether Moodle or Totara will suit them best, and even help them migrate between the two as their needs change.

Moodle is appropriate across all organization types and education levels, including K–12, colleges, universities and professional learning at corporate businesses, nonprofits and federal institutions. Totara, with specific features aimed at meeting training needs in organizations, is ideal for any type of business.

To learn how to take advantage of the flexibility and functionality of an open source learning platform, attend a virtual webinar, contact a certified Moodle or Totara partner, or schedule a personalized demonstration. From very large federal agencies to the smallest nonprofits, open source technology can be customized to meet specific business and training needs. Learning leaders need an individualized demo to see what the Moodle and Totara learning platforms can really do.

Learn more about eThink’s enterprise level support for Moodle and Totara or the move to open source at

1 Chief Learning Officer (2018). State of the Industry survey.

2 Moodle Statistics.

3 Hall, Brandon (2007). “Five Open-Source Learning Management Systems.” Chief Learning Officer.

4 eThink (2017). eThink education becomes a Totara partner.

5 Moodle Plugins.

eThink Education provides a world-class, fully-managed eLearning solution including implementation, cloud hosting, integration, consultation, and management services for open-source Moodle and Totara. Managed by experts, eThink’s total solution provides a dynamic and customizable platform to meet specific institutional and organizational needs. With clients in various industries including Higher Education, K-12, Healthcare, Nonprofit, Government, and Corporate, eThink can help all types of organizations to maximize the effectiveness of their eLearning programs for improved business outcomes. For more information about eThink Education, please visit