A recent exchange online with colleagues in the Moodle community led me to take another look at the statistics about which institutions are using Moodle in comparison with Sakai. Before you read further, know that I think of Moodle as a sister open-source project to Sakai and would celebrate Moodle's increased adoption and success just as I would Sakai's.
Up till now, I've always felt publicly available information about who is using Sakai has been inaccurate, erring on the side of undercounting, while Moodle's published usage statistics have always seemed unbelievably high and in need of a lot of interpretation. Steps are being taken in the Sakai Community to do a better job of reporting who is using Sakai and how, but I would like to see even better information available because I know what we have is not yet complete and accurate.
Taking a new look at Moodle's statistics: clearly, a lot of people download, install and somehow use Moodle, but I find it hard to distill a realistic picture of enterprise use in educational institutions from the big numbers on display. For example, the two instances on record for UNC Charlotte together have 118,352 users and 40,438 sites! There must be more to that story. Big numbers like that just lead me to question what is really being counted. Moodle publishes how their statistics are generated—and it sounds highly credible—but when I look at the actual stats, I'm still left feeling like I'm not getting an accurate picture that really tells me which institutions are using Moodle and how.
As an experiment, I analyzed the 7,724 US sites shown in the Moodle stats as of 11 Nov 2009. 2,070 are private and are not shown and thus unavailable for analysis—hopefully, real Moodle implementations at .EDU sites are not keeping themselves private, as that would be a disservice to the larger Moodle community. Of the remaining 5,654, I was able to find 574 potentially valid .EDU domains (below). Many of them are clearly not enterprise, higher ed implementations, but are rather departmental, project-based or even K12; others appear to be duplicates. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to comb through this list and extract which are actual enterprise, production implementations of Moodle.
While it may look good for Moodle to have such big numbers, I think potential enterprise adopters would be better served if they could find a credible list of peer institutions who have adopted Moodle as their primary, enterprise online learning platform without having to engage in such involved filtering. I'm working with others in the Sakai community to provide exactly that kind of data to help people connect with peers and generate a more useful picture of Sakai's use.