(Edited by Tom Robb - original submission Tuesday, 22 February 2011, 03:49 PM)
I teach online for a community college. We use a hosted LMS called Angel. Blackboard purchased Angel a couple years ago. I have heard Angel will eventually merge into Blackboard within the next few years. I do not know how much Angel costs, but I understand cost was a consideration when my college chose it over Blackboard. Angel has a couple drawbacks. One drawback is the email app is internal only. You can only email other Angel users. There are forwarding options to forward Angel email to other accounts, but Angel doesn’t accept mail from external mail address. The second drawback is that Angel has limited web authoring options. In other words, Angel doesn’t seem to have advanced web authoring tools. Basic HTML within the course shells is all you have to work with.
Angel has a tabular interface and is very clean and intuitive. It looks more like a stand alone application than a web page. It includes easily identifiable icons for pages, files, folders, links, drop boxes, surveys, games, forums, blogs, RSSs, and wickis. I went through an hour of instruction and another couple hours of playing with Angel before I become proficient with it. I like the reporting and statistical information. The gradebook is a wiz to manage and manipulate. I also like being able to easily port course material from one course to another. For instance, I could have a test question in a different class I had the previous year, and import it into a current class using a directory interface. I also like being able to have all the links work when making a copy of a class. I literally have classes that only take me thirty minutes to prep (changing dates) for an entire course. Besides the email deficit, the chat feature in Angel is pretty standard. The forum is also very clean and easy to navigate. In fact, every time I use the Moodle forum I cringe because it looks like a decade old website compared to Angel. I also like the mobile options. I managed my classes from my phone for a week while I was on a trip last summer. The help is similar to what you would find in a Microsoft Office application and it is full of screen cast video tutorials. If you don’t know how to do something, there is a video that shows you how. Now, it is obvious I am a bit bias, but Angel is does have some benefits. I also like having an institution hosted LMS with staff available to assist and support.
In the past, my college hosted WebCT. I don’t know much about WebCT, but I have been told Angel is a modern improvement over WebCT. Some professors at my college internally host Moodle for their classes. My college moved from Moodle to Angel for various reasons. I believe the main reason was Moodle is a nightmare to host over a network compared to Angel. I understand site wide reporting is an issue along with network security. Another reason was Angel has fewer browser compatibility issues. Also, Moodle is not ADA compliant. However, a skilled administrator could probably solve this with some programming. I have only used Moodle as a student. The appearance of Moodle very busy and doesn’t seem to be well organized. I do like the communication options for email though...very much! While Moodle looks busy, it appears to have a lot of web authoring capabilities including plug-ins…similar to a standard website. The important thing to remember is Moodle is free...any thing for free is cool.
I found an interesting site that talks more about Moodle’s pros and cons. The site supports my observations. http://joedeegan.blogspot.com/2010/06/moodle-pros-and-cons-update.html
I only have experience with Angel as an instructor and Moodle as a student. They both appear to have pros and cons beyond the scope of my experience.