Blog post:

Open edX vs. Moodle: A Comparison

Currently evaluating Open edX versus Moodle to power your online learning, but not sure which platform is better suited for your needs? You’ve come to the right place.

To determine which platform is right for you, it’s important to understand the histories of and differences between Open edX and Moodle.

Meet Open edX and Moodle

Open edX and Moodle are both open-source, online learning platforms that are purpose-built for different pedagogies, target audiences, and learning use cases. The open-source nature of both platforms means they are constantly iterating and improving with contributions from the broader open source community.

You can begin to see a difference between Open edX and Moodle through the way each one describes itself. Open edX describes itself as a free–and open source–course management system (CMS) […] used all over the world to host Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as well as smaller classes and training modules.

Moodle describes itself as a platform “guided by social constructionist pedagogy” and that it “delivers a powerful set of learner-centric tools and collaborative learning environments that empower both teaching and learning.”

Both Moodle and Open edX have years of experience. Moodle first arrived on the online learning scene over 15 years ago, while Open edX was launched more recently in 2013.

Target Audiences

Moodle and Open edX were both originally designed with educators in mind. However, over the years each platform has diverged to cater to distinct audiences. 

Moodle was built for a more traditional online classroom model, where online classroom sizes would typically range between 5-30 students. With a large breadth of customers who are primarily focused on higher education including the State University of New York and the London School of Economics, Moodle continues to have a strong presence in the world of academia.

On the flip side, Open edX was designed for the MOOC world of online and self-paced learning. Open edX caters nicely to larger-scale audiences, wherein the platform can easily scale from a few learners to millions of learners. Because of this, the platform has resonated beyond traditional audiences in higher education, and has established itself well with corporations, government organizations, non-profits, and small startups. Example customers include Starbucks, MongoDB, RedisLabs, and more.

open edx - redis university example
Open edX site example – Redis University

The MOOC-style setup of Open edX also enables more interactive participation than a simple online classroom. Open edX allows you to add interactive elements to your courses via XBlock plugins, which provide almost infinite flexibility to Open edX. In fact, XBlocks are a big reason for Open edX’s appeal to course authors, administrators, and instructors across organizations of all shapes and sizes

Although both Moodle and Open edX allow you to add features like videos, quizzes and exams, Moodle does have a larger library of plug-ins available out of the box for users. But where Moodle wins in volume, Open edX wins in the quality arena, with XBlocks made to seamlessly integrate with the authoring experience and far easier to design.


Community is an important part of choosing a platform, and both Open edX and Moodle have different but active communities that drive the direction of platform development. The Moodle community grew out of its base of K-12 education, whereas the Open edX community emerged from higher education, with the idea of sharing more complex and advanced information via MOOCs.

Ease of Use

Moodle is a stable platform but some users find the functions a bit unnatural, and the look of the site can feel a bit dated. Additionally, Moodle has chosen not to prioritized mobile-friendly development or APIs, which makes things difficult for some users. Open edX has better usability and uses APIs which make for even easier use. Additionally, services such as Appsembler’s Tahoe exists on Open edX to help take care of the technical aspects, and allow even easier use of the Open edX platform.

Click here to learn how to build your first Open edX Course

Example Customers of Open edX and Moodle

Open edX site example: Starbucks

Sometimes the differences between two products are made clear by who is using the products. Prestigious institutions like MIT, Harvard, and Stanford, as well as large innovative companies like Google, Amazon Web Services, and IBM are all using Open EdX. Moodle’s users include State University of New York, the London School of Economics, and companies such as Shell.

Final Thoughts

Both Moodle and Open edX are excellent platforms and each has its own advantages. Ultimately, choosing the right platform comes down to the following question: are you a modern user with a wide range of use cases that extend beyond traditional classroom learning, or are you an educator seeking a traditional classroom experience online? Moodle is the right choice for folks who aren’t concerned with how the platform looks, but care a lot about the K-12 audience, and feel more inclined to create traditional experiences.

However, if you are looking for something that has a more updated feel, that is geared for a massive user-base, and something that has a lot of versatility and flexibility, then Open edX is the right choice for you.

Want to learn more about how Open edX can work for your online learning needs? Click here to get a demo or start your 30-day free trial and see how Open edX is easier with Appsembler.


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