NOT using the word Moodle

On my travels I’m often asked “what does “Moodle” mean?” and I reel out the acronym Modular- Object -Oriented -Dynamic -Learning Environment, together with the information that “to moodle” is also a verb describing the  process of lazily meandering through something, doing things as it occurs to you to do them, an enjoyable tinkering that often leads to insight and creativity. (See Moodle.org for more)

The word Moodle™ is trademarked, however, which means that if you are not an official Moodle Partner, then you can’t use the word Moodle alongside related paid services such as training or hosting. This is perfectly reasonable, because otherwise every Tom, Dick, Harry -or even Mary- would advertise themselves with the word and the logos -  and then potentially substandard services could bring the name into disrepute. Moodle Partners are vetted for quality (and also contribute back towards the development of Moodle.) Years ago when I first began blogging, I was naively ignorant of this and called my blog moodletraining – only to receive a warning within weeks that this was a no-no; hence its current plain but descriptive name. (Still, at least the warning meant people were reading it!)

This does make for interesting linguistic challenges though as an individual or little enterprise offering training: how can you advertise without using the word itself? While it’s clear from some websites, that a number of companies just ignore the rule completely, others are very imaginative – one in particular taking its inspiration from a Britvic softdrink :) Despite being very careful, the training centre at my school,OurLearning, fell foul of Moodle Partner wrath last summer because we had “Moodle” in the title of a couple of our courses. A quick Search and Replace rid us of all offending terms, but somehow, VLE 2 just doesn’t quite get the message across! Fortunately I am  allowed to say I am the author of books about Moodle,  but I confess I nearly went into hiding last year when, having cheerfully agreed to write  a foreword for Vinny Stocker’s Science Teaching with Moodle 2 my free copy arrived emblazoned with “Moodle trainer and Consultant” on the front cover. Noooooooo!!  I didn’t call myself  that, honest.

I’d imagine that  while the trademark rules apply to the words written online and on paper, in general conversation it’s not quite as rigid. However, Paula, our training co-ordinator, is so paranoid about it that she refuses to use the term even when talking on the telephone, for fear, I suspect, that the Trademark Police might have tapped her phone and heard her using the “M-word” innappropriately. (It’s ok; she doesn’t read this blog!) Most times that doesn’t matter, but it did cause some confusion in September when she was trying to explain to a potential client that although it does say we offer VLE courses, actually, Mary is unable to provide training on Microsoft Sharepoint…

Of course, thoughtless use of terminology can backfire in the opposite way too: I went to a school in Oldham to present Moodle to the staff on an INSET day. I talked about Our Lady’s use of Moodle; I showed them example Moodle courses with good practice, explained how Moodle would save them time on marking, motivate their students, how the Moodle community would offer free help and support… and at the end of my hour slot, one lady, with a particularly puzzled expression,  raised her hand: “Excuse me – but -what exactly IS Moodle?” she asked. Before I was able to formulate a response, her colleague nudged her: “It’s the VLE” she explained.  Enlightenment shone across the first lady’s face: “Oh -THE VLE!!” she exclaimed; “why didn’t she say that?!”

3 thoughts on “NOT using the word Moodle

  1. Ian Tasker

    Given that Moodle strives to be free and open in comparison the Moodle partner program is closed and protectionist.

    We applied for Moodle partner status previously and was informed that they are not accepting any further applications for Moodle partners in the UK.

    If the UK partner program is closed with no possibility of it either expanding or existing partners being removed, this looks very protectionist and bias to current partners that were accepted on a first come first served basis.

    This creates an unlevel playing field in favour of Moodle partners and Public or academic organisations. Public or academic organisations are excluded from become partners but are allowed to offer Moodle services.

    Competition drives innovation, without a more open partner program how can Moodle HQ justify clamping down on companies that are offering high quality innovative services and want to join the partner program but for it to be closed, at the benefit of the exists partners?

    The only available route to become a Moodle Partner in the UK is to purchase an existing partner as remote learner did with pteppic.net.

    There is glint of light in this protectionist world, you can use the term ‘Moodle’ in relation to products as this is not covered by the trademark. so If your product for Moodle includes the word ‘Moodle’ then this is allowed and has been confirmed by Moodle HQ in previous correspondence.

  2. Daniel METHOT

    Bonjour,
    La non utilisation du mot Moodle à des fins de formation rémunérée est un véritable problème pour les petites structures qui offrent des services très bon marché de formation mais qui, par conséquent n’ont absolument pas les moyens financiers nécessaires pour devenir “Moodle Partner”. Elles sont par contre très utiles à tous les “désargentés” de la planète.
    On notera que de très nombreuses formations se font en interne dans les écoles et Universités sans avoir non plus la garantie de la compétence des formateurs. Elles échappent à la règle et contredisent l’argument de la non-dévalorisation du sigle Moodle.
    Enfin, cette obligation faite aux promoteurs et soutiens actifs des logiciels libres les entraîne forcément sur le chemin de la commercialisation traditionnelle, mercantile, débridée et… spéculative contre laquelle nous combattons.
    Que faire alors puisqu’il n’est pas possible de vendre des formations à Moodle mais qu’il devient possible de le faire si l’on est riche ?
    Il en est souvent ainsi en ce monde ou même les plus belles idées sont dévoyées par l’argent.
    Que dire du site Moodle.org hébergé dans un pays qui prétend gouverner la planète et dans un état le Texas qui pratique la peine de mort.
    Comme quoi en toute chose il faut savoir juger de ce qui est essentiel et… moral.

    Daniel

    Moodleur francophone actif

  3. admin Post author

    Here is a very rough translation of Daniel’s comment. (Feel free to improve on the translation if you wish)

    Not using the word Moodle in paid for training is a real problem for small businesses who offer very cheap services but simply don’t have the financial means of becoming Moodle partners. On the other hand they’re very useful to all those on the planet without huge funds. Worth noting that a lot of training is done inside schools and universities with no guarantee of quality.They escape the rule and contradict the argument about devaluing the brand. This requirement made of promoters and active supporters of open source software forces them down the commercialisation, route, unbridled and speculative – going against everything that we’re fighting for. What are we meant to do then since it isn’t possible to sell Moodle training but it becomes possible to do so if you are rich enough?This is often the case in a world where the best ideas are corrupted by money And what to say about the main Moodle site itself, hosted in a country that thinks it rules the world and in the state of Texas which practises the death penalty. Like everything we need know how to judge what’s essential -and moral
    Daniel
    active Moodler in the French -speaking community

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