Comparison

  • Introduction
  • User interface
  • Ease of use
  • Features
  • Cost
  • Summary

NEO vs. Moodle

Introduction

NEO is a world class, award winning LMS for use by schools and universities. The platform is known for its easy-to-use and beautiful user interface, comprehensive set of innovative features, and pricing that provides great value for money. With NEO it's easy to create great classes that students will enjoy anytime, everywhere.

NEO is a product of CYPHER LEARNING, which also provides a similar LMS for use by businesses called MATRIX. Both NEO and MATRIX are used by over 20,000 organizations, support 40+ languages, and have millions of users.

Moodle is an open source LMS with a comprehensive feature set. You can download the source code and host it on your own servers, or pay a business such as Moodlerooms to host and support it for you.

NEO School portal

User interface

The NEO interface is a modern, responsive design that looks sharp and automatically adjusts based on the type of device. It provides attractive tile-based dashboards for students, teachers and administrators, a graphical class catalog, as well as simple pop-out navigation. Many features can be enabled or disabled to suit young children through to college students. It provides rich content authoring as well as a visually attractive way to create and organize lesson material.

The Moodle interface is somewhat old-fashioned and clunky compared with what is expected of modern web applications. Although the Moodle UI can be customized, most Moodle sites tend to be dry and uninspiring. The Moodle UI is even harder to use from a mobile phone, and doesn't seem to use modern UI practices to adjust well to smaller devices.

NEO Student dashboard

Ease of use

NEO is very intuitive and easy to use. In addition, it includes an online help center, with videos, getting started guides, and searchable help content. NEO also has a rapid response support forum where staff members typically respond to questions within 15-30 minutes during business hours.

Moodle has a reputation of being fairly hard to understand and use, and many sites that use Moodle have to run training courses for their staff so that they are able to use it effectively.

NEO Help center

Features

NEO provides the range of functionality you'd expect in a modern LMS, such as support for classes (instructor led, blended, and self-paced), twelve kinds of assignments, full-featured gradebook, content authoring, beautiful lesson layouts, gamification, rules engine, learning paths, drip content, curricula and proficiencies (including US common core standards and Next Generation Science Standards), question banks, class templates, rubrics, chat rooms, resources catalog, blogs, wikis, a customizable portal, e-portfolios, and more.

NEO supports many important industry standards such as SCORM, Common Cartridge Format, LTI, QTI and LDAP. We also integrate with a wide variety of systems, including Google Drive, G Suite, Single sign-on with Office 365, OneDrive, Calendars (iCal), PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Turnitin, Zapier, GoToMeeting, Zoom, WebEx, SIS, Equella, and SMTP/POP3.

A complete list of the features in the free and premium NEO plans is here.

Moodle provides a similar feature set, with the main difference being that the features are typically harder to configure and use. Moodle is missing some key features that NEO provides such as:

  • beautiful customizable portal
  • graphical dashboards for students, teachers, admins, and parents
  • graphical class catalog with categories, cross-listings, and more
  • powerful content synchronization
  • e-commerce integration if you wish to sell classes
  • click-to-chat instant messaging
  • prerequisite certificates
  • customizable welcome pages
  • built-in student help desk
  • optional integration with your own email server
  • ability to import RSS feeds into news feeds
  • support for 40+ languages
  • automatic language translation for messages and forums
  • rules engine
  • drip content

NEO Class catalog

Cost

NEO has a free plan and costs about $6 per student per year for its Small school plan and $7 per student per year for its Enterprise plan. There are no setup fees, cancellation fees, storage fees, bandwidth fees, support fees, or other hidden costs.

Moodle can be downloaded and self-hosted, or hosted and supported using a company such as Moodlerooms. Here is an analysis of the cost of each option:

Self-hosted for small schools

You can run a few hundred students on a single server and single database, as long as you don't mind the possibility of outages if the server fails or occurs outside of normal school hours. A small-school configuration can often be installed and administered by an IT enthusiast, so the cost is based on the price of the server, backups, and the IT person's hours.

The self-hosted option for small schools clearly costs more than the NEO free plan, and usually costs more than the NEO Small school plan, which is $50/month for a school of 100 students.

Self-hosted for large schools

To run Moodle reliably (99.9% uptime) for a lot of students, you need a more sophisticated setup than just a single server. Specifically, we recommend:

  • 1 hardware load balancer
  • 2 servers or more, depending on the number of students
  • 2 copies of your SQL database in a master/slave setup with failover
  • 2 memcached servers for fault-tolerant caching
  • 1 high capacity RAID disk system for file storage and backups
  • 1 search engine
  • Professional monitoring software

It also requires an IT specialist with knowledge of how to setup, configure, and maintain a complex cluster environment who is available 24/7 to deal with performance issues and outages. This self-hosted Moodle option usually costs more than the NEO Enterprise plan, which is $600/month for a school of 1,000 students.

Commercially hosted

The cost of a commercially hosted Moodle will vary by vendor. We have heard anecdotally that Moodlerooms is about twice the price of the NEO Enterprise plan.

NEO Class page

Summary

NEO is a more attractive, easier-to-use LMS than Moodle, at a lower cost for both small and large schools / universities.

Schools that don't need LMS "power" features can choose the NEO free plan, which is beautiful, easy-to-use, and includes most of the functionality of Moodle with several features that Moodle does not support.

Schools that want LMS "power" features can upgrade from the NEO free plan to a NEO premium plan at any time, which includes a similar set of features to Moodle at a significantly lower price point.

This was a comparison of the most important features of NEO and Moodle. If you require additional information on NEO, please contact us.

Disclaimer

This comparison paper was written in March 2016 based on publicly available documentation on both vendor's sites. It was prepared as a guide and is not intended to be exhaustive. The comparison information is for guidance only and does not constitute any contractual representation, warranty or obligation on our part. Liability for errors, omissions or consequential loss is expressly disclaimed.

Since pricing and features can change rapidly, we do not represent that this information is up-to-date, and we encourage you to get the latest information directly from the vendor's web site. If you find any information in this comparison guide to be inaccurate, please contact us with details and we will correct the information within 72hrs.