I’ve not tried Moodle – but it’s Open Source and we like the sound of that! Feel free to donate at the site or you can help the cause of open source and buy a Moodle T-Shirt! Moodle aims to embrace pedagogy i.e. the art (or science?) of teaching. A lot of VLE’s (and, yes, this particularly applies to Learnwise) were designed by geeks in the labs of computer science departments. Geeks understand the interfaces that they create, the only problem is that nobody else does.
The creator of Moodle, Martin Dougiamus, is a geek as well (he works or worked in IT at Curtin Uni , Western Australia). But unlike the creators of Learnwise he knows quite a lot about designing usable interfaces and ‘student-centred learning’. See an example of Moodle in use at UCE Birmingham.
There are a couple of other open source systems rattling around – most notably Boddington – you have to love the name! (from Leeds University) and Sakai (from somewhere in the US).
Blackboard is commercial, but apparently is quite easy to use and suits those soon-to-become-very important distance learners. But it is not all good news for Blackboard, the shock news is that the OU (Open University) has recently ditched Blackboard for Moodle. Why? It seems that price was a factor.
What we really need is a clear leader. What unis don’t want to be doing is training staff up, only for a better system to come along a year later. But nobody is using Learnwise these days. So it should be RIP to this VLE. I, for one, will dance on its grave.