Moodle or Google Classroom?

Tags moodle

St. Olaf has two learning management systems (LMS) available for faculty to choose from in setting up the online components of their courses - Moodle and Google Classroom. This article explains the difference between the two and why Moodle is often the preferred LMS.  

Moodle is the primary LMS at St. Olaf

Moodle has been in place at St. Olaf for the past 15+ years and has developed quite a bit over this time to offer a robust set of tools and options for faculty. As such, it is much more widely used than Google Classroom and students are accustomed to finding their courses here. Because of this, if you do opt for Google Classroom, we recommend you at least use Moodle to provide a link to your Google Classroom course and let students know to find their course content there. Students already have many technology tools to learn to navigate, which is why we recommend reducing the number by adopting Moodle for all courses. 

Google Classroom's built-in integration with Google tools

As a Google product, Google Classroom is designed to integrate with Google tools such as calendar, docs, slides, forms (for quizzes) and more, including a relatively simple to use Google doc assignment feature. This integration and simpler interface can make Google Classroom a preferred LMS for supplementary instruction, student organizations or some limited-content courses. Those who want to use the LMS for richer online components are going to find Google Classroom limiting.  Note that the Google Assignments functionality is also available within Moodle as a means for assigning and collecting written work.

Limited Support for Google Classroom

Because Moodle has been our long-standing LMS and is a much more feature-rich tool, Instructional Technology support is limited to Moodle. We can provide basic consultation for Google Classroom and point users to Google documentation, but our limited resources are primarily allocated to supporting Moodle. Importantly, due to the design of Google Classroom, it is nearly impossible for the iTech team to "reach in" to Google Classroom courses to help troubleshot or fix issues when things go awry. Google classroom users will also need to manually create their own courses and enroll and maintain the student course roster as none of this is automated, unlike in Moodle. 

Creating Courses and Enrolling Students in Google Classroom

Go to, make sure you're logged in using Google and your St. Olaf identity, and create courses using the "plus" button at the top right. Once created, you can add your students by following the People button. You can add the entire course group by using the course email alias. If you start typing "History-188" you will see various class sections from various terms. Just make sure you get the right term and add students via this alias. It is important to know that this will add all those students currently registered for the course, but as students add or drop, you will need to manually make changes to the roster

Feature Comparison: Moodle vs Google Classroom

Feature Moodle Google Classroom
Automatically created courses and synced enrollments X  
Ability to combine multiple sections of a course into a Metacourse X  
Use a Google Doc-based workflow for Assignments X X
Insert content directly from Google Drive X (with some limitations) X
Embed content (video, maps/other media) X (Link to, but not embed)
Panopto integration X  
Roster view with photos and Name Quiz feature to learn students names X  
Participants' pronouns and recorded name pronunciation available X  
Ability to copy course for subsequent semesters X  
Groups in assignments/quizzes X  
Overrides for individuals or groups in activities X  



Article ID: 137193
Tue 8/24/21 4:53 PM
Mon 3/25/24 11:26 AM