Tag: Course Merchant

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Working Together: Course Merchant

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From the July 2010 issue of Penny For Your Thoughts newsletter…

There is no limit to the good things I can say to a prospective client about Moodle.  But my endless ranting of Moodle’s virtues comes to a screeching halt when I hear the question “Does Moodle have a shopping cart?”  Some times, that question is disguised innocently in the discussion of the prospect’s eLearning needs.  “I’d like to offer discounts” or “What about site membership?”. 

Gulp.  No, I’m sorry, Moodle can’t really do that.

For my clients – all of whom are businesses – this can be a show stopper.  But no longer!

I found out about Course Merchant through the forums at Moodle for Business Uses.  When a client recently had some questions about discounts, memberships – all those dreaded topics – I dug a little deeper.  What I found:

  • A product that provides solutions to every eCommerce problem I’ve faced
  • A great demo of the shopping cart, with various options
  • It was easy and it worked!

…and best of all…

  • A detailed, honest response to my email inquiry outlining specific issues we had.  I wrote that email at midnight and the response was in my inbox the next morning. 

Course Merchant not only offers a much needed solution to those of us who use Moodle for Business, they do so at an affordable price!  The set-up and first year’s costs run around $1000; $350 each year after that. 

 As if this isn’t exciting enough, they have just released the beta version of a new product for Affiliate Marketing.

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Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Free Market Competition: The Good, the Bad, the Dilemma

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Most people who follow Moodle news know that Blackboard has just acquired two very popular online collaboration providers, Elluminate and Wimba.  Some fear that this is an attempt to reduce the options for those of us seeking such features for our Moodle sites.  I think that’s entirely possible; I also think it’s terribly flattering.  To be perceived as a market threat by one of the Big Boys means “you’ve made it”!

I believe in free market enterprise (for the most part).  Sadly, like everything else that is good, a free market allows some not-so-nice people to get away with nasty things.  Such is the price of freedom.  I once subcontracted with a consulting company that bought up all of their competitors.  Not only did they eliminate the people who had built those companies (and their reputations), they eliminated the brands themselves.  It’s OK to acquire another company for its talent and processes.  It’s not OK to erase all evidence of that company’s past and claim their successes as your own.  But what are you going to do?  It’s not illegal to be a snake.  Well, it sometimes becomes illegal after the first snake has bitten everyone…

The only thing you can do is to stick to your own values, be guided by your own principles, and band together with others who feel the same way.  In this case, I don’t think “fight fire with fire” is the right thing to do.  I think “fight fire with water” – or “take the high road” or some other lesson your grandmother taught you – might be more appropriate.  As this post by a Moodle Partner so eloquently describes it, we are part of an ecosystem; the Moodle community is a strong force in that ecosystem.  I believe it is to our collective advantage to avoid the Nash Equilibrium when choosing our partners and our objectives.  We can each try to take the whole prize (like the consulting firm I worked for), we can fall victim to the Prisoner’s Dilemma, or we can improve our lot as a whole, ensuring long and fulfilling lives for Moodle and our own pursuits.

It is in this spirit that I’ve decided to write a series of posts that will focus attention on those who develop and provide Moodle-specific plug-ins and/or work with Moodle for small business users to solve our unique needs. Not all of them are free and some are even “competitors”, but they can all be trusted in a dark alley. 

My first post in this series, Working Together, will be about Course Merchant.  Last week I sent them an email at midnight (my time).  When I sat down at my computer the next morning, I had a very detailed (and very helpful) response to some tricky questions.  I’ll tell you more about those questions – and their service in general – within the week.

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