How to migrate from Claroline to Chamilo

On Wednesday 21st of January 2015, the UCL (Université Catholique de Louvain), through an e-mail from its rector's advisor and its co-rector for education and training, announced that it would abandon the development (and usage) of Claroline over a period of 18 months. There's a little mention about Claroline Connect being "immature" at this time, and a comparison between (exclusively) Claroline, Claroline Connect and Moodle in terms of the direction in which the UCL is going and the uniformization of its online education. They decided to go with Moodle for the foreseeable future.

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The Claroline project... a blurry future

The UCL has been the home of Claroline since year 2000. Dokeos forked from Claroline in 2004, and Chamilo forked from Dokeos in 2010. It is too early to guess what will become of Claroline and Claroline Connect, but given UCL was really the head of the development of the platform{1}, we (the BeezNest team) are worried that the project will not survive very long in the competitive world we are facing. There are, indeed, tremendous movements in the e-learning world, that require strong leadership and financial resources. We hope for the best, but we fear the worst. The Claroline Consortium is the last hope for the Chamilo project. Let's see how they do. As such, for the Chamilo developers and community, this is an unsettling and very sad piece of news. We have had a very friendly relationship with the Claroline team over time and still consider the project, somehow, as our grand-father.

Thinking further: moving to Chamilo

This piece of news, however, somehow (in a sad way) validates the usefulness of Chamilo as an open LMS alternative. If Claroline disappears, there would be no other remaining Open Source LMS{2} other than Chamilo LMS that focuses on ease of use for teachers and students{3}, on accessibility{4} and on efficiency{5}. As such, it is only natural that people using Claroline and planning ahead will look for a way to migrate their students and content to a platform that remains open, easy to use, has professional support, a vibrant community and a bright future. Dokeos, Canvas LMS, Blackboard, Moodle, Ilias and Sakai all present considerable disadvantages in the context of a migration from a Claroline platform. All in all, there's not much doubt about which is the best way out... Chamilo has grown from 0 to 9M users in 5 years (the community almost doubled last year). Its structure and interface is similar (although better in our view) to Claroline, it just celebrated its 5th anniversary a few days ago, has frequent releases, an excellent security track, an easy upgrade path and a very happy users base. It also won several contests, one of which deemed it the open source project with the brightest future.

BeezNest migration services

At BeezNest, we develop Chamilo LMS actively, releasing new versions every 6 months or so, with the occasional assistance of the community. We believe it is essential to provide continuity to the Claroline project. We believe that it already exists as Chamilo LMS, but we will go the extra mile by offering upgrade services to Chamilo LMS 1.9 (or 1.10 when it is released). The architecture of Claroline is very similar to Chamilo, making it less likely to loose data in a migration, but the existence of recent plugins and core developments that differ on both sides have made things complicated. As such, it is impossible to fully automate it, hence include this migration mechanism inside Chamilo itself, so we will offer it as a customized service for now (and, if that works out, include a generic module in Chamilo within a year or two, to make sure non-profit institutions can make a reasonable move too, although we won't be able to guarantee the quality of the migration without supervision). If you need migration services, feel free to contact us at {1} with the only nucleus of 4 active developers in the same geographical space, with the same leadership, last time I checked {2} Dokeos stopped publishing their code since 2011 {3} Chamilo is widely known as the easiest LMS to use, some reporting it takes 5 times less training hours to train teachers on Chamilo than it takes on Moodle {4} Chamilo LMS 1.9.8 is the only LMS around validating WAI/WCAG AAA level {5} Chamilo uses twice less memory and considerably less processing power than Moodle