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Before we dive into the best LMS, or learning management system options, we must be able to answer, “what is an LMS?” An LMS is a software application or web-based technology used to deliver, record, measure, evaluate, and automate educational content, training programs, learning resources, and development courses. In virtual training, a learning management system allows companies to house, deliver, track, and assess employee training requirements.
There are many benefits involved with choosing an open source LMS for your educational needs, starting with the ability to fully customize the software to your organization without purchasing expensive licenses. LMS software is tested thoroughly by the communities using it, so bugs are fixed quickly, and many user-created apps are available.
Before we move on, it’s probably important to insert a quick disclaimer- there are a lot of LMS systems out there designed to appear like actual open source material, yet they’re not. The phrase “open source” means that a software title is free for anyone to use or modify in any way they see fit, so companies offering free trials, paid add-ons, or forced hosting will not be included in this list. All of the options below are 100% free to implement with no strings attached. This list is compiled from our standpoint; your experience may differ based on your preferences.
Moodle stands for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment and was designed in 2002 as a stand-alone educational portal. It transformed into more of a standard LMS over the years, and many developers use it to build their full-featured solutions. It still remains an extremely popular open source LMS today due to the easy learning curve and the quick setup options for new courses.
Moodle is a prevalent choice because of its community-based approach to updating and maintaining the software. It is built on various web technologies continually adapted to remain current. It is far more flexible than your average out-of-the-box LMS as well with almost endless customizations.
Forma.lms is a much more recent learning management system that stemmed from users of the Docebo platform after it switched to a commercial model. Feeling somewhat abandoned, the community pulled together to take over the open source project on their own, eventually merging into the company that it is today. It is an excellent system with classroom management, strong analytics, and dozens of other premium features.
Why choose Forma.lms as your open source LMS? It has excellent classroom management functionalities and it can manage multiple clients and/or brands from a single installation. It is also a solid option for those looking to distribute and sell online courses since it has native eCommerce functionalities. If you are seeking powerful administration and reporting features, then Forma.lms is definitely worth a closer look.
While Sakai has been around for a while now, with a strong following behind this open source platform, Sakai has branched into research collaboration and other fields on top of their learning management, making this an excellent choice for large companies. It also has a sleek modern interface and a wide spectrum of applications.
Corporations that choose Sakai do so because of its community approach with over 40 colleges and other organizations constantly fine-tuning the functionality. With new material being added almost daily, it would be hard to go wrong with this open source LMS solution.
Opigno is a SCORM-compliant LMS built on Drupal for individuals and businesses looking for an easy-to-use, highly scalable system that can be integrated into other enterprise systems. It also has excellent student management features and a number of flexible tools, plus many other extras such as an eCommerce option. All Drupal modules are also compatible with Opigno, so there are thousands of available extensions.
Users who ultimately choose Opigno do so because of its broad compatibility with SCORM and Tin Can, providing one of the most complete “out of the box” experiences available today. With new features being added regularly and Drupal compatibility (which gives access to thousands of free extensions), this solution will continue to be a popular choice for many years into the future.
Rounding out the list is a more recent learning management system known as ATutor, which has an extensive community that actively contributes to the project. One of the main stand-out features is a social networking platform that allows users to build profiles and share photos and gadgets directly through courses or social media. With hundreds of powerful features, this open source learning management system will continue to grow in popularity.
ATutor is an excellent choice for large and small organizations thanks to its open source format and ease of assembling and launching courses online or in standalone formats. It is an LCMS, or learning content management system, which will support multiuser functionality across an enterprise.
Read also: Comparing the Top eLearning Authoring Tools
At Designing Digitally, we can help you create custom employee training courses and implement them into the best open-source LMS for your needs. We can create an LMS from scratch or update an existing one to improve functionality. Contact us today if you are interested in learning more about how we can support your employee learning and development requirements.
This blog was updated by our team on 10/20/2022.