Top Open Source Learning Management Systems (LMS)

Designing Digitally


Top Open Source Learning Management Systems (LMS)

There are many benefits involved with choosing an open source learning management system (LMS) for your educational needs; starting with the ability to fully customize the software to your organization’s needs without having to purchase expensive licenses. LMS software is usually tested thoroughly by the communities using it as well, so bugs are ironed out quickly and there are lots of user-created apps available. With minimal risk involved, it is really hard to go wrong with any of the open source learning management systems listed below.

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 true open source material, yet they’re actually 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 it was designed in 2002 as a stand-alone educational portal. It actually transformed into more of a standard LMS over the years, plus many developers use it to build their full-featured solutions on. It still remains extremely popular today due to the easy learning curve and the quick setup options for new courses.

Moodle is an extremely popular choice because of its community-based approach to updating and maintaining the software. It is built on a range of web technologies that are 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, which eventually merged 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? 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 community 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 who 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 solution.


Opigno is a SCORM compliant LMS that is built on Drupal for both 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 compatible with Opigno as well so there are thousands of available extensions.

Users who ultimately choose Opigno do so because of its wide compatibility with SCORM and Tin Can, providing one of the most complete “out of the box” experiences available today. With new features being added on a regular basis and the 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 relatively new 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 learning management system will continue to grow in popularity.

ATutor is an excellent choice for both large and small organizations thanks to its open source format and its ease of assembling and launching courses online or in standalone formats. It is actually a LCMS, or learning content management system, which means that it is built to support multiuser functionality across an entire enterprise.


Need more information about open source LMS systems or help narrowing the choices down even further? Feel free to contact Designing Digitally at your earliest convenience and we will be happy to help you make the best possible decision for your organization.