Top FREE and Open Source eLearning platforms for your school or academic institution.

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A learning management system (LMS) helps businesses and educational institutions create, track, and manage their eLearning programs. However, most tools come with a set pricing model that can be expensive for small businesses and institutions.

While finalizing the budget for LMS software, you need to consider factors such as cost of installation, license, fees per user/course, and ongoing maintenance.

While there are hundreds of LMS tools out there, only a handful are free or open source. Therefore, we created this list of the top 11 free and open source LMS tools that are suitable for small and midsize businesses. The order of this list may change in future updates.

We’ve also included a chart that provides a quick, high-level overview of all 11 products.

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Coggno: Built-in certification tool for instant certificates

Coggno is a cloud-based LMS for creating online courses on compliance, safety, and business management. It allows you to add visual elements, such as images and tables, to the course material. It offers courses in a variety of formats, including video, audio, and as Microsoft Word files.

The solution has a built-in certification feature that generates certificates after course completion. Instructors can track a learner’s progress and create reports to measure the ROI of the training programs. In addition, course creators can sell their courses on Coggno.com and other similar marketplaces.

Advantages

  • Users can control and manage access permissions to the course material.
  • They can also view the available training courses, submit requests for registration to a course, and send reminders for assignment deadlines and quiz dates.

Disadvantages

  • Reviewers say that the tool doesn’t allow course customization.
  • To create course content, you need to purchase easygenerator, a course authoring tool. If you don’t want to buy a new tool, you could create your own Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM).




CourseSites: Analytical insights to boost learner engagement and academic performance

CourseSites (Blackboard for Business) is a cloud-based virtual learning and course management tool. It offers deployment options of managed hosting, self-hosting, or software-as-a-service (SaaS).

The solution helps users create, administer, track, and deliver digital content online. Users can access online courses, upload assignments, and interact with classmates and instructors. The CourseSites modules consist of files for presentations, course handouts, teaching and learning exams (TLE), and discussion boards.

Advantages:

  • CourseSites is user friendly and easy to navigate.
  • Users can upload and access course assignments and take online tests. Some of them like the ability to schedule online classes, personalized announcements, group emails, and meetings in real time.

Disadvantages:

  • Some users feel that newer system updates have made it difficult to play training videos.

iTunes U: Deploy training courses through mobile

iTunes U is an eLearning platform that supports course authoring, homework and assignment distribution, integrated grading, and course forums. The content library has courses for businesses as well as schools.

Instructors can create courses as PDFs or presentations using images, videos, etc. iTunes U lets you work with in-app worksheets and complete lessons.

Advantages:

  • Capterra reviewers like that the solution has an extensive library of high-quality podcasts and short informative videos that cover a wide array of topics.

Disadvantages:

  • Reviewers say that the connection to iCloud is inconvenient in some cases as it quickly consumes their limited cloud storage.
  • They also said that the tool takes a lot of time to boot up. The time estimates for software updates, downloads, and syncing aren’t always accurate based on the size of the update.

LatitudeLearning: Reporting helps measure the success of training programs

LatitudeLearning is a cloud-based LMS tool for the administration and documentation of online courses, eLearning programs, and training content. It works well for corporate training and B2B programs. The tool can be deployed as SaaS or over the cloud.

LatitudeLearning’s features include certification, tracking, reporting of training programs, and integration with Webex and GoToMeeting.

Advantages:

  • The solution provides video tutorials to help users organize courses, manage trainees, and create reports that track a learner’s progress.

Disadvantages:

  • The interface feels outdated and isn’t user friendly. There is no mobile support or third-party content library.
  • Extending a functionality could require some expensive add-ons.




Myicourse: Continuing education for professionals

Myicourse is a cloud-based course creation and distribution solution for instructors that can be used in continuing education or for business training.

The tool lets users create online “colleges” that house multiple courses. If you want to make your courses public, you can create and run them for free. But if you’d prefer to keep your courses private, the software is free for up to 100 students.

Advantages:

  • Reviewers like the solution’s editing tools to customize courses. Instructors can track student traffic, manage course sales, and offer certifications.

Disadvantages:

  • If your course content is sensitive and private, the free version may not be for you as the courses are posted publicly. Also, as the tool is free and limited, learners have to deal with banner ads.

Schoology: Course management on multiple devices

Schoology is a freemium web-based LMS that hosts eLearning content such as courses, training, and programs. It allows instructors to build reports on learners’ performance based on course completion.

Schoology offers learning options for schools and businesses. The basic package is free for educational institutions. It allows upgrading to an enterprise package if you need specialized support or integration with a student information system (SIS).

Advantages:

  • According to users, the standout features include mobile access, Google Drive integration, content creation tools, and access to a library of public courses and other content.

Disadvantages:

  • Reviewers say that the solution lacks a few essential features such as the ability to lock a course folder and navigate through quizzes/tests easily




ATutor: LMS for blind and visually impaired people

ATutor is a web-based LMS that offers online course management and content authoring to create learning courses.

The authoring tool includes a web service that evaluates the accessibility of authored content against international standards such as the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Advantages:

  • Capterra reviewers say that the tool allows you to author courses on the platform and even import external files.

Disadvantages:

  • Reviewers say that the graphical user interface is old-fashioned, complicated, difficult to operate, and needs to be updated.

Dokeos: Compliance training for pharmaceutical industry

Dokeos is an open source LMS tool for pharmaceutical and healthcare businesses. It offers features such as course authoring, progress tracking, reporting, and certification management.

The tool allows instructors to create quizzes or tests using 2D and 3D graphics. Dokeos’s unique feature is Oogie Rapid Learning, which automatically transcribes Microsoft Word and PowerPoint presentations into Dokeos slides.

Advantages:

  • Capterra reviewers say that Dokeos offers chat and messaging to let instructors communicate with learners and content publishers in real-time.

Disadvantages:

  • They said that it lacks the ability to customize courses. Users also noted that the response time for questions/issues on the forum and from the customer support team is long.




Forma LMS: Customized courses with built-in authoring tool

Forma LMS is an open source LMS that offers eLearning management, course management, videoconferencing, course authoring, certification, etc.

Other features include editing tools for user management and reporting function to collect data on learner participation in courses, completions, assignments, etc. In addition, Forma allows you to sell your courses on its marketplace.

Advantages:

  • Reviewers like that the tool lets them organize courses based on categories. They can choose training topics from a pool of the most relevant courses.

Disadvantages:

  • Reviewers said that the user interface isn’t user-friendly and there are some minor bugs in several functions.

Moodle: Drag-and-drop feature to customize courses

Moodle is a free and open source platform that lets users create customized courses. It offers tools to manage virtual classrooms, generate certificates, and measure the success of training programs via analytics.

Moodle’s social learning functionality allows learners and instructors to send direct messages to each other on course forums. In addition, it has mobile-friendly themes, support for third-party plugins (such as Office 365), OneNote integration, and the ability to sell courses via PayPal.

Advantages:

  • Reviewers like Moodle’s simple and dynamic interface that is highly configurable.
  • The open community forum provides updates on add-ons, plug-ins, and resources.

Disadvantages:

  • Reviewers say that Moodle doesn’t make it easy to manage large groups of people across multiple courses or tracks. However, you can easily manage small groups of users per course.




Sakai CLE: Enhanced social learning through course forums

Sakai CLE is an open source LMS for schools that handle assignments, calendars, grade books, tests, and quizzes. Its features include course management, syllabus tool, and lesson builder (or course authoring tool). The solution focuses more on academic institutions than corporate training.

Sakai offers social learning features such as multimedia course embedding, chat functions, and video tutorial. It integrates with Google Docs and offers tools, such as Wiki platforms, which allow users to author web pages without requiring advanced web authoring skills.

Advantages:

  • Reviewers say that the Sakai community is dedicated to improve the tool’s capability. The community is working to meet all the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A and AA Success Criteria.

Disadvantages:

  • Reviewers say that interface looks old and not intuitive. The presentation of visual elements, such as icons and buttons, could be improved.

 

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