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9 Best Free and Open Source LMS Platforms for 2024

Open Source LMS platforms are great for online learning. They can help you fine-tune a course for free. Here are some of our best picks

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Open Source LMS platforms are a free way to spread knowledge and fine tune your course. They are readily accessible and rather easy to use. But if you want to use Open Source LMS effectively, you need to know which ones are the best.

Since the pandemic, learning management systems have been more predominant and accessible. They provide personalized education and flexibility, while improving communication and cutting back on educational costs. 

Though the costs of LMS are lower than enrolling in a traditional institute, some learning management systems may charge participants through a per-person or a subscription fee. However, Open Source LMS focuses on providing the public with a free and modifiable system for all to use. 

What is Open Source Software?

Open Source software and Open Source LMS work hand-in-hand. To understand Open Source LMS, you need to know both concepts.

Open-source software is free software. Individuals can modify it to their liking. Every open source software has a source code. A source code is like the recipe of software. Using this code can help you create the same result.

Unlike private, closed-source software, open-source software is accessible to all, promoting teamwork, collaboration, and creativity. It's a powerful, inclusive way for people to work together and create amazing tools, making technology accessible to everyone.

Now that we’ve covered our bases about Open Source Software, let’s look at the full definition of an open source LMS.

Open Source LMS and Proprietary LMS: Understanding the Differences

Learning Management Systems (LMS) play a crucial role in modern education and training, enabling organizations to deliver, manage, and track learning experiences effectively. When considering LMS options, you'll encounter two main categories: open source and proprietary. Let's explore the key differences between these two approaches:

1. Accessibility and Customization:

  • Open Source LMS: Open source LMS platforms are freely available for anyone to use, modify, and distribute. They offer a high degree of customization, allowing you to tailor the platform to your specific needs.
  • Proprietary LMS: Proprietary LMS platforms are developed by a specific company and usually come with licensing fees. While they offer customization to a certain extent, they are often more limited in terms of modifying the core functionalities.

2. Cost:

  • Open Source LMS: Open source LMS platforms are generally free to use, but they may still involve costs related to hosting, maintenance, and support.
  • Proprietary LMS: Proprietary LMS platforms typically come with licensing fees, which can vary based on factors like the number of users and features required.

3. Technical Expertise:

  • Open Source LMS: Using an open source LMS requires a certain level of technical expertise to set up, configure, and maintain. You'll need to manage servers, updates, and security measures.
  • Proprietary LMS: Proprietary LMS platforms often offer user-friendly interfaces and support, making them more suitable for organizations without extensive technical resources.

4. Features and Functionality:

  • Open Source LMS: Open source LMS platforms can have a wide range of features, but their quality and stability can vary. Some platforms may lack advanced functionalities.
  • Proprietary LMS: Proprietary LMS platforms usually offer a comprehensive set of features, with a focus on user experience and seamless integration of tools.

5. Support:

  • Open Source LMS: Community support is available for open source LMS platforms through forums, user groups, and documentation. However, dedicated customer support may be limited.
  • Proprietary LMS: Proprietary LMS platforms generally offer dedicated customer support, which can be crucial for addressing technical issues and getting timely assistance.

6. Security and Updates:

  • Open Source LMS: Security and updates are managed by the user or organization. Regular updates are essential to keep the platform secure and up-to-date.
  • Proprietary LMS: Proprietary LMS platforms typically provide automatic updates and security patches as part of their service.

For those looking for a hassle-free solution with advanced features and comprehensive support, a no-code, proprietary LMS like Teachfloor can offer the best of both worlds.

Teachfloor's no-code platform provides educators and businesses with the tools to create engaging online courses without the complexities of setting up and maintaining an open source LMS. With its intuitive interface, robust features, and dedicated support, Teachfloor enables you to focus on delivering exceptional learning experiences while leaving the technical aspects to the experts.

Free and Open Source LMS

Choosing the right LMS is a strategic decision that impacts the efficiency of your online education venture. While open-source platforms offer flexibility, the complexities they bring might not align with your goals, especially if you lack the technical resources.

With Teachfloor, you can bypass technical hurdles and concentrate on crafting impactful courses. Our user-friendly interface, powerful features, and dedicated support make us a prime choice for educators and trainers seeking an efficient, no-code solution. Embrace the future of e-learning with Teachfloor and discover the freedom to focus on what truly matters: delivering exceptional education experiences.

Benefits of Open Source LMS

There are some great LMS options out there, but most of them come at a price. That’s why Open Source LMS platforms could be your go-to solution, especially if you have a budget to respect. But the customizable and cost-effective nature of an Open Source LMS aren’t the only reasons why they are beneficial. 

Here’s a comprehensive list of advantages that Open Source LMS platforms provide:

Becoming Part of a Community

Because open source LMS platforms are widely accessible, you automatically become part of a large community of supportive people. 

Every platform is built on a global network. Therefore, every network has a group of developers, providers, and creators. Since the network is global, there’s a pool of readily available people who can help you at all times. So you can cut the customer service wait, and go straight to your peers.

Customizing Everything Per Your Needs

With Open Source LMS, you can customize everything. There’s no limit on what you can do for branding. Moreover, tweaking the logo, dashboard, and design to reflect your brand colors increases recognizability. 

In fact, statistics show that using brand colors increases your chance of recognition by 80%. Open Source LMS then gives you an incredibly valuable marketing boost — which creates room for scalability.

Best Open Source LMS Tools for Online Learning

We’ve gone over what Open Source LMS is, and how it can benefit you. Now, it’s time to look at the best open source LMS options on the market. 

Moodle LMS

Image shows Moodle's Open Source LMS home page

Moodle is on Forbes’ list of “Best LMS of 2023” and we have to agree!

This software enhanced teaching and learning outcomes. Because with Moodle, you have full control over data privacy, security, and site functionality. Moreover, you can use custom themes for your brand's colors and logo. Overall, Moodle’s Open Source LMS creates versatility in educational delivery.

Key Features:

Support for over 100 languages.

Offline access.

Badges and certificates for learners.

Custom analysis.

Calendar, messaging, and notification options.

Pros:

Free forever.

Highly functional (thanks to add-ons).

Encourages collaboration and support.

Multi-browser compatibility

Cons:

Customization-centric.

No ease of use.

The platform isn’t flexible.

Open edX

The image highlights that Open source LMS is great for inspiring learning experiences on any scale.

Open edX is an open source LMS trusted by notable organizations including EDX, IBM, Microsoft, Harvard, and MIT. 

Moreover, 9 of 10 universities rely on Open edX, because it lets you integrate different kinds of content.

Key Features:

Easy customization

Live data 

Interactive forums and discussions

Compatibility with multiple devices

Live support

Pros:

Diverse material 

Certificate of completion 

Usable on courses and degree programs

Cons:

Integration needs improving

 Messy structure

ATutor

Image shows ATutor's Open Source LMS home page

ATutor focuses on accessibility and enhanced engagement. Furthermore, it's a convenient tool to create, share, and import course content with. 

Key Features:

Individual status

Manually creating work groups

Content editor in HTML and plain text

Sending emails in bulk

Developer documentation

Pros:

Easy installation, configuration, and operation

Available in both open and closed-source

Cons:

Old GUI

No mobile use

ILIAS

Image shows ILIAS' Open Source LMS home page

ILIAS is used by many people, universities, and government groups. However, these are mostly in Europe.

Key Features:

NATO-backed security

Ease of use

Ability to set different user roles

Pros:

Strong security

Active community

13-year-old software

Cons:

Poorly-designed interface 

Requires several plugins 

Canvas 

Canvas can be used for teaching, learning, and even designing. Furthermore, the software offers materials, grades, communication tools, and insights. All within a unified platform.

Finally, Canvas is a highly comprehensive option in comparison to similar software. 

Key Features:

Fully stable

Simple to use

Canvas API

No file size restrictions

Pros:

Cloud technology

Customization 

Event reminders and alerts

Smooth third-party integration

Cons:

Difficult setup

Too many tabs 

Navigation and editing are problematic 

Chamilo

Image shows Chamilo's Open Source LMS home page

Chamilo focuses on outcome and creativity. In addition, it lets instructors decide between teaching methods and creates freedom with pacing.

Key Features: 

Third-party integration

Works on iOS and Android

Suitable for businesses of all sizes

Pros:

Ease of use

Smooth user experience 

Rich features

Cons:

Customer support could be better

No phone or desktop support

Odoo 

Image shows Odoo's Open Source LMS home page

Odoo’s Open Source LMS makes it easy to add various content types in your courses. What's more is, it offers access to over 1 million images and graphics without royalty.

Lastly, you can enrich the learning experience by incorporating quizzes, points, badges, and Q&A sections. These elements engage students and spotlight their progress. Which creates meaningful learning journeys and heightened focus.

Key Features:

Engaging course content

Self-paced learning

User-friendly drag-and-drop interface

Quizzes and reviews readily available

Analytics encompassing participation, feedback, and revenue reports

Pros:

Effortless navigation through a simplified interface

Robust set of features

Ample customization possibilities

Seamless integration with third-party tools

Cons:

Challenges in maintenance

Prolonged support response times

Inadequate guidance in documentation

Occasional presence of bugs

ELMSLN

Image shows ELMSLN's Open Source LMS home page

Firstly, ELMSLN is a free add-on for Drupal, a popular content management system. Therefore, Open Source LMS has been used in over 12,000 Drupal setups, including at Penn State University and University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Key Features:

Badge support

Cutting-edge functionality 

Wide array of developers to get help from

TinCan/xAPI integration

Pros:

Active development community

Regular updates

Feature-rich system 

Cons:

Difficult to use for people who aren’t familiar with Drupal.

Schoology

Image shows Schoology's Open Source LMS home page

Schoology is a tool for teachers. Like CourseSites, it helps manage classes. Basic use is free, but there's an advanced version called Enterprise with extra features for schools.

Key features:

Google integration 

Mobile use 

Professional tools 

Public courses

Pros: 

Latest technology 

Smooth workflow

Cons:

No private messages

Lacks some features

Masteriyo LMS

Image shows Masteriyo's Open Source LMS home page

Masteriyo aligns with WordPress.org's guidelines. Additionally, as a fully open-source free software released under GPL, it lets users utilize, modify, and distribute the plugin. Users do this without incurring any costs.

To integrate Masteriyo into your website, simply download the plugin from either WordPress.org or Masteriyo.com. Next, install it on your existing WordPress site.

No WordPress site? Select a reliable hosting service like Bluehost or Kinsta. Your site will be up and running in no time.

Key Features:

Interactive quizzes.

Integrated support for various payment gateways.

WordPress compatibility.

Certificate builder.

Option to add sections and lessons within the courses.

Pros:

Customizable and extensible.

Distraction-free mode to enhance student focus and engagement.

Progress bar.

No reliance on third-party plugins.

Cons:

Not having Wordpress causes difficulties

Conclusion

Using Open Source LMS can help you through the growth phase. And when you’re ready to scale, you can access more.

All in all, Open Source platforms are safer for your business. Because you get to control what happens every step of the way, and never pay for anything unless you’re ready.

If you’re looking to save some money while customizing your brand, give Open Source LMS a shot! After all, nobody’s going to charge you crazy fees.

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