Learning, Technology

Open Source LMS – 10 Alternatives to Moodle

Since the economic downturn began I’ve noticed much more interest in open source Learning Management Systems (LMS), and it’s no surprise that when people ask what the options are, the answer is usually Moodle. Now, there’s nothing wrong with Moodle, but it certainly isn’t the only open source LMS out there.

Because there is no licensing cost involved with open source solutions, its easy for organisations to just jump in and set up the first solution that comes along. There is however a cost to installation and support, either financial or time related. Anyone setting up an LMS has a responsibility to research and choose the solution that is right for the learners and the organisation.

As a starting point here are 10 open source alternatives to Moodle. These are deliberately brief descriptions, and I would encourage you to visit these sites and explore each solution in some detail.

Docebo In use in corporate and higher education settings. Offers support for a number of different learning models and is compatible with SCORM 1.2 and 2004. It offers interfaces to external systems such as video conferencing and HR systems.

eFront The base install is quite minimalist, but this is easily extended with modules available from the site. Commercial versions with additional features are also available.

Dokeos A very well featured LMS that also offers content authoring and video conferencing tools. Supports converting Office documents into Learning Paths. Offers user synchronisation with HR management systems such as Oracle and SAP.

Claroline Aimed more at the educational than corporate arena, this system is based around specific pedagogical principles (as is Moodle). Supports SCORM content as well as a built in Wiki and other online content tools.

ATutor Actually an LCMS, ATutor also offers tools for the management of learning. The “A” stands for Accessible and it has excellent support for key accessibility standards as well as support for SCORM, IMS etc.

ILIAS Provides testing and assessment tools as well as collaboration tools such as chat and forums, and distribution technologies like RSS and podcasts.

OLAT A well featured system in its tenth year of development. Recently the winner of the “IMS Learning Impact ‘Leadership Award’ 2009 for best open source learning platform”.

Sakai Aimed at Universities, this project has a clear roadmap and has seem considerable development in the last few years. Backed by the Sakai Foundation which manages relationships with educational and commercial supporters.

.LRN Originally developed at MIT, .LRN claims to be the most widely adopted enterprise class open source LMS solution.

openelms Marketed specifically as a business solution, and claims a diverse customer base that ranges from Merrill Lynch to Queens Park Rangers football club.

Ganesha This LMS developed by Anema, has been around since 2001 and is in use in several large organisations. The site, and the LMS itself, are in French but it can be translated.

161 thoughts on “Open Source LMS – 10 Alternatives to Moodle

  1. Hi Barry,
    If you are interested you can add another alternative on your list. We just created the new open source initiative OpenOLAT which is a fork from OLAT. The University of Zurich decided to redesign OLAT for the next years and because we added so many new features to OLAT which will not work anymore, we founded OpenOLAT. Also open source with Apache lisence, with many additional features. Information you can find at http://www.openolat.org.
    Christian

  2. Hi All,
    I just wanted to clarify one thing like, any course developed in moodle / olat etc. are free for commercial usage?

    Thanks in advance for your guidance.
    Rgds:
    S Swati

    • Barry

      @Swati – can you clarify your question a little? Are you asking if courses produced in an open source LMS must be free, or whether you can produce commercial courses i an open source LMS?

  3. Kevin Andreyo

    Open Learning Management Systems: Sakai and Canvas—Serious Contenders to Moodle?

    The open learning management system (LMS) landscape continues to change at a rapid pace. Many educational institutions are moving from proprietary LMS solutions (Blackboard, Desire2Learn) to open solutions (Moodle, Sakai, Canvas). However, can Sakai and Canvas compete with the proverbial 800 pound Open LMS guerrilla – Moodle? The verdict is still out; but it is clear that many secondary and post-secondary institutions are finding Sakai and Canvas to be a better fit.

    If you are currently evaluating LMSs, consider the following criteria when deciding on best fit:

    • User Experience
    • Tools and Feature Set (Chatrooms, Discussion Boards, Messaging, Email, Galleries, Virtual Whiteboards, Calendar, Survey, Voting, Assessment)
    • Platform Development Technology
    • Reliability
    • Support
    • Mobile Learning
    • Analytics
    • Scalability
    • Integration with your current Student Information System
    • Company Reputation
    • Best Value
    • Future Outlook

    In addition, carefully consider these common features: (1) availability to host on the cloud; (2) peak load management; (3) development technology; (4) integrated learning outcomes; (5) mobile applications; (6) accessibility; (7) integration of state standards (k12); (8) browser support; (9) ePortfolio; (10) online student storage; (11) resource gallery; (12) SCORM compliance; (13) integration with third party add-ins; and (14) multimedia support.

    Sakai in Higher Education

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Rutgers, University of Delaware, Wake Forest University, Pepperdine University, Boston University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, New York University (NYU), Northwestern University, Rice University, Seton Hall University, Stanford University, Tufts University, University of Dayton, University of Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania, Yale University

    Sakai in K-12

    Graham and Charles Schools (Columbus, Ohio), Minisink Valley Central School District (Slate Hill, NY), Huron Valley Schools, Ohio Learning Network, Oregon City School District

    Canvas in Higher Education

    New Mexico State University, Utah Valley University, Brown University

    Canvas in K-12

    Utah Education Network (UEN), Park City School District, Rockingham County School District,
    Cottonwood High School, Granite School District, Jordan School District, Davis School District,
    Tooele County School District, Nebo School District, Murray School District, SUCCESS Academy,
    City Academy

    According to company press releases, Sakai has a user-installed base of more than 300 institutions and Canvas has more than 100. This past month, Instructure released Canvas K-12 with specific features including pre-populated state standards and common core curriculum, parental co-enrollment, attendance, and curriculum mapping. Web conferencing and social media settings are disabled by default.

    Finding the correct LMS is a challenge and just when you think that you have a solid understanding of the LMS landscape, it changes.

    Resources:

    http://www.moodle.org
    http://www.instructure.com
    http://www.sakaiproject.org

    Submitted By: Kevin Andreyo, Berks County Intermediate Unit

  4. Justine

    Hi Barry,
    I’m searching for an LMS similar to Moodle that will be able to integrate with IMIS as well as our website. I’d like it for CPD, events, quizzes, education, courses, etc.
    With the assessments we need something that will let us set the CPD credits/points to a certain number, not percentages…..and also be able to set up non-member access where they can do a quiz and receive a certificate at the end of the assessment without giving them access to all of our activities.
    We will also want to be able to upload videos, pdf’s, podcasts, audio, quizzes etc. Any ideas??
    Thank you
    Justine

    • Barry

      You say you are looking for something similar to Moodle; are there particular reasons for not using it? I’m pretty sure that Moodle could do what you need, albeit with some additional plugins to handle CPD.

  5. Amin

    Hi every body, I need a business purpose LMS with video conference,virtual class, e-library,white board features and HRM compatibility which could support high interacted learning activities and whether possible to develop mobile application or plugins for it, what is the best solution?

  6. Chadley

    Hi everybody,
    Isnt it just so sad that none of these systems, or any of the other systems cater for K-12 properly. You see Primary school Grade 00 to 7 are still based on a assement criteria. Where we to an assement area with the kids, then we asses them to confirm they have learnt the concept. All the LMS systems require that school employ graphic designers and good one at that to create the look and feel of these systems. We recently looked at chamilo, and you have to build the entire inteface. I have 15 years in the IT business and I spent days playing with it. When I finally gotit working there are no template and no clear way to build an assesment criteria (course) that follows a learning path properly. So what I mean is that you can jump around the course parts in any order you like. Kids of the age 5 to 14 need to be guided by a very clear structure, which oddly enough Dokeos offers all that, but it is full of bugs, and the documentation jumps from area to are leaving the reader completly lost.

    All of the LMS systems open source have actually failed. Dokeos is your best bet if you can speak french, which luckiliy my wife can. So we have used it in our school, but there are some serious down falls. it is completly modular, which is supposed to be a benifit to reusing course content. But this doesnt actually work as I discovered when I created a copy of one course and later discovered that the changes I made to the copy had effected the original course as well. I have to recreate both courses and the quizzes. Modular no none of them are. Get worse -  When you export the results of quizz. It creates one big list of everyone who wrote the quizz, it doesn’t filter the results by class, so what is the point of having class lists. The work with the results you need to seprate and organize in to classes and grades using excel. A massive time consuming task. 
    Modular? really? I have had to make do with Dokeos it has templates and we have figured a way to make it work for us. if we had a wish list it would be to have the classes report by classes and the social networking needs a facebook like wall. becuase it creates interest and excitement.

    Seriously when is someone going to create a decent template driven LMS for Primary schools?
     

  7. Piero

    Hi ,
     we are looking for an educational tool that help us tutoring students from K1 to K8 ,we looked at Moodle , we installed as local host , we created lessons etc. We had a big problems with importing / exporting of lessons and servers ( it is taking months for the hosting system to fix it ) and we are not yet online . Our conclusions is that Moddle is not suitable for single teacher or professionals that like to put lessons online and cooperate with other “private” single teachers without the help from an IT department . We like very much how Moodle system allows to grade and direct students .

    Summary : we are single teachers , professionals that want to create interactive lessons ( personalize the lesson upon the student’s answer ).

    A) we are looking for educational tool that help us tutoring students from K1 to K8  and adults .

    B) we should be able to create our lessons with any software Office , OpenOffice or LibreOfiice etc.

    C) the system should have a strong evaluation tool .

    D) it should be feasible to direct the students to different directions based on the answer to questions and quizzes.

    E) it should have a question bank and possible to export to every lesson any question .

    F ) It should be possible for a single teacher to manage the education website without need the support of an IT department .

    G) we have limited financial resources .
         The system should be robust and allows us to concentrate in building lessons and follow the students.

    Thanks

    Piero

  8. Piero

    Hi ,
     we are looking for an educational tool that help us tutoring students from K1 to K8 ,we looked at Moodle , we installed as local host , we created lessons etc. We had a big problems with importing / exporting of lessons and servers ( it is taking months for the hosting system to fix it ) and we are not yet online . Our conclusions is that Moddle is not suitable for single teacher or professionals that like to put lessons online and cooperate with other “private” single teachers without the help from an IT department . We like very much how Moodle system allows to grade and direct students .

    Summary : we are single teachers , professionals that want to create interactive lessons ( personalize the lesson upon the student’s answer ).

    A) we are looking for educational tool that help us tutoring students from K1 to K8  and adults .

    B) we should be able to create our lessons with any software Office , OpenOffice or LibreOfiice etc.

    C) the system should have a strong evaluation tool .

    D) it should be feasible to direct the students to different directions based on the answer to questions and quizzes.

    E) it should have a question bank and possible to export to every lesson any question .

    F ) It should be possible for a single teacher to manage the education website without need the support of an IT department .

    G) we have limited financial resources .
         The system should be robust and allows us to concentrate in building lessons and follow the students.

    Thanks

    Piero

  9. Daniel Guidotti

    Hi Barry,

    What would you recommend as the best alternative to moodle for TVET among these 10 open source LMS ? It should also have the capability of providing reports. Thanks :)

    • barrysampson

      @a34a8c9b036ef59980ffde8848693e16:disqus Without knowing what your requirements are it’s impossible to make a sensible recommendation. You need to take the time to clearly define what you expect an LMS to enable your organisation and learners to achieve. Then you can take a look at what each offers and start to make an informed assessment of the options, taking into account the time, skills and budget that you have available.

  10. Daniel Guidotti

    Hi Barry,

    What would you recommend as the best alternative to moodle for TVET among these 10 open source LMS ? It should also have the capability of providing reports. Thanks :)

    • barrysampson

      @a34a8c9b036ef59980ffde8848693e16:disqus Without knowing what your requirements are it’s impossible to make a sensible recommendation. You need to take the time to clearly define what you expect an LMS to enable your organisation and learners to achieve. Then you can take a look at what each offers and start to make an informed assessment of the options, taking into account the time, skills and budget that you have available.

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