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.

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

    • Hi Samer,

      When I was initially doing the research I didn’t find a .NET based open source LMS solution. There was some discussions about creating one based on dotnetnuke and it may be worth making an enquiry in the forums there.

      I’ve seen a couple of dotnetnuke based ms offers, but it’s unclear to me whether they are being offered under open source or commercial licensing.

  1. Interzoic offers an Accord LMS product built with DNN. It is not open source, but in my opinion, very cheap (certainly comparable to what you’d get from something like a Moodle Partner). And, I suspect you are investigating this because you know the open footprint of DNN the modules available at Snowcovered, and what that could mean for building an integrated experience that would work well for your business.

    • Thanks for that information David. Although it’s not open source, it may be a good option for anyone looking for a .net based solution.

      • Maybe a little mention about Chamilo (a recent fork of D0keos which has been evolving quite faster than its direct parent) would be welcome 🙂
        You can quick-try it at campus.chamilo.org

      • Hi Yannick,

        I’d not heard of Chamilo before, so thanks for bringing it to people’s attention. What would you say are the key differences between Chamilo and Dokeos?

  2. Hi Barry,

    For one part, the history is clear: most of those who developed or contributed to D0keos moved to Chamilo in early 2010 (the info can be found on the Chamilo website).

    For the second part, it is a bit early to say, but D0keos has had no new release (nor anything new) since September 2009 and has just delayed its widely announced 2.0 release of more than 3 months with no clear explanation. On the other side Chamilo has had improvement and new features released a few times this year, like management of attendances, course programs, a full-blown integrated social network (allowing for corporate/institutional “control” over the network), documents search, a switch to pure internationalization (both in terms of alphabets and timezones) and a great set of performance improvements. This is just the first few bricks Chamilo needs to start building a more engaging teaching and learning experience, and following the plans, there should be an image editor in the next version, as well as a fully rewritten more flexible 2.0 version (first directed to the academic sector).

    It’s all a matter of how well the two will show improvements and market adoption in the next few months.
    The big idea behind Chamilo is to get rid of a strict dependence on only one company, and make it possible for several companies to contribute at an equivalent level in the development of the software, without holding a blocking trademark for the sane development of a real open source community around it (which was a problem before).

  3. Thanks Yannick. It certainly sounds like Chamilo is a project worth watching. I look forward to seeing how it develops.

  4. I just took part in Brandon Hall Research webinar “Selecting a Learning Management System”. The webinar was focused on choosing LMS for corporate training. They mentioned 7 open sporce solutions worth of attention: eFront, joule (Moodle based), docebo, JoomlaLMS, openelms, dokeos, totaralms.

    Let me add to your list:
    totaralma (http://www.totaralms.com/) – coming in Jan 2011, new solution
    JoomlaLMS (http://www.joomlalms.com/) – launched in 2006

    • Hi Elena,

      Thanks for those additions. I think it may be time for a new list!

      The reason that I hadn’t included the JoomlaLMS (and wouldn’t in any future list) is that it isn’t open source. Despite being based on the open source Joomla CMS the plug in is commercially licensed and uses a typical pay per seat model.

      I’ve spoken with the folk at Kineo, and the TotaraLMS will be a completely open source solution. They’ve promised me a preview as soon as it’s available, and I’m looking forward to being able to provide a review.

      Barry

  5. hi..guys
    im a new bie about this.
    but, is there any application to build own web based LMS, so it can customed by what we need.
    thanks before.

    • Any of the systems listed in the original blog post, and many of those mentioned in the comments, can be customised to meet your specific needs.

  6. Barry,

    I checked… You are right about JoomlaLMS. It is proprietary. Never the less PRO version has open source code and only some files with license code information are encoded.So, as far as I understood you are free to customize the LMS on your own, no problems. Yet you have to pay license once a year… It’s a pitty really… Any way JoomlaLMS is all in one SCORM solution , no wonder that they don’t feel like opening ALL files.

    • The problem is one of semantics. The source code may be open, in as much as it’s not encrypted, but the same can be said of most commercial LMS solutions.

      The LMS’s I wanted to list are those that are free and open source in terms of licensing, i.e. free as in speech, not as in beer.

    • I don’t really have a default choice myself, but I think it’s fair to say that when people consider open source LMS, Moodle is probably the first thing they think of. Other options tend to get benchmarked against it.

  7. Hi –

    I am looking at a Open source LMS/LCMS focussed on academic front to conduct online classroom for my distant students in a syncronous way. Also audio/video features if possible while teaching the students. I visited the following websites Docebo, OLAT and Claroline to get a feel of it.

    I saw few which are licensed or comes with a subscription charges.. At this moment i am not looking to go with a priced Product. The closest which my requirement fits is wiziq.com. wiziq is not an opensource product.

    Appreciate if any experts can narrow my searches.

    Thx in advance
    NVA

  8. Hi Barry….

    Is there any plug in for LMSs (which u’ve listed) for providing discounts for the courses we offer??….

    Thanks….

  9. Hi Barry….

    Is there any plug in for LMSs (which u’ve listed) for providing discounts for the courses we offer??….

    Thanks….

  10. Hi Barry,

    I have learnt alot from this post and comments from others. I have joomla website and looking to integrate it with LMS. could you please tell me which LMS will be best for me.
    We are Financial Training company and want to prsesnt our video tutorials online with payment gateway.

    kindly please suggest me LMS and initially we need it for 500 users.
    i will wait for your reply.

    regards,
    Aslam

  11. Hi Barry,

    I am looking for an open source LMS that can handle AICC,. this would be for Computer Based Training delivery only. I want to be able offer a course list (CBTs), charge students for courses (paypal or other means), and track testing and quizz scores. Which solution do you think would be the best fit?

    Regards Roger

    • I’m always wary of saying any particular solution is right for an organisation without knowing more about it, but as a starting point I’d suggest looking at Moodle and the Improved Payment Module.

  12. Elena,

    Some of the development tools that I work with will only interface with an LMS using AICC. Such as the older version of Viewletbuilder from Qarbon that I currently have.

  13. Hi Roger,

    I haven’t verified that for a long time now, but I’m pretty sure the previous implementation of AICC in Chamilo 1.8.7.1 still works well. You could combine that with the use of the Drupal’s Ubercart module [1] and the Chamilo module for Drupal.
    I’m not really convinced by the idea of putting a payment system directly into an LMS (the payment process and marketing pages are better located on a marketing-ready infrastructure like Drupal).

    [1] http://drupal.org/project/ubercart
    [2] http://drupal.org/project/chamilo

    PS: Let me know if you need professional help to get that up quickly

    • Aslan, having read about your question i would suggest to use JoomlaLMS as it’s has strong ecommerce module + based on Joomla CMS, which means compatibility, integrity to your website based on Joomla.

  14. I have a very small for profit school 8-10 students a month. I was using Blackboard CourseSites to deliver the course. I do not charge much for the course. CourseSites Terms of Usage has changed and I will not be able to use them after June 30 2011. I really like the calender/time based scheduling CourseSites allows and the folder hierarchy also, this allows me to open just one weeks of material at a time and to seperate the text documents from the videos. Is there a solution that would allow me to keep my school open.

    • Hi Paul,

      Only talking about what I know best… Chamilo has a combination of features (course progress and time-based availability of learning paths) that would allow you to get up to speed quickly. There’s not so much content as to require automated migration, is there? (that is generally time-costly and is only useful if you have tons of contents and it would take more time to migrate them by hand than to do the analysis and development of a migration script). This is one possibility for you. I gather other solutions have a way to do that as well.

  15. Thank you for useful post Barry!
    Aslam, 100% Joomla native LMS has already been mentioned here – Joomla LMS.
    Joomlearn is also worth of attention, but take into attention that it is not LMS, it’s a good test manager. There’s no way of controlling the course pace or quantum advances, no SCORM compliance.
    It depends on your requirements. Any way Joomla LMS offers more than plenty features and it is SCORM compliant.

    • For those in a need for an easy way to collect money from your courses or offer discount coupon or generic discount periods I would suggest to take a look on eFront payment integration.
      http://docs.efrontlearning.net/Payments

      We use it extensively in our site – you can even get recurring payments.
      The only problem we have found is that is can be used only against paypal.

    • Hey, thanks for the great article, I’m very grateful. We’re opening up a small online school with 8-10 courses. We’d like them to run asynchronously, though, so that students can start the courses whenever they like and follow through at their own pace. Can we do that with efront?

  16. Hi Barry:

    Really great article! But, given that it was published almost 2 years ago, are there any other open source LMS’ that you would now add to it? For example, Drupal, etc.? Always looking for more/new info. in this arena.

    Thanks so much!

  17. Our organization is looking into purchasing open source product Onlinemanager/Formapro. Does anyone have good or bad experiences to share on using this product?

  18. hey guys just tell me which is the best LMS for college who is having post greduation courses
    i am choosing moodle, but looking for better then this, if any open source LMS is more good
    then MOODLE then tell me.

    i wish to impliment it in my college, for the student and staff assessment.

  19. Hi Barry et al,

    This is great discussion, LMS is new to me. We are starting an online academy with both live and recorded lessons. I know there are many details, but what are the options available for this? It looked to me like most LMS only manage the courses/students etc, but dont do much with integrated video, or there are many video providers, but dont really handle the LMS side well.

    Are there any options you can suggest which is a strong LMS that allows for integrated video classes which may include 1 student of 10 distributed across the globe? I am open to a subscription/hosted solution as well.

    Take care,
    Celebrate

  20. sorry one other question. I have looked but didnt seem to see any real mature solutions that are wordpress plugins, Scholar Press seems to have some promise, but not ready for prime time yet.

    So any wordpress options?

    • Hi Kalpesh,

      For colleges, you definitely want to have a look at Chamilo: http://campus.chamilo.org (or http://chamilodev.beeznest.com if you want to try the latest stuff – to be stabilized by the end of the month). The major distinction with Moodle is that it is much easier to use for teachers and students (I’ve been reported a factor 5 difference in training time to get teachers able to produce content on their own).

      Celebrate,

      Chamilo 1.8.8 (to be out this month) will include a plugin with BigBlueButton. Although we do not include the videoconferencing software as is (because it is a whole different software architecture), you can host your videoconference server with 207me.com (write an e-mail to Stephen Dame at “sdame at 207me dot com”) for a pretty reasonnable price, then connect it very easily to Chamilo. This is for live videoconferencing. If you want to replay pre-recorded videos, then you can just use Chamilo and upload your videos from YouTube, Vimeo or whatever you want, it’s built in.

      Of course, I might not be considered neutral here as I am a developer for Chamilo, but considering most of our users are very happy to use it or to have moved from Moodle, I’m pretty sure that I’m not telling tales here, and that you’ll like it (most of the time people choose Moodle as the first, not the best, option).

      • 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?
         

  21. I need something primarily for keeping in touch with individual students while class is not in session. It would be nice if it could also manage courses, but primarily I need it for keeping student records in a permanent place where they can always find it and liaising with individual students.

    Is there anything for that?

    • Hi George. Most of the options listed in the original post and comments, as well as Moodle, would let you do this. If you don’t need the LMS specific features, you could consider a more mainstream CMS such as Drupal or Joomla, or perhaps WordPress with the BuddyPress plugin.

  22. George,

    Besides Drupal and Joomla are WordPress compliant both. You can also use Droomla – new integration of Drupal and Joomla. Some details about Joomla: you can use Joomla with Joomla LMS or Joomlearn and add the JomSocial (social networking tool – http://www.jomsocial.com/). Joomla LMS is integrated with JomSocial and it is possible to view LMS related information in a user profile.

    • Great article, much appreciated Barry.

      I am looking for a way to create an online community to support existing students who learn on site or online in different cities.

      At this point I need the community element more than the LMS course ware, is this something Moodle can do? I have just begun the discovery processes, so much to learn! I’m thinking the grouping function might be part of the answer, and the way the courses are categorised.

      At the core, I’d like to students who have taken class 1 to be able to chat, collaborate and get together virtually with other class 1 attendees, no matter where they attended class, or how.
      The same with class 2, 3, 4, 5.

      Should class 1 be able to meet class 2 or 3 attendees? I don’t even know, probably. Thanks for the feedback.

      • Hi Steve,

        You could use Moodle to build a community site (moodle.org is such site) but my own view is that it isn’t the best tool for the job.

        I would consider using WordPress + BuddyPress (and maybe ScholarPress later when you need the courseware element?) or Open Scholar which is built on Drupal.

  23. Hi George,

    Out of the box, you can install Chamilo 1.8.8 from http://chamilo.googlecode.com/files/chamilo-1.8.8.zip, follow the installation guide from http://chamilodev.beeznest.com/documentation/installation_guide.html and you’ll not only get a messaging tool between students that recognize each other as “friends”, and the capability (through a few options) to get these messages to trigger e-mails and let them form groups, but also the possibility to later start using a fully fledged (and easy to use) e-learning system… It all depends on your needs, but I doubt you’ll find anything easier or more adapted to your needs 😉

  24. To Yannick Warnier ,

    Is there a way to have English documentation available since there is a French version on the Chamilo documentation site?

    Chamilo is very to use and jump into but documentation in English would help make this LMS a much better learning experience for both the student and teacher user.

    Thank you in advance.

    • Q. Referencing these OS LMS recommendations … I’m particularly interested in OLAT and .LRN – these seem to be the most robust from reliable sources. My client specified “Must have the ability to generate course completion certificates.” Suggestions? Experiences? Your comments are welcome and appreciated, thank you.

  25. Hi Brian,

    In OLAT you do not have the possibility to generate certificates yet. For our clients we suggest to open a course element “contact form” called “Request for certificate”. You define the rules on this course element that it will open if users finished the test successfully. So you can print a nice certificate and send it by mail. Another option is to use SCORM and to integrate the print of an certificate in SCORM (used by other clients of us). Also we can develop this nice feature for you 😉

    Regards
    Christian

    New OLAT is out now with ePortfolio included: olat.org

    • You can generate certificates automatically from an HTML-based template, based on score of specific course elements (exams, learning paths, forum contributions, assignments, external evaluations, surveys) inside Chamilo 1.8.8.2 (you can try it using http://chamilodev.beeznest.com test platform by creating a teacher account and a course, then going to the “evaluations” tool inside your course and following the instructions). That is if you’re open to something else than OLAT and .LRN at all…

      This being said, it doesn’t include (just yet) barcode generation.

      The method described by Christian is alright in most cases and can pretty much be implemented in any LMS easily (thanks to SCORM).

      Cheers,
      Yannick

  26. Hi Yannick

    The chamilo demo looks pretty good, however I am not sure what it is I am doing wrong, I have been trying to install the application on a website but have been unsuccessful so far. Do you have any pointers as to what could be the cause of this? The website is running on a linux platform with cpanel.

    Thanks
    Dipo.

  27. Moodle is although a stable system with plenty of user group. Its quite complicated to work on. I feel Dokeos is quite good on simplicity sake. Its a bit buggy but a cool one.

  28. Dipo: You should try version 1.8.8.4 of Chamilo that we’re releasing next week, it comes with a series of little fixes that might fix your issue.

    Also, you might want to check (although in Spanish) an article I wrote a long time ago about installing Dokeos on CPanel. As Chamilo comes from the same root as Dokeos, it’s still valid for both (although we already stabilized and simplified a series of things since we left it behind).
    http://beeznest.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/instalar-dokeos-en-un-hosting-con-cpanel/

    You should be able to work it out with translate.google.com. From what I can remember, most problems come from not selecting the single database mode or not leaving the other db-related fields (other than “main database”) empty.

    • I am looking for a LMS that allows me to do the following. Have tried moodle but found it restrictive (unless i knew programing whihc i don’t). Can you suggest which LMS will work for our req. WE WANT:

      Step by step flow of learning tasks - Student cannot go to (or even see) task 2 without first finishing task 1.
      Every task - the student gets some inputs (text / video / audio / weblink etc) and has to submit some response (open ended).
      Student can go back and see her previous submissions (though can’t change them)
      student can see submissions made by others (in the past or even in future) when they attempted that task (and is able to comment on their submissions)
      Similarly other students  and faculty can comment on each submission from the student.
      During each task - the student can separately make her personal notes (private)
      During each task - student can ask question(s) to the faculty  - which the faculty responds to later. Student receives a notice when faculty’s responds.
      Student is also able to see what questions others have asked and what were responses of faculty / others.
      Even after finishing the whole module - student can see the whole whole lesson including own submissions & other student’s submission and faculty and everybody’s comments
      
  29. Hi barry
    I want to start online classroom using live video conferencing for the students of rural and semi-urban part of india.
    Which of these open source software will be best suited for my needs.

    • Barry

      Are any of the open source LMS’s easily configurable to start on online classroom or does the nature of open source systems necessitate personnel with good IT background? I’m looking for something open source but easily configurable that supports video presentations, slideshows and course management.

  30. Hi,
    I need to create training portal for several universities. We teach students how to use practice management software in teaching clinic. I’ve used Moodle for first university, but there are few problems, one – it is bit slow, second – how can I separate different universities groups – I’d like to monitor users and have separate reports on different university progress. May be someone can advise how to overcome this problem or what application to use?

    • Moodle doesn’t have any out of the box support for groups, nor very good reporting (mind you, that’s not uncommon in many LMSs, open source or commercial). You might want to have a look at the Moomis plugin which adds these and other features.

  31. You might want to check efront (www.efrontlearning.net) that has a very good reporting tool included on the main package and comes free of charge. I think that the Commercial editions include a report generator as well.

  32. … eFront also support branches that act as logical entities. You can add each university as one branch and create reports as being isolated.

  33. It depends on how you want to group users exactly and what report you want, but you might want to have a try at Chamilo too. It allows you to:
    – create sessions (a specific notion that groups students to take a group of courses during a limited timeframe, and enables the “coach” of that session to have precise reports of only those students in all these courses)
    – group students by “classes”, which lets you subscribe/unsubsribe them to sessions or individual courses

    There are many reporting panels and an easy way to develop new reports with some basic PHP development skills from a special feature called the dashboard.

    It has an adaptative tests feature which includes the possibility to mark an area on an image (like a radiography) and ask the student to mark the same area, and calculates the results based on the percentage of coverage. This is similar to what was available in D0keos medical. We find it particularly useful in the health area where the human training requirements are slightly more… vital, so to speak.

    But as I mentioned before, the biggest differentiation with others is that it’s easier to use from both the teacher and the learner’s point of view.

    You can try it on http://chamilodev.beeznest.com (it’s a test platform, you can login as admin / admin and do whatever you want, with respect) and you can download the (still raw) manual in English here: http://support.chamilo.org/attachments/1782/Chamilo_Admin-guide-1.27-6_reviewed.pdf (the manual explains about sessions in one of the last chapters and it is also available in French and Spanish if that suits you better).

    • Despite being familiar with most of the programs in the list above, I usualy swear by a wordpress/buddypress install. That takes care of any content delivery and group-building aspects of the learning environment. The only problem is that there is no apparant way to save test results. As a workaround I use the mquiz plugin and link a keyword that’s given upon succesful completion. This keyword is then used as the password for the next assignment and/or noted on a PDF-worksheet.

      Perhaps this isn’t the most sophisticated way to go about it, but it’s quick, easy and get’s the job done.

  34. Larissa, I use JoomlaLMS and group users to interact with LMS independently. In group they have their own courses that other users can’t view, their own teachers and CEOs etc. You just go to back-end create a group, create restricted category to collect all the courses you would like to be available for this group only and assign this restricted category to the group. Then you should assign teachers and CEOs to the group. Teacher and CEO are default roles. More roles can be used within a group. You can customize default roles too. For example I have Pro version and I set role permission for a teacher to work with certain groups only.

    And about reporting. Reports are available right from your dashboard. You can choose a group to get separate reports. You will get access report on number of visits to every course by students and courses completion report for every course and every student. Student grade report is also available to track a student progress in all his courses. It is not a group report, just a person related. The reports are reportable to CSV or EXL. Have a look – http://www.joomlalms.com/lms-help/teacher-documentation/reports.html

    It is all about default options. Besides Pro version is delivered with PHP open code, so it can be customized by yourself or you can hire native developers.

  35. Open source LMS is a new frontier for me. I am working with a business that would like to setup a formal training program for one software program of many. I would like to suggest an open-source LMS, because it seems to meet their needs of low-cost, easily maintained (post setup) and user-friendly. They would like to be able to load tutorials (presentations), do assessments, track and report trainees. I’ve never used Moodle or Sakai, only read what was offered via their respective sites. For example, I see that assignments is an option to complete an assignment and upload it, versus signing-in, do/view a tutorial and then executing a quiz (assessment). Am I understanding the process correctly? Is the way these systems work or are they customizable? Feedback is greatly appreciated.

    • What you want to do is pretty standard fare for any LMS including Moodle, Sakai or most of the other systems listed in the post and comments.

    • Thank you for all this wonderful information! Very helpful. I am a education consultant looking to help school districts in California find low-cost, easy to manage LMS systems to replace the for profit ones they are currently using. In some districts, they are interested in introducing new programs to students (and teachers) who have never previously been exposed to online learning. One compliant that I have heard from teachers is that Moodle is a bit confusing and daunting to someone new to LMS. Is there a particular system that you recommend that is less “scary” for those teachers and administrators just now coming into the light of online learning? Thank you.

      • Hi Rachel,

        I can understand why some people might find Moodle difficult to learn at first; I was the same. However, if you’re new to LMS I think they’re all a bit scary, and that includes the commercial systems.

        A few people have recommended eFront as being a more user friendly solution, but it isn’t as ‘open’ as Moodle.

        To my mind, the most important thing to do is to clearly identify all of the requirements of the scholl district (and that will include ease of use for teachers) and then prioritise that list. Compared to some other types of software, there are relatively few open source LMS solutions and it’s likely that you will have to compromise somewhere. A prioritiSed lost will help you to do that.

        There’s also no substitute for a proper evaluation, so you really need to get all of the posible solutions installed and try working through as many scenarios as possible to see how they cope. You may want to get a group of teachers to help you do this, and they can feedback on the usability.

        Good luck, and do let us know what choices you make.

    • If you want something built on MS technologies you’re limited for choice. I believe that Open Elms is built on asp/net and SQL server but it’s difficult to find out much from their web site. There was also a project to ad LMS capabilities to DotNetNuke called DotNetSCORM, but their website currently says they’re moving to new servers.

  36. Rachel, if that helps at all (although I’m obviously biased as I know my solution – Chamilo LMS – more than others), I was recently invited in a country-side primary school in Uruguay (=Latin America, developing world) using those little green laptops from the One Laptop Per Child project. I was invited there by the father of the teacher who taught a multi-grade class of 15 students from 6 to 9 years old, and as I presented myself the teacher suggested I presented the software I helped building (as it was related to learning anyway). In less than one hour and with the help of those (quite slow) little laptops, the pupils knew how to create courses, how to create documents and how to create a mini-exam inside the platform. They tend to learn faster than adults, obviously, but apparently they really loved it (to my surprise).
    You can guess how much less trained these kids were to using technologies in comparison with children in California. Some of their parents have cellphones with texting capability and a TV, but that’s pretty much it. Only at school do they have a small laptop to play with (and I was said they only used it 2h a week).
    I don’t want to extend much on the subject, but as far as I understand Chamilo is quite suitable for primary schools (we have at least 50 of these reportedly using it in Latin America, but we don’t have much reports from the US, although it is completely translated to English – actually it’s the source language).

    Just for the fun, here is the school: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=salto,+uruguay&hl=en&ll=-31.391217,-57.71553&spn=0.001969,0.004128&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=58.946508,135.263672&hnear=Salto,+Uruguay&t=h&z=19

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