Learning Management System : Benefits of Open Source LMSs

LMS or Learning Management System is not a new term for educational institutes, teachers, students and for that matter to big organizations. Increasingly all types of organizations be it a school, university, college or a company are keeping all their study or training material on the cloud so that it can be conveniently stored, retrieved and modified. Today one way or the other organizations are using web and mobile technology for teaching their staff and students.

To effectively impart learning or training to learners  a Learning Management system or LMS with inbuilt tools like course module, certification, enrollment, reporting, tests /quizzes is required. An organization can choose to use a paid or free LMS. They have their own advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of course and other requirements.

Free or Paid LMS
All the widely used LMSs have some basic features like a provision for course creation, allowing students to access the course remotely and allowing the student to submit their assignments & test their proficiency. As there are many free open source LMSs with rich feature set are available, many colleges, universities and organizations are using the free Learning Management System for their organization. One of the major advantage of using the free LMS is that the organization or professional does not have to invest any money initially in the LMS. This is particularly suitable for organizations with a limited budget who are short of funds.

If a paid LMS is used, the organization will find it difficult to change the LMS at a later date, if it is not found suitable due to the lack of some features or some other reason. On the other hand, if the free open source LMS is used, though some time may be wasted, it is comparatively easier to change the LMS at a later date, as very less money and time would have been wasted. So for an organization using an LMS for the first time, it is highly recommended that a free LMS should be used, as there is more flexibility in switching the LMS if required.

Another major advantage of using a free open source LMS, is that the source code is available, and the organization can modify the LMS based on their specific requirement. For most paid LMS the source code is not provided, and the developer of the LMS may charge an additional fee for making even small changes in the LMS according to the requirement of the organization or professional who is developing the course. In case the organization is satisfied with the free LMS, they can opt for a higher paid version of LMS or hire the services of developers who specialize in customizing the LMS.

As the LMS is free, the user base for the LMS like most open source software is likely to be larger. So there is a larger community for the LMS who can help in solving any problem related to the LMS, as many users will face the same software related problems. There are also likely to be more developers who will develop plugins for improving the features of the LMS. Moodle which is one of the most popular LMS software having student dashboards, tracking the progress of students, and a provision for selling courses, using Paypal. There are also some course templates available, Sakai is targeting the educational sector while Opigno is a cloud based LMS. So depending on their requirement and budget, an organization should choose the right LMS for training or online learning.

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