Open Source LMS solutions are the perfect fit if you are tired of paying for commercial license fees or you are simply interested in supporting a community based project that is less driven by profit and motivated by the challenge and commitment of designing and supporting a superior product.
Open source learning management systems are also perfect for the instructional designer that wants to get familiar with other LMS software that are available just so that they can stay on top of any technology trends and stay familiar with what is being used in the field.
This way they will be more marketable as an e-learning consultant since they will have a more varied experience and expertise with the different LMS solutions and be more sought after by the different types of organizations out there that rely on e-learning tools for their online training.
As with any software, even open source learning platforms differ in features and have their own hidden costs (installation, support, compatibility, etc…), so taking the time to choose one will be time consuming in of itself but that should not be counted against the argument that an open source LMS isn’t a free LMS, since you would have to do the same due diligence task of choosing a commercial LMS.
Why Open Source? Cheaper and Better
There is allot of debate over proprietary software and open source software but study after study shows that software based on open source initiatives result in lower costs (no licensing fee to the developer) and better software (since the code is publicly available and collaborated on bug fixes are done much quicker)
One of the best examples of an open source software is the globally used WordPress software, an open source content management system that can be seen implemented by individuals, governments, educational organizations, and multi-national corporations.
Every few months (sometimes even weeks), a new update is made available. To one degree or another the updates include bug fixes, security patches, and new features enhancement on a regular basis, completely free.
The cherry on top is the availability of third party plugins, thousand of third party plugins, that can transform the WordPress CMS to any imaginable online software solution, including a free LMS software solution via a plugin.
Short and Sweet
There are hundreds of LMS vendors to choose from. To help you narrow down the list of best open source learning management systems, here is a short list to get you started.
Open eLMS – A business focus elearning platform, originally designed by e-learning WMB for its clients and now available as open source software.
Dokeos – An elearning suite based on Drupal for online learning and course management applications.
Sakai – Bred and merged from top academic institutions to form one of the strongest players in the online learning and course management system field.
Atutor – Originally developed by the University of Toronto as an answer to the lack of online learning tools with accessibility features for people with disabilities. Today it is one of best Open Source LMS options available.
Moodle – The most commonly known open source learning management system.
WordPress – Better known as an open source content management system but combine it with an LMS plugn and you get a free LMS software.
Openly Free and Professional Done
Even though it might seem questionable to use a free e-learning software as a professional solution, I urge you to give a few of the top open source learning management systems a try and even call the organizations behind them to see if their open source LMS software solution is the right one for you.
There is allot you can find out from a quick chat with the main provider or the software or the partner supporting it. Sometimes you might even find answers to questions you weren’t even thinking of.