Top open source learning management systems
Open source learning management systems have become extremely popular in recent years, but what does open source mean? Open source technology is a technology in which the source code is “open”, that is, the code is available to the public and is free to modify. Developers can make improvements and can be spread or sold to the wider community. So why should an organization choose an open source learning management system over a proprietary or proprietary learning management system?
- First, if a company uses a proprietary learning management system, it must rely on the vendor to maintain and repair the learning management system, as well as to provide support when problems arise.
- Because the code is widely available in open source learning management systems, many developers read and examine the code, resulting in bugs being identified and fixed much faster than proprietary programs.
- Open source technology is very beneficial for schools, universities and other educational institutions, as well as for businesses.
- Open source learning management systems are fully flexible and customizable, so they can be designed according to the brand image of your school or organization.
- There are no license or hardware costs associated with open source technology, so it’s free to get started and carries minimal risk.
Open source learning management systems can also be turned into social learning platforms. You can create an online community through your learning management system. For example, your students can chat, blog, connect to social networking sites (Facebook, etc.), and take surveys on its open source learning management system. This blog post details how you can combine Google+ with your learning management system.
Top 6 Open Source Learning Management Systems
With the myriad of learning management systems available today, making the decision on which platform to choose can be quite overwhelming. Below I have written short explanations on 6 of the best systems currently available.
Moodle is short for “Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment”, although when it was first developed, the M stood for Martin’s in honor of its developer, Martin Dougiamas. Moodle has been around for over ten years, with the first version in August 2002.
- Very very easy for novice users.
- Easy generation of PDF documents.
- Quick course setting.
- All grades for assignments and tests, etc. can be viewed on a sheet and downloaded as a spreadsheet.
- Teachers / instructors can add multiple files very easily by dragging and dropping.
.LRN (dot learn) was originally developed at MIT and is used by nearly 500,000 people in educational institutions, corporations, and governments in more than 18 countries.
- Task delivery mailbox.
- Scorm screen
- Student tracking data can be exported
- Different roles are supported for LRN classes, such as students, teachers, and administrative staff
- LRN has been internationalized to support multiple languages, dialects, and time zones
However, its main flaw is that it has a very diverse interface with many inconsistencies.
The basic version of eFront is exactly that, basic, but this can be expanded with downloadable modules from the eFront site. The thought process behind this decision was for users to spend time learning new skills, not learning how to use the platform. There are two efront learning management platforms, an educational edition and an enterprise edition. The business edition was aimed at medium-sized companies with between 100 and 10,000 employees. Before development began, extensive research was conducted on organizations of this size.
- Visually attractive interface
- Very fast and modern as it is Ajax enabled
- Unicode, LDAP and SCORM compatible
- Advanced security features
This particular learning management system is available in three versions, the original free open source version, a pro version and a specific medical version. Visual learning can be developed without graphic experience.
- Turn Office documents into learning paths
- Content authoring tools
- Video conferencing tools
- Synchronization with human resource management systems
- Print certificates
Sakai was designed by universities, for universities. It was built by MIT, Stanford and Berkeley, among others, so they did not need to use their own systems or pay suppliers. It aims to be very suitable for group projects and describes itself as a collaborative learning environment (CLE).
- List site
- View site usage statistics
- Show external web pages
- Create new Sakai sites from templates with preloaded tools
- Contains tools for portfolio-based activities
Because Sakai is coded primarily in Java, it can cause problems, especially if older versions of browsers are used. It can also be difficult to find programmers with knowledge of Java.
ATutor differs slightly from the other systems in that it is actually a Learning Content Management System (LCMS). The A stands for accessible and accessibility is its best feature. Additionally, users’ browsing patterns can be tracked so that instructors can see student use of the site and students can track their own usage.
- Print Compiler to print notes or discussion transcripts
- SCORM and IMS packages can be imported
- Easy course creation (although difficult with different types of content)
- Easily accessible and adaptable
- The file storage feature has a version control feature to keep track of changes and drafts
A downside to this particular platform is that the Java Runtime Environment must be installed on the client side for SCORM tracking. Also, course items cannot be marked as favorites.
To conclude, of the six learning management systems listed above, Moodle is by far the most popular and, in our opinion, the best. It has more than 62 million users worldwide. In addition to the features listed above, here are other reasons why we think Moodle should be your number one choice for an open source learning management system.
Repositories – With Moodle it is very easy to import files from Flickr, Google Docs, Dropbox, Youtube, etc. All of these files can be saved together in one location for easy access later.
Discussion boards – The Moodle community is full of discussion forums in many different languages, so users can communicate with people outside of your organization, as well as with your employees.
Support for – There are a lot of support options for Moodle users. On the Moodle site you can find books and manuals, documents that include frequently asked questions, and a forum where you can ask questions. Forums often have many other users and even computer programmers who are happy to offer help, advice, and recommendations, whatever the topic.
Sach Chaudhari is an expert in the field of eLearning platform development. He is the CEO of Paradiso Solutions ( www.ParadisoSolutions.com ) which focuses on the development of e-learning platforms. Sach is based in Silicon Valley. He studied business at Harvard Business School and computer science at the University of Cincinnati. He has several software engineering patents to his name. Before starting Paradiso Solutions, Sach worked at various startups and the Fortune 500 in Silicon Valley.