Per the previous post, here’s our list of the top 5 open-source LMS products. Yes, there are lots more. You can search for ‘top open source LMS’ and find several similar lists. We base ours on our direct experience, various readings and discussions, and general research.
These are not necessarily listed from top to bottom but generally, yes, the preferred are toward the top (as the write-ups will explain).
Moodle remains one of the most popular LMS products, likely due moreso to the name recognition and history than any native advantages….except that by the nature of its popularity, it boasts probably the largest and most active supporting community.
Moodle includes solid features in the free version; content development, eCommerce, student dashboards, wikis, progress tracking and mobile-friendly themes. However, their SCORM 2004 support is incomplete and their xAPI (TinCan) integration is still in progress. Other criticisms include a far-outdated UI and insufficient reporting features. Then again, on the other hand, being so widely used, there are often ways to find solutions to such issues [Common Solutions].
We list it as #1 solely on its widespread use, community, and mobile components. Others follow with better features and user-interface designs.
eFront ranks #2 due to the lesser features in the open-source version (i.e. in-progress xAPI support). This LMS is a dual solution; you can download the source, install, and host it yourself…or you can license a hosted solution complete with support and additional features.
Aside from the DIY open-source ‘edition’, there are two other eFront LMS platforms; the educational and enterprise editions…both of which are hosted solutions and decidedly not-free. All versions include a content creation tool, include forum and chat features, and are SCORM 1.2/2004 compliant. eFront has consistently won positive reviews for its user-interface and multi-lingual capabilities.
However, the free version of eFront does not include eCommerce, certification, or social media integration…and not all plugins are available to the free version either.
ILIAS is maintained by the University of Cologne in Germany and is a mature product (started 1998). ILIAS not only includes features like content creation and management tools, virtual classrooms, chat/forum/SMS features, wiki support, assessment tools, and SCORM 1.2/2004 support.
However, while supported by a strong (largely European) community, it suffers from an outdated UI and lacks solid mobile integration, including not yet supporting xAPI.
We’d generally rank this one below the following two…except for the reliance on Java by these following LMS products.
In an effort to distinguish itself from the LMS crowd, and note its background of academic development background, Sakai calls itself a Collaborative Learning Environment (CLE). Its focus is toward ‘group work’, with a student interaction and research focus, moreso than for the single online student.
With a strong code-base, Sakai has splintered a fair bit over the years (Sakai CLE, Sakai OAE, and mergers with and co-opting by other companies) but remains Java-based at its core. Reliance on such third-party installation on client computers is not a user/audience-friendly approach, regardless of the intent.
Java-reliance asise, Sakai is a solid LMS with third-party integrations such as Dropbox, SCORM Cloud, and Google Docs (such integrations are not *required*) and other features like course and assessment development, chat/wiki/blog features, and the community is reportedly working on xAPI support. Along with Moodle, Sakai’s well-endowed community is strong and active, most recently adding significant mobile-friendly UI improvements.
While ATutor offers significant content-management features (allowing to also be referred to as an ‘LCMS’) and is strong in Accessibility requirements (hence the ‘A’ in the name), it relies on Java…which can affect overall performance and requires the client computers to have the JRE (Java Runtime Environment) installed. These days, anything depending on any sort of additional, assistive, or otherwise third-party ‘plugin’ adds to support difficulties.
As an LMS/LCMS overall, ATutor is a solid product with SCORM support, course and content management features, social networking c omponents (i.e. web conferencing, blogs), course and assessment authoring and strong accessibility support…if only it weren’t reliant on Java…
Other solid Open-Source LMS products worth a mention include: