Learning management system comparison

LMS comparison allows making the right choice when searching for a suitable LMS. Years of involvement in the eLearning field have enabled us to select several criteria for learning management system comparison which are usually key points to consider when choosing LMS for your business.

Key LMS comparison criteria and their description

If you are new to the LMS world, check the table below! In this table we compare LMS by dividing LMSs into general categories according to the relevant criteria. For each category we provide a brief general description and point out key benefits of LMSs belonging to the category. Please keep in mind that the division is not strict – many LMSs can fall into several categories within one criterion, or even have their unique nature which is hard to categorize. However, our LMS comparison is designed to help you get a comprehensive picture of what kind of LMS you need depending on your requirements and specifications.

Learning management system comparison chart

Fee type
Free Commercial
Free LMS is an LMS which is distributed free of charge. It's good for technicians or companies with internal tech staff who can take care of implementation and administration of the software. Some of free software distributors don't provide support for their products, some provide paid support and services, other have free support (usually via forum). Most of the free products have open source code, which gives you a freedom to customize the system yourself in any way you need. Commercial software is distributed on paid basis. As a rule, the price for the software includes technical support which makes the software easy to implement and use for non-technicians and non-tech companies. Vendors do not normally provide source code for commercial software, but sometimes provide customization services.
Source code availability
Open source Proprietary software
In open source software all the files which make up the system are free for modifying, which allows customizing the system in the necessary way. Moreover, the usage of the LMS (number of users, courses, usage period) is not limited. For proprietary software vendors do not provide the source code. Along with commercial purposes, encrypting the source code serves as a security guarantee, as it prevents using the software for malicious code distribution (viruses, trojans etc.). Some vendors offer customization services, and can provide compatibility with future releases on request.
Licensing models
Per number of registered/enrolled users Per number of concurrently connected users Per license validity period Per number of courses
Limitation by the general number of users who use the LMS (the license can limit either students or staff or both). Limitation by the number of users who are simultaneously connected to the LMS. Time limitation of LMS license validity. As a rule, license subscriptions are annual or monthly. Limitation by the number of courses you can create in your LMS.
Installation type
Hosted (Software as a Service) Own
Hosted solution means that the LMS is hosted on the vendor's servers and installed on the vendor's site. Customers can purchase access to separate LMS parts, manage their own content and students. It's a good quick solution if you don't have a website, or wish to avoid spending time and resources on administering the system. Own installation means you get the LMS application which you can install on your site or local network. It allows having a completely individual solution tuned to meet your specific needs. Plus it provides you with full control over your LMS and all the related processes.
Business orientation
eCommerce Educational institutions Corporate training Government structures
LMSs designed for commercial use include an option allowing users to sell different kinds of subscriptions (student/teacher access to courses/LMS etc.), i.e. to provide eLearning on the paid basis. Some LMSs don't allow selling LMS subscriptions as they focus on educational features. These LMSs are designed for educational purposes only. Corporate LMSs are focused on (evaluating) employee skills and competencies as well as providing tools for competency training. This orientation includes possibilities of educational and corporate LMSs, with a greater focus on security and some other features depending on the certain government structure.
eLearning standards compliance
International Standard (SCORM, AICC, IMS etc ) compliant Local standards compliant No standards compliance
If the LMS is SCORM/AICC/IMS/ other standards compliant, you can use the standard packages (SCORM/AICC/other) inside the LMS instead of (or together with) creating native LMS course content. It can be very useful if you don't want to tie yourself to using one particular LMS. Additionally, authoring software enables users to create customized look and feel for course content. Besides, courseware vendors often provide their course content in some of the widely used standards, so you can purchase ready-made courses instead of creating your own. Some LMS comply with local standards of a specific region (e.g. NCVER – Australian standard for training statistics) or specific field of learning. Some LMSs are not compliant with any content standards, and native content created in such LMSs is not reusable for other LMSs. This feature can be useful if the unique nature of your course content is important in your business.
Content creation possibilities
Integrated tools for native courses creation Separate tools for native courses creation Possibility to use reusable content only
Some LMSs provide special internal tools for creating native course content based on your learning materials. Some LMSs don't have integrated tools for course content creation, but vendors provide such tools as separate products compliant with their LMS. Some LMSs do not provide possibilities for creating native course content, you can only use standard packages (SCORM/AICC/IMS/other) in such LMSs.
Programming Language
Though not evident, programming language the LMS is written in is one of the important criteria which you should pay your attention to when selecting the suitable LMS. You will probably need a specific language depending on many factors, e.g. what language your server can handle, what language your team is most proficient in, or (if you outsource technical work) what language is more popular and what language programming costs less.
Stand-alone solution Integrated solution
This solution allows installing the LMS as a stand-alone application. You can integrate it with your business platform as a custom project. Some LMSs require certain platforms to be installed on. This LMS-platform integration gives you a possibility to use your platform capabilities together with the LMS functionality to enhance your eLearning process.
Integration possibilities
Open source Documented API (SDK) Integration via bridges
Applications with open source code provide the widest range of integration possibilities, as you can edit any part of the LMS to integrate smoothly with any other application. API (application programming interface) provides a possibility to use functions of one application by another application. API allows integrating applications with encrypted source code and facilitates integration process for open source applications. Bridges are special plugins which allow integrating applications of different types. Bridges are especially useful if you want to integrate applications with encrypted source code or applications with no API.

We aimed at making our LMS comparison chart clear, compact and objective, but we are always open to your suggestions, notes, additions and anything else you have to say about the above chart. Please feel free to discuss our LMS comparison with us in a special thread on our forum dedicated to discussing our learning management system comparison: http://www.joomlalms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1978

Your suggestions and feedback are highly appreciated.

JoomlaLMS in the context of LMS comparison

As we represent an LMS vendor, we would like to show you where our JoomlaLMS goes according to the above mentioned criteria:

Fee type Commercial (starting from 299 USD/year).
Comments: you can see our pricing list here: http://www.joomlalms.com/buy_now/
Source code availability Proprietary software.
Comments: PRO edition of JoomlaLMS has open source code (only 2 files which contain the license information are encoded).
Licensing models Per number of enrolled users and per license validity period (per year).
Comments: with an option for unlimited number of users and perpetual license.
eLearning standards compliance SCORM-compliant.
Content creation possibilities Integrated tools for native courses creation.
Installation type Own.
Comments: JoomlaLMS is installed on Joomla! CMS-based web-site (you can find more information about this in our FAQ). JoomlaLMS also provides web-hosting and Joomla! CMS installation on request.
Business orientation Can be used in all sectors, however, it's more eCommerce and Educational Institutions oriented.
Programming Language PHP.
Platform Joomla! CMS. JoomlaLMS is designed as a Joomla! Component.
Top 2 advantages of this platform:
1. Joomla Cms is the world's best Freeware CMS: http://www.joomla.org/announcements/general-news/4122-joomla-wins-again.html
2. Joomla CMS has over 4500 components and modules used to extend its functionality: http://extensions.joomla.org/
Integration possibilities Professional edition allows for integration with other systems using open source code.
JoomlaLMS can be customized by the core JoomlaLMS team on request.

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