Three Different LMS Alternatives (Part 2): Open-Source LMS

In the previous article, we discussed one of the LMS alternatives that you can opt for: proprietary. To recap, this type of learning management system is created by a third party company that seeks to profit from it.

Three Different LMS Alternatives (Part 2) Open-Source LMSThe next alternative that you can use is known as the Open-source LMS.

This type of learning management system is developed by more than one individual or entity. Simply put, it is a type of LMS that is created by the community. A perfect example is Moodle. It is actually the top-ranking software among all the learning management systems. This software was developed by a programmer named Martin Dougiamas. He adopted a concept called social constructionism wherein a community of programmers can help build the Moodle LMS. The great thing about this arrangement is that the learning management system is, in itself, also learning-centered. There are other open-source LMS software developed like Sakai.

So what makes this alternative better than the other proprietary and the cloud-based learning management systems?

  • Most of the open-source LMS is free so getting access to it is very easy. Despite being free, some of them are offered a basic level of service by the administrators.
  • Always open to the new ideas coming from the community – that means the chances of improvement is higher because more minds are working on it. Most of the users are usually strongly interested in the open-source software of the LMS.
  • Allows users to view, make changes and enhance the source code.
  • Allows users to see the updates made on the source-code and apply them as needed.
  • Allows setting up without the need for the institution’s  technical support.
  • Usually simple to use. In fact, when the proprietary fails, users usually opt for the open-source LMS next.
  • Rarely imposes restrictions from the administration of the institution.
  • Can be used to collaborate with others.

Like the other LMS alternatives, this one also has its share of disadvantages.

  • While this system is free, it does not mean funding is not required. The administration, management and maintenance of the open-source learning management system requires funding too. Without them, the whole thing may not be as efficient as it should be.
  • If there is no one in the institution knowledgeable of LMS, it might be difficult for the software to be implemented correctly. A dedicated IT staff may be needed to help deploy and maintain the system. These are usually not a problem with a proprietary LMS.
  • The technical support may not be sufficient for some institutions. Not only that, the IT staff that will be hired by the institution or enterprise will have to be knowledgeable of the language used in the source code. Some training investment may be required at some point.
  • An open-source LMS may have issues with multiple transactions. While there are large LMSs like Moodle that can handle it, selecting the right open-source is still vital in the success of the eLearning program.
  • Deciding which open-source updates to implement might be confusing. Again, this strengthens the need for a trained IT staff that works for the institution or enterprise.
  • Security and privacy may be an issue for some open-source software programs.
  • Nobody is accountable in case the system becomes defective.

It is tough to consider which is better between the proprietary and open-source LMSs. But before you make a decision, we should probably check out the third and last learning management system: the cloud-based LMS.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles for