Training Technology

Class of 2017: The Top K-12 Academic LMS Solutions

Published by in LMS

In the fall of 2016, The National Center for Educational Statistics estimated that 50.4 million students would attend public elementary and secondary schools in the United States. To put that into perspective for you, if these kiddos formed their own country, they would rank right after South Korea based on population. Future world leaders may be in their midst, but let’s wait until they graduate from high school first!  

On the front line of sculpting and molding these students are teachers. They have a lot of responsibility and need the best tools available in order to get the job done in the classroom.

Learning Management Software is the “teacher’s pet” of software. But trying to find the right LMS for your school can be a challenge. What if you keep running into systems that are geared towards corporate training? Or what if you find an academic option that is way too complex to learn and use?

I have good news, Capterra is here to help you find an Academic LMS that’s user-friendly…just like A,B,C, it’s easy as 1,2,3!

Our team researched and performed usability testing on learning management systems to find out which were the easiest to use in our Top 20 Most User-Friendly LMS Software report. To learn more about our research process during the creation of the original report, check out our methodology. Since this report looks at LMS software as a whole, we now want to focus on the best LMS systems for K-12 academic organizations.

We used data gathered from our Top 20 Most User-Friendly report, but focused on academic institutions. We focused only on solutions with an academic LMS offering, and took into account how schools might use the LMS functionality differently. Then we ranked the highest scoring K-12 systems based on ease of use, customer service, and customer reviews.

Ease of use encompasses the average amount of time and the number of clicks it took to complete the below tasks, as well as a “System Usability Score” (SUS). SUS is generated through a short survey our team completed after testing each solution, which captures perceived ease of use.   

Tasks tested:

  1. Create a course
  2. Create a test/assessment
  3. Create a learner profile
  4. Schedule a class
  5. Generate a report

We also compared the levels of customer service by tracking implementation, training, and support resources made available to customers by the software company (listed below).

Implementation resources

  1. Permissions configuration
  2. Custom alerts
  3. Custom branding
  4. Mobile learning/optimization
    1. iOS Compatibility
    2. Android Compatibility
  5. Open API

Training resources

  1. Videos
  2. Articles or training documents
  3. Free demos
  4. Webinars
  5. On-site training
  6. Free trials

Support resources

  1. Via email or a help desk
  2. Through links to an FAQ page or a knowledge base
  3. Over the phone
  4. Through live chat

Customer reviews were also used to rank systems regarding “ease of use” and “customer service”. We combined these star ratings with the total number of reviews each system had on Capterra.

Of course, this list was designed to help get the ball rolling as you begin your research, and is not inclusive of all available software options. For a full list, check out our LMS Software Directory.

Vendor Breakdown (listed alphabetically)

*featured in our Top 20 Most User-Friendly LMS Software report, which includes both corporate and academic learning management systems.

Absorb LMS*

Absorb LMS earned the second highest score for ease of use among all of the K-12 solutions we tested (70), and also has the 3rd highest Customer Service Score in K-12 solutions. Our testers liked the clean interface of this system, and thought all of the buttons were easy to find, making it a pretty intuitive system that was easy to get the hang of. We did experience some mild click fatigue with, on average, about 18 clicks to complete each task, but this number is still in line with the average across systems.

As an added bonus, Absorb is thought very highly of by their customers and is also featured in our Top 20 Most Affordable LMS Software report, meaning it’s a great bang for your buck.

Aktiv Mind LMS*

Real customers of Aktiv Mind really love using this solution. Aktiv Mind earned a perfect 5 stars across the board for their reviews on Capterra, and on our sister sites GetApp and SoftwareAdvice. In our evaluation, we determined that Aktiv Mind did not offer quite as many customer service resources compared to other K-12 Academic systems. However, it seems like what they do offer is enough to win over their customer base: customer service has specifically been called out explicitly in 35% of their reviews, and they have earned a full 5 stars in customer service across 100% of their reviews. [as of 04/24/17]


What makes Canvas stand out is all of the resources they offer to new buyers. Our team came up with a list of 17 features and services that LMS vendors could offer their customers – 7 that would help buyers implement their new system, 6 that would help train buyers to get them up and running, and 4 that would allow buyers to contact the vendor to get some help if they ran into any issues along the way. Canvas offered all 17 resources used in our evaluation, not to mention they had the highest overall ease of use score among K-12 systems.


Configio’s customers came out in droves to share their positive experiences using this system – giving Configio the third highest total number of reviews. Their average rating across Capterra and our sister sites sits at 4.7 stars.

Configio is also featured in our Top 20 Most Affordable LMS Software report, meaning you also get a lot for what you pay for in this system.


On top of being ranked #9 in our Top 20 Most Affordable LMS Systems report, Edvance360 earned the 2nd highest customer service score of 94. They offer a diverse range of customer service resources, and are only missing one support option: live chat.

Paradiso LMS*

Paradiso earned the third highest score for ease of use. Their customers raved about Paradiso’s ease of use and user-friendliness in three of their seven 5 star reviews – specifically calling out the user interface. They also made Capterra’s Top 20 Most Affordable LMS Software, which means Paradiso is a solution that won’t break the bank.

What LMS do you use in your K-12 school? What do you love about it? Let us know in the comments, or leave a review for your system!


Looking for Learning Management System software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Learning Management System software solutions.

About the Author

James Rew

James Rew

James is a product research associate for Capterra’s Software Lab, where he evaluates a wide variety of software solutions. When he’s not in the “lab” testing software, he enjoys music, playing tennis, watching The Weather Channel (hoping for snow), and auditioning for The Voice.


No comments yet. Be the first!

Comment on this article:

Comment Guidelines:
All comments are moderated before publication and must meet our guidelines. Comments must be substantive, professional, and avoid self promotion. Moderators use discretion when approving comments.

For example, comments may not:
• Contain personal information like phone numbers or email addresses
• Be self-promotional or link to other websites
• Contain hateful or disparaging language
• Use fake names or spam content
Your privacy is important to us. Check out our Privacy Policy.