An LMS allows for an anytime, anywhere learning environment, delivering and tracking eLearning courses, and testing.
As an educator or a human resource (HR) manager responsible for delivering continuous online learning to students and employees, you might often come across challenges such as interrupted connectivity or inactive learners. To tackle these challenges and ensure continuous delivery of high-quality learning, you need to invest in the right tools.
What about using an LMS software?
An LMS (learning management system) software allows for a virtual learning environment where you can deliver and track online learning materials and test for understanding. Additionally, the software features are constantly being updated with the changing learning environment including learning technology, level of understanding, modes of teaching, and more.
If you are a small-business owner and not sure about directly buying a tool, start with a free tool to understand its features. Move to the paid plan only if you’re satisfied that the tool’s performance meets your desired goals.
This article highlights the five top free LMS systems (sorted alphabetically) based on user ratings and reviews. Read the complete methodology here.
CANVAS: Access the free-for-teacher account
CANVAS LMS is geared toward educators in the higher education field. The Canvas Free-For-Teacher account allows educators to create a free account and access essential LMS features such as creating quizzes and assignments. You can also personalize the learners’ experience with mastery paths. The feature lets you analyze the learning capability of each learner based on their assessment scores and design courses accordingly.
Communication with learners and other educators is made easier thanks to easy-to-use features such as video and voice calls. You can even create a group chat for learners with similar programs to communicate with multiple learners in a single chat window.
Using the tool’s analytics feature, you can get insights on learners’ course progress and usage of learning resources. These insights can be used to score students and create downloadable reports for future reference.
CANVAS Free-For-Teacher has a mobile application for both educators and learners so that everyone can stay connected on the go. The tool offers users chat, email, and on-call support for software-related queries.
- Assessment management
- Content management
- Course tracking
- Learner portal
Eduflow: Provide social learning experiences
Eduflow is an LMS tool used for corporate training and higher education. The tool allows you to collaborate with your learners, provide real-time feedback, and organize sessions to discuss performance gaps. Learners can use the tool to request peer reviews, rate team member performance in group activities, and interact with course authors for personalized feedback.
Using Eduflow, you can create interactive online training programs and live sessions using quizzes, polls, videos, and more. You can also test your created program using(Sharable Content Object Reference Model) framework for the expected outcome.
Eduflow allows integration with third-party applications such as collaboration software, file sharing software, presentations software, and more. Both you and your learners can export the document from Eduflow to the connected application to discuss feedback or present the work to authors.
Eduflow offers email and on-call support to customers for software-related issues.
- Data export
- File storage
- Learning activities
- SCORM import
$20 per month
iSpring Learn: Turn presentations into online courses
iSpring Learn offers a free downloadable version of LMS software that is separate from the suite cloud platform. The tool allows you to directly upload your PowerPoint presentations keeping all the animations, transitions, and media intact. Once uploaded, you can test the presentation using the SCORM framework and then publish it as a course for your learners.
This LMS tool lets you automate the process of grouping different learners to assign similar courses or share acknowledgment certificates. You can set the grouping criteria such as type of online course, interest, level of learning, etc. Once set, the tool will automatically group the registered learners and send invites for upcoming sessions.
With iSpring Learn’s gamification feature, you can recognize the learners’ achievement through points and badges. Learners can track their progress on the leaderboard and share it with their peers to highlight their achievements. Learners can also communicate and discuss their performance with the course authors or subject matter experts to clear doubts.
iSpring Learn has a mobile application for Android and iOS users. The tool offers email, chat, and on-call customer support.
- Cheat-proof settings
- Course authoring
- Customizable templates
- SCORM import
$2.82 per user, per month
TalentLMS: Create unlimited sub-accounts
TalentLMS is an employee training platform that allows you to create unlimited sub-accounts to match your organization’s structure and manage them all in one place. In addition, you can customize each sub-account for different teams’ and departments’ learning requirements.
The tool lets you send automatic emails to learners for upcoming sessions, auto-assign courses and training based on interest, and remove courses from the list. You can also set an expiration date for every course to automatically remove it from the list, arrange sequence, and remove any inactive users from the platform.
With TalentLMS, you can set up learning paths and completion rules to guide the learners throughout the curriculum. You can group similar courses for easy access and progress tracking. You can also group learners with similar interests to assign courses or send registration alerts at once.
TalentLMS integrates with other collaboration and scheduling tools. The tool has a mobile application for Android and iOS users to upload the learning material and assignments. Learners can download the material, take the assignment, and upload the same for scoring.
For queries related to the software, users can reach out to TalentLMS’s customer support team on call.
- Course management
- Learner profile
- Notification and alert
$89 per month
Thinkific: Access to detailed student data analytics
Thinkific learning management system lets you access your learners’ performance data such as activity time, engagement, and number of courses completed. You can use such insights to develop new courses or enhance the existing ones to deliver better learning outcomes.
Select from a variety of ready-to-use course templates with the template management feature. You can customize the templates based on your topic or use your brand logo. In addition, you can manage your course content such as listing the chapters or uploading the learning materials using the drag and drop feature.
Thinkific allows you to integrate its features with third-party applications used for automating emails, converting leads, and much more. The tool offers on-call and email customer support. If you need additional support, you have access to the tool’s knowledge base where you are able to watch product demonstrations and read about features.
- Admin account
- Course builder
- Content hosting
- Student discussion
- Website templates
$49 per month
Here’s a list of key considerations for you to keep in mind when selecting the best learning management system.
- Assess the ease of use: Your learners can span across different age groups, learning capabilities, and skill levels. Keeping this in mind, you need to check if your learners will be able to adapt to the selected platform by assessing its features, navigation, and other learning requirements specific to their learning needs.
- Check the data and analytics capabilities: Analyzing the impact of your courses and training is essential to ensure the continuous development of your learners. Having said that, check that your selected LMS tool provides learner insights (engagement, sessions attended, assessments taken) that are key to improving your outcomes.
- Look for an age-appropriate learning platform: If your learners are of elementary grade or highly-skilled professionals, their learning requirements will differ. You need to find a tool that empathizes with the learner-specific requirements such as activity-based elementary learning or formal corporate training.
You can ask your shortlisted software providers the following questions to make an informed decision when vetting a free learning management system.
Does the tool allow collaboration?
Interacting with the learners is a crucial part of the online learning process. You should be able to work on documents and add comments in real time, either by sharing your screen on call or sharing the document with the learners. Ask the selected software vendor if their LMS tool offers a collaboration feature and how you can use it to interact with your learners. Some vendors may not directly offer a collaboration feature but allow integrating with a third-party application.
Does the tool allow customization to specific learning needs?
Free tools often offer limited features. However, you get an option to upgrade and add more features specific to your school or organizational needs. In addition, some software vendors also customize their tools with features that match your teaching methods and learners’ requirements. Ask for the possibility of customization available with your selected LMS software.
Does the tool allow creating new learning frameworks?
In addition to uploading the already created course modules, the tool should allow creating new learning frameworks such as including interactive quizzes or videos, hosting live sessions, integrating assessments, and much more. Check the feature availability with your chosen LMS tool.
To find your ideal software match, you need information you can trust—so you can save time, stay on budget, and focus more energy on growing your business. It’s why we vet and verify all our user reviews and recommend only the tools endorsed by people such as you.
In other words, our product recommendations are never bought or sold, or based on the opinion of a single individual—they’re chosen by your peers, reflecting the views and experiences of our independent base of software reviewers.
At Capterra, we objectively select and rank products based on a methodology developed by our research team. Some vendors pay us when they receive web traffic, but this has no influence on our methodology.
To be considered for this list, products had to:
- Have at least 20 unique product reviews published on Capterra within the past two years, with an average rating of 3.0 or higher. We selected the three products with the highest ratings to feature in this article.
- Offer a free, standalone version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).
- Meet our LMS software market definition: “Learning Management Systems (LMS) provide a framework through which learning content is delivered and managed. An LMS allows for an anytime, anywhere learning environment, delivering and tracking eLearning courses and testing. A Learning Content Management System (LCMS) enables the organization to learn content from Courseware authoring tools and presentation of the content to students. Learning Management Systems are related to Training software.”
The “Best functionality” tool is identified based on the highest user ratings for functionality that a vendor received based on publicly available reviews as on August 16, 2022.
The “Most affordable” tool is identified based on the lowest pricing a vendor offered on their website in terms of cost to upgrade as on August 16, 2022.
Disclaimer: We conducted this analysis based on reviews and ratings data as of August 16, 2022. In order to present the most up-to-date information, the product cards show real-time ratings. Please note that this means the ratings value in the product card may not reflect the ratings value at the time of analysis.