11 Best Free and Open Source LMS Tools for Your Small Business

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A learning management system (LMS) helps businesses and educational institutions create, track, and manage their eLearning programs. However, most tools come with a set pricing model that can be expensive for small businesses and institutions.

While finalizing the budget for LMS software, you need to consider factors such as cost of installation, license, fees per user/course, and ongoing maintenance. On top of the upfront fees, there may also be hidden fees that could strain your tight budget.

But if you have just a handful of employees or students, then a free or open source LMS tool is your best option. Here’s why:

  • A free LMS may have limited features, courses, and users but still gives you a good overview of the software as a stand-alone solution.
  • An open source tool makes its source code open to everyone to inspect, modify, and enhance according to their business/education needs.

Open source LMS tools are often free to use and customize—unlike proprietary software that has restrictive copyright licenses, so you can’t change their source code to improve the design.

Small businesses that use free LMS tools will have lower software costs, while still gaining the benefits of core software features. In addition, open source LMSs allow more customization without having to purchase expensive licenses.

While there are hundreds of LMS tools out there, only a handful are free or open source. Therefore, we created this list of the top 11 free and open source LMS tools that are suitable for small and midsize businesses. The order of this list may change in future updates.

This article looks at 11 highly rated free LMS options. See the full list of free LMS solutions here.

We’ve also included a chart that provides a quick, high-level overview of all 11 products. The products are listed in alphabetical order. Learn more about our selection methodology at the end of this piece.

Chart: Top 11 Free and Open Source LMS tools

The top free LMS tools

Coggno: Built-in certification tool for instant certificates

Coggno is a cloud-based LMS for creating online courses on compliance, safety, and business management. It allows you to add visual elements, such as images and tables, to the course material. It offers courses in a variety of formats, including video, audio, and as Microsoft Word files.

The solution has a built-in certification feature that generates certificates after course completion. Instructors can track a learner’s progress and create reports to measure the ROI of the training programs. In addition, course creators can sell their courses on Coggno.com and other similar marketplaces.

Coggno LMS: Monitoring training stage of employees

Monitoring the training stage of employees on Coggno LMS (Source)

Pros: Capterra reviewers like that they can control and manage access permissions to the course material. They can also view the available training courses, submit requests for registration to a course, and send reminders for assignment deadlines and quiz dates.

Cons: Reviewers say that the tool doesn’t allow course customization. To create course content, you need to purchase easygenerator, a course authoring tool. If you don’t want to buy a new tool, you could create your own Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM).

Cost to upgrade: Coggno is free for universities but the option to upload additional training courses isn’t available in the freemium version. The software is available for purchase under two plans:

  • Professional LMS at $19 per user per year for 25-200 users.
  • Enterprise LMS at $15 per user per year for more than 200 users.

Mobile apps: N/A

 Most suitable for:  Corporate training organizations and eLearning content developers to deliver content training to their clients.

CourseSites: Analytical insights to boost learner engagement and academic performance

CourseSites (Blackboard for Business) is a cloud-based virtual learning and course management tool. It offers deployment options of managed hosting, self-hosting, or software-as-a-service (SaaS).

The solution helps users create, administer, track, and deliver digital content online. Users can access online courses, upload assignments, and interact with classmates and instructors. The CourseSites modules consist of files for presentations, course handouts, teaching and learning exams (TLE), and discussion boards.

CourseSites: Analytical insights to boost learner engagement and academic performance

Analytical insights on CourseSites (Source)

Pros: Capterra reviewers say that CourseSites is user friendly and easy to navigate. Users can upload and access course assignments and take online tests. Some of them like the ability to schedule online classes, personalized announcements, group emails, and meetings in real time.

Cons: Some users feel that newer system updates have made it difficult to play training videos.

Cost to upgrade: N/A

Mobile apps: Android, iOS

 Most suitable for:  Businesses that train in groups or work primarily in teams such as those in laboratory services and hospitals.

iTunes U: Deploy training courses through mobile

iTunes U is an eLearning platform that supports course authoring, homework and assignment distribution, integrated grading, and course forums. The content library has courses for businesses as well as schools.

Instructors can create courses as PDFs or presentations using images, videos, etc. iTunes U lets you work with in-app worksheets and complete lessons.

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Course creation in iTunes U (Source)

 

Pros: Capterra reviewers like that the solution has an extensive library of high-quality podcasts and short informative videos that cover a wide array of topics.

Cons: Reviewers say that the connection to iCloud is inconvenient in some cases as it quickly consumes their limited cloud storage. They also said that the tool takes a lot of time to boot up. The time estimates for software updates, downloads, and syncing aren’t always accurate based on the size of the update.

Cost to upgrade: N/A

Mobile apps: iOS

 Most suitable for:  Schools and colleges with students in remote locations.

LatitudeLearning: Reporting helps measure the success of training programs

LatitudeLearning is a cloud-based LMS tool for the administration and documentation of online courses, eLearning programs, and training content. It works well for corporate training and B2B programs. The tool can be deployed as SaaS or over the cloud.

LatitudeLearning’s features include certification, tracking, reporting of training programs, and integration with Webex and GoToMeeting.

LatitudeLearning: Update content using built-in HTML editor

The built-in HTML editor in LatitudeLearning (Source)

Pro: The solution provides video tutorials to help users organize courses, manage trainees, and create reports that track a learner’s progress.

Cons: Capterra reviewers have said that the interface feels outdated and isn’t user friendly. There is no mobile support or third-party content library. They found that extending a functionality could require some expensive add-ons.

Cost to upgrade: The standard LMS is free for up to 100 users. It offers the following pricing plan for users who are looking to upgrade:

  • 60¢ per user per month for up to 1,000 users
  • 55¢ per user per month for up to 5,000 users.
  • $2.75 per user for up to 5,000 users (the annual plan for maximum number of courses).

Mobile apps: N/A

 Most suitable for:  Small businesses that want to centralize their course materials on the cloud.

Myicourse: Continuing education for professionals

Myicourse is a cloud-based course creation and distribution solution for instructors that can be used in continuing education or for business training.

The tool lets users create online “colleges” that house multiple courses. If you want to make your courses public, you can create and run them for free. But if you’d prefer to keep your courses private, the software is free for up to 100 students.

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Example of a private Myicourse college (Source)

Pros: Capterra reviewers like the solution’s editing tools to customize courses. Instructors can track student traffic, manage course sales, and offer certifications.

Cons: If your course content is sensitive and private, the free version may not be for you as the courses are posted publicly. Also, as the tool is free and limited, learners have to deal with banner ads.

Cost to upgrade: The software is free for public use but you can upgrade for private usage at the following prices:

  • Bronze: $50 per month for 100-500 users, with access to 500 courses.
  • Silver: $100 per month for 501-2,500 users, with access to 2,500 courses.
  • Gold: $250 per month for 2,501-10,000 users, with access to 10,000 courses.

Mobile apps: N/A

 Most suitable for:  Small businesses with continuing education requirements for their employees such as staying up to date with best practices, technology, and regulations.

Schoology: Course management on multiple devices

Schoology is a freemium web-based LMS that hosts eLearning content such as courses, training, and programs. It allows instructors to build reports on learners’ performance based on course completion.

Schoology offers learning options for schools and businesses. The basic package is free for educational institutions. It allows upgrading to an enterprise package if you need specialized support or integration with a student information system (SIS).

Schoology: Course dashboard allows users to view all their courses as a tiled list.

Schoology’s course dashboard with tiled view (Source)

Pros: According to users, the standout features include mobile access, Google Drive integration, content creation tools, and access to a library of public courses and other content.

Cons: Capterra reviewers say that the solution lacks a few essential features such as the ability to lock a course folder and navigate through quizzes/tests easily.

Cost to upgrade: Schoology offers two packages—the basic package is free for instructors and learners, while the enterprise package targets educational institutes and has customized pricing.

Mobile apps: Android, iOS

 Most suitable for:  Educational institutes that want to avoid a complicated course-creation process—they can simply upload the courses and share those with the students.

Top open source LMS tools

ATutor: LMS for blind and visually impaired people

ATutor is a web-based LMS that offers online course management and content authoring to create learning courses.

The authoring tool includes a web service that evaluates the accessibility of authored content against international standards such as the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Built-in course authoring feature in ATutor

Built-in course authoring feature in ATutor

Pros: Capterra reviewers say that the tool allows you to author courses on the platform and even import external files.

Cons: Reviewers say that the graphical user interface is old-fashioned, complicated, difficult to operate, and needs to be updated.

Cost to upgrade: N/A

Mobile apps: N/A

 Most suitable for:  Nonprofit organizations or institutions that develop instructional content and courses for blind or visually impaired people.

Dokeos: Compliance training for pharmaceutical industry

Dokeos is an open source LMS tool for pharmaceutical and healthcare businesses. It offers features such as course authoring, progress tracking, reporting, and certification management.

The tool allows instructors to create quizzes or tests using 2D and 3D graphics. Dokeos’s unique feature is Oogie Rapid Learning, which automatically transcribes Microsoft Word and PowerPoint presentations into Dokeos slides.

The solution has compliance training programs to help businesses abide by norms such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA).

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Course management in Dokeos (Source)

Pros:Capterra reviewers say that Dokeos offers chat and messaging to let instructors communicate with learners and content publishers in real time.

Cons: They said that it lacks the ability to customize courses. Users also noted that the response time for questions/issues on the forum and from the customer support team is long.

Cost to upgrade: The solution is available for upgrade for the following user types:

  • Training centers: $250 per month for up to 50 users and $450 per month for 51-100 users.
  • Corporate organizations: $385 per month for up to 50 users and $650 per month for 51-100 users.
  • Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies: On demand.

Mobile apps: N/A

 Most suitable for:  Small businesses in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry that need to stay updated with regulatory compliance, auditing, and relevant licenses.

Forma LMS: Customized courses with built-in authoring tool

Forma LMS is an open source LMS that offers eLearning management, course management, videoconferencing, course authoring, certification, etc.

Other features include editing tools for user management and reporting function to collect data on learner participation in courses, completions, assignments, etc. In addition, Forma allows you to sell your courses on its marketplace.

Forma LMS features dashboard

The features dashboard on Forma LMS

Pros: Capterra reviewers like that the tool lets them organize courses based on categories. They can choose training topics from a pool of the most relevant courses.

Cons: Reviewers said that the user interface isn’t user-friendly and there are some minor bugs in several functions.

Cost to upgrade: N/A

Mobile apps: N/A

 Most suitable for:  Small businesses that want to promote their courses on eCommerce platforms.

Moodle: Drag-and-drop feature to customize courses

Moodle is a free and open source platform that lets users create customized courses. It offers tools to manage virtual classrooms, generate certificates, and measure the success of training programs via analytics.

Moodle’s social learning functionality allows learners and instructors to send direct messages to each other on course forums. In addition, it has mobile-friendly themes, support for third-party plugins (such as Office 365), OneNote integration, and the ability to sell courses via PayPal.

Managing plug-ins in Moodle

Managing plug-ins in Moodle (Source)

Pros: Capterra reviewers like Moodle’s simple and dynamic interface that is highly configurable. The open community forum provides updates on add-ons, plug-ins, and resources. To find out more about this, check out this list of 15 free Moodle add-ons.

Cons: Reviewers say that Moodle doesn’t make it easy to manage large groups of people across multiple courses or tracks. However, you can easily manage small groups of users per course.

Cost to upgrade: You can install Moodle free of cost on your server. The paid Moodle cloud hosting packages are offered at the following prices:

  • Starter: $58 per year for 50 users (ideal for a single class).
  • Mini: $182 per year for 100 users (ideal for multiple classes).
  • Small: $364 per year for 200 users (ideal for multiple classes).
  • Medium: $729 per year for 500 users (ideal for multiple classes).

Mobile apps: iOS, Android

 Most suitable for:  Schools, universities, and organizations of all sizes in the vocational education and training sectors.

Sakai CLE: Enhanced social learning through course forums

Sakai CLE is an open source LMS for schools that handle assignments, calendars, grade books, tests, and quizzes. Its features include course management, syllabus tool, and lesson builder (or course authoring tool). The solution focuses more on academic institutions than corporate training.

Sakai offers social learning features such as multimedia course embedding, chat functions, and video tutorial. It integrates with Google Docs and offers tools, such as Wiki platforms, which allow users to author web pages without requiring advanced web authoring skills.

Sakai

Sakai’s progress tracking dashboard (Source)

Pros: Capterra reviewers say that the Sakai community is dedicated to improve the tool’s capability. The community is working to meet all the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A and AA Success Criteria.

Cons: Reviewers say that interface looks old and not intuitive. The presentation of visual elements, such as icons and buttons, could be improved.

Cost to upgrade: The software has no license fees and can be extended to any number of individuals or educational communities.

Mobile apps: N/A

 Most suitable for:  Schools and colleges that need to create customized online courses, track student progress, and manage various training programs.


We updated this list on February 5, 2019 to remove tools that no longer meet our market definition. We also updated the existing information and screenshots.

METHODOLOGY

Our assessment of free and open source tools for this list was completed in the following stages:

Free products:

For the purpose of this article, we classified a product as “free” if it offers a free, stand-alone version of the software. It isn’t a trial version of the software where you must purchase a paid version after a limited amount of time.

Open source products:

For open source software to be evaluated for this article, the tool has to make its source code open to everyone to inspect, modify, and enhance. The source code must also have been updated (full version or small fix) within the past 12 months and must support one of the following operating systems: Windows, Mac, or Linux.

The products that met the above criteria were then evaluated against our definition of LMS software:

“LMSs help organizations/institutes manage and automate their online teaching or training programs.”

This check verified their basic LMS capabilities and appropriateness for the category. We classified products as LMS software if they contained a core feature, such as eLearning management and course tracking, and some optional features such as certification and compliance management, course authoring, course library, and mobile learning.”

Disclaimer: The content in this piece provides opinions and point of view expressed by users and does not represent the views of Capterra.

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

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Nice information given keep sharing more thanks for it

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Thanks Erik!

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Tirena,

Vidhya is referring to Teachr. It looks like a nice Litmos alternative https://getteachr.com/litmos-lms-alternative

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Thanks Jerry!

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Really amazing post with much helpful information. Thank you very much for writing great stuff about Shared hosting for us.

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Thanks for sharing helpful guide about Small Business. This post will help out many people who wants to learn about Open Source LMS Tools.

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Hi Vidhya,

You can find out more about Litmos LMS here: https://www.capterra.com/p/133660/Litmos-LMS/ and more about Teachlr here: https://www.capterra.com/p/161286/Teachlr-Organizations/

I hope these links help you find the right software for you!

Let me know if we can help with anything else!

Best- Tirena

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Thanks for the detail. I am a professional CS staff, I plan to teach my students online.
I am in need of online e-learning platform in hurry, I had been come up with Litmos and Teachr. I planned to move on Teachr because it possessed all the Litmos LMS features, also, comes in affordable range. Any review on this?

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I am looking for LMS
My main concern is to be deploy-able on a local server, but still to be able to be used as WEB LMS.

List of required features:
– Deploy-able on local server, not cloud-based
– Virtual classroom
– Adding/Deleting/Updating learning material
– Creation/Approval/Verification of tests
– Creation/Approval of polls
– Certificate generation

Could you recommend me such an LMS? Even if it does not have all the listed required features.
Thank you in advance!

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“Chamilo is a clever system, however, it is absolutely a fork; it can’t quite stand up on its own, that is to say, it doesn’t add much to the original Dokeos.”

I don’t know who wrote this article, but if you compare both you will notice pretty fast how outdated Dokeos is.
Social learning, skill wheel, open badges support,… seriously Chamilo is now a 6 year old fork with a totally different code base 😉

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Thanks for all the interesting info. I am however confused as to why you say opensource requires extra support, and the extra costs for setting it up. I have used two propriety LMS- WeCT and Blackboard, and one open source- Moodle. Moodle was by far the easiest to use, the least learning curve for everyone, and by far gave the best support for issues. And we did not need to spend anything extra for additives, moodle and their free plug ins had all we need. There are many companies that can be contracted to provide all the support needed, at way less the price of Blackboard etc, it was a huge savings to have moodle with far better support. When we had WebCT the support was extremely poor, took forever for them to fix our issues. Friends who used Blackboard extensively found the same problem.
We tested moodle and WebCT side by side at our uni before selecting moodle, and the users overwhelmingly approved of this opensource LMS So really I am not sure where you are coming from (and no, no one is paying for my post, I just think there needs to be expert users from open source to contribute to content) Thanks

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I wanted to mention Eliademy. easy to use.
https://eliademy.com/

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If you are struggling to create the LMS using open source try WizIQ.
This is a cloud based e Learning delivery platform easy to integrate with top known open source – Advanced open inetgration, Moodle, Blackboard, Joomla, Sakai, WordPress, Drupal, efront, edmodo, totaralms and canvas.

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I tried creating an account at Blackboard’s CourseSites but couldn’t because it requires my educational institution. Does that mean CourseSites is only for school teachers? I’m a consultant and continuing education provider, does then mean I can’t use it?

[…] Medved, J.P. (2016). The Top 8 Free/Open Source LMSs. Retrieved from: https://blog.capterra.com/top-8-freeopen-source-lmss/ […]

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Hi JP, some of the mentioned LMS is now very old and outdated. For example OpenClass will retire next year. Instead, it’s my opinion that newer, better LMS solutions like EdX, Google Classroom should be moved to the first places instead of being buried somewhere hard to see in the list.

Also, can you consider adding LearnPress WordPress LMS to the list?
It’s a completely free Open Source LMS that runs on WordPress and is frequently updated, maintained: https://wordpress.org/plugins/learnpress/
According to stats on WordPress, LearnPress now is the WP LMS that has the most active install.

Thanks 🙂

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Um….. Google Classroom does have automatic grading. Forms.google.com

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JP – would like to show you something interesting we’ve built. We’ll definitely be more modern than many on this list but, like Chalkup, we don’t identify with most LMS’. We’ll serve the hospitality niche particularly well, with intentions to expand through retail, pharma, and financial services. Send me an email and I’ll send some demo links. Thanks

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I’m doing 1-on-1 training with Photoshop, Lightroom, NIK, and other photographic applications. I need an LMS that’s easy to use, both for myself and students. I’d like it to be web based but not data intensive. I’m a photographer who is sometimes in remote area’s with only a Verizon Jetpack. Suggestions?

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Regarding Training Online.eu (see above) – a classic case of hidden costs. You are given 30USD which is spent in some unspecified manner when students access content. Spent 15 mins to discover this after wading through some very non-standard English usage. Was unable to discover more before the 15 mins elapsed so its on to the next …

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Thanks for the help. I am currently looking for an LMS fit with my company’s requirements and want to throw a comment out there …

It takes literally hours to set up and evaluate a web-based LMS. It takes almost as long to get pricing information out of some of these companies!!! I’m afraid that I look at their web-sites and, if I can’t find pricing within 15 minutes, I move along to another platform. I don’t need some sales person to call me and explain a pricing structure that could be written in a couple of hundred words (or 30-50) – the fact that I’m shopping for an LMS surely means that I’m sophisticated enough to handle that level of complexity!! They seem to think that the word ‘free’ next to the word ‘download’ will make me invest four or five hours before I’m sure if my boss will sign off on the cost – what planet do they live on?
Rant over …
Many thanks for the blog.

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Google Classroom now had improved. It has an addition to create a quiz in Google Forms, except that the auto marking is not yet in place. Google forms also have other features such as creating a worksheet, and survey. Aside from the features as mentioned earlier, posting can be moved to the top so students will be reminded to work on pressing deadline. Other apps like Google doc (a word doc that is working in real time or offline), Google sheet (an excel format in real time), Google Slide (powerpoint that shows real time works), including Google site where you can create your classroom website. Just like any other classroom (non-virtual) we bring teaching tools into our classrooms, Google classroom works the same, and I found it compatible with other free apps available on the web for hosting online quiz such as ProProfs. Hoping for more new features by Google in the future, so give a try to Google Classroom.

[…] The Top 8 Free/Open Source LMSs – Capterra Blog […]

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Iris,

Very interesting! I’ll take a look and make sure to include in the next update.

Cheers,
J.P.

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Hi JP Medved,
Great article. Choosing an open source LMS can be a difficult decision, so I’m glad you’ve listed some of the best options out there. We would love it if you could also review our award-winning open source platform, Totara LMS.

To answer your question, yes, last summer we made the carefully considered decision that from 2016, Totara LMS will no longer be in lockstep with Moodle. You can read all about it here http://bit.ly/1MnOnIW Feel free to contact me if you need any further information.

Thanks,
Iris (Channel Marketing Manager, Totara Learning)

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Hello, we would like to add also free e-Learning platform – http://www.training-online.eu. It´s cloud based LMS and very easy and user friendly. You can also set your own languages for every user and you don´t need any initial investment or monthly fees. and what else you can get your provisions as an intermediary. if you need more please contact me or read the website.

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Hi,

Thanks for the list. I’m looking for an LMS site on which I can host multiple courses to which
I can invite different individuals. I would like to upload assignments/ppts/videos to it and would like it to have an auto-correct option for the assignments. If it could be linked to a CRM that would self populate, that would be great as well.

Which site would you recommend?

Thanks!

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Hi,

Please suggest a LMS which can provide feature like assessment and results, after the classroom session is completed.
E.g the assessment should have few questions to check the understanding of the student on the module taught. Each and every student in that batch should be able to take the assessment and it gives result for each and every student.
Please help.

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Hi ! is there any open source LMS which has options for Video Chat/ Student-tutor interactive window for online learning. I am working on a school management system and i want to bring this available for students of the school who want learning from home. Please help me… Thanks & Regards’ Daljeet

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Hi Catharine, Chalkup looks like a solid addition. I’ll make sure to add it in the next update!

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Hi Sherry, this is the closest chart we have right now, though unfortunately it’s not for all these solutions:

https://www.capterra.com/learning-management-system-software/features-guide

We’re working on building out a more specific chart for this post shortly, so stay tuned!

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Chalkup (https://www.chalkup.co/) should totally be on this list. Best free LMS I’ve used. It’s quite similar to Google Classroom, but it connects to rubrics and has parent access in the paid version. Worth checking out.

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Campus is also a web based university management ERP software. Campus is built on a flexible technology, that makes it easy for any academic institution to scale up or scale down their operation as per convenient

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Thanks for giving many options! I’m new to this, but thinking ahead to something I’m wanting to do. I’m looking for something comparable to an academic LMS, with ability to have self-graded quizzes, and also discussions. I assume every LMS allows uploading of files and videos, etc. Is there a chart somewhere that would tell me the exact features that each of these have (as well as how well they work for a non-tech person)?

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Hi Sylvia,

As I understand it Totara is a Moodle fork, is that correct? I’ll add it in a subsequent update in the honorable mentions section if so. Thanks!

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Where is Totara LMS?

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Hi Bizanosa,

If you’re looking for a WordPress-based LMS, check out this list:

https://blog.capterra.com/wordpress-lms-comparison-7-amazing-solutions/

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Here is another great resource, free LMS by coggno. I think you should add it to list too.
http://www.Coggno.com
1. A branded Training Platform for the exclusive use of your organization.
2. Ability to upload your internal training documents, employee manuals, processes & procedures so your employees have one convenient location to access them.
3. Track employee usage, view results and certificates of completion.
http://coggno.com/lms/free-training-platform

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quite impressed with this article and the depth /range of it’s analysis on the products. Will 100% bookmark this and reference to it. thanks!

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