How To Select The Best LMS Provider
A decade or so ago, organizations, schools, colleges and universities had many options for commercial E-Learning development software products. However, because of mergers and acquisitions, and Learning Management Software (LMS) industry consolidations, the options for developing and hosting E-learning courses have declined. As a result, more and more, knowledge providers are looking for viable alternatives.
If you are looking for commercial LMS providers, then some names for you to consider are:
- Blackboard http://www.blackboard.com
- Desire to Learn http://www.desire2learn.com
- Sumtotal http://www.sumtotalsystems.com/
- Saba http://www.saba.com/us/
- eCollege http://www.ecollege.com/index.learn
However, if you have budgetary constraints (as most organizations face today!), then perhaps you should look at some popular free and open source LMS solutions, including:
- ATutor http://www.atutor.ca/
- Claroline http://www.claroline.net/
- Dokeos http://www.dokeos.com/
- Moodle http://moodle.org/
- Sakai Project http://sakaiproject.org/
Obviously when you buy commercially available LMS software, you expect a whole lot more to come with it – including extended features and functionality, and virtually unlimited support. That’s because you get what you pay for. With free LMS however, you should taper your expectations. For instance, some limitations may include:
- Your free tools may not meet as many of your functional requirements as a commercial tool potentially would
- You may not find a free tool that integrates exceptionally well with your existing eLearning environment
- Don’t expect to have “on demand” support available to you, as and when your users need it
- Accept the fact that feature upgrades and bug fixes might not be available as regularly and frequently as those for a commercially supported tool
In short, because free tools are developed and supported by communities, and not highly-paid commercial teams, your expectations must match those realities. With a commercial tool, you get what you pay for. With free LMS eLearning tools, you don’t pay for what you get!
Before rushing out to either buy a commercial tool, or sign up for open source LMS options, you need to consider the following points in assessing which tool is right for you:
- Culture of the organization: It is not just LMS software that will ensure success, but the entire organization. Does your organization have the culture needed to embrace LMS, and does the tool fit within that culture?
- Competency: What competencies are you planning to deliver – Courses, Refresher Text, Self Assessment Tests, Activities Quizzes – and does the tool offer the features to support those competencies?
- Connectivity: Do the E-Learning tools fit well within your existing IT infrastructure: connectivity, bandwidth, compliance, support – or do you need to invest in ensuring connectivity.
- Capabilities: Are all the key stakeholders – Content delivers, Trainers, End Users, IT Support, Budget approvers (if applicable) – ready to embrace the project and the tool? If not, then you need to first “sell” the opportunity to them before acquiring any E-Learning development software
Offering E-Learning courses is the most efficient and trending way to deliver knowledge today. However, putting some thought into the options available to you will go a long way to making your LMS eLearning project a success!