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Open Supply LMS Platforms: Are They Value It?

Open Source LMS Platforms: What To Avoid If You Go For A Free Platform

There is a theory that if you are offered something for free, it is because you are the product. In the digital realm, unpaid apps usually mean someone is collecting (and selling) your data. In the LMS space, however, open source products are quite popular. Especially among eLearning professionals who are just getting started and want to wade into development waters. Or organizations looking to reduce their online training costs. But what is the real cost of an open source LMS compared to paid solutions for implementation in your office? And are paid eLearning solutions a more sensible investment? Here are some of the disadvantages of open source platforms that you should consider before writing off cloud-based or on-premises systems.

1. They require programming skills

Most of us can google our symptoms and treat them with over-the-counter medications. We may even opt for homeopathic remedies. In the same way, many of us can create an app or download a programming script. But as the meme says, ‘Don’t confuse your Google searches with my medical degree.’ Likewise, we shouldn’t assume that basic programming knowledge is sufficient to make a decision in favor of open source LMS vs. paid solutions. Configuring open source LMS for your business needs is a complex task. If your in-house technicians don’t know the correct programming language, you’ll have to hire (expensive) experts. So much for free!

2. The adjustment takes longer

Once you’ve found the right staff, you need to consider duration. Adapting the LMS to your systems and requirements can take days, maybe even weeks. Outsourced programmers need to be paid, fed, and possibly housed. Even if you have the right skills in-house, you will need to take your time from your regular duties. For example, your L&D team may spend as much time developing personalized content to fill in the gaps. Thanks to the fact that they are coding the backend to prepare for the big launch. And this saved time eats up your billable hours, so you can list the exact cost of your “free” software. You will also need plenty of plug-ins to choose an open source LMS or a paid solution.

3. They usually do not have formal support systems

When you invest in a paid app, it comes from a verified LMS provider. You are a fully functional organization with tech geeks, customer support, and a recognizable chain of command. When a problem arises, there is a specific person or process that you can use to escalate. However, an open source LMS versus paid solutions is all about the internet. You can google your search query and you will get a lot of hits, but all of them come from user forums. They are “end customers” like you. There is no way to check their authority, validate their expertise, or confirm that they know what they are doing. Also, you may soon find that your community has been dormant for the past month with no one actively answering questions.

4. They are not that user friendly

With canned software, UX is just as important as the user interface, so visual designers play a huge role. Multiple skills work together to ensure you get a product that is intuitive and pleasant to play with. Open source LMS vs. fee-based solutions have a strong focus on the technical side of things. Your programmers can tweak and customize it, but your graphics team can’t do much with it. So while you may achieve top features, online learners will likely still find them clunky. If you invest in a visual designer, it has to be one with superior programming skills. Which means they ask for more.

5. They usually have a lower level of analysis

Canning software manufacturers know that data collection and tracking tools are a priority for shoppers. Your engineers and developers have put a lot of effort into developing the right systems for analysis and implementation. Open source LMS versus paid solutions is more about technical capacity. It’s harder on the back-end functionality than the intricacies of big data. Therefore, in addition to LMS configuration, you need to develop automated reports and employee monitoring capabilities. You may even need to purchase compatible analytics software or plug-ins to add this important functionality. There are no out-of-the-box reports to refer to. In contrast to paid eLearning solutions.

6. You may not have mobile capacity

Paid learning management systems – especially if they are cloud-based – are equipped for mobile devices. You may have rapid authoring tools for rapid app development. Or they can contain smartphone app templates that are easy to fill out. As well as preview programs so you can make minor adjustments before you start. Most paid eLearning solutions are optimized out of the box for mobile devices. You can simply plug in, play and use your app. Open source LMS vs. paid solutions do not always have built-in mobile responsiveness and / or adaptability. You have to program it separately, which costs more money and time.

The biggest problem with free open source software is that it isn’t really free. It may be cheaper than paid exercise products, but it costs more than you think. You need highly skilled programmers to customize it, which costs a lot of time and money. There is no “official” support team, you simply learn from other users who may or may not be legitimate. The design surface is often exhausting, the mobile connection is not guaranteed and the analyzes lag far behind paid apps. So before you rush to “free” learning systems, think about the real cost and then make your decision. Meet with your team to find out what tasks are involved and how long it might take to complete the implementation process.


Have you created a requirements list for your new LMS platform? Have you taken all costs into account? Can You Really Afford Your Top LMS Contenders? Download our eBook How To Buy The Right LMS: The Complete Guide To Finding The Tell-Tale Signs Your Business Is Ready For A Learning Management System, The Top Criteria For Choosing The Best LMS For Your Business With All Possible Mind the hidden LMS charges, as well as the LMS reports to look for in a new LMS.

Do you have a dedicated team of experienced IT technicians and want a fully customizable open source system? If the pros outweigh the cons, use our free online directory to find the ideal open source solution for your business. You can browse the best open source learning management systems to see if they are the best choice for your business.


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