Thinking of Using an Open Source Learning Management System (LMS)?

What is a Learning Management System (LMS)?

A learning management system (LMS) is a system that facilitates learning by providing services for the administration of users and learning materials. Learning management systems can be used to support a wide range of training needs, such as:

  • Independent creators publishing learning materials for sale or as part of a subscription
  • Training new or existing employees
  • Training external customers or partners
  • Developing products or services
  • Facilitating research and development (R&D) projects

What is an LMS Platform?

An LMS platform is simply a platform for creating and hosting Learning Management Systems, often having a superset of SaaS features. An LMS Platform can be an LMS with the following additions:

  • Multi-tenancy – many users can sign up and have their own independent LMS which is siloed from other users of the Platform. A User of the LMS Platform will be the Administrator of their own LMS, and the LMS will have its own set of users.
  • Billing, Subscriptions, and Payments – the LMS administrators will want these things so they can set up subscriptions or consumption based billing for the users of the LMS Platform. This may also include a way for those users to in turn provide subscription services to their customers.
  • User Management, subusers, and invitiations – Your users will need the ability to manage and invite their own groups of users.

AI Recommendation Engines in LMS Platforms. What can they do?

It’s difficult to call an app ‘modern’ anymore unless it uses some kind of AI or machine learning system. And many of those apps, from shopping to streaming services, are using AI Recommendation Engines. They’re everywhere, and for good reason. They are a powerful way to guide users through the system and help them discover content that appeals to them. These are the most common use cases for AI recommendation engines in LMS platforms:

  • to provide personalized content to learners based on their interests, skills, and past activities;
  • to recommend courses or learning paths that learners might be interested in;
  • to suggest relevant content for specific topics.

What are the Best Open Source LMS Platforms?

“Best” is of course subjective, so here are the most popular platforms on Github which are also under active development or maintenance:

Relate – according to the project, “Relate is an Environment for Learning And Teaching”. It is a web-based LMS focused on open courseware. There are screenshots and a list of features available on the Relate Documentation. More information and source code is available at https://github.com/inducer/relate.

CourseLit – an LMS with a nice look and quite active development bills itself as “a batteries included learning management system (aka LMS) for everyone. The CourseLit GitHub repository hosting the code has screenshots, features, an install guide and more.

LMSLaravel – The final LMS we’ll mention here, is “a Learning Management System (or LMS) that facilitates the creation of educational content by allowing you to manage courses and learning modules.” There are installation instructions and source code for LMS-Laravel on GitHub. It is based on Laravel (a web framework for PHP) and could be a good choice if you have a similar tech stack already.

Who Can Help Me Install and Run Open Source Software?

It can be difficult to get open source software up and running for operational use, and then keep it maintained and up to date. If you’re interested in using Open Source Software for your business you can often find a Custom Developer who can install and maintain such a system for you. Developers can also integrate open source software with your other existing software packages so that data can flow freely between different applications.

The cost of setting up open source software depends on the complexity of the software and the constraints of the business. The largest cost to setting up open source software tends to be customization, so if your staff can learn and customize the software after it is up and running you can keep costs much lower.

A simple installation on a single server might cost between $500 and $1,000, but get into the several thousands when it needs to operate under more complicated environments such as being load-balanced across several servers.

If you’re looking for help choosing or installing open source software to run your business on, we can help. At UseTech Design we are technologists and we will find the most cost-effective way to get your technology humming along while you focus on your business.


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