For any commercial software application, there will be at least one open-source solution available as an alternative. If you find the cost of commercial software to be very high, and then you may look for an open-source alternative. Open-source applications look free but are they ready to use? Will they meet all your requirements? Are all features of the commercial application available in the open-source application? Is it secure and easy to maintain?
These are some of the questions that come to the mind when considering an Open Source LMS. Most questions are really unfounded and I would like to explain why with one of the Open Source LMSs as a reference.
Let’s take an example of Moodle, which is the high rated open-source application used to host eLearning and manage trainings online. Moodle got the top rank in almost all the categories in the domain of Learning Management System as per the eLearning Guild Report.
Regular Updated and Improved Versions
The greatest advantage of Moodle being open-source is that it is maintained by a global community of developers along with the development team at Moodle. The LMS upgradation will be done by adding new features and it will be done very frequently. Any new feature developed passes through internal testing first and then released as beta version on the website. They will also share the beta version to all volunteers of beta testers to test and report the bugs. After fixing all the bugs, it will be released as the stable version.
The process of developing new features and releasing new version will improve the performance as well as include almost all the features of commercial LMS. As it is an open-source, the entire source code is available for you to customize and use it without any licensing cost. You can add or remove features based on your need. You can remove unnecessary features that may cause confusion to the user.
Ability to Customize as per Organization’s Workflow
Every organization may have different workflows and approaches in providing trainings to their internal employees or external distributors or channel partners. The cost of having customized feature in commercial LMS is very high as the application is designed based on the generic requirement. Here Moodle is the best application to customize any feature according to your specific requirement. You can hire a programmer or outsource it to any Moodle expert to develop this feature for you. It will be a very cost-effective solution as compared to commercial LMS. The generic features required to host and manage training will be available by default.
Availability of Innumerable Plugins
Adding and removing of plugins is another advantage of Moodle being an open-source. Many developers develop new plugins and donate it on the Moodle plugins directory, so that any developer can download it and install it on their LMS without affecting the existing LMS code. If you have any specific requirement that is not available in the installed version then you can search in the Moodle plugins directory. Plugins can be downloaded freely and using the detailed document you can easily install it on the LMS with the help of the developer.
Excellent Technical Support
Another most important advantage is technical support. Moodle forum is one center location to share problems and get quick solutions or suggestions. There are many posts available in the Moodle forums; you can search appropriate posts and get the solution. You can also post new topics if they are not already available.
Moodle is very secure being an open-source and many procedures and plugins are available to protect it from malware and virus. In-built anti-virus, password protection, site security policies and many other security features are available in the LMS, which make sure about the security. It is also easy to upgrade if there are not much customization done in the LMS. If a lot of customization needs to be done, you can first upgrade and then add the customization code.
The latest version of Moodle has all the features of a commercial LMS and it is freely available. Its popularity is growing faster and faster every day. You can also customize Moodle to such an extent that it matches any other commercial LMS in terms of look & feel and in terms of available features. Please share your experience if you are using Moodle as your Learning Management System and as an alternative to commercial LMS.