Choosing the best LMS (Learning Management System) for your business can be a complex and time-consuming task.
With a buffet of open-source, proprietary and SaaS cloud learning management systems in the market, it’s easy to get confused.
LMSs can typically be differentiated based on two criteria:
- LMS deployment: An open-source LMS is hosted on a server of your choice while a SaaS LMS is hosted on the vendor’s servers. An example of a typical SaaS product is Google Apps, which you access via your web browser but it’s hosted on Google’s servers.
- LMS licensing: An open-source LMS works under the General Public License while a proprietary LMS (closed-source) has a restricted copyright license. A great example of closed-source technology is the iPhone. Android, on the other hand, is open-source; it can be modified.
If your organization requires a secure solution with built-in customer support, you should choose a proprietary LMS.
However, keep in mind that you won’t be able to customize or update its features, as you would an open-source LMS.
This seems to be a small price to pay for many users, which is why software deployment sparks greater debate compared to the licensing model.
Both open-source and SaaS software solutions have experienced their share of criticisms. Cnet has a study on open-source with regard to Magento’s recent history. And happi explores the issues around integration, migration and service downtime related to SaaS offerings.
So it’s understandable if you’re finding it difficult to decide on the best LMS to use.
You want a cost-effective top LMS that will seamlessly facilitate and manage the training process.
Before you rush to Quora to ask ‘What’s better, SaaS or open-source LMS?’ or ‘What’s the best LMS for me?’, read on to learn the benefits and pitfalls of each, so you can make your own informed decision.
Let’s start with an obvious question:
Open-Source or SaaS LMS – Which is Better for Business?
Well, that depends. Are you planning to build your own infrastructure (open-source) or partner with a hosted service provider (SaaS)?
The differing deployment methods of the two LMS types dictate whether you’ll save money and accomplish your training needs.
World Manager proudly supports some of the biggest communications companies in the world with online learning management. Ask us why
What Makes an Open-Source LMS Good for Business?
The community-at-large contributes to the development of open-source LMSs.
Open-source code is accessible to developers around the world. Does this mean open-source is vulnerable to hackers?
On the contrary, open-source platforms are watched keenly by an army of passionate developers who consistently release security patches and fix bugs.
They also regularly upgrade features and plugins, resulting in the most up-to-date LMS.
Open-source LMSs are scalable.
Open-source flexibility allows for tailoring to fit your business needs. An open-source LMS is ideal for a business with fluctuating training requirements.
Since there are no per-user license fees, you don’t have to worry about spending more as your workforce grows.
Your business risk is lowered with an open-source LMS.
You’re not relying on one single vendor to deliver. There are many accredited providers you can turn to if your vendor drops the ball in the future.
SaaS cloud solutions come with both software and vendor lock-ins, which complicates the migration process. You can’t just bring your LMS in-house and hire a new provider to pick up where the other one left off.
Examples of Open-Source LMS Products:
Moodle’s open and collaborative user community helps determine its product development.
When users vote for issues that they’d like fixed, Moodle can adjust its development priorities and make the LMS better.
You don’t have to be a developer to give feature suggestions or report a bug.
You just note it down in the Moodle Tracker.
To avoid spam or multiple reports of the same problem, Moodle requires you to search the tracker for a similar issue.
Once you find a related unresolved issue, you can click ‘vote link’ or ‘watch link’. Any updates on the issue you reported will be sent to you via email.
Since the Canvas LMS is built on an open API, learners can access high-quality content from any part of the world.
It gives educators unrestricted access to educational resources such as quizzes, discussions, modules, full courses, video, and audio.
They can revise, reuse and share content through the Canvas Network long after the course end date.
The Canvas Commons acts as a digital library of over 100,000 learning resources. Here, educators can redistribute resources and import content into the course.
ATutor is an adaptive, open-source LMS, renowned for its accessibility features.
- Text alternatives for visual elements
- Screen reader
- Keyboard access
These features enable visually impaired users to enjoy the wonderful benefits of ATutor. They can learn online, enroll trainees and even create courses.
ATutor received the Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration in 2007. The LMS was awarded for its contribution towards the development of open-source software.
It was also awarded an IMS Gold Learning Impact Award for using technology to improve learning across all industry segments.
How does the community contribute to its source code? Through the patcher module.
Community developers make feature adjustments and bug fixes into patch files and submit them
These features are then included in ATutor’s source code.
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What Makes a Proprietary SaaS LMS Good for Business?
A SaaS LMS is offered as a service.
Your vendor offers a complete service that includes programming, updating and hosting the LMS.
SaaS installation is quick and easy.
Since the infrastructure and support are already provided, you won’t face the technical installation challenges inherent in an open-source LMS.
How do you know you have the best SaaS LMS? The vendor offers you an ecosystem of products and services associated with that top LMS.
A SaaS LMS is cost-effective.
The costs associated with software development and maintenance are handled by your vendor. You don’t have to worry about fixing bugs or installing updates before deploying your LMS.
These issues are left in the expert hands of your vendor, at no additional cost to you. An open-source LMS incurs costs from installation, optimization, and hiring trained personnel to run the server.
With a SaaS LMS, you are guaranteed ongoing assistance.
Your vendor provides on-demand expert support whenever you need it. Open-source LMSs rely on community-sourced support.
Examples of SaaS LMS Products:
1. World Manager LMS
World Manager is a leading provider in SaaS LMS.
It offers suites for training, human resources, operations, and communications.
It’s more than an LMS – it’s integrated operations and human resource tools will give your business a competitive edge.
During the term of your agreement, you’ll be assigned a free relationship manager.
You’ll receive free phone or email customer support and the LMS Help Center, complete with videos, articles, and tips will help you troubleshoot.
World Manager doesn’t charge you any setup fees and you receive free product upgrades during the term of your agreement.
Need to brand your LMS? World Manager offers you branding options. You can fully customize your logo, platform name, company colors, and backgrounds.
World Manager has a blended approach to learning. You can track employee’s training progress, sign off their training for compliance purposes and monitor all their live training.
If you’re looking for a SaaS LMS that offers fun assessments, online surveys, and learning aids, go for ProProfs.
It’s perfect for educators, trainers, and educational institutions.
Courses can be accessed anytime from any device. Once you’re done creating a course, you can embed it on your website or share it on email.
Its online classrooms allow learners to form private groups in which they can collaborate and discuss courses.
With self-enrollment, learners can register themselves to a course and save you time.
Proprofs makes learning fun. You can create flashcards, brain teasers and trivia then share them with your friends through a shareable link or social sign in.
And when you run out of ideas, you can browse relevant questions on the question library.
Ethos CE LMS delivers continuing education to health professionals.
In addition to learning, it allows learners to promote their knowledge of their favorite social media channels.
It’s mobile-first so users can register for programs or manage their accounts from any device.
EthosCE requires employees and trainers to attend their onsite and web-based training sessions before using it.
However, their help center will assist you and your staff should you need additional support.
If you encounter any bugs, you can report on their web portal where you’ll see your issue resolved in real-time.
So there you have it. With an open-source LMS, you’re not locked into one provider and you can customize and scale to your heart’s content (provided you have the resources and skill base to do so).
With a SaaS LMS, on the other hand, you can deploy much faster and the vendor covers the costs of software development and maintenance (it is a service, after all).
One of these approaches is going to suit your business requirements more than the other – but it may not be as clear-cut as you would like.
One way to get a better feel for which direction you should take your training needs is by testing the waters – so to speak.
- The World Manager team gives you a quick 5 to 10-minute callback to see if their product is a good fit for your business – and if you both agree that it could be, you can set-up a 30-minute video call or webinar to go more in-depth.
- By the end of that 30-minute session, you’ll have a pretty good high-level overview of the World Manager’s training, communications, operations and employee development tools, and a good idea of what an LMS can do. And World Manager will have a pretty good grasp of your business needs, too and can help you decide if it’s worth further exploration.
- If you are both still on the same page, you can really dive in and set-up a 1-hour face-to-face video call/webinar focused specifically on your issues and how World Manager could possibly help you with a customized training and development platform for your business. This video call is a full walkthrough of the World Manager platform and functionality, designed to give your team a clear understanding of how the World Manager’s LMS can help your business address its training needs.
So in less than a couple of hours in total, you’ll be in an informed position and much clearer about the solution that will get you over the line – all without having committed to any single platform or vendor. And believe me, there are far more choices than just the six we’ve listed here in this post, whether you’re talking open-source or SaaS.
So save yourself hours and hours of research looking for the best LMS and talk to a top LMS expert – like Doug (he’s from World Manager in the US and explains the demo process in a short video).