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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Low Cost LMS

I received an inquiry about the need for a low cost LMS solution and I've not had time to help this person with answers. I'm hoping folks can chime in with suggestions and resources. I'll try to aggregate them together.

Situation description:
I have talked to several vendors and have received quotes at the 6-8k (per year) range for the licensing. We have roughly 500 learners and would use the LMS for mainly tracking and registration of ILT courses, communication (possibly through message boards), and posting of class materials. The development of e-Learning is being done through Captivate, so I do not need a system with authoring capabilities.

I have not had much luck with open source LMS programs, mainly because of technical limitations on our part. Do you have any recommendations on which programs to consider? Also, are the price quotes mentioned above reasonable?
What would you suggest?

Also, my guess is that looking at License costs is probably a bad idea here since quite often there are services, hosting, etc. costs that can exceed license costs. So, help on effective all-in low cost LMS solutions would be good.

Tim Seager of Xerceo posted about this issue and suggested a some resources:
  • GSA Advantage - This is a very interesting site to visit and see pricing that's been established by contract with the government. Simply type the LMS vendor name or LMS name in the search bar and it should give you the per user/ per installation pricing. Smaller vendors may not be found. And it can be difficult to interpret some of the results. Still fantastic to have a resource with pricing.

Another way to tackle this kind of Search is to use the exact approach I tell folks about in my presentations like the recent ASTD Keynote.

~inexpensive ("learning management system" OR lms) 2007..2009 filetype:pdf
~inexpensive ("learning management system" OR lms) 2007..2009 filetype:ppt

This netted some interesting material including the following list that is the list in the Brandon Hall report.
  • Absorb LMS (Blatant Media e-Learning)
  • Acadia HCS (Acadia HCS)
  • Allen Communication Learning Portal
  • Avilar WebMentor
  • Course-Source (Course-Source Limited)
  • CourseMill LMS (Trivantis)
  • DOTS (WebRaven)
  • ED Training Platform (Strategia)
  • Generation 21 Enterprise
  • InforSource (InfoSource)
  • Inquisiq EX (ICS Learning Group Inc.)
  • IntraLearn XE (IntraLearn Software)
  • Isoph Blue (Learn Something)
  • Kallidus LMS (e2train)
  • LearnerWeb (MaxIT)
  • LearnShare LMS (Learnshare)
  • LMS Live (Wizdom Systems)
  • MindFlash E-Learning System
  • NetDimensions EKP Bronze
  • OnPoint Learning & Performance Suite
  • On-Tracker LMS (Interactive Solutions)
  • OutStart Evolution LMS (OutStart)
  • SSElearn Portal (SSE)
  • Syntrio Enterprise (Syntrio)
  • TeraLearn LMS (
  • The Learning Manager (Worldwide Interactive)
  • Tracker.Net (Platte Canyon)
  • TrainingPartner (Geometrix)
  • TrainingMine (Frontline Data Solutions)
  • Upside LMS (Upside Learning Solutions)
  • Virtual Training Assistant (RISC)
What systems are missing here? How would you potentially proceed through this list?

Maybe it's money well spent to buy the report?

I tried to find information from the eLearningGuild, but had a hard time finding anything. You can certainly go back and look at: LMS Satisfaction Features and Barriers. It's getting a bit old now, but you can at least see a little about some of these systems.


Matt Franz said...

I'm shocked that Moodle isn't listed here. I'm successfully using it for ILT and will be launching an asynchronous. There is a bit of a learning curve, but it is well worth it, IMHO.

I'm also using Captivate-generated content with Moodle and can provide tips on how to do that.

I evaluated a half-dozen hosted LMS solutions last summer and ended up picking Moodle due to the flexibility and ease of customization compared to proprietary (and costlier solutions).

Anonymous said...

I'll echo Matt Franz's comment. Where are Moodle and Sakai?

Suz said...

Udutu has a KILLER option where you can turn Facebook into your LMS. This is great if you have a techy or younger workforce. And, it's FREEEE!!!!

The kicker is that people are more likely to comply with training when it is offered thorugh their preferred social netowrk.


dons_mind said...

also missing are Plateau ( and Meridian ( - plus you might want to consider LCMS vice LMS. Such systems as Outstart Evolution ( or Xyleme ( may help.

Tony Karrer said...

@Matt and @S Martin

Moodle (and Sakai) aren't listed because they specifically are concerned about their IT staff's ability to support an installation. Not sure about having a hosted version of Moodle. Maybe that's a good answer for them. I personally don't have experience with hosted Moodle.

@Susan - If you have a large portion of the workforce who are not current Facebook users does Udutu make sense?

@Don - I would think that Plateau, etc. would end up being more expensive than their price range. Am I wrong on that?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the commenters above, the requirements are more for a Learning Content Management System. I've successfully used Moodle and Atutor for similar projects. Both are open source LMSs that would meet the requirements of the person asking for help. If I remember correctly both also offer support packages so that the implementer can get the help they need to customize their LMS, for much less than the commercial yearly licensing costs of closed source LMSs. and show the support options and providers.

Matt Franz said...

If your ITS shop is already LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) savvy then this isn't any issue but I did investigate Moodle hosting options before we decided to stay in house.

The primary advantage of Open Source is not cost but freedom, flexibility, and avoiding being locked into a relationship with a vendor.

dons_mind said...

Tony - i didn't see where they suggested what the budget was; however they did say that they had vendors give them 6-8k estimated. this should have keyed me to the fact they didn't want to spend a lot - - i missed it. and you are right - both Meridian and Plateau would be on the higher $$ end of LMS.

but i think an LMCS is more in line with what these folks are looking to accomplish. course there's a price range of 0-big bucks there too....

Anonymous said...

I apologize for the shameless plug, but the request sounded too familiar to ignore. My company, Intellum, has helped many organizations with those exact requirements.

You can check us out at

Unknown said...

I don't think the requirements are geared towards an LCMS if you ask me. Tracking of ILT and eLearning, small user base, sounds like something most LMS's would handle OOTB.

John said...

Hosted Moodle and aTutor are both available. If you go to (yes, .com) you can find companies that host and support moodle. I have heard of schools using these sites and concuming no internal IT resources. I have no experience with aTutor hosting.

With regards to the learning curve: they all have it. Fortunately tools like Moodle allow SCORM content to be uploaded so there are many options for creating content.

Brian said...

If there is an existing SharePoing installation, then one option not listed here yet might be any of the SharePoint-based LMSs, such as Microsoft SharePoint Learning Kit (free), or SharePoint LMS.

Another low cost option that is generally easy (and inexpensive) to find hosted and has not been mentioned yet is Joomla LMS.

Anonymous said...

LMS for mainly tracking and registration of ILT courses, communication (possibly through message boards), and posting of class materials for 500 learners? They could probably could just build a database in Lotus Notes or something. I'm not sure if an LMS is the solution. Some free o/s options I don't see mentioned: Dokeos, and .Lrn. Two other possible commercial solutions not on ourlist: KnowledgeHub (ElementK), and Adventus. Good luck!

Tony Karrer said...

Thanks so much already. This is a great list and some good outside the box options.

Joseph Thibault said...

If they are looking to trial Moodle before taking the plunge full on, we host about 50,000 users on our Moodle platform which is free to use at the standard level (currently that is carte blanche on the system).


In the future we hope to enable users to sell their own courses, but I think we're about 90 days out on that.

Gary H said...

My situation was very similar to the one here. I looked for a long time and finally decided on ClickCourse from Rapid Intake. (see my blog post) It's cheap, but really only handles online courses. We haven't implemented it yet (budget issue) so I can't comment on the implementation.

Tony Karrer said...

Just got a note from someone with a suggestion -

We use Absorb LMS (Blatant Media e-Learning) - it's very easy to use and the people at Blatant are extremely pleasant and helpful.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Matt... I am really surprised Moodle was not listed. We have been using Moodle for over 5 years at our University. The program is "free" and allows you to customize areas you need customized. I would vote for Moodle.

Vladimir said...

Yes, very interesting that Moodle is not listed. Btw, as a previous user of Moodle i would suggest to look into JoomlaLMS - LMS based on award winning CMS Joomla.

Our organisation is using 1000 user license for only 599 USD/year as far as i remember and i am very satisfied with it. It has functions that are required here and much more... + very good inteface.

So may be an option to check for you.

Btw, Tony, might be you will review it and give us your opinion as i have heard a lot positive about this LMS.

The Goose said...

Blackboard, the leading e-learning software company has just released a low cost offering. I would look into their solution. Moodle and other LMS software are fine, but Blackboard has the stability and the reliability of a enterprise application. This low cost offering is built specifically for what you are talking about with regards to size of students and functionality.

Vladimir said...

Definetely will be good to compare low cost solutions...and give Elearning community a good review!

Anonymous said...

I would like to add my 2 cents and a very little bit about what I am working on...

We have been doing training for the Home Depot and a few other organizations and we created our own 'LMS' ... I was not really happy with what I found out there.

We are working at a more public release in the next 6-12 months but right now we just use it for our clients where we are managing the program for them. But that will change over time.

This is how we used it for our client Car Heaven.

I would love your thoughts. Does the market need something like this?


B.J. Schone said...

I'm a huge fan of Inquisiq EX. I implemented Inquisiq at my last employer and we were *very* happy with it. Plus, it was really cheap. I wrote about our experience here:

Anonymous said..., by Honor Systems. - click login and use student1 as the user name and password to demo.

Excellent! Host it on their servers or buy it and host it yourself. If you buy it they will install it for you and configure the virutal session tool that allows you to click within the course and host online meetings or classes. Cost effective and easy to use!

Amit Gautam said...

UpsideLMS OnDemand, from Upside Learning, India's fastest growing Learning solutions company comes out as a great fit for the needs mentioned in terms of functional requirements as well as the overall budget.

Additionally UpsideLMS is low on cost on a recurring basis too, which I feel is equally important to evaluate and validate at the time of purchase.

And all this at no compromise to the features offered. We have worked with a number of customers with similar needs and budgets and all are extremely happy.

UpsideLMS OnDemand not only has a separate module for managing and tracking classroom training but also allows for a blended delivery and tracking seamlessly.

Please visit or write to for more details and assistance.


Julie said...

I just came across a new hosted LMS called CoursePark that is low cost and easy to set up.

Ballistic Learning said...

try eFront, the open source version... free and excellent.

Unknown said...

We're building Notion Learning at and it'll be in public beta soon. Get in touch via the site if you are interested in finding out more and/or getting early access to the beta.

D Lyman said...

ePath Learning has a great hosted LMS/LCMS with a very low cost of entry - should fit the budget for this 500 person organization. It has all the functionality they are looking for and with the LCMS features, they can build content inside the application or use third-party tools. Whatever they choose.

It's called ePath Learning ASAP (

Unknown said...

ILT Systems ( has a really easy to use, trouble-free LMS with lots of great features and the cost is low! Not only that, the service we had was fabulous. They were always there to help me when I needed it. And they will customize the LMS anyway you want it! Contact me if you want to know more. I don't think they are that well known, but they have a loyal following. I'm a big fan.

Pruebas said...

I see that also Chamilo LMS is missing. Chamilo is a fork from teh well know Moodle direct competitor on the open source field Dokeos.

It´s also provided in both in house and hosted plans starting from as low as 3.000 $ per year.

Check out more at

Jared said...

I've referred two different clients to EZ LCMS ( This hosted solution is simple to use, but full-featured for deploying eLearning.

Michael Koehler said...

Another option might be