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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Open Source LMS

I had previously written about Low Cost LMS and Rapid Learning Management Systems, but I receive an inquiry from someone who had a very constrained budget and wanted to build an eLearning Portal.

Some details of what they want / need:

The portal we need to develop should be able to handle online registration, producing letters of offer, payment gateway, producing letters of acceptance, producing student cards, downloading syllabi, downloading study guides, processing purchasing orders that trigger the distribution of the textbooks by the Publishers’ office to students, communication between mentors and students, organizing forums, notice board, chat rooms, uploading e-Lectures, downloading topic questions, downloading assignments and coursework, posting answers to mentors, mentors grading the students’ work and posting marks, issuing tutorial time-table, posting final exam dates and posting exam results, transcript issuance and degree issuance and graduation.

Because of their very limited budget, I suggested they dive into more depth looking at open source LMS products.  To help get that started, I looked at eLearning Learning and found some pretty good sources around LMS / Open Source and Learning Management System / Open Source.



Vic Uzumeri said...

Let me contribute what I believe may be a critical decision point for a "corporation" when they might consider adopting an open source LMS.

We have installed and utilized several open source LMS projects (specifically Dokeos, ATutor and Moodle). We have also routinely publish SCORM and AICC compliant material and enter them in commercial LMS (e.g., SABA and Pathlore). So the debate is a familiar one.

FWIW, my basic take is that if the goal is to publish courses and track an arbitrary group of learners, the open source offerings will (with some maintenance labor) do quite nicely. It is generally possible to set up eCommerce for open source or commercial tools, albeit in different ways. The differences between commercial and open source tools are not large enough to warrant a religious zeal either way.

Where the commercial tools shine, however, is when you want to link the learning process to other business processes. This typically most true for internal employee training. If you want to tie courses to internal career advancement. If you want to link course-taking to authorizations (e.g. more authority in SAP). If you want to tie training to corporate policies and compliance (e.g, SOX). This is where the major commercial vendors have already set up the bridges to get data into SAP, Peoplesoft, Oracle, etc.

Bottom line:

For internal training in a large corporation, the commercial products tie-ins to business process give them the edge.

For outward looking training that is just for training's sake or straight training for money, the open source tools can do the job and the choice is pretty wide open.

Just my $0.002

Tom said...

I get similar questions. There's a site opensourcecms that has most of the CMS/LMS loaded on it for people to test. You get user and admin access.

Here's a screenr vid that I did for someone else.

News Commentary said...

First off, these questions do not sound like they're coming from someone with experience in this field, but let me specifically address these points:

Open source LMS (moodle et all)

handle online registration - maybe producing letters of offer - no
payment gateway - no
producing letters of acceptance - no
producing student cards - no downloading syllabi - yes downloading study guides - yes

processing purchasing orders that trigger the distribution of the textbooks by the Publishers’ office to students - no
communication between mentors and students - yes
organizing forums - yes
notice board - yes
chat rooms - yes
uploading e-Lectures - yes
downloading topic questions - yes downloading assignments and coursework - yes
(why all this talk of 'uploading' and 'downloading'?)

posting answers to mentors - yes mentors grading the students’ work and posting marks - maybe
issuing tutorial time-table - yes posting final exam dates and posting exam results - maybe
transcript issuance and degree issuance and graduation - no

CHIA Howie (Xie Aowei) 谢 傲 威 said...

Hi Tony, I am curious as to how you define "Low Cost LMS". Can you put a ballpark $ figure to it? e.g. does a 50K per year maintenance constitute to a high cost LMS?

Can you share some rubric used in evaluating overall cost of LMS implementation? e.g. does manpower support for Open Source LMS cost much more than commercial LMS or vice-versa?

Vic, Tom, inboulder@...
I see conflicting news on new users switching to BB9 (quoting long term cost savings) and others at same time switching away from BB9 quoting exact opposite thing. Like to hear your expert opinions on this.

Unknown said...

I have set up lots of solutions that are based on open source or low-cost software and my personal top 10 is:

1. Moodle
2. .LRN
3. Mahara
4. Boonex Dolphin
5. Typo3 or Typolight
6. Wink
7. OpenMeeting
8. DimDim
9. Gimp
10. OpenLaszlo

In my opinion with those tools you can do almost everything starting from presenting content and finishing with advanced video conferencing and interactivity.



ZaidLearn said...

Great post, Tony Karrer. And thanks for including one of my post.

However, I believe I have one post that is probably more useful for your readers regarding this topic, especially those interested to explore Moodle as an option:

Moodle is an Airport, Not a Total Solution!

Moodle is a great tool, but not for everything :)

Thanks and warm regards,