With open source applications being the order of the day, LMS are not to be left behind. There is a proliferation of open source LMS in the market, with some having come of age and proving tough competition to their commercial counterparts. The use of these open source LMS in higher education is being hailed by academicians and students alike, which has seen copious educative institutions and universities adapting them. These LMS offer unique features which cater to varied requirements. Hence, no LMS can fit the bill of the best LMS. Trying to incorporate remotely connected features in a single LMS would be a sure recipe for failure. Thus, there cannot be a best LMS, but there sure can be one that is tailor made for your requirements. We have discussed the features of some of the most popular LMS here, to help you in your search.
ATutor is an open source web-based Learning Management System (LMS), that provides easy interface and navigation. While courses can be easily created with the available course platform, course creation is difficult with different types of content. SCORM and IMS compliant content packages can be imported and exported, but the course elements cannot be bookmarked. Functions too cannot be easily added to by the developers, but overall, ATutor is designed for easy accessibility and adaptability.
Designed with a shipshape interface, Claroline is marked by ease of use and a typical assortment of functions. Course creation can be quick and requires no training. Features such as a private document repository are beneficial for a group. But, the browse back control is erratic and all course elements cannot be bookmarked. The access to documents is not controlled rendering them prone to security concerns. Limited customization options and weak documentation leave much to be desired.
This open source LMS is based on open ACS – a toolkit – which is certified by the consortium of dotLRN. Tools like RSS feeds, emails and SMS notifications, surveys, IM chat, polling, blogs and FAQs support collaborative and community learning. Innovative features such as homework drop box, assessment, content organization and SCORM display are add-ons. Student tracking data can be exported while exchange of learning objects is also made possible. But, the diverse interface with its inconsistencies is its major drawback.
A web based LMS and collaboration platform, Ilias controls access to documents flexibly, depending upon roles. This allows course scenarios to be more pedagogically effective. Authoring tools are made available to students, with the facility of hosting multiple clients on one installation. Finding functions is difficult, and requires too many clicks. A diverse group of developers are responsible for the project, giving rise to uneven quality and usability concerns. Designers are presented with innumerable possibilities that are a little confusing.
An open source LMS, Moodle is easy on first timers by allowing them a jump start. Quick establishment of a course like content pages, forum, and quizzes, is one of its best features. The ability of the software to maintain advanced tools like wiki, assignments, glossary, survey, and lesson, without impinging upon the quality of its interface is something to cheer for. But, advanced features in the documentation can cause much despair because of ill designed documentation.
One more open source LMS, Olat allows creation of random working groups by users with features such as file storage, discussion forum, chat, mail and announcement tools. The frame free design makes it intuitive for authors and students alike. Easily customizable CSS controlled look, clean interface and well documented technical architecture are added benefits. On the other hand, there is no keyword search in course content and discussion forums, no bookmarking facility, and no browse back option. The development and contributions come from a rather small community; hence productive installations are less in number.
Designed with a view to ease online interaction, Interact allows you to experiment with the learning structure rather than adhering to a predefined way of presenting content and interacting.
All these above mentioned learning platforms are efficient in their own ways, but different nonetheless. It is important to look at their individual functions and select the one that would be most suitable
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