The Best LMS Software of 2020

Our LMS software reviews are the result of over 40 hours of research on 140 LMS software companies from across the web. These reviews and our LMS software guide help small businesses and startups find the best LMS software for their business.

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How We Chose the Best Learning Management System (LMS) Software

Simply put, Learning Management System (LMS) software provides a framework for the delivery of knowledge and training. There are a lot of companies on the market offering a wide variety of LMS solutions and touting a huge array of features and services. We found the signal in the noise by evaluating companies on the most important core criteria of an LMS platform.

Support for Multiple Learning Methodologies

Everyone learns differently. We looked at LMS that offers multiple learning methodologies, such as asynchronous, blended and synchronous learning, and that leverage key eLearning innovations such as gamification and game-based learning (GBL), which have proven efficacy in improving learner scores and information retention.

SCORM Compliance

SCORM stands for “Sharable Content Object Reference Model.” It creates online educational materials that are easy to share across systems and platforms — everything from units and modules to chapters and pages, whatever are the most convenient ways to break down a course of training into its most granular parts. Because SCORM-compliant software helps your LMS-structured training work seamlessly in multiple environments and keeps the associated learning process agile to match the growth of your business, we made it one of our key priorities.

Mobile Learning Compatibility

High-quality mobile learning functionality gives added dimension to social learning, allows instructors to assess learner progress on various devices and makes training accessible with less expense than a desktop computer. With everyone on their mobile device — mobile users made up over 50% of all internet traffic in 2019 — we prioritized LMS that offered robust mobile learning, so learners can study wherever they are or even download courses for later.

The 20 Best Learning Management Systems

CompanyPriceFree Trial/DemoMore
Absorb LMSBroad range of licensing, hosting, training and support costs in packages customized by vendorYesVisit Absorb LMS
BrightspaceCustom quoteYesVisit Brightspace
CanvasCustom quoteYes + free open-source versionVisit Canvas
Coassemble$299.00/monthYesVisit Coassemble
DoceboCustomizableYesVisit Docebo
eFront$1000-$2500/monthYesVisit eFront
eLogic Learning$21000/yearYesVisit eLogic Learning
iSpring Learn$770.00/year/user, Volume and Academic discountsYesVisit iSpring Learn
Joomla LMS$299/year/user Standard, $799/year/user ProfessionalYesVisit Joomla LMS
LearnDash$159.00/yearNoVisit LearnDash
LearnUpon$599.00/monthYesVisit LearnUpon
Lessonly$300 / month for 20 users (Basic); $750 / month for up to 75 users + $1000 onboarding fee (Plus); $1250 / month for up to 250 users + $2000 onboarding fee (Growth); no price provided for EnterpriseYesVisit Lessonly
Mindflash$3500/year for PremiumYesVisit Mindflash
MoodleFree software (up to 200 users);
paid cloud-based plans cost up to $1000/year for 500 users;
Partner agreements available by custom quote
YesVisit Moodle
NEO LMSFree version available;
subscription plans by custom quote
YesVisit NEO LMS
SAP Litmos$6-$15/user/month billed annuallyYesVisit SAP Litmos
SumTotal Learning Management$10000.00/one-timeYes (demo only)Visit SumTotal Learning Management
TalentLMS$59 /month - $429 / monthYesVisit TalentLMS
Topyx$29500.00/yearYesVisit Topyx
Zoho People$0.83/year/userYesVisit Zoho People

Absorb LMS

Absorb-LMS Logo
Absorb LMS provides a feature-rich learning management system targeted at corporate online learning and built to work for large offices and mid-sized businesses alike. This company is noted for an excellent UI design that makes it easy to manage the software’s suite of features and an innovative approach to learner information management that allows for easy group organization and sorting, including course management through well-defined tabs. The company offers dedicated plans for both external and internal training, a wide range of language localizations for training in multiple countries and compliance with major standards, including SCORM.

Supporting smart-filtered reports, gamification, asynchronous web-based content and instructor-led courses (synchronous ILCs) both online and classroom-oriented, it’s an excellent platform for bringing together these elements in blended learning experiences. It features generous video support and standout mobile functionality, with secondary apps for both Android and iOS. Pricing and plans — which are too complex and variable to summarize — can range in total price from just under $10,000 per year up to nearly $100,000 per year.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Broad range of licensing, hosting, training and support costs in packages customized by vendorYes>Gamification
>Asynchronous web-based learning
>Synchronous instructor-led courses (ILCs) both online and in-person
>Learner access through mobile app
>Secondary mobile apps available for both Android and iOS Smart-filtered reporting
>More features at Absorb LMS

Pros & Cons of Absorb LMS

ProsCons
>Excellent and intuitive user interface>Plans and pricing are only viable for midsized and larger offices
>Superb mobile support with useful secondary apps
>High-quality video support and strong blended learning options
>Wide variety of localizations for learner languages

What Customers Are Saying
Absorb LMS earns high marks for customers for its ease of use and rich features, especially its strong mobile version: There are so many features packed into the system, even in the mobile versions. Having a mobile version is a big plus due to many of our learners using iPads and the like.”

Brightspace

Brightspace Logo
A product of Desire2Learn, or D2L, Brightspace was one of the earliest LMS packages ever created and has been steadily updated over the years. It remains one of the most popular software packages in the educational space today, praised for its focus on competency-based education and blended learning. It brings sophisticated automation, predictive modeling and analytics to the table. It is SCORM-compliant and easy to access through both desktop and mobile devices without the need for a dedicated mobile app.

Brightspace integrates easily with institutional student information systems (SIS) to allow instructors to build courses and syllabi on the platform through a simple, checklist-based shell interface. It establishes portfolios of learners’ work, which those students can access after graduation. It also makes it simple to pull course content and media in from platforms like YouTube to message and interact with students and to establish prior student competencies before training. One of its major features is the Intelligent Agent, which can be programmed to automatically search for behavior patterns and recommend, or take, a course of action.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Custom quoteYes>Automated early-intervention tools through
>Intelligent Agent process
>ePortfolio for students accessible after graduation
>Easy-to-use shell interface for instructors
>Integrations with institutional SIS
>Supports blended, asynchronous and synchronous learning
>More features at Brightspace

Pros & Cons of Brightspace

ProsCons
>Granular roles and impressive analytics>Non-transparent pricing
>Robust add-on packages to enhance functionality
>Extensive support for competency-based education

What Customers Are Saying
The efficiency of the Brightspace platform, its file-sharing capability and ability to meet learners at their current knowledge level all earn praise: “Brightspace has offered an extremely efficient platform to engage in continuous learning via mobile, social, and video content while also providing an adaptive toolset to meet employees at their current knowledge level.”

Canvas

Canvas Logo
The corporate and higher-education spaces for LMS are distinct portions of the market. Instructure’s Canvas LMS has made significant inroads into the latter space, now second in market share only to Blackboard, which previously dominated higher-education LMS. The key distinction is that Canvas’ approach understands that academics tend to engage with LMS software only begrudgingly and if it’s easy to use. Its streamlined UI effectively deploys tabs and contextual menus while offering free API customization for more tech-savvy users. The SCORM-compliant Canvas Commons feature is a repository for sharing resources, and the integrated Canvas Network distributes synchronous, asynchronous and blended courses. It uses a library of apps called EduApps to deliver a robust feature set.

Canvas comes with hundreds of pre-built resources and allows learners to download reader-only versions of many of these resources in .epub format. It boasts deep interoperability with various Google tools, extensive third-party integrations and a free, functional and regularly updated open-source version. Unfortunately, the company’s promises of “transparent” pricing aren’t backed by the actual availability of hard numbers, but Canvas is otherwise very competitive.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Custom quoteYes + free open-source version>Supports asynchronous, synchronous and blended learning
>Extensive EduApps library of apps and API customization to support gamification
>Provides video conferencing tools
>Offers a mobile app (Canvas Student) for learners
>SCORM-compliant resource sharing
>More features at Canvas

Pros & Cons of Canvas

ProsCons
>Excellent and easy-to-use course assembly tools>Pricing is surprisingly obscure for a company that boasts of "transparent" pricing
>Platforms for enabling integrations, sharing modules, and publication
>Open API customization and a free open-source software version

What Customers Are Saying
Canvas’ claims to ease of use and accessibility have only grown stronger with time: “For an LMS, it is easy to learn and use. It has integrations with various other useful software, but I often encourage faculty who have trouble learning software to just use the tools in Canvas. It’s easier to navigate…”

Coassemble

Coassemble Logo
Coassemble is an LMS specifically designed for the small to mid-sized business space, focusing on teams of 50 or fewer. It boasts a streamlined user interface, simple search and filter features and unlimited storage that allows it to be used as an extensive, easy-to-organize content library. Mobile-optimized and cloud-based, it offers a drag-and-drop interface with almost three dozen premade templates for lesson creation, SCORM-compliant course sharing and robust assessment and grading features. It integrates with third-party apps, including Salesforce, MailChimp, Microsoft Office and of course Google, and provides a sophisticated onboarding process in addition to customer support via live chat, email and phone. Coassemble’s pricing is competitive through an all-in-one unlimited plan for $299 per month.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$299/monthYes>Mobile optimized with a cloud-based structure accessible from any internet-ready device
>SCORM-compliant course sharing
>Third-party integrations includes MS Office, MailChimp, Google, and Salesforce
>Unlimited content creation and storage
>More features at Coassemble

Pros & Cons of Coassemble

ProsCons
>Drag-and-drop authoring tools>Doesn't currently have a built-in e-commerce feature
>Straightforward and reasonable pricing>Presently lacks an extensive content library of its own
>Mobile-optimized functionality

What Customers Are Saying
Coassemble is popular with clients for its user-friendly interface and strong customer support. As one says: The interface is clean and easy to navigate . . . I love that it’s simple to use and has preset templates on the platform as well. There’s a wide selection of assessment question types, which is helpful!” Another notes, “Intuitive design and user experience, quick support and feedback. It helps being local support.”

Docebo

Docebo Logo
Docebo is one of the founding players in eLearning, founded in 2005, and its learning platform is now used worldwide. An online-only eLearning solution, its signature features include AI-powered automation and analytics, synchronous instructor-led training, asynchronous web-based training and blended training that includes social and experiential models. It allows customization of the learning process from end to end, boasts a modular design made for scalability for any size of business and has eCommerce features integrated with tools like Shopify and Stripe.

Docebo has pricing plans to match the flexibility and scalability of the software itself. It integrates easily with business CRM systems and offers a clean, modern user interface, strong multiple-language support that makes it ideal for an international audience and the ability to conduct training virtually anywhere at any time. Its gamified learning features are easily some of the strongest on the market. Its 14-day trial is relatively limited, but small plans are available for further testing for companies that need it.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Customized packagesYes>AI-powered automation and analytics
>Scalable and customizable course and syllabus design
>Advanced gamified learning
>Asynchronous, blended and synchronous learning support
>Extensive multiple-language support
>More features at Docebo

Pros & Cons of Docebo

ProsCons
>Some of the best gamification features on the market>Free trial is a bit limited at only 14 days
>Powerful AI and automation features
>Clean and modern user interface

What Customers Are Saying
Docebo’s full feature set and ease of use are major features for customers: “The ability to customize homepages, additional fields, notifications, etc. has been extremely useful . . . Our users find it very easy to use on their end.” Another customer notes, “There are definitely lots of functionalities that I have not seen in any other platform which is really good.”

eFront

eFront Logo
Focused on the needs of businesses, eFront is designed for deployment either on a company’s intranet or via a privately managed and dedicated cloud. It offers considerably security features, including two-factor authentication, and provides native Android and iOS apps. An account includes a branded URL, user-friendly plugin and website builders and custom themes. It’s available in more than 20 languages, and its integrations include conferencing tools and payment gateways, all Zapier-supported apps and custom integrations through its API.

eFront’s features list is too extensive to fully summarize here. Its assessment engine offers numerous formats and reporting options, its gamification engine supports points and badges, levels and leaderboards, and it provides extensive customization of fields, user types and certificates. Its pricing and design is specifically targeted at large businesses, and while it once offered an open-source version, that’s no longer the case.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$1,000-$2,500/monthYes>Encrypted security with two-factor authentication
>Plugin and website builders and an API for building integrations
>Assessment engine supporting multiple formats and reporting options
>Mobile apps for Android and iOS
>Intranet or private "cloud" deployment
>More features at eFront

Pros & Cons of eFront

ProsCons
>Flexible deployment options>Pricing and design is only practical for large businesses
>Notably easy to customize>No longer supports an open-source version
>Wide variety of content formats supported

What Customers Are Saying
eFront enjoys a reputation for both ease of use and powerful features, even at the most basic layer of functionality, among its customers: Overall it has been easy to use and fit our needs to compartmentalize our users quickly. We have not even begun to use half of the features that are available just because the basics are so powerful.”

eLogic Learning (a.k.a. eSSential LMS)

eLogic-Learning Logo
Built for medium- to large-sized enterprises, the eLogic Learning LMS is also known as eSSential LMS, created to allow HR departments to administer training courses and track their results for personnel across the company. Designed for both on-premise and cloud deployment — with mobile access for either option — and crafted for extensive customization, it supports game-based learning and course development services to help its clients design their own learning programs from scratch or adapt existing training materials. Administrators can create groups, track learning, run reports and configure portals, menu items and displays to match their branding.

eSSential LMS operates from a central dashboard that allows management of course catalogues, setting goals for training, tracking and monitoring of user history, assigning users to specific groups and roles and generating performance reports. It has a reputation among some customers for being a fair amount of work to set up.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$21,000/yearYes>On-premise and cloud deployment options
>Gamified learning
>Extensive customization options
>Mobile access for users regardless of deployment specifics
>Centralized course and training management and reporting
>More features at eLogic Learning

Pros & Cons of eLogic Learning

ProsCons
>Robust list of features>Learning curve for setup can be steep due to the huge variety of customization options
>Limitless freedom to customize content pages
>Operates smoothly after setup

What Customers Are Saying
eSSential LMS’ rich feature set and extensive customization options are consistently praised by customers: “Having been involved with e-learning for the past decade I’ve administered a few systems. eLogic’s eSSential LMS is among the best, if not the best, of all the systems I’ve used. The administrator tools are powerful yet easy to learn and use.”

iSpring Learn

ISpring Logo
This award-winning LMS has a reputation for stable functionality and ease of use and is focused on helping companies launch training programs quickly and reliably. Directly integrated with the broader iSpring Suite authoring toolkit, it can create specific learning paths for each department in a company and can automatically assign and track learners based on job positions, group affiliations and other factors. Powerful content reports and learner tracking help assess individual performance and the overall success of various eLearning materials.

iSpring Learn comes with built-in Content Library templates that provide ready-made course outlines, graphics and backgrounds. It supports all the essential functions of a modern LMS platform. Volume and academic discounts to its per-user pricing have led many customers to regard it as a reasonably affordable solution.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$770/year/user, Volume and Academic discountsYes>Integration with iSpring Suite toolkit
>Simple process for creating custom course content
>Reporting systems track content performance and learner progress
>Built-in Content Library
>Mobile apps for Android and iOS
>More features at iSpring

Pros & Cons of iSpring Learn

ProsCons
>Full list of essential LMS features with granular reporting options>Customization features are somewhat limited
>Fast, stable and relatively bug-free operation>Help notes don't always include "how to" fixes
>Volume and academic discounts help alleviate some of the cost

What Customers Are Saying
Customers report overall very positive experiences with iSpring Learn: “The process of uploading and assigning training is very simple, and gathering reports is even better now with the recent upgrades . . . Uploading training and deploying to employees is a seamless process . . . [and] the value we get for the cost we pay outmatched all other options available to us.”

JoomlaLMS

Joomla-LMS Logo
A popular academic-focused learning platform, JoomlaLMS has been listed among the Top Academic LMS solutions by the independent research firm Talented Learning and offers robust online learning tools for instructors and students. It boasts the core features you’d expect in a modern LMS solution, including SCORM- and AICC-compliance, mobile functionality through apps for Android and iOS devices, blended learning support including social collaboration tools, support for both synchronous and asynchronous learning, an embedded course builder, extensive options for customization and a clean, easy-to-use interface.

Among JoomlaLMS’ truly standout features are the scalability and flexibility it offers through full integration with the open-source Joomla! CMS system and numerous other third-party apps and services, the option to deploy it as an on-premise solution, flexible options for monetizing courses, ease of data import and export and a powerful reporting system. It offers a 30-day free trial and a relatively inexpensive Standard tier service alongside its more expensive and feature-rich Professional version.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$299/year/user Standard, $799/year/user ProfessionalYes>Integration with Joomla! CMS and a wide range of third-party apps
>Mobile compatible with Android and iOS apps
>SCORM and AICC compliance >Social collaboration tools
>Extensive reporting tools and customization options
>Simple process for monetizing courses
>Deployable as an on-premise solution
>More features at Joomla LMS

Pros & Cons of JoomlaLMS

ProsCons
>Easy-to-use interface allows focus on building learning materials instead of managing the software>A fairly expensive solution for small businesses, especially to access the full list of features
>Extraordinarily robust and feature-rich
>Excellent and timely customer support

What Customers Are Saying
JoomlaLMS garners high praise from customers for usability, a robust feature set and solid support. As one customer notes:  “[The] cost is a little high in comparison to similar learning management systems. However, JoomlaLMS does offer robust capabilities and a great customer service support team.”

LearnDash LMS

LearnDash Logo
The most trusted LMS plugin built for use with the popular blogging platform WordPress, LearnDash has a deep list of features. One of its signature tools is a drag-and-drop course builder that can produce sophisticated results including discrete lessons and topics, lesson timers, quizzes, drip-fed content and course forums. It offers native integration with PayPal for monetized courses, as well as third-party connections with other eCommerce and membership applications for tracking memberships, subscriptions and other options. It also provides detailed back-end reporting, user group creation and tracking, automated email notifications and the option to connect with Zapier to leverage more automation. At higher service tiers, reporting tools are more detailed and furnished in real time.

LearnDash is SCORM-compliant and provides all the features you’d expect from a modern LMS solution, although sometimes, this requires uploading additional plug-ins, such as the GamiPress plug-in needed to implement gamification. Its most standout features are definitely the drag-and-drop visual course builder, engagement triggers that can automate a vast range of actions via an equally wide array of user actions and a plentiful supply of third-party integrations. There is another major attraction: it’s considerably cheaper than many other LMS solutions.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$159/yearNo>eCommerce integration with PayPal
>Numerous third-party apps and integrations
>Additional plug-ins to extend functionality
>Drip-fed content and granular lesson design control
>Detailed reporting features
>User groups
>Automated actions with engagement triggers
>More features at LearnDash

Pros & Cons of LearnDash

ProsCons
>Visual course designer is easy to engage with>Additional plug-ins needed to take full advantage of monetization
>Convenient drip-fed content and prerequisite settings>Not easy for casual users until there's a full range of needed plug-ins installed
>Video progression feature makes it easy to embed self-hosted or externally hosted video>Lack of onboarding services
>Powerful and flexible engagement triggers for automated actions

What Customers Are Saying

LearnDash is popular with customers for its flexibility, quality of design and documentation and strong customer support: I made the decision to switch to LearnDash for the flexibility [and] so that I would have full control of my content . . . I also wanted to have full control of the user experience.”

LearnUpon

LearnUpon Logo
Built for the corporate learning space, LearnUpon is designed equally for internal training and for companies who need to sell training sessions. LearnUpon has extensive eCommerce integrations, both with its own proprietary suite and with outlets like Stripe, PayPal and Shopify, and has a two-way API that enables it to plug into existing virtual storefronts for companies that maintain them. Bulk purchases can be custom set to represent large class enrollments, and the software also ties into Google Analytics, Salesforce and most social networks. With an ever-increasing population shopping on their mobiles, LearnUpon also offers the key benefit of smooth mobile compatibility.

LearnUpon has customizable portals for clients and staff and offers an easy-to-customize learner dashboard. It offers sophisticated gamification options, SCORM-compliant content integration, detailed module-based course creation and robust oversight options for instructors. The software offers multilingual support, makes it easy to segment learners by groups and provides clean, easy-to-read and useful reporting.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$599/monthYes>Extensive and thorough eCommerce integration
>SCORM-compliant content integration
>Detailed course creation tools
>Oversight options for instructors
>Centralized learner dashboard
>Custom portals for clients and staff
>More features at LearnUpon

Pros & Cons of LearnUpon

ProsCons
>Makes it easy to segment learners into different groups>Module-based course creation is much more unwieldy than it needs to be
>Strong multi-lingual support
>Easy-to-parse reporting system
>Superb gamification options
>Seamlessly compatible with mobile devices

What Customers Are Saying
LearnUpon has an intuitive overall system and strong customer support, both of which are praised by their customers: “After going through [multiple] LMS demos LearnUpon shines as the system that makes sense. LearnUpon is exceptionally user friendly for admins and learners/users alike. The system makes sense and when you do have questions the customer service team is exceptional!”

Lessonly

Lessonly Logo
Focused specifically on web-based learning for both academic and corporate purposes, Lessonly is built to support asynchronous and blended learning techniques. It provides a full view of learning data in one spot and an open API that lets users evaluate that data using tools like Zendesk and Salesforce. SCORM-compatible resource sharing, onboarding services, online mobile access, customized training modules, user roles and portals, an API for further customization, automation and integration with Slack are all available features at various levels of service.

There are some notable omissions from this feature set, however. Lessonly’s strictly web-based approach means it does not support synchronous, instructor-led learning models, and it doesn’t have the options of localized installation or offline access. It also doesn’t support eCommerce integration or gamification features. Still, it is feature-rich, and its highest tier of service, Enterprise, offers custom integrations and content.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$300 / month for 20 users (Basic) $750 / month for up to 75 users + $1000 onboarding fee (Plus) $1250 / month for up to 250 users + $2000 onboarding fee (Growth) Custom quote for EnterpriseYes>Asynchronous web-based and blended learning
>Onboarding services
>API for custom integrations
>Online mobile accessibility
>Automations
>More features at Lessonly

Pros & Cons of Lessonly

ProsCons
>Clean and self-explanatory interface>Doesn't support synchronous learning
>Easy tracking, reporting and resource sharing>Doesn't support gamification
>Rich feature set specifically focused on web-based learning>Doesn't provide eCommerce integration
>User-friendly customization of training modules>Not especially useful for tracking large numbers of learners

What Customers Are Saying
Within its niche — small and medium-sized businesses and training operations with a web-based focus — Lessonly’s performance draws consistent customer praise: “Their onboarding with us was excellent . . . [It was really] easy to build lessons without a lot of technical know-how. It is quick to get content in, publish, and assign out to users. The interface is very clean and self-explanatory to use.”

Mindflash

Mindflash Logo
This cloud-based LMS is widely used for employee training and is particularly popular in the fields of health care, manufacturing, financial services and retail. Integrated with Word, PowerPoint and Adobe, it provides free data storage for its users and offers SCORM-compliant, user-friendly tools for editing and building courses. It offers a simple means of segmenting, automating and customizing user groups for trainees, delivers training through mobile-friendly Android and iOS formats and provides sophisticated real-time analytics to track learner progress and measure the impact of training programs and specific courses on revenue and profit.

Offering an API for customized integrations and user management, support for over two dozen languages and the ability to deliver instructor-led live training alongside asynchronous and blended learning options, Mindflash is a top-tier LMS. It does not presently support gamification, video conferencing or dedicated learner portals, and some users have been disappointed by its reporting system.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$3500/year for PremiumYes>Free data storage
>Segmentation of trainee groups
>Mobile-compatible with Android and iOS
>Real-time analytics to evaluate training impact and learner progress
>Multilingual support for 24 languages
>More features at Mindflash

Pros & Cons of Mindflash

ProsCons
>Easy to upload and edit training, create quizzes and maintain records>Doesn't support gamification or video conferencing
>User-friendly for learners, increasing the chances that they'll engage with the LMS>Doesn't provide a dedicated learner portal
>Dynamic and intuitive content creation>Some users report finding the system's vaunted analytics disappointing

What Customers Are Saying
Mindflash’s users are near-universal in praising its ease of use and intuitiveness: Mindflash has allowed us to increase our training ‘reach’ . . . Online training in our industry has been revolutionized by our bespoke learning content. [It’s easy to use] without the need for specialized software and additional downloads. We can work from existing materials authored in everyday Office software.”

Moodle

Moodle Logo
Perhaps the oldest and best-known open-source LMS, Moodle has been on the scene for almost two decades and to this day offers a free, functional version of its service to users willing to download, customize and host it on their own sites. Focused on academic users but also offering cloud-based plans ideal for small to medium businesses, its current feature set covers all the core bases of a modern LMS, including support for synchronous, asynchronous and blended learning, gamification, built-in course authoring tools and mobile compatibility.

Because of the open-source nature of the LMS, Moodle users benefit from an active and vital community and comprehensive documentation that helps ease the learning curve of self-hosting the software. Additional features include bulk course creation, management of user roles and access, multilingual support, customizable themes and a wide range of third-party plugins. Moodle has a network of certified partners who can provide hosting, training, implementation and consultancy for users who need more support.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Free software (up to 200 users)
Paid cloud-based plans cost up to $1000/year for 500 users Partner agreements available by custom quote
Yes>Supports blended, asynchronous and synchronous learning models
>Customizable themes
>Multilingual support
>Bulk course creation
>Management of user roles and access
>Mobile compatibility
>Built-in course authoring
>More features at Moodle

Pros & Cons of Moodle

ProsCons
>Excellent option for limited budgets with a functional, up-to-date free version always available>Doesn't support video conferencing or eCommerce integration out of the box
>Comprehensive documentation and a strong open-source community to ease the learning curve of implementation>User interface garners mixed reviews from customers, with some finding it out of date
>Solid list of features and good options for customization>Lags, delays and timeouts frequently reported in cloud-based services

What Customers Are Saying
Moodle users are very positive about the features and functionality it provides overall: “Moodle has always made it easy for me to grade assignments and make sure that students are able to receive accurate feedback. I will always refer a colleague to create a Moodle site for their course if they do not already have one in the works. [It] provides a very easy way to submit assignments and grade . . . I also appreciate the variety of setup options in the software.”

NEO LMS

Neo-LMS Logo
A cloud-based LMS focused squarely on schools and universities, NEO facilitates blended, synchronous and asynchronous learning formats and supports a full set of features including video conferencing, mobile compatibility for Android and iOS devices, SCORM-compliant course and content sharing, gamification features and dedicated learner portals that can be customized according to the branding of the client institution. Universally praised by its user base for its ease of installation, setup and use, NEO is swiftly acquiring a reputation as a major contender against Moodle in the academic LMS space.

NEO provides built-in course authoring tools and integrates with the hundreds of apps available through Zapier. It also integrates with Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEx, CometChat, TurnItIn and TurnItIn PeerMark, and the Unicheck tool for plagiarism detection. It provides a free plan with a feature list even more extensive than Moodle’s and subscription plans for 500 users or more by custom quote.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
Free version available; subscription plans by custom quoteYes>Supports blended, asynchronous and synchronous learning models >SCORM/AICC-compliant content sharing
>Gamification features
>Mobile learning for Android and iOS
>Dedicated student portal
>Useful integrations with Zapier and other third-party software
>More features at NEO LMS

Pros & Cons of NEO LMS

ProsCons
>Easy to install, set up and use, with an elegant and simple UI>Provides so many features as to be a bit overwhelming for some users
>Top-quality gamification features that keep students engaged and eager
>Offers an extraordinarily feature-rich free version

What Customers Are Saying
NEO LMS draws almost universally positive commentary from customers for its ease of use and robust feature set: [Having NEO] eliminated the fear of not meeting my class in a face-to-face set up. NEO brings me closer to my students whether we go synchronous or asynchronous . . . [It is] very easy navigate. Lessons can easily be done even without the user’s guide or manual. I really like the customer support because of its efficient and quick response.”

SAP Litmos

SAP-Litmos Logo
A leading corporate-focused LMS, SAP Litmos is built to facilitate accelerated training for both external and internal teams. Designed to be operable without dedicated training or installations, Litmos is noted for its strong automated features and ease of use. It’s ideal for large corporate teams, but its applicability isn’t limited to them; it also offers an affordable package for up to 100 users. Offering a vast set of integrations — including partnerships with third-party platforms like Shopify, which provides free publication of SAP Litmos-designed courses — it works seamlessly with Salesforce, Ping, Centrify, Okta and similar tools.

SCORM-certified, boasting deep gamification features to motivate trainees and offering the capacity for end-to-end tailoring of learning paths, SAP Litmos provides an extensive reference library and knowledge base. Sophisticated real-time reporting helps to effectively track trainee performance, and eCommerce integration makes it easy to create and sell SAP Litmos-designed course content. On the downside, there have been recent user reports of slow customer service, buggy functionality and even glitches in the billing process.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$6-$15/user/month billed annuallyYes>SCORM- and TIN CAN-certified
>Large reference library and knowledge base
>Compatible with any mobile device
>Real-time reporting and results tracking
>Wide variety of third-party integrations and partnerships
>Extensive gamification features
>Custom learning paths
>More features at SAP Litmos

Pros & Cons of SAP Litmos

ProsCons
>Clean and user-friendly UI>As of 2020 there have been recent customer reports of bugs on the platform, misinformation in report, difficulty in pulling reports and glitches in billing and cancellation
>Flexible and affordable, with plans suitable for both small and large businesses>Customer support sometimes slow to respond to issues
>Vast range of third-party integrations
>Useful real-time reporting features

What Customers Are Saying
SAP Litmos has a large and loyal customer base that praises its ease of use and consistency: We’ve been using Litmos for a little over a year . . . [it is] extremely easy to learn, we were building courses quickly once we got in.” Another user notes: “We have been using their system for more than 5 years now and dare I say we have never encountered a single issue.”  Reports of bugs and slow customer support appear largely to be more recent than 2019.

SumTotal Learning Management

SumTotal-Learning-Management Logo
A newcomer to the LMS market, SumTotal is a product of the Florida-based SumTotal Systems and focuses primarily on corporate training. It offers a range of interesting features, including a robust range of configuration and communication options for managers to coordinate with teams and trainees, powerful reporting features and awards and leaderboard gamification features to bolster self-motivated learning. It also provides informative user profiles, social collaboration tools, customizable searching of courses, links and reports and other elements of the user widgets and themes, and helpful third-party integrations with applications like Work Day and Drupal. It’s mobile compatible for most devices, compliant with GDPR regulations and meets all standards for the Life Sciences industry.

SumTotal does have some notable gaps, however, a big one being its lack of SCORM compliance. Its user interface is not known for being particularly friendly, despite recent efforts to curb its complexity. The good news, however, is that the company’s reputation for responsive customer support and updates has improved considerably since 2018.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$10,000/one-timeDemo only>Compliant with GDPR and Life Science Industry standards
>Robust configuration and communication tools for administrators
>Compatible with most mobile devices
>Social collaboration and gamification tools
>Information-rich user profiles
>Third-party integrations with Work Day, Skillsoft, Drupal, EDMS, and others
>Powerful reporting tools
>More features at SumTotal Learning Management

Pros & Cons of SumTotal Learning Management

ProsCons
>Extremely powerful and flexible automated reporting tools>Not SCORM-compliant
>Highly effective third-party integrations, with Skillsoft in particular>UI still leaves something to be desired
>Automation is effective and easy to implement>Demo available, but no free trial version
>Fast-improving reputation for customer support and responsive updates

What Customers Are Saying
SumTotal is still a developing solution, and its reputation with customers is strengthening: Return on Investment is high . . . Custom Dashboard, custom theme management and custom widget management features are extraordinary and make the user feel like they are owning their learning platform. There are many features which are really excellent, easy to use and modern.”

TalentLMS

TalentLMS Logo
Focused on the business eLearning market, TalentLMS is feature-rich cloud-based LMS with a simple, user-friendly framework. It supports all the core features of a modern LMS platform — including robust course creation tools for synchronous, asynchronous and blended learning models, gamification, mobile compatibility, SCORM compliance and conferencing — and allows users to sell and distribute LMS content online, to configure and customize their portals and to benefit from powerful analytics, alerts and user management features.

TalentLMS delivers on the ease-of-use front, with an interface that can be learned in minutes and that can create a complete course in less than 60 minutes. Built from scratch for the modern web, it offers third-party integrations including BambooHR, GoToMeeting, Salesforce, WordPress and Zoom and has its own built-in video conferencing tool. It’s affordable, offering a free basic plan and four tiers of paid service.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$59-$429 / month; free version availableYes>Compliant with SCORM and TIN CAN
>Mobile compatible with any device
>eCommerce enabled for sale and distribution of LMS content
>Gamification tools
>Customization for user portals
>Sophisticated analytics, alerts and user management
>Third-party integrations with BambooHR, GoToMeeting, Salesforce, WordPress, and Zoom
>Built-in video conferencing
>More features at TalentLMS

Pros & Cons of TalentLMS

ProsCons
>Purpose-built for the modern web environment>Multilingual support could be extended
>Allows reuse of existing materials or integration of web content when building courses>Navigation in the UI could still be further improved
>Simple but flexible and powerful UI

What Customers Are Saying
TalentLMS is much praised by customers for its blend of power and ease of use: “TalentLMS is clean and elegant and provides a great experience for admins, instructors and users. I think of TalentLMS as the Apple computer of LMS systems. Another big differentiator is that TalentLMS enables instructors to create courses quickly without a painful learning curve that kills productivity.”

TOPYX

Topyx Logo
TOPYX is a full-featured business LMS solution that offers a complete array of modern LMS features, priced according to a flat annual subscription fee instead of charging per user. Its standout features include its suite of social learning tools — including events, polls, articles, shoutouts, calendars and web conferencing — a user-friendly dashboard and profile maker, comprehensive reporting and user management and intuitive tools for data management. It provides SCORM-compliant resource sharing, is mobile compatible for Android and iOS devices and allows the creation of custom portals for training both customers and partners.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$29,500/yearYes>Compliant with SCORM
>Mobile compatible
>Robust suite of social learning tools
>Customizable user dashboard
>Individual profile maker
>Extensive reporting and user management features
>Data management tools
>Custom portal creation
>More features at Topyx

Pros & Cons of TOPYX

ProsCons
>Its emphasis on social learning and collaborative features enhances training efficiency>Customer service issues have been reported in the past
>Flat subscription fee alleviates maintenance and other ongoing costs in the long term

What Customers Are Saying
It’s curiously difficult to find current customer reviews for TOPYX, and tough to say what this might mean. One recent user noted: “The program is fairly easy to use, it [allows] users to view all training that they need to complete [and] allows management to view reports of what training needs to get done and who has completed what.”  There have been past complaints about customer service response times and outages, but these are years old and may no longer be relevant.

Zoho People

Zoho-People Logo
Zoho People is a well-regarded HR management suite that has recently added an LMS to its Enterprise tier of service. Focused on training for small and medium-sized businesses, the Zoho People LMS lays claim, as many modern LMS suites do, to a simple and friendly UI, easy-to-use course creation tools, support of self-paced and blended learning styles, in-depth analysis of a company’s learning patterns and a dedicated portal for trainees, including space for in-depth discussion of topics.

Zoho People’s LMS feature set covers most of the basics you’d expect but fails to check some important boxes, especially with its lack of gamification features and SCORM compliance. In evaluating its cost-effectiveness compared to other LMS solutions, prospective users should keep in mind that the comparison is with a complete HR management solution in Zoho’s case.

PriceFree Trial/DemoFeatures
$0.83/year/userYes>Mobile compatible
>Supports synchronous, asynchronous and blending learning
>Dedicated learner's portal
>Built-in course creation tools
>More features at Zoho People

Pros & Cons of Zoho People

ProsCons
>User-friendly UI>Lacks gamification features
>Supports synchronous remote learning designed to construct an "in-classroom" feel from multiple remote locations>Is not SCORM-compliant
>Simple built-in course creation and useful analytics features

What Customers Are Saying
Customer reviews of Zoho People are generally about the HR management suite as a whole, not its LMS component. It generally gets high marks from users: A cloud solution that covered our HR needs end-to-end. I liked the most hoe intuitive it is to use, no training whatsoever was needed to new employees to get them started using Zoho People.”

What Is LMS Software?

Overall, LMS software is designed to manage and provide training programs in a wide variety of settings. Some suites focus on the corporate space and cater to businesses of various sizes, while others focus on academic usage in schools and universities. In some cases, software is adaptable for both purposes, although it will be up to the user whether such attempts at across-the-board appeal come with tradeoffs for their specific usefulness in certain spaces. An LMS can also be designed with training companies and educational institutions in mind, eCommerce-enabled to sell training courses to learners, companies and classes.

Most of the companies listed above have viable offerings for the small business market, even if this isn’t always their primary focus. It’s worth keeping in mind the three key areas of competency mentioned at the beginning of this guide as you go over the offerings of specific companies. Issues like SCORM compliance and the availability of support for gamification can go a long way toward reducing the amount of work and time that goes into implementing an LMS and getting trainees engaged with it.

Benefits of LMS Software

LMS software is highly variable in the specifics of the features offered and the focus it places on different elements of learning. In general, though, it should be providing some or all of the following benefits:

  • Making it easy to generate customized course content
  • Making it easy to organize learning paths and syllabi
  • Facilitating clear and simple communication between instructors and learners and among trainees
  • Providing a user interface and overall environment that instructors and learners want to engage with
  • Increasing learner engagement with the course material
  • Increasing the efficiency of training programs and making it easy to track learner’s progress and which courses are working the most effectively
  • Making it easy to access course material from anywhere and, in particular, from most mobile devices
  • Tracking the impact of training programs on a company’s overall bottom line
  • Making it easy to customize portals to the LMS’ training content to reflect the branding of a company or institution
  • If training companies are part of the target market, providing eCommerce functionality to make it possible to sell content creating with the LMS
  • Providing third-party integrations to access any kinds of functionality that aren’t built into the software itself

An LMS that seems to cover all possible bases may not be covering all of them well. Sometimes, it’s best to go with a product that has a tight focus on a few results it excels at delivering.

Must-Have Features of LMS Software

An LMS may focus on certain specific aspects of education: some, for example, specialize in self-directed web-based courses while others lean into social learning and collaboration. In general, though, the highest-quality LMS packages should support all three of the following:

  • Blended Learning: A learning model that combines online and traditional classroom-based education
  • Synchronous Learning: Any learning format in which a group of students all learn at the same time, whether this happens in a classroom or via video conference
  • Asynchronous Learning: A learning format where students proceed at their own pace through online content

It’s usually best if they have at least some support for gamification — a system of learning incentives derived from the awards systems used in video games — although some companies may choose not to do this out of skepticism about gamification “hype,” and users who agree with this might not find the lack of it a game-changer.

Finally, there is simply no excuse for an LMS to lack mobile compatibility or to be unfriendly to mobile devices. SCORM compliance should be a standard expectation at this point, making it easier to transfer course data between apps.

The Cost of LMS Software

The pricing structures of LMS software vary immensely. In general, there are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating prices:

  • Beyond free trials and demos, it’s rare to find functional, free LMS software. This guide lists a couple of important exceptions to this rule of thumb, and even in the most famous case of such software (Moodle), it comes with tradeoffs. You can usually expect to pay for LMS that works well.
  • Per-user pricing can look superficially cheaper than it actually is. Annually billed per-user per-month rates for LMS software typically comes in, in the final analysis, as significantly more expensive than a flat subscription fee.
  • Beware additional after-licensing costs. Onboarding, maintenance and tech support fees can rapidly send the costs of an LMS through the roof. Make sure you’re familiar with all the applicable costs of a plan, and with the fine print about when they provide rebates, before committing to a plan.

Keep these factors in mind as you peruse this guide, and you should find it much easier to find your way to the LMS suite that’s right for your needs and budget.