A Quick Guide to Help HigherEd Institutions Choose Between an Open-Source and a Proprietary LMS


A quick guide to opt for an open-source or proprietary LMS for higher educational institutions

This blog post will offer a quick comparison between open-source and proprietary LMS platforms and serve as a simple guide for higher educational institutions to decide if they should use an open-source LMS or a proprietary LMS for their students and academic staff.


Limitations of Open-Source LMS Platforms

Open-source LMS platforms offer a variety of benefits. Some of them are:

  • The platform / product is free to use and deploy

  • A good LMS administrator and developer can help customize the LMS to an institution’s requirements

  • Open-source LMS platforms now also offer cloud-based hosting and access to mobile apps

Moodle and Totara are amongst the most popular open-source LMS platforms used by higher educational institutions globally. The Open edX platform has become quite popular in the last few years and offers an all-in-one platform with course-authoring and deployment of eLearning. If you are looking to switch to a proprietary LMS for your institution, do look at the options mentioned in the next section.


Popular Proprietary LMS Platforms in the Market

There are several LMS platforms that are designed for corporate learning and claim to offer a great learner experience for corporate learners. When we look at the higher education sector or K-12 for schools in the USA and Europe, the options are limited in number. In fact, the switch to online learning in schools was facilitated in a large part by the lockdown and closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even then schools preferred to use a combination of Google Hangouts, email, and WhatsApp for teaching children. Some schools also experimented with Microsoft Teams to deliver online classes and remote learning.


Some of the popular LMS platforms designed specifically for use in higher education and schools are:


Products like Talent LMS allow people to design and deploy learning content on one integrated system and are finding favor among some colleges and universities for its ease of use.


For a detailed comparison of the different LMS platforms available in the market and to find the LMS that best matches your requirements, please visit this webpage.


Quick Guide to Finding the Right LMS for your College or University

The important factors to consider are:

  • Total number of students who would use the platform

  • Availability of options to transfer content and learning records from existing LMS to the new LMS

  • Synchronization capabilities with other student administration software that the college or university uses

  • Dedicated iOS and Android apps of the LMS for access to learning via tablet devices and smartphones

  • Multi-content format support

  • Real-time two-way communication built into the LMS with a plug-in for a chat or video-call service

  • Detailed dashboards and learner progress reports and admin access for professors

  • Ability to upload assignments directly onto the LMS by students

  • Minimal IT-admin support and a self-explanatory system that allows students and professors to use the platform with ease

  • Cloud-based LMS to cut down on costs and server maintenance

  • Subscription-based pricing model or a fixed cost per 500 or 1,000 users

  • Does the cost cover dedicated 24/7 customer care support?

  • Does the cost cover transition of content, initial training, and deployment of the LMS

  • Look at the points mentioned above and choose an LMS that meets your requirements

Why is a Proprietary LMS Better than an Open-Source LMS?

Some factors in favor of a proprietary LMS are:

  • Dedicated support and training for college IT admins

  • Cloud-based LMS brings down the cost significantly

  • Ample customization and integration facilities available

  • Opt for a subscription-based or fixed-number based pricing model

  • Mobile app support for greater accessibility to learning

  • Detailed analytics and reports to follow the progress of the students

  • Easier to use and a better and refined learning experience

  • Trigger notifications and deploy spaced learning alerts by linking students’ email address and phone number with the LMS

  • Worry less about fixing bugs in the system and accessibility issues and focus on training of the students


It is important to understand that Moodle is also available as a cloud-based service and some of the open-source LMS platforms like OpenEdx offer a wide variety of features like course-authoring, detailed reports, and mobile-app support for a seamless learning experience. It is important to do your research and opt for a platform that best meets your requirements and fits your budget.


Read this article to learn more about the proprietary LMS vs open-source LMS debate.


S4Carlisle – LMS Consulting and Seamless Transitioning to a Proprietary LMS

At S4Carlisle, we offer dedicated LMS consulting services to help your college or university shortlist and adopt a proprietary LMS that best matches your requirements. We guide you at every step of the process and facilitate an end-to-end transition of learning content and user-data from your existing LMS to the new proprietary LMS of your choice. Write to us at sales@s4carlisle.com to learn how we can help your college or university offer a better learning experience to your students.