Although many schools and corporations have already adopted Learning Management Systems, if your organization is just now considering the move, pray that you are not volunteered into the decision-making process. Even if you have a strong preference, you still must research many vendors, report to a committee, and debate pros and cons before making a decision. After comparing several LMS vendors, I conclude that the process must be laborious.
First, an organization must identify how the LMS will function within the organization and whether funding and IT support are sufficient to support it. If your budget is limited, you can narrow your search to open source or low-cost options. This article evaluates some of the top open source options. Also, if your IT and development departments are strong, then open source might be ideal. After budget considerations, you need to consider whether the LMS must integrate with the school’s Student Information System.
Second, while researching, you should evaluate how each LMS releases updates and incorporates trending features. When and how frequently vendors update their LMSs matters if you want your organization to stay competitive, and a vendor that updates its software more frequently probably responds quickly to customer demand and security issues. Before investigating vendors, find out what other similar organizations demand from their LMS and what features are trending. Current LMS trends include MOOC support, TinCan API, personal learning environments, gamification, talent management integration, mobile learning, and social learning. If your organization emphasizes innovation, you will want an innovative LMS.
Finally, the type of organization, whether a K-12 school, university, small business, or national/international business, matters. Both K-12 schools and universities should consider how easy the LMS is to customize, how well it supports collaboration among users and between organizations, and how it collects and reports analytics. Price, unfortunately, will play a role as well. Small and national/international businesses, on the other hand, might consider the deployment of the LMS and whether it can be integrated into preexisting HR software. National and international businesses might not value collaboration and customization options as much a small businesses, and small businesses might need to consider price more.
I’ve reviewed many lists of the top LMSs for both education and business—see below for some of the sources I found most helpful—and if I were unfortunate enough to be volunteered for an LMS-deciding committee, I’d come with these suggestions.
K-12 schools: Haiku Learning, hands down. It’s isn’t on many LMS favorite lists, but I know from personal experience that it is easy for teachers to use. One of the hardest parts of upgrading technology in schools is getting teachers’ support, so the fact that Haiku Learning is flexible, current, and easy to use makes it a great option for even your most Luddite teachers.
Universities and Colleges: Blackboard is my favorite for higher learning. Since many universities already use Blackboard, the company is familiar with higher learning needs. Furthermore, as universities begin to expand their online and MOOC offerings, I expect there will be more collaboration between them, especially between state-run and non-profit schools. If this is the case, you will want a popular platform so that your school can collaborate with others within the LMS.
Smaller businesses: ConnectEDU. Based on the top five lists from Capterra, ConnectEDU seems to be a popular choice for smaller businesses. It ranks number one on “Top 5 for businesses,” which suggests that many companies are using it, but it ranks third for “Top 5 for users,” which suggests that the businesses using ConnectEDU have fewer employees.
Larger businesses: Moodle. Again, the “Top 5 for businesses” and “Top 5 for users” informed my decision. Moodle ranks third for businesses but first for users. This suggests to me that while fewer companies use Moodle, the companies that do are very large.