Learning Management Systems (LMS)
Best Learning Management Systems (LMS)
- Top Rated Learning Management Systems (LMS) include: Schoology, Renaissance Accelerated Reader 360, Renaissance Star 360, Google Classroom, Edmodo, and iSpring Learn.
- Other Learning Management Systems (LMS) on the TrustMap include: Canvas, Sakai, Moodle, Blackboard, and Brightspace.
- A complete list of Learning Management Systems (LMS) is available here.
TrustMaps are two-dimensional charts that compare products based on satisfaction ratings and research frequency by prospective buyers. Products must have 10 or more ratings to appear on this TrustMap, and those above the median line are considered Top Rated.
Learning Management System (LMS) Overview
What is a Learning Management System?
A Learning Management System (LMS) is a platform that helps instructors manage and organize educational materials online and conduct online courses. Learning management systems help streamline the learning process by providing a central location for accessing material online and developing content. LMS software is used by K-12 schools, higher education institutions, school districts, etc.
This software benefits administrators, teachers, and students. Students and teachers can access and upload course material such as calendars, syllabi, assignments, and grades. LMS platforms also allow instructors and administrators to track student progress on an individual basis and at the aggregate level. This software also helps minimize the use of paper materials.
Corporate LMS and Learning Content Management Systems
Vendors typically offer either education-focused or corporate-focused LMS. However, some companies offer platforms that can be used for both purposes. Corporate learning management systems are commonly used internally for employee training and externally for customer training. Corporate LMS that are used for online employee training may also be called training management systems, or eTraining/ eLearning portals.
Both corporations and educators may use learning content management systems (LCMS) to organize and create content for learning or training purposes. LCMS software focuses on digital learning as the primary educational medium and allows the instructor to create new content. Alternatively, LMS platforms do not focus exclusively on digital learning, they also manage in-person and off-line learning.
LMS vs. eLearning Software
While there is some overlap between LMS platforms and eLearning software, there are a few key differences between the two.
ELearning content software offers the user access to a curated digital library that can include videos, ebooks, and online courses/lessons. The primary function of eLearning software is to provide the user with a large content library for self-guided learning or integration with an LMS platform.
LMS platforms, on the other hand, may not offer content libraries at all. Instead, they focus more on managing the learning process and storing and tracking individual/ aggregate progress. Most vendors offer eLearning software that can be integrated with an LMS platform.
Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
The term ‘virtual learning environment’ (VLE) is often used synonymously with LMS. These two terms essentially refer to the same products, but emphasize different aspects of the software.
VLEs typically have a larger focus on the collaborative aspect of learning. Products that are marketed as a VLE may have stronger discussion, forum, or student collaboration features. On the other hand, LMS has traditionally referred to products with strong performance tracking and analysis capabilities.
Another difference between the two terms is that VLEs are exclusively used in the academic setting. Alternatively, LMS can be used for educational and corporate training purposes. This category comprises mostly academic LMS, and corporate-focused LMS can be found in the Corporate LMS category.
LMS Features & Capabilities
Content creation: Allows instructors to author content and use web tools to embed files from the web or their own files into lesson materials.
Content management: Allows instructors to share materials between courses and upload materials from the web or their own files.
Assessment creation: Ability to create new questions/ assessments - including support for various question types, randomization of MCQs, the ability to import third-party question banks etc..
Assessment management: This can include automatic updating of questions and automatic and manual marking.
Learning object repository (LOR): An online library for sharing, storing, searching, and managing learning objects (e.g. content, specific lessons etc..)
Grading and feedback tools: This can include the ability to annotate student submissions and create student reports.
Course management: This can include course catalogs, course registration management, calendars, gradebooks, and virtual classrooms.
Student and instructor portals: Individual portals for students/instructors to access course materials.
Collaboration tools: Ability to comment and share on the LMS interface through channels such as live chat, blog articles, and discussion boards/threads.
Progress data and analytics: Ability to track student progress against standards such as Common Core or NGSS, identify gaps in individual learning, and set customized learning objectives.
SCORM/ AICC/ Tin Can Compliant: Ability for an eLearning software and LMS to interact over a standard protocol.
Some vendors offer more advanced capabilities or features aimed more at corporate buyers rather than education institutions:
Social media support: Ability to integrate social learning tools and keep track of student engagement.
Mobile app: Allows students and instructors to connect to the LMS interface using a mobile application.
Blended learning support: Ability to record, share, and assess off-line learning events such as seminars, workshops, demonstrations etc…
Gamification tools: Using game-mechanics in order to boost user engagement - including things like badges, trophies, leaderboards, or points.
E-commerce support: Ability to sell educational materials and/or online courses, track purchases, and monitor the performance of marketing initiatives.
Factors to Consider when Selecting an LMS
Since the LMS will be widely used by students, instructors, administrators, and sometimes parents there are a few key things to consider when making a purchase:
Mobile app access and quality
Institution size / scalability
Ease of use
Flexibility, scalability and performance of an LMS
There is a wide range of free or open source LMS software, for example Moodle, Canvas, and Google Classroom. However, these products can be costly to implement and customize, charge extra for non-basic features, and typically do not include support staff.
Commercial offerings such as Blackboard and McGraw-Hill's Connect are an alternative option. These LMS platforms have higher upfront costs (compared to the free versions), but also typically include a dedicated support staff and professional services.
Learning Management Products
Articulate Storyline 2 is designed to make it easy to create any interactive e-learning a user can imagine. The vendor’s value proposition is that it’s simple enough for beginners yet powerful enough for experts.Articulate Storyline 2 is sold as a perpetual license. The latest version of Storyline...
Schoology is a learning management system (LMS). The Basic Package is free for instructors and includes features such as an Academic Activity Dashboard, Instructional Tools and a Native Document Grader. The Enterprise Package includes the Basic Package and additional features such as: Systemwide...
Instructure is an educational software company based in Sandy, Utah. It is the developer of the Canvas learning management system, which is a comprehensive software package that competes with such systems as Blackboard Learning System, SumTotal and Saba.
Moodle is an open source Learning Management System used by educational institutions. The product is administered by the Moodle Project which is led by Moodle HQ in Australia.
Articulate 360 is an all-inclusive subscription offering that is designed to simplify every aspect of e-learning course development. It includes every single authoring tool Articulate makes, such as the award-winning Storyline 360, which is the latest version of Storyline, and Rise, a web-based app...
Adobe Captivate is an elearning authoring and course design tool (or LCMS). It allows users to rapidly author responsive, interactive learning eLearning content, as well as mobile HTML-5 learning content. Users can test courses with the preview LMS feature, and track the performance of learners as...
Blackboard Inc. is an enterprise learning management systems vendor. Blackboard was founded in 1997 and became a public company in 2004. The company provides education, mobile, communication, and commerce software and related services to clients including education providers, corporations and...
Blackboard Collaborate is an online collaborative learning platform with both screen sharing and application sharing, web conferencing, and integration with Blackboard Learn, the primary learning management offering.
Prezi’s advantage over static slides is that its interactive, zoomable canvas shows the relationship between the big picture and the fine details. The vendor’s value proposition is that this puts ideas in context, and makes them more likely to resonate, motivate, and be remembered.
Renaissance Accelerated Reader 360® is designed to save educators time by empowering them with Learnalytics® to make differentiating independent and close reading practice effortless – all while maintaining the flexibility necessary to fit within existing classroom routines. Students are engaged in...
ITProTV offers training and course library content for IT that aims to be entertaining and engaging, as well as educational. According to the vendor, the training is more like a talk show: users watch an ‘edutainer’ engage with a host and an online audience to create a better-than classroom...
Sakai is an open source learning management system provided by the Apero Foundation. The LMS provides what it calls Core and Expanded Features. The Core Features encompass an integrated tool set that is tested by the Sakai community members and is then included with each new release. The tool set...
WizIQ LMS is designed to meet both teaching and training needs and to give users more control over the learning process. Users can build their learning environment within minutes, add and manage multiple teacher accounts, create online courses, and schedule live classes. This solution provides a...
Renaissance Star 360® assessments are designed to provide the achievement and growth data educators need for screening, progress monitoring, and guiding instruction in the least amount of testing time. The vendor says, quick, clear data reporting simplifies educators’ processes for setting goals,...
Articulate Studio is an education-focused learning management software solution offered by Articulate Global, Inc..
iSpring Learn is an e-Learning solution and is available as a bundle of authoring tools + LMS, or as a standalone LMS (Learning Management System). With iSpring Learn LMS, users can upload, assign, and track content generated with iSpring authoring tools, or with any e-Learning authoring...
Renaissance Accelerated Math® aims to provide deep math practice at the unique levels students need for them to grow – from foundational skills to grade-level standards. The software integrates with Star Math data to place students in instructional groups. Each group then receives tailored...
Edsby is a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) for K-12 school districts that uses web and mobile technologies to connect teachers, students, parents and administrators in new ways. This LMS allows students and parents to check grades, attendance, homework and more from a browser, tablet...
ProProfs LMS is a learning management system software that is designed to help instructors create and deliver online training courses. The LMS offers both businesses and educational institutions comprehensive training solutions by allowing them to create online courses, complemented by tests,...
McGraw-Hill Connect is an e-learning platform offered by McGraw-Hill Education. Features include course and assignment creation, grading, learning aides, e-books, and student portals.
Nearpod is an education-focused learning management software solution offered by Nearpod.
PowerSchool Unified Classroom is a learning management and classroom collaboration solution. It aims to empower teachers with real-time student interaction inside and outside the classroom, bringing in more social and collaborative learning. Teachers can quickly create and deliver rich engaging...