Choosing the right LMS platform is extremely critical while developing your eLearning website.
Mess it up, and you’ll find your dreams of building a successful online eLearning business shattered before they can even take shape.
However, with so many options available today, confusion is pretty obvious.
Well, don’t worry and keep reading on because we’ve done the research for you 🙂
And, in this detailed article, we’ve narrowed down the list to the 6 best LMS platforms that you can use to kickstart your online education venture.
But, before getting there, bear with us as we quickly touch upon some basic requirements of the major online education businesses that you can start using these LMS platforms.
3 major Online Education Ventures
1. Basic requirements to start an Online School
Whether you’re shifting your physical school online or starting a new online school, here are some crucial functions/features to keep in mind before picking an LMS platform for your school.
Some of the essential features are:
- Having multiple user roles like teachers, students, etc.
- Creating lessons, topics, quizzes, and assignments
- User-friendly interface
- Class attendance tracking
- Options to integrate Live classes
- Exam proctoring abilities
- Facilitating student-teacher communication network and many more…
And, to build and run your online school smoothly, the top 3 popular and widely used platforms based on our findings are:
- LearnDash LMS
These platforms have the capabilities to help you build a fully functional and successful online school.
2. Basic requirements to build your Course Marketplace like Udemy
With thriving business opportunities in eLearning, course marketplaces are one of the leading options for a lucrative business venture. And, if you’re looking to start one, here are some of the basic functions/features you’d need to take note of in order to kickstart your course marketplace.
Some essential features:
- Ability to offer and create multiple courses
- Enable multiple Instructors to create their courses and sell
- Facilitate smooth payment gateways for paid courses
- Have different user roles such as learners and Instructors
- Automatic calculations and payments of commissions to Instructors
- Manage students and courses hassle-free
- Provide an intuitive dashboard for learners and instructors to operate from
- Restrict Instructor capabilities and access to the backend and many more….
Having said that, the 3 most famous platforms to base your online course marketplaces are:
- Talent LMS
- LearnDash LMS
- Blackboard Learn
These platforms will enable you to easily build a full-fledged online course marketplace of your own.
3. Basic requirements to run an online Corporate Training Business
Since the pandemic, lots of companies have begun using online portals to train their employees. And, if you’re someone who’s looking to start an online corporate training business, here are some of the basic features/functions you’d need before going into it:
Some essential features:
- Ability to onboard multiple Trainers to provide training on different topics
- Allow trainers to create their modules or courses and manage them
- Enable the buyer or trainer to bulk enroll employees for training
- Smooth management of payments to trainers
- Facilitate trainer-employee communication mechanism
- Provide easy to use user interface and many more….
And, based on our research, the top 3 LMS platforms that’ll help you add all the basic and advanced functions to build and run your successful online corporate training business are:
- LearnDash LMS
Now that we’ve covered the basic requirements of major online education businesses, it’s time to open pandora’s box.
Find out which is the best LMS platform for your requirements, with this WISDM LMS Scoresheet
6 Best LMS Platforms for Your Online eLearning Business
LearnDash is one of the most popular and a favorite LMS plugins among the WordPress users. Apart from small scale and medium businesses, it is also used by several fortune 500 companies and major Universities to create different courses, train, and educate learners.
Its ‘must-have’ strong features, splendid course designs, ultra-fast speed, and pocket-friendly pricing makes LearnDash a viable option for opening your online school, course marketplace, and even corporate training business.
Pros of LearnDash
- Offers power-packed functions – Lets you create professional courses with drag and drop course builder, provides distraction-free environment for learners, enables you to schedule or drip-feed lessons or content based on prerequisites, offers monetization options, and plenty more.
- Easy to use – LearnDash is extremely user-friendly and comes with modern interface. Plus, it’s super easy to set up and get started ASAP.
- Smooth third party integrations – This extension is compatible with all the popular WordPress themes. Moreover, it also integrates easily with 3rd party plugins to enable discussion forums, reward points and badges, allow memberships, etc.
- Control and Flexibility – You have full control over your courses and learners at all times. And, you also have the flexibility to choose colors, logos, course displays, lesson options, etc.
- Great support and documentations – LearnDash is known for its super active and responsive support team when it comes to addressing and resolving queries in time. In addition, it also has detailed documentations available on its site which you can refer to anytime.
- Extensive business suitability – You can use this plugin to kickstart any small to large scale eLearning ventures such as Online school, Course marketplace, Corporate training platform, healthcare trainings, etc.
Cons of LearnDash
- No Free Trials – LearnDash does not offer free trials to test out and experience the plugin. However, it does have a 30 day money back guarantee policy.
- Misses out on a major in-built function – LearnDash, by default, does not offer a major functionality of adding multiple Instructors. But, it integrates smoothly with a plugin like WISDM Instructor Role that lets you add multiple Instructors to create and manage courses.
Moodle is the LMS of choice for many universities and schools, and that is because it has been around for more than 18 years. Over the course of its long lifecycle, it has gone through hundreds of updates based on user feedback, which has made it one of the best e-learning enabler platforms in the world. Here are its pros and cons.
Pros of Moodle
- Large collection of plugins and themes like WordPress, so you can develop and scale your e-Learning site easily.
- Reliability and scalability – Like WordPress, Moodle’s development team also keeps updating it at regular intervals to ensure that it works smoothly and without any glitches.
- Dedicated to eLearning – Unlike WordPress, which is a CMS-cum-LMS solution, Moodle is a full-fledged LMS platform, built for the purpose of online education sites only. This ensures that the development of the platform is only geared towards making it easier and better for people in the eLearning industry.
- Consumes less disk space than other platforms.
- Instructor friendly – you can add as many instructors as you wish, and they can easily manage student progress and course content created by them.
Cons of Moodle
- Moodle requires you to know how to code. It is not as easy to understand and use as LearnDash.
- The test analysis feature is missing which can make it difficult to export and analyze the results of tests conducted on your students.
- Video-conferencing and chatting functionality is missing.
- Full control over customization requires at least some knowledge of coding.
- Moodle’s front-end interface is quite poor, and a far cry from the sleek and intuitive themes of LearnDash.
Canvas was built for the cloud, but it has been an open-source LMS, since 2011. Developed by US-based company Instructure, it has been around for much longer than LearnDash or Moodle and enjoys immense popularity among the eLearning community. Here’s a snapshot of what it does and doesn’t offer.
Pros of Canvas
- Great content organization features – you can organize your course content into modules, student grades in a professional Gradebook, and see a bird’s eye view of the top courses from their dashboard.
- Branding features to create a universal learning experience across all your platforms (i.e. social media, website, certificates, etc.)
- Document sharing features so your instructors or students don’t need to take the help of external file-sharing services to share their content.
- Integrates with all the 3rd party-services that you may want to utilize for the purpose of delivering your lessons – Google Drive, Office 365, Skype, Twitter, and so on.
- Hosted with AWS, which ensures maximum uptime.
Cons of Canvas
- Messaging can be improved – users have complained that sometimes their messages are delayed, and there’s no way for students to see a message that they’ve sent to their teacher unless the teacher replies to them.
- You can not archive a course for some time if you want to – either it’s there in the public domain, or it’s not.
- The test and quizzing functionality is very basic – it can be much more advanced.
Blackboard Learn is a different kind of LMS in many ways because it offers 3 different options to its users; it can be installed on a local server (much like WordPress), hosted and managed for you by its own team of experts from BlackBoard ASP Solutions, or offered as a SaaS product hosted on AWS.
These 3 options provide its users the kind of flexibility that is unique in many different ways. As far as its pros and cons are concerned, here they are.
Pros of BlackBoard Learn
- Course organization is good. The course content, as well as files uploaded by the user, are organized in a very neat manner.
- Availability in multiple hosting options allows small businesses to choose a hosting option as per their requirements.
Cons of BlackBoard Learn
- The UI is not very user-friendly. Layout and other elements of the UI may be a bit difficult to navigate, especially for the new users.
- Lack of icons and text-heavy displays make using it more difficult for less tech-savvy users.
- Lack of useful third-party integrations – besides G Suite, there are not many others that are useful or necessary.
- The mobile app also needs to be reworked.
The TalentLMS platform was launched around the same time when WordPress was launched – in 2012. Since then it has come a long way. Not only has it served 8,000+ customers but also it has facilitated the creation of more than 3 million courses. It also sells customized versions of its LMS for various industries. The key pros and cons of this platform are as follows.
Pros of TalentLMS
- Ease of use – TalentLMS is super easy to use. The team has worked extremely well on that part, and the result is that anyone can learn to use TalentLMS within a week.
- Focused on businesses – it’s among those rare LMS options that have been designed while keeping the requirements of business users in mind, and that appears clearly in the way its features are organized and the industry-focused variants.
- Integrates with all popular 3rd party services (i.e. Salesforce, Zoom, Zapier, BambooHR, GoToMeeting, GSuite, etc.) for creating a professional learning experience.
- Keeps detailed records of all courses completed by someone for future review by the instructor/supervisor.
- Highly professional support team that responds quickly with right solutions, in case you get stuck with something.
Cons of TalentLMS
- It’s more expensive than any of the other platforms mentioned on this page – its starter plan allows up to 40 users only and still costs $708 per year (or $79 per month). The Premium plan that allows up to 1,000 users costs a whopping $5,148 per year. This is further worsened by the fact that price is charged per user – not per active user.
- You can’t export the details of which training/courses have been completed by a user.
- Creating customized report types is difficult because some cross-object reporting functionality is limited.
Launched in 2013, Teachable was originally known as Fedora. In 2015 it was renamed Teachable, and since then it has grown into a community of more than 100,000 instructors and a team of more than 150 employees. It is a completely cloud-based LMS with no room for customization at the backend. Here’s what it offers that made it so successful in the game of online learning.
Pros of Teachable
- Highly polished UI and UX – this is arguably the most professional looking LMS platform available in the market.
- Quick and easy setup. Teachable is very easy to get started. You can literally have your online course website up and running in a matter of days.
- Teachable also has a very vibrant community of learners and teachers. Every year it hosts summits that allow you to learn from the influencers of the game and even earn a few customers from the summits themselves.
- Teachable even allows you to sell out your conference tickets – something that can help you in building a vibrant community of learners, but not offered by many of the other platforms in our list.
- Reasonable pricing – Teachable plans start from $348 per year or $39 per month
Cons of Teachable:
- Teachable has a vast array of themes you can use to customize the way your website looks, but that is pretty much it. Advanced customization is not possible due to its cloud-based nature.
- You do not own your content, as your site is essentially hosted on Teachable. Hence, you are dependent on the platform.
- No Android app – only iOS app is available for this platform.
- Lack of absolute website control. Your role as a website owner is largely limited to setting up courses, managing student enrollments, accepting payments etc. You do not have a say in updating the platform or adding additional features. You have to make do with the ones offered by Teachable.
- Every few months it goes down for maintenance for a few hours. So if your course content is hosted on it, you can’t be up 24×7, 365 days like WordPress and Moodle. You need to make peace with this fact, largely because there’s nothing you can do about it.
So this was our list of the 6 best LMS platforms that are worth considering in 2021 to create your eLearning website.
All of them are used by millions of users worldwide, so reliability and scalability are not an issue with any of them. You can choose any of them based on your requirements without having any second thoughts.
If tons of features and functionality are what you need, LearnDash is the perfect choice for you. Its ease of use makes setting up an online school, course marketplace, corporate training, health care training, academy, etc. an extremely easy task.
If you know to code and want a platform that is dedicated to eLearning – Moodle or Canvas are great options.
Choosing your LMS platform is a highly individual decision, based on your requirements, skills budget, and technical strength of your instructors. A business cannot be run by you alone, so it is a good idea to consult your team, understand their strengths, and consider their needs from the platform, before you make a choice.
We’ve tried to compare the best LMS platforms for your eLearning venture as best as we can. However, if you still have any queries, feel free to drop a comment and let us know!
Any other LMS you would like to recommend to the list? Tell us below!