Free learning management systems or LMS often have the same features as a paid LMS, but with some limitations. When choosing free LMS systems for schools, consider your needs and budget.
When it comes to features, it is important to make sure that the LMS you choose scales to premium tools you will need to create and deliver your courses. Ease of use is also crucial, as you want to be able to quickly and easily add new content, track student progress, and generate reports.
Finally, it is important to ensure that the LMS you choose for your school is compatible with your existing systems, such as your SIS or gradebook. This is important as there are several types of learning management systems
In this article, we list the best free LMS software for 2022, highlighting each one’s value proposition and key features. Guided by the list and taking all of the buying factors into consideration, you can be sure to choose the best LMS software for your school.
Five months. That’s the average learning gap caused by the pandemic lockdowns among Grade 1-6 students in the United States (McKinsey & Company, June 2022). But the impact affected students from different backgrounds differently.
In general, a black student in a household with less than $25,000 income living in the city is hit the worst.
Source: McKinsey & Company, July 2021
Source: McKinsey & Company, July 2021
Source: McKinsey & Company, July 2021
EdTech as Bridge, Not Destination
EdTech provided the means for schools to continue their mandate during lockdowns through online learning. Where in-person interaction has been severely limited in 2020, schools turned to LMS software and communication and collaboration apps in droves to deliver lessons and examinations.
The EdTech market reflected this stark transition when we compare 2019, right before the pandemic, and 2021 data, as schools started to go back to in-person classes. In 2019, EdTech investments were reported to have reached $18.66 billion (Business Insider, January 2020). In 2021, the market has reached $85 billion, an impressive 78% growth, headed by the current best LMS in the market.
But two years into the pandemic, the perception of online learning isn’t the solution that many have imagined it to be. In the U.K., students’ value perception of their course dipped significantly (Neves & Hewitt, 2021). Those who find their course “good” decreased from 41% in 2019 to 27% in 2021. Conversely, those who find their course “poor” increased from 29% to 44% in the same period.
Higher ed students’ value perception of their course has significantly dropped in the U.K. in light of the pandemic.
Source: AdvanceHE, Higher Education Policy Institute
Nearly half of these U.K. students implied that online learning wasn’t cutting it out for them, citing the limitations on in-person hours, and this in light of their tuition fees remaining at the same rate.
Source: AdvanceHE, Higher Education Policy Institute
EdTech Won't Replace the Classroom, But...
EdTech is not replacing traditional learning, as we see schools worldwide have opened, or planning to, for in-person classes. However, if there is one thing the pandemic lockdowns have taught us, EdTech reinforces classroom-based teaching.
Likewise, EdTech intervention is found to help developing countries fill in the gaps in education, leveraging online learning’s marginal costs versus the expenses associated with a classroom-based infrastructure. A literature review showed that “self-led learning and improvements to instruction are the most effective forms of EdTech at raising learning outcomes” (Rodriguez-Segura 2021). Published in The World Bank Research Observer, the study however cautioned that “overall success of interventions rests on the thoughtful customization of the EdTech solution to the policy constraints at hand.”
Moodle is arguably the most popular among the best free learning management systems. It is an open-source, and considered by many as the best learning management system (LMS) designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure, and integrated system to create personalized learning environments. With Moodle, educators can create a private website filled with dynamic courses that extend learning well beyond the classroom. This is done by easily creating and incorporating any combination of text, multimedia, forums, blogs, wikis, chat rooms, files, and activities into their courses. Users can log in from anywhere in the world to access their courses and can participate in activities at their own pace. Moodle also provides extensive statistics and logs to track user progress and activity. All of this makes Moodle an extremely versatile tool for online learning.
Moodle Key Features
Course management: Moodle makes it easy to create and manage your course content, including uploading files, creating quizzes, and setting up discussion forums.
User tracking: The platform tracks student activity and provides detailed reports on progress and performance. This can be a valuable tool for assessing student understanding and identifying areas that need more attention.
Mobile support: Moodle is available on mobile devices, so students can access their coursework from anywhere.
Community features: The platform includes a number of community features, such as forums and chat rooms, which can help promote collaboration and interaction among students.
2. Sakai - Open-Source LMS Developed by Schools
Sakai is a modern online learning management system (LMS) that enables educators to create and deliver engaging online courses. It is used by colleges and universities around the world, including MIT and Stanford. Sakai offers a wide range of features, including a gradebook, discussion forums, and quizzes. It is also highly customizable, allowing instructors to tailor the platform to their specific needs. In addition, Sakai integrates with many third-party applications, such as Google Drive and Microsoft Office 365.
Sakai Key Features:
Course sites: With Sakai, instructors can create course sites where they can post syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, and other teaching materials. Students can use course sites to access course materials and submit work.
Discussion forums: Discussion forums provide a space for students and instructors to discuss course content and ask questions. Sakai also offers a variety of other communication tools, such as chat and video conferencing.
Online quizzes and surveys: Instructors can use Sakai to create online quizzes and surveys. This feature can be used for assessment or simply to gauge student understanding of the material.
Gradebook: The gradebook tool allows instructors to keep track of student progress and grades. This information can be accessed by both students and instructors.
3. ILIAS - Web-Based LMS for Education and Business
ILIAS is a learning management system software that helps educators create and deliver online courses. It provides a wide range of features and tools to assist with course creation, management, and delivery, including a drag-and-drop course builder, a rich text editor, support for multimedia content, quizzes and surveys, and a grading tool. ILIAS also offers a variety of ways for learners to interact with courses, such as forums, chat rooms, and wikis. In addition, ILIAS is highly configurable and can be customized to meet the specific needs of any organization.
ILIAS Key Features:
Course creation: ILIAS makes it easy to upload files, create folders, and add text and multimedia elements to courses. In addition, courses can be divided into sections and modules, making it easy for learners to navigate and find the content they need.
Assessment tool: A built-in assessment tool allows instructors to create quizzes and exams, which can be either self-paced or timed.
Gradebook: ILIAS provides a gradebook function so that instructors can track learner progress.
Tracking tools: ILIAS has the ability to track learner progress. With ILIAS, instructors can see which students have completed which assignments and how well they have performed on quizzes and tests.
Collaboration tools: ILIAS includes a range of collaboration tools, such as forums, chat, and Wikis, which allow learners to interact with each other and work on projects together.
4. EdApp - Mobile-First LMS
EdApp is a powerful tool for supporting online learning programs of all types. The system provides a central repository for course content, as well as tools for creating and administering courses, tracking student progress, and assessing student performance. The EdApp system is designed to be used by instructors, students, and administrators alike, and it offers a range of features to support each user type.
EdApp Key Features:
Instructor tools: For instructors, the system provides a course builder tool for creating custom courses, as well as a grade book and assignment manager.
Student tools: For students, the system offers a variety of features to promote engagement and collaboration, including discussion forums, chat rooms, and virtual classrooms.
Administrative tools: For administrators, the system provides tools for managing users, tracking usage statistics, and generating reports.
5. Chamilo - Promotes Access to Education and Knowledge
Chamilo LMS is a free, open-source learning management platform. It is used to create and deliver online courses and training. It is also used to manage face-to-face classes. Chamilo LMS has all the features of a modern LMS. These include creating and managing learners, instructors, courses, content, assessments, and grades. Chamilo LMS also supports ecommerce, allowing you to sell courses and products through the platform. Chamilo LMS is SCORM compliant and can be used with any SCORM compliant content. Chamilo LMS is available in over 50 languages. It has a large community of users and developers who contribute to the project.
Chamilo Key Features:
A flexible and user-friendly interface: Chamilo's interface is designed to be both user-friendly and highly customizable. Users can easily change the look and feel of the interface to match their individual preferences.
A wide range of course creation tools: Chamilo offers a wide range of features to help users create and deliver effective online courses. These features include course authoring tools, quizzes and surveys, discussion forums, file sharing, and much more.
A strong commitment to security: Chamilo takes security seriously and offers a number of built-in security features to help protect users' data. These features include support for SSL encryption, password protection, and role-based access control.
An active community: Chamilo has an active community of users that contribute plugins, themes, and add-ons to extend the app's functionality.
6. Thinkific - Suits Online Course Sellers
Thinkific is an ideal platform for organizations that want to offer online courses and training. Its live lessons and cohorts feature allows them to offer interactive and engaging content. Likewise, its assessments and certificates ensure that organizations can track progress and give learners the ability to show off their achievements. Thinkific features a drag & drop website builder that makes it easy to create a beautiful online presence for your organization, while its ecommerce features make it simple to market and sell your courses. And because every business is different, the software offers flexibility when it comes to structuring your courses.
Thinkific Key Features:
Course Builder: The course builder tool makes it easy to create and organize your course content. You can add text, images, video, and audio to create engaging lessons.
Student Management: Thinkific provides robust student management features, including the ability to track progress and completion rates, send automatic reminders, and offer discounts and coupons.
Quizzes and Exams: Adding quizzes and exams to your course helps to ensure that students are completing the material and retaining the information. Thinkific makes it easy to create and grade quizzes.
Payment Processing: Thinkific offers integrated payment processing so you can easily accept payments for your courses. You can also offer discounts and coupons to encourage sign-ups.
Analytics and Reporting: Thinkific's analytics tools help you track student engagement and performance so you can gauge the success of your courses. You can also generate reports to share with stakeholders.
7. ZoomLearn - Freemium for Corporate and Educational Training
Launched in 2020, ZoomLearn is a cloud based learning management system (LMS) designed to help businesses and organizations train their employees and partners effectively. ZoomLearn offers a range of features to support this, including domain management, course management, role management, and a ZoomLearn forum. These tools allow administrators to create and manage training courses, assign roles to users, track progress, and communicate with learners. ZoomLearn also includes an audience administrator tool for managing groups of users, as well as a content administrator tool for creating and managing training content. Training providers can use ZoomLearn to deliver training courses to their clients and partners.
ZoomLearn Key Features:
A library of high-quality educational resources: ZoomLearn offers a library of resources that includes articles, videos, and infographics on a variety of topics.
A personalized learning experience: ZoomLearn allows students to customize their learning experience by choosing the resources that they want to use.
A community of learners: ZoomLearn provides a community for learners where they can ask questions, get help from peers, and share their own resources.
A commitment to privacy: ZoomLearn is committed to protecting the privacy of its users and does not sell user data or allow advertising on the platform.
8. Schoology - Free for Individual Teachers
Schoology is a comprehensive K-12 teaching and learning suite that provides deeper insight into student performance. The suite includes LMS tools for connecting students, parents, teachers, and the community in one flexible online platform. It also connects every stakeholder to collaborate on professional development, instructional strategies, and assessments. The suite integrates with the best classroom management software and productivity tools. It can also sync data, analytics, and other content. Schoology makes it easy to manage your school's curriculum and keep track of student progress.
Schoology Key Features:
Create and share content: Schoology makes it easy for educators to create and share digital resources with their students. Students can also create and share their own content, making it a great platform for collaboration.
Track progress: Schoology provides users with detailed data on how students are progressing through coursework. This data can be used to identify areas of weakness and tailor instruction accordingly.
Assess student work: Schoology’s assessment tools make it easy for educators to give feedback on student work. These tools can also be used to grade assignments and track student progress over time.
User-friendly interface: The dashboards and interface are easy to navigate and use.
Integration: It works with other applications and platforms, making it even more powerful and flexible
A rich community of users: Tap the community for support and guidance.
9. Teachable - For Coaching Services
Teachable is a leading online course platform. With its customization features, easy-to-use power editor, and comprehensive dashboards, Teachable makes it easy to create stunning courses that make money. You can link your existing website to Teachable under a custom domain, or use its page editor to create gorgeous sales pages. Its flexible platform makes it easy to bring on authors, team members, and contributors, and track sales and student insights. Whether you're an experienced educator or just getting started, Teachable can help you to create and sell beautiful online courses.
Teachable Key Features:
Low learning curve: Easily upload your course content, add video and audio lectures, and track student progress.
Student learning experience: Teachable provides students with a complete learning experience, including video lessons, quizzes, assignments, and community forums.
Branded learning website: You can customize the look and feel of your courses and build a cohesive brand.
Growing the business: Teachable offers powerful features such as an integrated payment gateway, robust security, and scalability to support your growing business.
Marketing tools: Teachable provides a variety of features to help you market your courses, including email marketing tools and integrations with social media platforms.
10. ATutor - Open-Source Web-Based LMS for Online Courses
ATutor is an open source LMS, used to develop and manage online courses, and to create and distribute interoperable elearning content. ATutor is powered by the ATutorSpaces platform, providing social learning tools, course management functionality, and integrated content authoring. ATutor is designed with accessibility and adaptability in mind, making it usable by anyone with a web browser, regardless of ability or learning style. ATutor also features extensive customizability, allowing administrators to tailor the system to their specific needs.
ATutor Key Features:
Multi-language support: Atutor provides interface translation to over 50 languages.
Group work & collaboration: Groups can be created to facilitate group learning and collaboration both inside and outside of the course.
Accessibility features: Alternate text can be added to images and multimedia for those who are unable to see them, plus, the interface can be customized to accommodate different assistive technologies such as screen readers.
Course import & export: Courses can be imported from other formats such as IMS Content Packages, SCORM 1.2 & 2004, and Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM). They can also be exported in these formats as well.
Multimedia and activities compatibility: A variety of media types can be incorporated into courses, including text, images, audio, video
11. myicourse - For Anyone Who Wants to Teach Online
myicourse is a powerful and flexible online learning platform that can be customized to fit the unique needs of any virtual learning institution. With myicourse, educators can easily create custom courses, skin their courses to match their school's branding, and track student traffic with advanced analytics. Additionally, myicourse comes with a free LMS for teachers that makes it easy to create and administer tests and quizzes, time your courses, and generate customizable certificates. And because myicourse is built on an open-course platform, students always have access to the latest and most up-to-date course content. However, educators also have the option to restrict access to certain courses, making myicourse the perfect solution for both open and closed course models.
myicourse Key Features:
Accessibility: You can access course materials anytime, anywhere, and on any device. You can also stay organized with its built-in calendar and task manager, and stay on track with its progress tracking and reporting tools.
Social learning: myicourse provides social learning features that allow you to connect with other students and instructors, and collaborate on projects.
Library of course materials: It provides access to a wide range of courses, so students can find the right fit for their needs.
Student tools: It offers a variety of tools to help students stay organized and on track, including a course calendar and an assignment tracker. The platform also makes it easy for students to communicate with their instructors and classmates, so they can get the support they need.
12. Canvas - Free for Teachers
Canvas is typical of free learning management systems for teachers. While the plans are paid, if you are a teacher, you can use some of the features at no cost. The platform makes it easy for you to create and manage your content, assignments, quizzes, and video conferences. You can also personalize learning with Mastery Paths, Outcomes, and standards-based gradebooks. Canvas also has a mobile app suite that makes it easy for you to access your content on the go. Lastly, Canvas integrates with third-party applications so you can use all of your favorite tools in one place. A “free-for-teacher” account permits you to use Canvas’ essential features at no cost.
Canvas Key Features:
Feature-rich, intuitive tools: Canvas is a feature-rich, yet user-friendly platform that helps instructors create and deliver engaging online courses. Canvas’ intuitive design makes it easy to add and organize course content, and powerful built-in tools allow instructors to customize their courses to meet the unique needs of their students.
Student engagement features: Canvas provides a wide range of features that help instructors improve student engagement and course completion rates. For example, instructors can use the gradebook to track student progress, set up discussion forums for collaboration, and create assignments that require students to submit work for feedback.
K-12 features: Canvas offers features such as single sign-on, gradebook, attendance tracking, and rubrics.
Higher education tools: For higher education, the platform includes features such as discussion boards, chat, video conferencing, and e-portfolios.
Mobile app: Canvas’s mobile app allows for accessing courses and materials on the go. As a result, Canvas LMS is a versatile platform that can be used to meet the needs of different types of learners.
13. iSpring Free - Turns PowerPoint Slides into eLearning Courses
iSpring Free is a comprehensive eLearning authoring tool that makes it easy to upload content and create engaging interactive training courses. You can assign training, set deadlines, and monitor progress with ease. iSpring Free also allows you to share data with your HR system, CRM, and other back-office applications. And best of all, you can do all of this without spending a penny. Whether you're looking to create a course from scratch or simply convert existing content into an interactive format, iSpring Free is a good fit.
iSpring Free Key Features:
Easy to use: iSpring is very easy to use and requires no prior experience with presentation software.
Professional-looking presentations: It offers a wide range of templates and themes to choose from, making it easy to create a professional-looking presentation.
Voice presentation: The platform includes a built-in audio recorder, making it easy to add narration to your presentation.
Export to different formats: It offers the ability to export your presentation to a variety of formats, making it easy to share with others.
14. OpenOlat - Swiss-Made LMS
OpenOlat is a powerful eLearning platform that offers a wide range of features to both instructors and learners. Almost 30 different course elements are available, including tests, quizzes, knowledge transfer tools, and administrative functions. The collaboration features allow learners to work together on projects, while the administrative features make it easy for instructors to manage courses and track learner progress. The test functions provide a way for instructors to assess learner understanding, and the knowledge transfer tools help learners to consolidate what they have learned.
OpenOlat Key Features:
Course management: OpenOlat provides tools for creating and managing courses, tracking learner progress, and assessing student performance.
Integrations: It also offers a wide range of integrations with other educational technologies.
Personalized learning: For learners, OpenOlat offers a personalized learning environment, where they can access their courses, track their progress, and receive feedback on their performance.
Mobile app: OpenOlat also provides a mobile app, so learners can access their courses on the go.
Learning resources: OpenOlat offers textbooks, lectures, and multimedia materials.
Collaboration tools: Additionally, OpenOlat offers a number of social features, such as forums and chat rooms that allow learners to connect with each other and share resources.
15. Eduflow - Social Learning-First LMS
Eduflow is a digital learning software that helps students to learn more efficiently. It provides personalized recommendations based on each student's learning style and preferences. Additionally, Eduflow offers a variety of features to help students stay organized and motivated, including goal setting, progress tracking, and badges. Eduflow is free online LMS for individual students and teachers. Schools and districts can also purchase licenses for group use.
Eduflow Key Features:
User-friendly: A user-friendly interface that makes it easy to navigate the platform and find what you're looking for.
Course creation: Eduflow has a wide range of tools and resources that can be used to create and share educational content.
Community: A community of users can offer support and advice, and can be contacted directly through the platform.
Customization: A variety of customization options allow users to personalize their experience on the platform.
You Should Go Beyond a Free LMS
Getting free LMS platforms is a good starting point for you to try out, not just the features, but to get your teams acquainted with online learning workflows. But truth be told, you won't get far with a freemium. So, consider even the best free learning management systems as a testing period, and once you find the right platform that fits your requirements, explore its premium plans.