E-learning: The best 5 platforms of open source Learning Management Systems


A Learning Management System (LMS), which in could be translated into learning management system, is an essential tool for e-learning professionals. It essentially allows the delivery of courses in e-learning.

There are various LMS platforms: both commercial and free. In this article, we will explore 5 open source e-learning platforms (with links to download and try the features, using special demo).

We first see the features common to all LMS taken into account:

  • They are developed in PHP (with the exception of OpenOLAT, which is developed in JAVA)
  • I can use different DBMS (although MySQL is often used)
  • have open source GPL
  • They have the ability to extend the functionality through add-on third-party or to be developed as needed
  • Meet the SCORM requirements

Image Source: Google Image


Moodle (abbreviation for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment, for the modular learning environment, dynamic, object-oriented) is undoubtedly one of the most popular open source LMS, complete and appreciated. It includes a user friendly management system, Learning monitoring instruments of learners and, of course, the multimedia support.

A big point of the form of Moodle is the presence of a vast user community, which guarantees the continuous updating of the system, the timely resolution of any bugs and the presence of a very active support community.

Moodle allows the creation of online courses are optimized for mobile devices (although this feature is dependent on the graphic template chosen) and implement additional functionality through third-party add-ons (such as modules, plugins, blocks, etc.).

Also, for those who want to sell their online courses, Moodle integrates PayPal payment system that makes the quick and easy checkout process.


ATutor is a platform developed dall’Adaptive King Technology Resource Centre, University of Toronto, very attentive to the issues of accessibility and compliance with standards.

One of the highlights of the most important ATutor is the ease of installation and use, making it an ideal partner for those who approach the world of e-learning without having much experience / competence.

ATutor is highly customizable, both from the aesthetic point of view (such as changing the appearance of the platform through specific graphic templates), is functional, with add-ons.

You may also like to read another article on StudyWatches: Study in the network: From online universities to free courses

Form LMS

Form LMS is a Docebo fork, which inherits the solidity of the latter and implements various improvement features compared to Docebo, in particular as it regards the functionality, stability and performance.

Form LMS is a totally design, maintained in a network of 4 different companies.

Form LMS provides all the tools needed to manage users, groups and classes, allows the automatic generation of attendance certificates, permits to sell their online courses, learning supports monitoring of learners (and the relevant reports) and can handle multiple instances from a single installation (even with different administrators).

Definitely an LMS to watch, given the relative youth of the project (the first version of LMS Form was released in late 2013).


ILIAS (acronym for Integrated Learning, Information and Work Cooperation System) was released for the first time in 1997 by the University of Cologne, Germany. In 2000 it was released as open source software under the GPL.

The idea behind ILIAS is to offer a flexible, versatile and scalable. Also holds the distinction of being the first open source LMS that is SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004.

ILIAS can be used as a flexible manager of courses such as authoring tool as well as a collaboration and communication platform. Because of these properties, it is used in many companies, schools and universities.


OLAT (acronym for Online Learning And Training) was founded in 1999 at the ‘University of Zurich. In 2011, some employees of the OLAT communities, due to a change of course in the platform’s development process, create a fork named OpenOLAT.

OpenOLAT, unlike all LMS considered in this article, is written in JAVA.

OpenOLAT impresses with its simple and intuitive operation, and because it provides a wide range of educational opportunities. The architecture is designed for a minimum of resource consumption, scalability and security, in order to ensure high reliability of the system.


In our opinion, an LMS should be put on the fundamental objectives, such as encouraging self-learning, blended learning, active learning and virtual learning community.

Based on these characteristics, we have identified three products that not only meet these requirements, but they also offer high design standards; are, in order, Moodle, ILIAS and ATutor.

Obviously our “ranking” is based on an assessment of “aseptic” the characteristics and without taking into account the specific context in which a particular LMS will be used. The final choice will obviously depend on the analysis of requirements, the training needs to be met and the educational objectives to be pursued.

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