Is an Open-Source LMS Right for My Company?

If you’re in the market for a learning management system (LMS) or any other form of e-learning module, you’ve probably heard the term “open-source LMS” and that it was free. Your business is on a budget, and the idea of meeting your e-learning needs for free likely sounds appealing.

Not so fast. An open-source learning management system might be free in the sense that no company charges you for it, but it can become just as expensive as a commercial option once you factor in hosting, support, and maintenance. The UI probably won’t be the best, and features like mobile performance and reporting capabilities will generally lag behind leading commercial solutions.

None of that means that an open-source LMS would be wrong for your company, only that it isn’t automatically the answer because it’s free. Industry veteran Craig Weiss recently posted an article detailing the pros and cons of choosing an open-source LMS on to help people like you make the correct decision for your business’s needs.

Who Is Craig Weiss?

Craig Weiss is an e-learning expert who has been working in the industry since its inception more than 20 years ago. He is currently the CEO and Lead Analyst of The Craig Weiss Group and proprietor of, a website dedicated to helping the average person choose the right LMS for their needs.

Weiss is also the author of the successful e-learning 24/7 blog where he shares his latest insights on the e-learning market. Some examples of his content include an annual countdown of the year’s top learning management systems, analysis of broader industry trends, and customer education brackets modeled after the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament.

Weiss is well-respected in the industry, with many vendors prominently displaying their ranking on his annual lists on their websites. He is also the driving force behind The Craig Weiss Group’s Customer Support Certification Program, the first objective measure of customer service in the industry. Weiss gets advance notice of upcoming features and updates, so he’s consistently a few months ahead of other e-learning analysts.

What is an open-source LMS?

“Open-source” is just a fancy way of saying that the underlying code of a program is available for anyone to view. Within the context of an open-source learning management system, open-source means that anyone can build an LMS out of that public code. Moodle is the most well-known name in the space, but there are others as well.

What are the pros and cons of an open-source LMS?

Some of the biggest advantages that an open-source LMS can provide include being “free,” unlimited scalability, and a wide selection of add-ons and plug-ins to customize your system. These features are particularly important for growing businesses that fully expect to have completely different needs five years from now than they do today.

The downsides of an open-source LMS include the hidden costs of maintaining it, limited reporting and training tools, and over-reliance on third parties to keep everything up-to-date. For example, you’ll pay a monthly or annual fee to host your LMS on the cloud, a technical support team to answer any questions as they come up, and maybe even the cost of servers.

Discover more about open-source LMS solutions on

The information above is only an introduction to the pros and cons of an open-source learning management system. If you would like to learn more, check out Weiss’s post on for more details straight from the expert himself. You can also create a free account on to compare the top vendors head-to-head based on your company’s specific needs.

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