For many businesses, training is baked into technology. Whether learning is captured on mobile devices to provide “on-the-go” experience and knowledge bases, or it’s done in a classroom behind computers, the training ecosystem in business is hinged to technology. So, most companies utilize learning management software (LMS) to provide crucial functionality to tech-based training.
Choosing an LMS vendor is difficult enough on its own, but what about choosing the right type of LMS. Currently, both proprietary and open source LMS are vying for dominance in the training space. But, which one is best? Are there any benefits to leaning on open source dev kits as opposed to proprietary platforms?
Why choose open source LMS when vendors offer an out-of-the-box solution?
Let’s dive in and see why open source may be a better choice for most businesses.
Understanding Open Source LMS
Most of us know that open source software has a source code that’s available to the public, while proprietary software guards the source code. It’s also important to note that proprietary software generally offers an out-of-the-box solution that’s aimed at “ease-of-access”, while open source LMS solutions lean on dynamic control and easy licensing.
But, did you know that open source software typically has more features? The common misconception between the two is that proprietary comes “jam-packed” with features and trendy tools. But, closed source almost always manages to outpace proprietary software in tool availability and features, it just doesn’t package them in a nifty marketing spiel.
The biggest proprietary LMS solutions are:
- iSpring Suite
The biggest open source LMS solutions are:
- Open edX (our favorite)
Let’s dive into 5 reasons why open source LMS is a better learning management solution.
For businesses, branding is a big deal. In fact, Walker predicts that brand will overtake both price and product as the key differentiator for businesses by next year. On top of this, branding decreases the cost per new hire by 43%, and 88% of companies think that relevant and brand-friendly training increases the digestibility on learning and development. But, branding your training materials is difficult when you only have access to pre-built templates.
Proprietary software usually hands you the keys to the car, but you don’t get to pick which color or model it is. With open source, you can create hyper-branded training courses from the ground-up. This means that you get exactly what you want, and you don’t have to work within parameters that can feel more like a roadblock than an easy solution.
In other words, open source LMSs give you the ability to create original training courses, not slightly different versions of the same training course that 500 other companies are using.
The value proposition of proprietary is also its weak point. Sure, proprietary software can be easier to work with (sometimes), but it can also be a pain to find functionality when you’re surrounded by closed barriers.
With open source, you can build your entire training regimen from the ground up. Of course, you can hire someone to do this part, but, even then, you’re finding a solution that works for you — instead of working for a solution.
Full-scale development means that you can take a DevOps approach to the build, illicit company feedback, and build a scalable, full-service L&D solution that’s perfect for your business.
Proprietary software lacks community. Sure, there are support lines that may assist with some of your broader needs, but you won’t find extensive solutions baked into the framework of proprietary software.
Community-based support is a skeleton of open source. You can find unique components that fit perfectly into your framework, and there are plenty of options when it comes to add-ons/extensions. Not to mention, help is usually more robust. A quick post on a forum is often better than sitting in a support queue.
For example, Open edX utilizes XBlocks to provide modular support elements. Typically, you can find these resources straight through their website (or, let’s be honest, GitHub.) So, you can attach these XBlocks to your “mainframe” and gain immediate additional functionalities — and, best of all, it doesn’t cost you a dime.
Who owns your data when you use proprietary software? You guessed it. Not you.
Why is this a big deal?
Let’s say you decide that you want to scale up to a different solution down-the-road. You don’t get to take any of your previously developed material with you. Suddenly, all of the hours you invested in building your L&D goes down the drain.
With open source, you can carry your data with you freely — giving you the agility to be mobile with your development.
Speaking of scale, open source has scale. Beyond the agility that you get from retaining your data, open source gives you the freedom to scale at will. Do you need a bigger server, cloud architecture, or additional resources? With open source, you can do that at any time. With proprietary software, you’re locked into whatever packages are available.
So, not only does open source offer scalability, it offers granular scalability. Want to jump up a level with a proprietary vendor? Your options are often small, medium, and large. But, what about semi-medium or sort-of-large? Open source lets you scale at will in a way that meets your immediate and future needs individually.
For many businesses, the choice between open source and proprietary LMSs comes down to goals. If you need a long-term L&D solution that gives you support, agility, scalability, and branding, open source is the best option. If you’re looking for a quick-and-immediate learning system as a temporary solution, proprietary software may work for you.
Looking for a learning solution that puts the power in your hands and provides your employees with an incredible experience? Contact us.