open source lms


Setting up a Learning Management System (LMS) is an essential element for eLearning professionals. However, a robust and versatile LMS that can support your eLearning development needs can be heavy on the pocket. Luckily, there is a wide range of Open Source LMS that can offer you a practical and adaptable eLearning platform within your budget.

In this blog, we have shortlisted 4 of the top open source LMS platforms we think you should consider.


LearnDash is one of the most well known open source LMS options available today, and for good reason. As one of the Capterra Top 20 training software winners, LearnDash provides you with a competitive list of top-notch features, as well as exceptional user support. It’s no wonder LearnDash continues to hold it’s popular stature.

With LearnDash, you have the power to produce advanced online courses simply by making the most of the features included. But what happens when you want to add a different functionality? With many LMS plugins it would be necessary to go straight to a developer and have them custom create add-ons for your required functionality. Working with such a well known and respected LMS like LearnDash presents you with endless possibilities. It’s worth knowing that a long list of third-party add-ons are integrable with the plugin. Yes, there may come times that you need to develop something from scratch. But it’s likely that there will already be an add-on available to execute your desired function. Not only does this make your life easier but keeps your course up to date. As developers are constantly upgrading their plugins to stay relevant in the eLearning world with the newest technological advancements. 

Is there any downside to LearnDash?

The only downside to working with such a high functioning LMS is that, for new users, there is a learning curve. Where with many LMS alternatives:

 Limited functions = Less choices = Easier to grasp 

But in this ever evolving cyber-world we live, flexibility is key. For this reason, mastering LearnDash is well worth it. Giving you total design freedom and the ability to expand with your eLearning business. 

With LearnDash the sky’s the limit!

We have worked on hundreds of LearnDash projects in the last 5 years and we love building sites using this plugin. Whether you need a website built from scratch or a customised add-on for your website, you can book a call with us to discuss further here.

LearnDash Pros, Cons & Highlights

-Customization freedom.

-Innovative student management.

-Cheaper than SaaS alternatives with loads more flexibility.

-Most extensive options for courses, lessons, topics and quiz structure, offering a variety of different quiz types, assignment submissions and rewards.

-LearnDash and WordPress have support not only from their prospective teams, but from a dedicated online community of users. The internet is jam packed with blogs and instructional videos that can guide and assist any new or seasoned user when working with the LearnDash LMS.
-Whilst arguably the most flexible LMS, this can mean more work. There is a learning curve with LearnDash.

-Does not offer any “setup wizard” onboarding help.
-Great support network online and on social media.

-Integrates with all of the best applications and has the most diverse range of available add-ons and plug-ins.
Starts at $159+


LifterLMS is another popular open source LMS, designed to meet the requirements of eLearning organizations of all sizes. Tried and tested by over 200,000 individuals and companies, with fantastic reviews, it goes without saying that it is one of the top LMS on the market.

LifterLMS is an all in one solution with a dedicated support team behind the plugin itself, as-well as a huge community support network. As with LearnDash, it is super easy to find answers to your LifterLMS related questions through various online mediums; LifterLMS plugin support, Facebook groups and community forums.

LifterLMS is integratable with a long list of both LifterLMS specific and third-party add-ons and extensions. It’s feature stack provides users with a strong course foundation, ensuring it is not only visually appealing but also exciting, with its innovative and interactive elements. Whilst the LMS has huge capabilities, LifterLMS has an easy to use interface, making it a strong competitor for LearnDash LMS.

Unlike LearnDash however, the basic payment plan does not provide any automatic payment integration. This will need to be purchased separately ,or alternatively, there is an option to upgrade to a higher priced plan, which includes even more in-built features.

Overall, LifterLMS allows its users to create some of the most structurally elite and powerful eLearning courses on the web.

We have been development partners for LifterLMS for a while now and If you are looking to build a new online learning site using LifterLMS or need help with your existing site, book a free call here.

LifterLMS Pros, Cons & Highlights

-Offers a “setup wizard” to assist in setting up your new LifterLMS site.

-Easy to use interface.

-Customization freedom.

-Cheaper than SaaS alternatives with loads more flexibility.

-Extensive options for courses, lessons, topics and quiz structure. Offering a variety of different quiz types, assignment submissions and rewards.
-Does not come with inbuilt payment gateway, need to purchase add-on separately.

-Learning curve.
-Dedicated support network both online and on socials.

-Huge selection of compatible LifterLMS and third/party add-ons and extensions.
Starts at $120+


Moodle is globally respected as the world’s first open-source LMS. First released in 2000, Moodle stands apart not only for its longevity in the eLearning industry but also for its completely free accessibility. Yes, that’s right, Moodle LMS sits under the GNU, General Public License, meaning that anyone on any budget can install, host, modify and customise their own eLearning portal. Although Moodle does not offer any kind of premium subscription fee, many Moodle site owners opt to outsource specific tasks to Moodle Service Providers as it can be simpler and more cost-effective in the long run.

Moodle is community-driven by its passionate global user base. These users consistently add to cyber forums, covering tips and tricks on a plethora of topics related to the LMS. The Moodle LMS also provides extensive tutorials for the installation and course setup, along with quick guides for admin users.

Not only is Moodle LMS free and hugely customizable, but the LMS releases updates every 6 months! For eLearning businesses working with relatively basic functional needs this could be the perfect option.

Sounds great! What’s the catch?

Whilst a platform with years of industry experience, there are some points to consider when deciding to work with Moodle LMS. Depending on the type of website, an update once every 6 months may not be enough. Therefore, you may find the LMS to be a little behind on technological advancements. There also aren’t as many integrations with third party software, as with the big named, subscription based LMS like LearnDash and Lifter LMS.

Moodle LMS is well worth looking into. After all, any program that can stand the test of time has done so for good reason.

At LMS Ninjas, we have recently had the opportunity to work on some very large scale Moodle based websites with deep content hierarchies. This led us to build a migration tool which seamlessly imports data from your Moodle site to LearnDash, and another upcoming tool for data imports from LearnDash to Moodle. If you need any help with your Moodle site, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Moodle Pros, Cons & Highlights


-Frequently updated, every 6 months

-Flexible customizable
-Limited integration of third party software

-Can be behind on technological updates

-Steep learning curve (necessity to hire developer for certain aspects)
-Complete accessibility with “free” option

-Worldwide user based community support

-Longevity and experience in eLearning industry

-Cloud based premium plans starting at $120+


Now, let’s take a look at the other end of the LMS spectrum. Where Moodle was one of the very first, Tutor LMS is relatively new on the market, having been released in 2019 by Themeum

Tutor LMS is receiving raving reviews right now for being one of the best LMS in the world. From the outside, Tutor LMS appears very much like its competitors, Lifter LMS and LearnDash. But what makes Tutor LMS special is that it was designed specifically for the development of fully fledged, course marketplaces similar to the likes of the hugely successful Udemy, Lynda or EdX

Whilst providing all of the necessary features to produce smaller scale eLearning portals, Tutor LMS was in-built with the ability to sell multiple courses from various instructors, adding various courses to a single online location. 

This LMS is extremely instructor friendly, allowing both administrators and instructors to build their own courses with the front end builder, meaning instructors never need access to the back end. There are various instructor tools included and even a built in feature designed to facilitate revenue-sharing with your instructors.

Tutor LMS is extremely modern in both its design aspects and usability, catering for those who prefer to avoid coding and simplify course creation whilst maintaining a high level of complexity in its course capabilities. 

The “new kid on the block”, Tutor LMS is certainly worth looking into, particularly if you intend on building a marketplace style of eLearning platform.

Tutor LMS Pros, Cons & Highlights

-Drag and drop, Frontend Course Builder

-Frontend Dashboard, for students and instructors

Gradebook Easily manage a grading system for your online courses.

-Modern and slick course front-end interface

-User friendly onboarding process. 
-Limited Integrations

-Less support

-New, due to the fact that the LMS is relatively new on the market it may
not be as reliable as those who have years of experience
-Aimed towards the development of course marketplace creation.

-Instructors can use the front-end to build and manage their own courses

-Revenue sharing option
Starts at $149+

-Also offers lifetime licenses starting at a one time payment of $399+

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, open source LMS lets you build the most dynamic and creative eLearning courses, especially if you are ready to take the time to master all of the available features and extensions. Sometimes, these platforms come with a learning curve, though the cost-savings and independence of design may be well worth it in the end.

We hope that you found our article helpful. If you would like assistance building an online learning site, the LMS Ninjas are ready for action! Specialists in selecting and developing the right LMS for your individual needs, contact the LMS Ninjas today to find out how they can take your LMS site from 0 – 100!