Daniel Staemmler

Things about eLearning, Educational Technology, and more…

List of Open Source eLearning Tools

Open Source tools are great and there are a lot of them out there that help you to develop eLearning modules / online courses. There are also listings and comparison tools available that go way beyond of the list I came up with in this post but more about that a little later. First of all start with some definitions of what I am talking here about.

There are Content Management Systems (CMS), Learning Management Systems (LMS) and there are Learning Conten Management Systems (LCMS). In general CMS are being used to handle huge amount of data / content on rather bigger websites. The main focus of this software application lies in his capability to handle different versions of documents, multi user workflow and last but not least to publish data / content. In contrast a LMS combines the six following features: (1) registration, (2) scheduling, (3) delivery, (4) tracking, (5) communication, and (6) testing. An LCMS is more of a hybrid of the before mentioned two systems. It combines the learner administration features of an LMS with the content creation capabilities of a CMS. For further and detailed information please go to http://www.e-learningsite.com/lmslcms/whatlms.htm.

The following list is not restricted to L(C)MS and the order is random:

  • Drupal, a CMS that includes blogging and discussion forums. I know that Drupal is used at different universities. Read more about experiences here. Drupal also undergoes evaluation at the University Duisburg Essen in Germany (site only available in German).
  • ATutor is an LCMS that states it complying with the W3C WCAG 1.0 accessibility specifications at the AA+ level and adopts IMS / SCORM content packaging specifications.
  • Moodle, which probably is the most well known LMS that is available as an open source application. I have used moodle during my job at the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg to deliver online courses and at my current job here at Shanti’s L.I.F.E. Institute. The setup is not that difficult on a Apache server. I must say though that this LMS seems to be better of use in the academic area since a lot of times progress is being measured by grades.
  • Bazaar is a CMS with the intention to deliver course ware, function as a portal or any other myriad type of web based projects. More information also available at SourceForge.net.
  • Elgg is a social networking platform that brings learners together and enables people to create and share their content. To check out the functionalities of the Elgg software join Elgg.net.
  • ILIAS is an LMS developed since the end of 1997 at the University of Cologn, Germany.
  • dotLRN supports eLearning and digital communities. It has been originally developed at MIT.
  • Bodington is an open source Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) / LMS that is being developed at the Oxford University in England.
  • At UCLA ClassWeb is designed to let instructors create and control class websites.
  • COSE (Creation of Study Environments) is a VLE developed and designed at Staffordshire University.
  • CAUCUS is a web-based eLearning classroom and discussion platform.
  • Whiteboard Courseware System is targeted towards colleges and universities.
  • MimerDesk is a web-based collaborative learning and groupwork environment designed for personal management, computer-supported collaborative learning, carrying out projects, and setting up communities.
  • Sakai is a collaboration and learning environment.
  • Manhattan Virtual Classroom is an open source course management system that runs on Linux and other Unix-like systems. It is developed, designed, and used at the Western New England College.
  • Caroline is another eLearning application that is developed from teachers to teachers. What I like about this application is that it takes a pedagogical model of eLearning into consideration to support the learning process.
  • Colloquia is a Learning Management and Groupware System.
  • LAMS is a toll to design, deliver and manage online collaborative learning activities. Interested in more information?
  • Fle3 is a Learning Environment developed and designed at the University of Art and Design Helsinki.
  • NICENET’s Internet Classroom Assistant (ICA) is a free web-based learning environment for classrooms, distance learning programs, and collaborative academic projects.
  • … Please feel free to continue this list by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page.

There are a lot of websites out there that also cover this subject. Please have a look at kinoe’s list of free tools or the listing of the e-Learning Centre in the UK. Another great website to compare different L(C)MS is available at the EduTools Homepage just follow the link to Course Management System on this site. Jane Hart, a learning and performance technologist, publishes on her website a directory of free E-Learning Tools. Another list of open source course management systems is available through EdTechPost Resources.

After all these listings there is still a decision to be made if you’re in the market for an L(C)MS. Maybe you find some help by using the tools at the EduTools Homepage or you also can check out this step-by-step guide from the e-learningsite.


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