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LMS Purchasing Guide

Posted by Richard | Posted in E-Learning Moodle | Posted on 03-05-2012



Shopping for a learning management system (LMS) is made difficult by the number of systems from which to choose. This blog will attempt to remove some of the confusion and mystery surrounding learning management systems.

There are many things to consider when looking for an LMS. The major considerations are budget, scope (number of learners and amount of content), hosted vs. non-hosted options, brandable vs. non-brandable systems, SCORM vs. non-SCORM systems and last but not least what you see is what you get vs. systems that can be customized to meet special requirements.


Organizations generally start their initiative into distance learning with a fixed budget. The size of this budget can eleminate a host of LMS’s or not.

SCORM based systems tend to be high priced and license fees are often paid on an annual basis. In addition to this, per learner fees can raise the price beyond many budgets. LMS’s range in price from $5,000.00 to $50,000.00 or more. Some are cheaper initially but charge additional fees for features, number of learners, number of courses and bandwidth usage. These fees are repeated on a monthly basis raising the cost of ownership significantly.


The size of the installation is often not given careful consideration. Are you expecting to have 50 learners or 10,000 learners, one course or 500 courses, a lot of video (this can lead to additional bandwidth charges).

Most systems charge extra for file storage beyond a set limit and bandwidth beyond a certain limit. This is no different than how a hosting company charges a Website owner for storage and bandwidth. Certainly the scope of the installation will influence this.

Hosted vs. Non-Hosted:

Some systems offer only a hosted option, others offer both options. For a number of reasons such as security, some organizations require they host the LMS themselves. Another obvious advantage to that is saving the cost of hosting with the LMS vendor. Generally expect to pay more to have the LMS vendor setup the system on your server. Many variables can make the setup more time consuming in a hosting environment not 100% controlled by the vendor.

Branded vs. Non-Branded:

Many LMS’s do not offer this option. Basically it allows you to offer your courses to organizations that want the content to appear to be coming from them. In other words, the look and feel the learner experiences is the same as the look and feel of the organization’s Website. This is usually a very costly option in those LMS’s that provide it.


As mentioned before, SCORM complient LMS’s are more costly than non-SCORM systems. SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) is a complex specification designed in response to a Department of Defense initiative to bring standardization to eLearning. One of the biggest advantages to having a SCORM based system is you can take a SCORM based course, packaged in a zip file, and easily import it into a SCORM LMS. This portability is very useful if you have several LMS’s and need to add the same course to them. SCORM content can also be added to non-SCORM systems but it is a more tedious process. If your content is free form such as a variety of Word documents, PowerPoint files, video files and Flash files, then a non-SCORM system will work just fine and you can save a great deal of money.

Here are some examples of LMS’s that fit a range of budget categories.

www.elearningmanagementsystem.com - This LMS is designed for small to mid-size installations. It is not SCORM complient. The vendor offers hosted or non-hosted options, branded or non-branded options and is customizable.

It is priced on the lower end of the scale.

www.xtention.com - This is a mid-range SCORM complient system. It offers branded and non-branded options.

http://www.Avasoft.net/e-learningmoodle.aspx - Avasoft works with organizations that choose the Moodle LCMS as their e-learning platform.


Moodle is open source so there is no charge for using it. The only cost incurred would be for hosting Moodle or any consultation or development services provided by Avasoft. For more information call 239-567-9725.

www.wsi-ole.com - This is a SCORM based LMS at the lower end of the price range. It offers branded functionality at no additonal cost. It is suitable for small to large installations. No non-hosted option is available.

www.blackboard.com - This is a very high-end system at the high end of the price scale. It is very capable and offers a large variety of add-on features.

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