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The Course Builder’s Guide to Learning Management Systems

Post updated by Jessica Glendinning

When you’re faced with a choice and there are way too many options, what happens?

One of two things: either you freeze and choose nothing, or you make a choice without feeling like you really knew it was the *right* choice for you.

This is definitely a big problem when you’re looking for the best learning management system (LMS) for your online course.

Your choice of LMS is important, because it isn’t just a software app that lets you organize your course content, present it online, and manage student quizzes and assignments. Your LMS influences your experience of course creation – as a frustrating struggle or a fun adventure – and it has a huge impact on your students’ experience of learning from you, too.

But when I started looking at LMS providers, I found several hundred options. There were so many options, I hired a virtual assistant to help me with hours of research and we still couldn’t cover them all. That’s without even looking at the alternatives to a full LMS, such as WordPress plugins or online course marketplaces.

If you’ve been staring at pages of Google results or software reviews, wondering how the heck you’re supposed to figure out which learning management system to use, I’ve devised a decision-making system you might find useful. It will help you narrow down your choice to just a handful of learning management systems.

What Is An LMS?

A learning management system (LMS) is, by its most basic definition, a software system that helps you create, manage, deliver – and sometimes sell – your online courses.

The LMS you choose should ideally help you create the content for your online course, organize it in a way that makes sense for both you and your students, deliver the content to as few or as many students as you want to teach, enroll said students into your course, and monitor their progress and performance as they go through the course.

There are so many options for course builders to choose from, with LMS options that range from simple to incredibly advanced. 

So how do you know exactly which LMS is right for you? Let’s take a look.

How to Choose an LMS

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If you know what you want to do with your course, you can immediately exclude any LMS that doesn’t seem likely to help you achieve that outcome.

To make this first step easy, here are four statements to help you figure out what your course-building priorities are. Read all four statements:

  • “I want to experiment with course building and try out some ideas.”
  • “I want to create a course that earns me a fair income without too much effort.”
  • “I want to launch a course without worrying about technological hassles.”
  • “I want to create a course my students will complete and benefit from.”

Now pick one.

Just one. The one that fits the best with how you feel and think about building your online course.

Yes, I know you probably want to agree with at least two of those statements if not three, or maybe even all four of them. But stick with only one THE most important one.

Next, based on that top priority, think about what features will help you get there.

Identifying Your Top Priority Features

Let’s focus on these six key things a smart course builder might look for in a learning management system:

  1. How much it costs.
  2. Whether the LMS helps you market and sell your course.
  3. Whether they provide support and customer service for you and your students.
  4. How steep the learning curve is.
  5. What kind of analytics and reporting the LMS offers.
  6. Whether a free trial or “forever free” plan is available.

All six of these criteria are important, but some are less important than others for your specific situation and your priority outcome. (You know, the one you chose a few paragraphs up the page. Didn’t choose one? Scroll up and join in!)

[clickToTweet tweet=”6 features to keep in mind when looking for a learning management system. ” quote=”6 features to keep in mind when looking for a learning management system. “]

Quick Tips About Costs

The only one of those six points that are *always* a high priority for pretty much anyone who’s looking for a new LMS is the free trial or forever free plan, because it makes your final decision much easier if you can actually try out the LMS you’re considering.

But even if there’s no free trial, some LMS providers offer live demos to show you what they can do. Others have monthly plans with low costs, so don’t discount the idea of paying a token fee for a month to find out what’s inside the best-looking LMS.

One other thing you need to know about cost is that different LMS providers base their pricing structures on different things – some may charge according to the number of students who’ve accessed your course in a 30-day period, others may look at how many students have been active in the past year.

Each LMS seems to make up its own name for this, but it’s typically called something along the lines of “active student” pricing or “access based” pricing.

You’ll come across other pricing models, too, such as registration-based (which means that if one student registers for three different courses of yours, that counts as three registrations on your bill) or simple student count (so that if you have 50 registered students, you’re billed for 50 regardless of whether they’ve accessed the course or not – or even accessed multiple courses).

Each has advantages and disadvantages, and some LMS providers offer a choice of pricing methods so that you can pick whichever works best for you.

OK, now we’ve looked at those 6 criteria, we can hold them up against your priority outcome and see what are the most important features you’ll want in your LMS.

We’ll start with the top three considerations most course creators take into account.

3 Key Considerations When Choosing The Best LMS for Your Course

If your priority is experimentation, you’d be smart to look for an LMS that has a free trial or forever free plan so that you can tweak and test without spending money. And the scope of that free access matters – you want a full-featured LMS to experiment with, not a limited trial account with most of the exciting features missing!

With paid plans, consider the cost of running a small pilot course – how many students would you want to include in your experiments, and how much are you willing to pay for the right learning management system? The cost of larger courses doesn’t matter too much while you’re still in the experimentation phase, but it’s worth noting for later.

The learning curve is important when you’re experimenting, because you need to get to grips with how the LMS works enough to understand *what* you can test and *how* you can test it.

Nobody wants to spend months learning how to use their LMS before they can start trying it out! You’ll also want to feel confident that the LMS provides enough support to help you carry out your experiments – and of course, to know the results you’ll be looking for an LMS with useful, clear analytics.  

But for experimenters, it really isn’t very important whether your LMS includes features like sales pages, integrated payment processing, or an all-singing all-dancing marketing system. You only need a few students for a pilot, and on that small scale you can contact them individually and collect their payments by whatever method is easiest.

You may be interested in exploring open source LMS software, which lets you download the full source code so that you can change it as much as you like, adding features and functions that never existed before. Open source software is free, but you might need extra services to support you in using it-for example, a programmer to edit the code for you, or an installation service to get it set up on your website.

Experimentation aside, let’s dive in and take a look at the first consideration: how much do you want to earn from your course?

1. Earn a Fair Income

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If your top priority is using your course to generate revenue, look at the cost not only for your first pilot but also for greater student numbers, as you’ll make more money by enrolling more students! And when you look at analytics and reporting features, ask yourself if the insights they give you will help you see how to improve your revenue or profit margin.

The main feature that will interest you if your priority is sales, though, is the usefulness of any marketing or sales tools the LMS offers. This could be anything from a built-in landing page creator to handy integrations with the sales and marketing tools you already use.

So find out if the LMS offers a built-in store, an affiliate network to help get new eyes on your course, and so on – and be practical about which of these tools you’ll actually use.

Next, think about your level of comfort with technology.

2. Launch Without Tech Stress

No matter whether you’re technologically inexperienced or simply want to avoid tech hassles in your course launch, the key things to look at here are ease of use and the level of tech support the LMS provides.

Open source software isn’t necessarily any harder to use than traditional software, but it *can* be more difficult to get it installed and running if you’ve never done it before – so if you choose open source, look for a knowledge base or tutorial videos on the LMS website and note the process to follow when you need technical support.

To minimize your tech stress, find out what content formats and sources the LMS lets you use in your courses.

  • Does it host files for you?
  • Can it embed a YouTube video from the URL?
  • Does it provide online classrooms for live training sessions, if that’s something you want in your course?

And of course, if the LMS offers sales and marketing tools, that’s great – but check them out and make sure they do the things you want them to do without requiring a ton of customization work.

Finally, don’t forget the main reason you’re doing all of this in the first place: your students.

3. Help Your Students Thrive

If your top priority is student success, then the key ingredients are engagement and course completion. So watch for features that will help keep your students engaged – for example, chat rooms or forums, in-course blogging, gamification and plenty of feedback opportunities – and features that help you track student progress.

It’ll be helpful to at least track completion of each lesson or module, so that you can adjust the workload and difficulty if students tend to complete a specific component particularly quickly or slowly. You can track completion and check comprehension simply by setting a quiz or assignment at the end of each module, but see what other useful data might be available to you via the LMS reporting tools.

Students learn best when they’re fully supported, so an LMS that offers customer service and technical support to your students (as well as to you) will be a good choice.

Now that you know what your priorities are, and what features and functionality your course needs to have, let’s get down to the main attraction.

The 41 Best LMS’s for Your Course

Now you get to pick your favorite LMS-or your favorite few-and start trying them out!

To help speed you through this step, I’m gonna give you a list of learning management systems that the Mirasee team and I have either tried ourselves, researched, or heard good things about. You’re welcome. 😉

[clickToTweet tweet=”Looking for an online learning management system? Here are some of the best to choose from.” quote=”Looking for an online learning management system? Here are some of the best to choose from.”]

Remember, while you’re reading these LMS descriptions, keep your *priorities* front-of-mind!  

(Seriously, if you haven’t chosen your #1 course-building priority and identified the most important LMS features to think about, then reading the information below will only be half as useful to you. Scroll up, invest two minutes in getting your priorities all set, and then come back down here.)

Ready with those priorities? OK, here you go, in alphabetical order:

Academy of Mine

Academy of Mine Learning Management System

From $499/month (Essentials); 30-day free trial; learn more here.

On Academy of Mine, you can create beautiful online courses and landing pages easily and without coding, by using its drag & drop course builder, or flexible website builder. Afterward, you can manage all your courses in one place, the Integrated Dashboard.

Assess your students’ learning progress through quizzes and exams with multiple-choice and True-False questions. You can also give assignments and evaluate them within the platform. Finally, track students’ grades and progress with the inbuilt gradebook.

Academy of Mine also comes with built-in-built messaging. This means you and your students can privately send messages to each other from within the platform.

This learning management system also provides a powerful marketing dashboard and integration with Google Analytics and webmaster tools.

Accord LMS

From $0.80/user/month to $1.75/user/month; free demo available; learn more here.

Accord LMS gives you lots of reporting features and insight into your students’ learning experience, as well as gamification and social learning communities to help keep them engaged.

Its drag-and-drop tools mean that even technologically impaired trainers can easily create courses. But if you’re the techy type, there are plenty of advanced features to play with too, such as cloud storage integration, third-party plugins, and single sign-on for students already registered as users of your website.

Aktiv Mind LMS

Aktiv Mind Learning Management System

From $69/month (Standard), $149/month (Pro), $249/month (Business), $499/month (Enterprise); 30-day free trial; learn more here.

This award-winning LMS is often used by companies creating internal training for employees, but is also suitable for building a course you intend to sell. The $69/month Standard plan is for up to 25 active students – and you can pay monthly or annually, with a discount of up to almost ⅙ off the cost if you choose annual billing.

When you open an Aktiv Mind LMS account, you’ll be offered an interactive tutorial that walks you through the process of uploading your content, creating student quizzes and so on to produce your course. You’ll also have access to their support crew via email and phone (email-only for the Standard plan), but primarily during the EST daytime and evening – so if you anticipate lots of support calls and you live on the other side of the world, take the time zone differences into consideration.

“Our platform is designed to be used by non-technical course creators that want a very easy-to-use platform in order to create courses quickly and efficiently.” – Rob MacLeod, Aktiv Mind LMS

Bloom LMS (Just Added!)

From $400/month, priced per administrator account; 30-day free trial; learn more here.

Bloom was designed to be simple; it’s easy to connect your courses to “learner groups” and get your students learning. They don’t offer a mobile app, but their entire platform is mobile responsive — so your students can learn on the go.

The student dashboard includes assignments so your students always know what they should do next, and discussions where they can interact with you. The dashboard is also configurable, with widgets you can turn off and on to change the layout and function of their learning pages.

You can match your company branding, and Bloom even offers the ability to translate everything inside Bloom into multiple different languages.

BrainCert (Just Added!)

From free, $39/month + 8% transaction fee (Basic), $99/month + 2% transaction fee (Pro), $259/month (Business); learn more here.

BrainCert calls themselves a “social learning marketplace” where you can sell your online courses. Their free plan includes unlimited courses, unlimited students, and up to 1GB cloud storage. Ecommerce, subscriptions and recurring payments, video and content hosting, custom certificates, and different types of assessments round out the free plan. It includes one “virtual classroom” where you can host up to 5 attendees per live 60-minute class.

The paid plans include additional teacher accounts, between 50 – 250 GB of cloud storage, between 2 – 10 virtual classrooms with 10 – 50 attendees per “live” class, running between 90 – 180 minutes per class. 

BrainCert integrates with either Stripe or PayPal, but you’ll need to upgrade to the Pro or Business plans to avoid transaction fees.

Chamilo LMS

Free; learn more here.

Chamilo LMS is open source software, so you don’t need to pay anything for it, but you may need to pay service providers to help you set stuff up the way you want it. I love the way they describe open source on their website: “All the Chamilo software products are entirely free (as in freedom), free (as in beer) and complete, and are production-ready without requiring any type of payment.”

You can create courses, map out learning paths, deliver tests and assessments, run surveys and live chats, and check student progress with Chamilo’s built-in features. Handy plugins and integrations include PrestaShop for sales and OpenMeetings for video conferencing, as well as Softaculous for easy installation on hosting with CPanel.

CoAssemble (Just Added!)

From $199/month (Author), $199/month (Core), $599/month (Pro), $1199/month (Extend); free trial available (contact the company to enquire); learn more here.

CoAssemble is a simple platform that combines authoring and LMS tools into one “easy-to-master” platform. While designed for employee training, the platform could just as easily be used for creating and hosting online courses.

The Author plan boasts fully mobile responsive designs, with a range of drag and drop templates (and a powerful WYSIWYG editor), with unlimited storage, as well as advanced branding to match your company branding. And the Core plan (with 100 monthly active users) claims to be a great match for early stage and small businesses looking for a lightweight LMS.

CoAssemble integrates with Zapier to connect with your other software systems. To see more about how you could use one of their plans, take a tour of their platform here.


Course Craft Learning Management System

From free + 9% transaction fee (Free), $23/month + 5% transaction fee (Club), to $47/month, no transaction fee (Society); learn more here.

CourseCraft is one of the few learning management systems that allow you to teach together with collaborators. You can add friends and colleagues, and allow them to create and edit beautiful lessons together (Society plan only).

CourseCraft also integrates with your blog or website. Using Embed codes, people can enroll in your course without leaving your site.

Another interesting feature is the ability to sell add-ons to your course, such as coaching or consulting hours, downloadable content such as PDFs, audio files, and video (paid plans only).

Didacte (Just Added!)

Didacte takes a 10% cut of all sales; free trial available; learn more here.

Didacte claims to be a “hassle-free tool that will get you up and running in no time.” Course creation is simple, with drag and drop course elements, mobile responsive design, and personalized appearance. You can send automated certificates to highlight student achievements, create quizzes to test their knowledge, organize your students into cohorts, and even keeps track of where your students are located (hello, multilingual capabilities)!

Didacte allows you to offer courses for free, sold on a one-off basis, or via monthly or annual subscription plans.


From $10/month (Essential), $69/month (Professional), to $129/month (Premier); no free trial; learn more here.

DigitalChalk lets you guide your students along specific learning paths with prerequisites, tests, and assignments – useful if you want to create a set of short courses for your students to progress through. You can brand your course with your logo and sell it through DigitalChalk’s e-commerce tools.

Although DigitalChalk doesn’t offer a free trial, it *does* offer free demos to help you see how it works.


Docebo Learning Management System

Prices on request; 14-day free trial; learn more here.

With Docebo the Growth plan lets you have up to 300 active students. Some advanced options are included with the Enterprise Plan.

Among the more interesting add-ons is a blogging app that lets your students write and comment on blog posts within the LMS. For analytics and student progress tracking, you can customize your dashboards and reports – and if you need help, Docebo’s users say the customer service team is attentive and quick to resolve support requests. To get a sense of how easy the software is to learn and use, check out this quick overview of the Docebo platform.

“Docebo is a very intuitive and user-friendly LMS for businesses, which makes it a good choice for people who aren’t tech-savvy, but it also has robust capabilities that can be leveraged by more advanced users.” – Alison Grenkie, Docebo

Easy LMS (Just Added!)

From $20/month (Smart Owl), $50/month (Business Owl), $99/month (Corporate Owl), $250/month (Enterprise Owl); 7-day free trial; learn more here.

EasyLMS allows users to create beautiful online courses, assessments, and quizzes in 10 different languages. You can also embed your courses on your site. They integrate with MailChimp (Corporate Owl and above), allow you to track your students’ progress, and offer a mobile-friendly experience for your students who like to learn on the go.

All plans include unlimited courses, and once you reach the Business Owl plan, you also unlock white labeling for your courses — with each additional plan jump allowing for additional participant sessions per month.

If you would like to see the inner workings of the platform, you can request a free demo.


EduOnGo Learning Management System

From $50/month (Starter), $100/month (Professional), to $300/month (High Volume); free trial available; learn more here.

EDUonGo supports live online classrooms – great for experimenters who want to test content and delivery on the fly. Their Starter plan lets you have up to 10 students, and the High Volume plan covers up to 100 students.

EDUonGO also provides a course catalog page template that lets you showcase your available courses all in one place if you create multiple courses. If you want to market and sell your courses using a free-to-paid content model, you can use EDUonGo to create built-in enrolment pages for your paid course at the end of your free course.

Eliademy Premium

Eliademy Learning Management System

From €10 per month +2€ monthly per unique participant or €500 per year for unlimited courses and students + 10% commission on course sales; 15-day free trial; learn more here.

Originally built for classroom educators and corporate trainers to bring their lessons online, Eliademy Premium allows anybody to create an online course. Eliademy has an online course marketplace, where it’s free to create and sell your online courses.

However, Eliademy Premium is where you can teach “confidential courses,” or online courses that don’t appear on Eliademy’s course marketplace. You can promote and sell your courses only through a special link. Eliademy Premium has its own webinar platform, where you can teach up to 50 students at a time. You can also add discussions, tasks, quizzes, and customizable completion certificates to your course.


TrainCenter Learning Management System

From free (100 registrations) to $1,800/month (10,000 registrations), 90-day free trial; learn more here.

eTrainCenter, created by Creative Logic Solutions, is another LMS with built-in tools that let you price and sell your course. It also offers add-on services such as consulting or training in e-learning to help you learn to create great courses. Student chat rooms and message boards let you and your students discuss the course, or you can switch these features off if you prefer.

The pricing model lets you choose a free plan with up to 100 registrations, or you can opt for a range of paid plans based on registrations or active students – save up to ⅙ off by paying annually. With simple analytics and reporting, you get an overview of who’s studying what and how your students are doing in their assessments – and if you’d like to include other data in your reports, the support team can help.

“The eTrainCenter LMS has been on the market since 2004 and has a proven track record… We have flexible pricing models that allow for seat or registration pricing. Seat pricing is ideal for companies where users take many courses. Registration pricing is perfect for companies where users take very few courses per year.” – Niall Rochford, Creative Logic Solutions

Firmwater (Just Added!)

From $495/month (Starter), $895/month (Growth), $2195/month (Premium); 14-day free trial; learn more here.

Firmwater is “the LMS for training companies,” partnering with you to sell and deliver your online courses. They have partnered with Shopify for all your ecommerce needs, and is a full white-label solution. Learner access and administration is available in English, Spanish, French, and German.

This Toronto-based company offers completion certificates, video tracking, and powerful analytics tracking, as well as allowing you to connect with other LMS systems. All of their plans include unlimited users and Shopify integration, and they base their pricing on the number of students starting a course per month rather than a total number of users.


GnosisConnect Learning Management System

From $299/month (Fixed Pricing) to $400/month (Variable Pricing); 30-day free trial; learn more here.

The key feature everyone emphasizes about GnosisConnect is that it’s easy to use and customize – and when you’re logged in to GnosisConnect as a course creator, you’ll have access to plenty of tutorial videos to help you get to grips with the software.

GnosisConnect offers a discount of ⅙ off the cost if you choose annual billing; the $299/month plan lets you have up to 100 users in your course. Some reviewers say the analytics and reporting could be more in-depth, but whether that matters to you will depend on your specific priorities.

To get a sense of what’s available, request a free demo and one of GnosisConnect’s experts will show you around the LMS live and answer all your questions.

“GnosisConnect is a simple and an intuitive LMS… We make it very easy for any user to use all the major functionalities they would use in their day to day life.” – Robert Velasquez, GnosisConnect


Go1 LMS Learning Management System

30% commission for GO1 Marketplace purchases, $1/user/month for students you bring in, or $12/user/month up to 100 learners (Premium); 14-day free trial; learn more here.

This LMS includes e-commerce features such as sales pages, payment processor integrations and promotional coupons. As a cloud LMS, GO1 “provides you with tools to create, market, sell, manage and track” your online courses.

Users say that interactivity and simplicity are the best points about GO1, but the company’s passion for doing good is also impressive. If you’re building a course for a non-profit or charity organization, you’re eligible to apply for a free GO1 portal. And GO1 promises that all funds received from Starter plan users are donated directly to organizations that help make the world a better place.

“GO1 is not just a learning management system, we also have a course marketplace of over 100,000 courses from some of the top content creators worldwide. This gives you the option of creating your own content, or selecting high quality pre-made courses, both of which can be managed from within the GO1 system.” – Scott Cooper, GO1


From $199/month (up to 50 users) to $1,199/month (up to 5,000 users); 30-day free trial; learn more here.

Inquisiq, created by ICS Learning Group, has won awards for its user-friendly interface and is specifically designed for entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized businesses rather than academic institutions or vast corporations. The $199/month plan gives you space for up to 50 active students, and billing is monthly.

The LMS includes e-commerce features to help you market and sell your course, and you’ll have access to a US-based support team. You can also connect your course pages to Google Analytics to track your students’ activity.

If you’re interested in Inquisiq, request a live demo so you can ask questions along the way.

“Inquisiq is the ideal learning management system (LMS) for a course creator who values the learner experience and demands an LMS that allows their content to shine through.” – Miles Feldman, ICS Learning Group

Joomla Cloud-Based (Just Added!)

From $37/month (Standard), $64/month (Professional); 30-day free trial; learn more here.

Joomla LMS includes Video Conferencing, comprehensive tracking and reporting, advanced ecommerce capabilities, and an Android and iOS mobile app. And if your website is built on WordPress, Drupal, or any other non-Joomla CMS, it is a good solution, as well as one of the most secure open-source systems. It integrates with multiple ecommerce tools, and allows for a multilingual interface.

You can choose to install the LMS on your website, or choose a hosted cloud-based plan (the prices listed here).

The Standard plan starts at $37/month with up to 50 users, and extends up to 10,000 users for $300/month — with 6 different user tiers to choose from.

The professional plan includes their “branding free” option for no extra charge, and you can also upgrade to that option from one of the Standard plans for an extra $199. The cloud-based plans all include hosting fees and JoomlaLMS maintenance, including upgrades and backups.


Kajabi Learning Management System

From $149/month (Basic), $199/month (Growth), to $399/month (Pro); 14-day free trial; learn more here.

Kajabi is a feature-rich LMS that’s been around for years of iterative improvement, so you can expect a good experience with it.

The system includes tools for marketing and selling your course, from a landing page builder to email marketing and even affiliate management for joint venture promotions. It’s customizable and integrates with most of the popular third-party apps you might use, including Zapier for even more integrations and automations.

The analytics and reporting available from your Kajabi dashboard are detailed and useful, and you can hook up Google Analytics for more insight. You won’t need to worry about the learning curve too much, because you’ll get a lot of help from Kajabi University with free training to make the most of your LMS.

To see Kajabi in action and judge the learning curve for yourself, check out their demo.

“Kajabi is designed from the ground up for course creators that want the simplicity of all the tools they need to drive 7-figure results, in one app, elegantly integrated.” – Joe Henschel, Kajabi


Kartra (Just Added!)

From $99/month (Starter), $199/month (Silver), $299/month (Gold), $499/month (Platinum) $699/month (Diamond), ; $14-day trial for $1; learn more here.

Kartra calls themselves “the greatest all-in-one platform… ever,” and claims to be a one-stop shop for everything you need to create, market, and launch your online courses. The platform includes checkouts (with both credit card and PayPal payments), a drag-and-drop page builder with hundreds of professionally designed templates, funnels and campaigns, email marketing, memberships, calendars, forms, and affiliates.

Because they are an all-in-one system, you won’t need much of the other software you might need with another LMS. And since everything is in one place, their tracking analytics allows you to see the entire customer journey.

The difference between their pricing packages is the size of your contact list and the amount of traffic bandwidth you use. One note: we couldn’t find their prices anywhere on their website, and had to go searching elsewhere to get a breakdown of what’s included in their plans. The only number we could find on their site was “Kartra starts at under $1,200 per year.”

Latitude Learning

From free (up to 100 users) to 45 cents/user/month (from 10,001-20,000 users); learn more here.

Don’t be put off by the price tag! You’ll only pay that much if you have more than 10,000 active students-at which point your revenues should more than cover the expenses. In fact, Latitude Learning gives you a Forever FREE plan for up to 100 active students, so you can get started with no concerns about the LMS running costs.

And this LMS comes with a collection of ready-made courses that are free for you *and* your students to use, so if you feel your students will benefit from a course in, say, Communications, Sales, or Business Math, you can give them that extra training without creating it yourself. Win!


LearningCart Learning Management System

From $179/month (Silver), $299/month (Gold), to $549/month (Platinum); 30-day free trial; learn more here.

This award-winning LMS has a ton of third-party app integrations available, as well as built-in tools for marketing and selling your courses and other products (even physical products). Analytics and reports are customizable and LearningCart will let you connect Clicktale to understand your students’ actions better, as well as Google Analytics.

The $179/month Silver plan allows up to 100 active students but doesn’t give you phone support or a custom URL – if those features matter to you, the Gold plan includes them and costs $299/month. You’ll need to sign up for the Platinum Plan to get custom reports.

You’ll get a discount by paying annually instead of monthly. LearningCart may also charge a one-time setup fee for any plan, which varies depending on exactly what you want your LearningCart to do. To see some of what it *can* do, check out their demo video and demo site.

“Our focus is on providing all the tools needed to monetize training and content… With over 10 years of experience in this space, our platform’s features have evolved over the years based on our clients’ real world experience and feedback.” – Julie Campbell, LearningCart


From free (up to 20 members, 1 group), $141/month (from 250 members, 5 groups) to $1105/month (up to 5,000 members, 100 groups); 30-day free trial; learn more here.

LearningStone charges based on “training or coaching spaces”, which is a little confusing but ultimately still means that your costs depend on your student numbers. The $141/month plan gives you 5 workspaces with up to 250 students.

If your student numbers are low, for example, because you’re piloting or running coaching sessions, you can ask the LearningStone team for a coaching coupon that entitles you to a 50% discount. Or you could use the forever free plan which lets you have 1 group and up to 20 students.

The learning environment your students get with this LMS has a Facebook-style social timeline that makes chatting and collaborating easy, and you can add progress markers, surveys, and tests inside your courses to let you see how your students are doing. Check out LearningStone’s tutorial videos to see it in action.

“LearningStone was developed with trainers in mind who need an easy to manage online environment to complement their training. The course timeline editor provides a powerful tool to manage events, content, assignments, video, forms and surveys and more.” – Michiel Klonhammer, LearningStone


LearnWorlds Learning Management System

From $29/month + $5 per course sale (Starter), $99/month, no transaction fees (Pro Trainer), to $299/month, no transaction fees (Learning Center); 30-day free trial; learn more here.

This unique course creation platform lets you create interactive videos (Learning Center plan) and ebooks. That means learners can skip to specific parts of a video and even answer questions within a video. With interactive ebooks, they can highlight and add notes to their ebooks from within the LearnWorlds platform.

Your LearnWorlds account also includes a “built-in community” for each of your courses. Students can discuss lessons, like and comment on each other’s posts, and answer polls. You can also provide support through these groups.

It also has one of the most advanced assessment features, such as informal and formal quizzes, assignments, and an integrated workflow for open-ended assignments.


Moodle Learning Management System

Free; learn more here.

This is one of the longest-standing LMS’s on the market, first released in 2001. Moodle is open source software that’s free to download and use.  

To see how the open source LMS works, take a look at these Moodle videos and demo sites. 

Moodle doesn’t offer built-in marketing and sales tools, but because it’s open source you should be able to add or develop integrations with your preferred sales and marketing systems. Almost anything you need has already been done by someone in the Moodle community who’s willing to show you how. You can pick up free advice in Moodle forums or hire professional Moodle Partners for extra services.

“Moodle is currently working on a number of exciting releases, focussed on better user interface and experience and also meeting the latest need from educators, classrooms, organisations and institutions for enhanced and innovative learning experiences.” – Martin Dougiamas, Moodle Founder and CEO

Moodle Cloud

Learning Management System Moodle Cloud

From Free (up to 50 users), AUD$80/year (Starter), $250/year (Mini), $500/year (Small), to $1,000/year (Medium); no free trial; learn more here.

If you like the features of Moodle, but would rather not deal with your own open source installation, MoodleCloud is your best alternative. Even with the free plan, you get unlimited courses and activities, personalized course site name, and built-in web conferencing, and mobile app enabled. 

Aside from Moodle’s standard features, MoodleCloud comes with additional plugins and tools to make learning more engaging, fun, and interactive.

Opigno LMS

Opigno Learning Management System

Free; learn more here.

Opigno is an open source LMS that’s free to download and use. It’s based on Drupal, so if your website uses Drupal for content management then this will integrate nicely. The software includes eCommerce features to let you sell subscriptions to your courses, using PayPal as a payment processor.

To help you learn how everything works, you can download an extensive user manual, watch tutorial videos, and check out the Opigno forums. If you decide you need extra technical support or services, the Opigno team is available for a fee.

Or if you don’t want the full open source experience, you can simplify by using Opigno Cloud hosting (starting at $139/month).

“Opigno is very flexible and will fit pretty much every use case; nevertheless, course creators expecting nicely customized contents, as well as a high level of flexibility, will enjoy Opigno the most.” – Axel Minck, Opigno


From $39/month (Mover), or $79/month (Shaker); 14-day free trial; learn more here.

Podia is an affordable all-in-one platform that lets you create and sell, not only online courses, but also memberships and digital downloads.

It also includes an email service for collecting email addresses and sending drip emails and newsletters.

With Podia, you pay one flat fee per month. There are no transaction fees and no limits on the number of students, buyers, and email subscribers you can have.


Professo Learning Management System

From free,  $20/month (Basic), to $40/month (Professional); 30-day free trial; learn more here.

Proffesso is a very affordable LMS that offers a lot of useful features even on its free plan, such as integrations with Zapier, PayPal (paid plans only), Stripe, Disqus, YouTube and Vimeo.

With all plans giving you unlimited student enrollments and zero transaction fees, this could be a great bargain – however, be aware that support is limited to paid plans.  24 hour email support is included for the Basic Plan, and Live Chat support for the Professional Plan.


ProProfs Learning Management System

From free (up to 10 students), $79/month (Team), $199/month (Business), to $999/month (Enterprise); 15-day free trial; learn more here.

ProProfs offers a range of products, starting with “Training Maker” which lets you create courses and track student progress. 

There are 5 pricing plans – Free, Basic, Professional, Business and Enterprise – each with its own feature set.

The Free plan stays free no matter how many students you have; the other plans increase in price according to your student numbers.

The Team Plan includes up to 100 students, Business Plan includes up to 200, and the Enterprise Plan starts at $999 for up to 300 students (and runs all the way through unlimited students for $4499 per month).


Ruzuku Learning Management System

From $99/month (Bootstrapper), $149/month (Up-and-comer), to $199/month (University); 14-day free trial; learn more here.

Ruzuku is a popular LMS with a live webinar feature as well as built-in e-commerce tools that help you sell your courses and collect tuition payments via PayPal, Stripe, InfusionSoft or 1ShoppingCart. It also integrates nicely with Mailchimp for email marketing and student engagement emails.

Ruzuku promises to support your students in buying and using your courses, as well as support you in creating them. Choosing annual billing instead of monthly gets you a discount, depending which plan you’re on. The lowest-priced plan doesn’t include every last feature, but it does allow you an unlimited number of students.

“Ruzuku is best for course creators who love to interact and engage with their course participants in a way that’s social, supportive, and fun.” – Abe Crystal, Ruzuku


Read a detailed review of Ruzuku here.


Simplero Learning Management System

From $29/ month (Build), $99/month (Launch), $149/month (Rule The World); 30-day free trial; learn more here.

With built-in membership sites, sales pages, email marketing, course catalogs, and fancy features such as upsell offers and affiliate tracking, this LMS seems to be a good all-rounder.

Signing up for an annual plan saves you 17% off the monthly price, and Simplero has done away with all transaction fees for all of their plans.


From free + $1 plus 10% (Free), $39/month + 5% transaction fee (Basic), $99/month (Professional), to $499/month (Business); free trial available; learn more here.

Teachable does a lot of important things for you – they’ll host your course content, publish your sales pages, process payments [for a small fee] and even pay your joint venture partners or course authors if you set that up through their payment gateway. With quizzes and forums, conversion attribution, email segmentation and built-in affiliate marketing, everything’s kept in one place for you.

Teachable doesn’t charge you for how many students or courses you have. The $39/month plan carries a 5% transaction fee on student tuition payments, whereas the $99/month plan has no transaction fees and a few extra features. Teachable also won’t charge you for courses you make available for free; so if you wanted to run a free mini-course to test the water for a new idea, you can do that here.

“What makes Teachable unique in the learning management space is we believe in focusing on the user experience of people that use our platform. Too many LMS’s try and compete on packing in the most number of features and winning feature matrix wars while we want people that use our software to be delighted.” – Angkur Nagpal, Teachable



Thinkific Learning Management System

From free, $49/month (Basic), $99/month (Pro), to $499/month (Premier); learn more here.

Thinkific is another LMS that doesn’t charge you per student. Instead, all Thinkific plans allow unlimited students and unlimited courses – and none of their plans include transaction fees. Be aware that credit card processing will incur a separate fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, no matter what plan you choose.

The main benefit of Thinkific is that it’s designed to make course creation easy for people with minimal technical experience – so your course and its content are hosted by Thinkific, your marketing, sales, payment plans and processing are handled by Thinkific, your affiliate program is managed in Thinkific… you get the idea. That said, there are still plenty of advanced features you can dig into if you like getting your hands tech-y.


Thinking Cap

ThinkingCap Learning Management System

From free, $65/month (Starter), $125/month (Small), $225/month (Medium), to $500/month (Large), billed annually; free trial available; learn more here.

Thinking Cap is an LMS designed for teachers of all kinds, from entrepreneurs to higher education and big corporations. It offers all the essential features – and some that are more unique, like the ability to segment your students and show them different versions of your course. Pricing is kept simple, with a forever free plan that lets you have up to 10 students.

Tovuti (Just Added!)

Plans starting at $399/month; contact the company for a price quote; learn more here.

Tovuti makes creating online courses “zenfully easy.” Designed for creators, influencers, educators, and experts, they believe that there’s a perfect balance between fun and function. You can use Tovuti to create individual courses or membership sites, or to create a gated community that provides a collaborative learning ecosystem.

Their plan prices are based on the number of learners and functionality you need, and they don’t charge for every learner. Each plan comes with a base feature set, with additional add-ons for things like ecommerce and events. When you request your quote, they give you access to a short recorded demo of the system.


Learning Management System Udutu

From $2.50 / user / month, for up to 499 active users; unlimited free trial (up to 5 users); learn more here.

Udutu’s learning management system includes a robust authority tool for creating interactive online courses.

Designed for corporate training, Udutu lets you create role-based learning paths and sequences to customize training content to learners. Its measurement and reporting features let you know your students’ performance, progress, and learning behaviors.

It also includes gamification so you can reward performance, better engage your students, and make learning more fun and effective.

uQualio (Just Added!)

From $55/month (Starter), $135/month (Starter+), $262/month (Basic), $500/month (Pro); 14-day free trial; learn more here.

uQualio is a video eLearning platform that allows you to create videos for your students, quiz them on what they just learned, and create certification badges for those who successfully complete them.

It lacks the bells and whistles of many other LMS systems, but if all you need is a video hosting platform with built-in assessment capabilities, uQualio might be just what you’re looking for.

Zippy Courses

Learning Management Systems Zippy Courses

From $99/month (Standard) and $199/month (Professional); learn more here.

Zippy Courses, the WordPress plugin for creating courses, is now available as a third-party hosted, stand-alone learning management system.

You don’t have to pay any transaction fees with Zippy Courses and both plans come with unlimited courses. Choose your plan depending on the number of emails you’ll be sending per month and the amount of data storage you require.

Zippy Courses claims to be optimized for both teaching and sales. For example, it gives you the ability to create different versions of the same course, so you can offer a higher-priced, premium version of your course.

You can also make your course “evergreen,” or available for purchase at any time. Or, you can create launch windows, or specific time periods when your course is open for purchase.


Read our detailed review of the Zippy Courses platform here.

There are currently hundreds of LMS platforms out there, but these 41 are the best suited to online course creators.

Now that we’ve taken a look at a few of the LMS available to you, you should have a better sense of the possibilities. To be sure you’re happy with the LMS you’ve chosen, take a free trial or buy a month’s subscription and test it out before you commit to it.

Remember to focus on your #1 priority when you consider how useful each feature of an LMS is for your online education business. This entire decision-making process is designed to make sure you choose the best LMS for your specific needs!

Alright, you’re up! Are you using – or have you used – any of these platforms? Are there any not on the list that you recommend?  Let us know in the comments.

And if you’re still not sure exactly what your online course should look like, you can take advantage of our free Course Builder’s Bootcamp, to help you figure out exactly what you want to teach!

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About Sophie Lizard

Sophie Lizard is a pro blogger and copywriter, and amateur parent. Her specialty is making money with words. Follow her on her blog.

31 thoughts on “The Course Builder’s Guide to Learning Management Systems

  1. Thanks for this post, Sophie!
    I had no idea there were so many systems out there. I don’t think I’ve heard of any of them!
    I’ve been using the Rainmaker Platform, and am just about to launch my first free course 🙂
    What I love about Rainmaker is that I’ve got a website (hosting), blog (themes), landing pages, LMS, and email list builder (with autoresponder) all in one!
    It’s less than $150 per month.
    They’re always adding features and improvements.
    Coupled with my education from Mirasee, I’m excited about the future 🙂
    Thanks for your tips at the beginning. List articles like this hardly ever include helpful guidance like that!

      • I help parents get better at photography! My first mini course is about photo editing. It’s a first impression incentive that I developed (based on my research during Mirasee courses). It’s so cool t osee ideas come to life in a course!
        The technological hurdles to offering online education are huge! So thanks again for chipping in with your guidance!

        • Ooh, that sounds cool. Will it help parents who use basic phone cameras make their photos look better? I’ve got like a million cute photos of my daughter that I took with a cheap phonecam years ago, but most of them look kinda dark or flat. I loved that crappy old phone though!

    • Hi Mat, Just wanted to let you know that we wanted to include Copyblogger’s Rainmaker platform in the update of this post, but it is no longer available as a stand-alone platform. It is now bundled with Rainmaker Digital Services. ~ Lexi

  2. Sophie,

    Priceless! No, it’s not what you think: I’m teasing.
    My day started being lousy but you changed that. I cannot stop laughing.

    Amateur parent? What is an amateur parent, exactly? Aren’t we all? We learn as we go. And, some us, like yours truly, learn by being “amateur” step mothers. How I wish there were courses for that.

    As to your article, I only scanned it for the moment, but I do love your instructions on choosing LMS’s, and the detailed descriptions of their services, cost, etc…Thank you for that. I will certainly read your post carefully and save it. And, do have a chuckle!

    • Catherine, I’m proud to have made your lousy day more bearable with a giggle! (And I hope you’re doing OK?)

      I’m also an amateur stepmother to two teenage boys who moved in with us 18 months ago… maybe *you* will be the one to create the course the stepmothers of the world need to help us figure out that family tangle? 😉

  3. Check out Udutu as a platform. The basic package is free so you can do your course development without significant ongoing costs.

  4. Sophie,

    I have read through your post carefully. I don’t know where to begin telling you how truly valuable it is. It is clear that you’ve studied this in very much detail. You could almost say that the content of your post is comprehensive.

    I guess that your knowledge of LMS’s, and possibly, your understanding of course creation, what really produced such excellent advice—besides your ability for creating great blog posts.

    Here’s what I learned:

    Among other things, you have shown that to create a good course with minimum failures and frustration, we must think critically. Specifically, that we must ask ourselves what we want to achieve; and, what features to look for in an LMS.

    And to be honest, I didn’t even think of asking myself those 4 questions in the section called “Top Priority Outcome.” But, I do agree that it is vital to do so even before starting to think of creating a course.

    Regarding the section on Identifying Priority Features, yes, I agree. They should definitely be taken into account.
    And again, I never even thought about this. OK, so I am a beginner, but I did look at a few LMS’s and, yes, I didn’t examine them in depth—I certainly didn’t look for the 6 key points you suggest.

    Why? As you wrote, it is a monumental task to make your way through that noise—there are too many of them. I just gave up, except in 2 instances: one of them is Ruzuku. I didn’t study their services in too much detail, but they got my attention because of the quality of their blog posts about course creation.

    I will stop here except to add that your advice is excellent, revealing and very helpful. I compliment you.

    P.S.: my previous comment about being an amateur parent was referring to your bio in this article.

    • Wow – this is one of the most awesome comments I’ve ever received!

      Not because it’s complimentary (thank you! *blushes*) but because you totally GET IT. The kind of hurried skim-researching we all do when we’re not really sure what we’re looking for… it’s not the best approach. But when you give a little bit of structure to your search, it all gets so much easier. 🙂

  5. Sophie,
    Thank you for that excellent, comprehensive study of LMSs. Does Teachable fall into this category? If so, what is your opinion of it?

  6. Hey Sophie,

    Indeed, if we enroll huge number of students for our course really a good opportunity to generate massive revenue but our primary priority to check our cost of course. Making money is not a big deal but we should always try to focus on our provided course which helpful to maximize engagement and course completion. I have seen many student churn from various contest due to many reason like flop course or high cost regarding course. Eventually, thanks for sharing your amazing thought with us.

    With best wishes,

    Amar kumar

  7. Hi Sophie,
    My brain is stuffed right now, so I tried to download the summary pdf, but the link does nothing. Is that at your end, or something on my end. thanks for all your wisdom here.

  8. I’m with Mat. Rather than finding an LMS platform to bolt onto your website, blog, podcasting tools, shopping cart, membership site, email marketing and automation tools, CMS — why not try Rainmaker Platform, which has ALL of that and more built in. And as Mat says, they are always adding new stuff.

    Most important to me, it’s from the Copyblogger team that brought us Teaching Sells, along with the Genesis framework and Studio Press themes, so it’s hosted and delivered by folks who know online marketing and how to run an online training business.

    • Definitely! There’s two camps when it comes to LMS.
      1) There’s the camp that wants a LMS on their website (i.e. course site with their blog, podcast, about page, etc)
      2) Then there’s a camp that wants a LMS to be separate. (Subdomain, on a self-hosted site or a separate WP installation. Usually is their course, and is their blog)

      Rainmaker can do both – which makes is great! (If you’re into that)

      What I don’t like about Rainmaker is that it does both and everything else, while not being able to do anything extremely well.

      That’s perfect if you’re just starting out and not really sure which direction you should go in.

      From my experience as the guy behind building all of Mirasee’s courses — if you’re a course creator who already has a system (like a preferred website, checkout system, landing page, etc), and now want to add courses – you can use Rainmaker. But just be aware that Rainmaker’s course platform is years behind modern course sites. And by the time they catch up, LMSes will already moved to the next level.

  9. Hello Sophie
    Thanks for the instructions on LMS. Very informative and helpful. I am writer too and your blog helped me a lot for my Essay Help UK. And in my opinion all parents are amateur. They get professional step by step by learning from their experiences. Keep blogging. Stay blessed.

  10. Hi Sophie! Thanks for mentioning Accord LMS on your excellent list. I just wanted to clarify one point. We DO offer free trials of our SaaS product and free downloads of our self-hosted system. In fact, we offer free training and access to all of our video, documentation, and support resources for our evaluators. If someone wants a free trial, they can just talk to our sales team and we’ll be happy to provide everything necessary to get started.

    Thanks again,

  11. This blog is an absolutely fantastic resource. Thank you!
    I keep getting the facebook ad for YesCourse pop up on my timeline but I can’t find any independent reviews.
    Is this a platform that you have any thoughts on?

  12. Hello Sophie,

    The number of available online courses and LMS systems has been steadily growing in recent years.
    LMS provides all the functionality necessary for educational institutions, businesses and organizations to offer online training opportunities.

    It surely delivers your chosen training solution in an easily accessible format and it helps to boost the value of your training investment.

    Eventually, thanks for adding great points for this topic and it will go to help several people.

    With best wishes,

    Amar Kumar

  13. Hi Sophie.
    I’ve been using Talent LMS which is quite versatile and is comparable in price to several listed above. I was surprised not to see it on your list. Any reason?

    • Hey Laura! I don’t know that we had heard of Talent LMS, which is why it didn’t make the list. We’ll add it to our list of systems to research the next time we update that post! Thanks for the heads up.

  14. My association and usage of technology is limited, yet, in a progressive stage of learning. This correspondence is greatly appreciated. I will re-read and re-evaluate what my most complimentary LMS will be. Thank you for this valuable listing with introductory overviews and for the feedback communication.

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