The Ultimate Guide to the Cost and Feature Comparison of the Top Learning Management Systems

Updated on :October 19, 2023
By :Paul Richards

Technology will not replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational.” – George Couros, Author- THE INNOVATOR'S MINDSET

Learning is paramount for individual growth and survival. It is a continuous process that helps individuals gain more knowledge, develop new skills, and adapt to new innovations. Learning is essential to stay ahead of the curve. Throughout industrial revolutions, learning methods have evolved to fulfill the demand for new skills and talent needed to achieve business goals and drive the economy. This phenomenon continues as we step into Industrial Revolution 4.0. However, industrial revolution 4.0 is disruptive, intertwined with smart technologies, robotics, and automation. To adapt to this rapidly changing world and scale along with it, the traditional pedagogical approach is ineffective and replaced with a self-determined or heutagogical approach. A learning practice that is crafted in a way that learners can perceive the subject effortlessly and at their own pace. It is easy to align with these new evolving learning trends with the help of digital tools like learning management systems (LMS) Software

The learning management system breaks the barrier of classroom education and adds value to learning through its unique learning approach. Flexible and self-paced learning, cost-effectiveness, greater interaction, anytime access, performance tracking, education opportunities for all age groups, etc., are a few reasons learning management software  has become increasingly popular. Many scholars have predicted online learning as the future, and in this journey, the learning management system can act as a game-changer. Further, with the advancements in AI, cloud computing, automation, and AR/VR, the learning management system is going to gain more traction. In addition to that, the penetration of 5G internet and mobile devices is making LMS a more promising tool for seamless learning. The advantages of learning management systems have extended their applications to academics, government organizations, and business enterprises for training staff quickly. But for LMS systems to give desired results and produce unexpected benefits, organizations must find LMS that resonates with their business needs. With tons of feature-packed LMS available in the market, it is tricky for users to identify the LMS that matches the organization's budget and needs. 

This cost and feature comparison guide to the top LMS systems highlights some major players in the segments coupled with important aspects of Learning management software , like benefits, future trends, and tips to choose the LMS.

What is Learning Management Systems (LMS) Software?

An LMS or learning management system is a software application designed to manage and administer learning resources. The software has a wide spectrum of users, from independent learners to instructors and corporate leaders, using it for various purposes, from delivering learning content to collaborating with online learners and training employees. Learning management tools  can be accessed on the cloud or on-premise.

principles of education 4.0

During Covid-19, LMS has been instrumental for academics in administering the courses online and managing their administrative work. It was named as exam software widely during this phase as most of the schools implemented this during exams. Flexibility, transparency, and accountability are major growth factors of LMS. As per one of the surveys, the global market of Learning Management Systems (LMS) Software is projected to reach $81,223.80 million by 2030. Web-driven organizations see merits in LMS, especially when preparing for "Education 4.0," which advocates the application of technology for active and adaptive learning.

History and Evolution of LMS System

The idea of LMS ( Learning Management System) first came into existence in 1924 by Sidney. L. Pressley. The design of this LMS system was quite inspired by typewriters. The Pressey Testing Machine records answers for the multiple-choice questions and practical exercises, much like today’s LMS.  

  • In 1929 Milton Ezra LeZerte designed the problem cylinder that not only records the MCQs answers but verifies whether the answer is right or wrong.
  • In 1950, the SAKI ( Self-Adaptive Keyboard Instructor) was invented by Gordon Pask and Mckinnon Wood. The device adds levels of difficulty to questions as the performance of learners improves. 
  • In 1960, a computer-based LMS called Plato was developed by Dr. Donald Blitzer (University of Illinois) that facilitated networked education.
  • In 1983 MIT introduced network-based distributed computed services called  Project Athena that allow students to share courses easily. 
  • In 1991 the world’s first LMS software, called FirstClass, was released by SoftArc.
  • In 1991 Ekko, by Norway’s NKI distance education network, the first full-fledged Learning Management System was developed.
  • In 2000, the concept of SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) by the US Department of Defense called ADL was created and later used to make LMS more structured and user-friendly. In the same year, first open source LMS, Moodle was released.
  • In 2004, new version of SCORM was released that allows users to dynamically switch content out of their training modules, thus saving time.
  • In 2008, cloud computing picked up the trend and allowed users to access LMS tool online without any installation.
  • In 2010, “Tin Can API” was introduced and helped LMS to record and share much more advanced data.
  • In 2017, LMS focused on integrating multi-media technologies and gamification into it
  • In 2020, the LMS system is developed with advanced functionalities to support remote work. 
  • In 2023, learning management system centered around personalized and immersive learning embedding technologies like AI, and VR/AR.

Who Can Use a Learning Management System?

  • Business enterprises
  • Schools and universities
  • Coaching institutes
  • Online educational institutes 
  • Governments and non-profit organizations

What Is the Use of Learning Management Systems?

Learning Management System is a broad term, and it has multiple use cases based on the organization’s goal or objective.

Academic learning (Remote learning): LMS systems have been a boon for educational institutes and academicians to administer tutorials regardless of their locations. Otherwise termed as e-learning software, most of the learning management systems are built on cloud infrastructure that allow users to share and collaborate learning materials in real-time. Other functionalities of LMS that foster online education include synchronous and synchronous communication, whiteboards,  assignment tools and trackers, online exam and assessments, and large data storage.   

Corporate training:  The tool is extremely beneficial for corporates and business enterprises to train their employees. Backed with features like on-demand knowledge resources, personalized learning programs, tracking employee skills, etc., it becomes easy for corporate leaders to enroll employees into various training programs and track their performances. It also assists in onboarding employees with customized training that aligns with employee skills and expertise. Leaders can even give feedback on it and help them identify the areas for improvement.  

Benefits of LMS

Reduce administrative work: The LMS helps institutes to offload the stress of managing administrative work.  It aggregates all the information in one place and helps administrators regulate routine work like evaluating curriculum, enrolling in new courses, scheduling meetings,  making payments, releasing bulletins, and so on from a single platform.

Enhance learners' engagement and reduce learning curve: The gamification features in LMS allow users to learn in an interactive way, thus reducing the learning curve. Besides that, users can earn badges, points, or rewards as they clear various levels, keeping them engaged and motivated for the content. LMS supports a blended learning approach ( virtual classrooms, e-learning, and in-person) elevates users' overall experience, and gives the opportunity to interact with content in different ways.  

Frictionless course delivery and monitor performance: Most of the tutor’s time is spent organizing and streamlining the courses. It gets complicated when there is a need to administer these courses to a large number of people. LMS simplifies this by allowing users to categorize courses as per classes, weeks, or as per topics. With streamlined course delivery, LMS improves tutors’ efficiency in delivering course content and higher participation of e-learners. Some top learning management systems give the flexibility to teach the same course with different tutors at the same time, acting as the perfect e-learning systems. Tutors can also administer various quizzes or tests to evaluate the prospect’s performance and identify the areas for improvement.  

Scalability:  The cloud-based learning management system can be scaled easily and allow users to add more courses and access them anywhere. It also saves time and costs on software maintenance. The flexibility of LMS to access content from any device and from anywhere help users to learn things on the go.

Ease of learning: The potential of the Learning management system to store courses and study materials in large volumes gives more options to select courses and access them at any time. Having a huge data volume of various learning materials, LMS also helps to deliver personalized learning. LMS, with machine learning capabilities, uses pattern recognition technology to figure out frequently searched items and difficulties faced by the users based on which the software feeds the content. Besides academics, LMS is popular for corporate training and administrating knowledge resources. 

Real-time data analytics: LMS software with data analytics feature allows users to track various metrics like students’ performance,  course completion rate,  certificates acclaimed, and so on.  These data can be very useful for schools and universities to identify the gap in the learning system and improve the education system.  With the help of LMS, organizations can even evaluate learners’ teaching satisfaction levels through polls, surveys, and questionnaires.  

There is no doubt that LMS offers endless benefits to educational institutions and business enterprises, but the secret to its success lies in selecting the right learning management system.  With an ever-growing number of LMS, finding a suitable software solution is a big challenge for most organizations.  It is imperative that organizations are aware of the LMS features, costs, and top players in the field to shortlist the best LMS system for their enterprise.

Top Features of Learning Management System

  • Course creation
  • Virtual classroom
  • Online exam and test evaluation
  • Group collaboration
  • Synchronous and Asynchronous communication
  • Reports and data analytics
  • Gamification
  • Multilingual support
  • Data tracking
  • Parent engagement
  • Text-to-speech
  • Online annotation
  • Mobile support
  • Payment gateway
  • Digital certificates and badges
  • Third-party tool integration
  • Customization
  • Customer support
  • Robust security and backup
  • Cross-platform accessibility
  • Compliance tracking

List of the Top Learning Management Systems

Moodle:  Moodle is a free and open-source learning management system rich in features like synchronous and asynchronous learning, SCORM compliance, gamification, learning management, etc. The popular LMS system is fully customizable and makes tools affordable due to its free and open-source model. Independent revision, decision-making exercises, video sharing, quizzes, and multiple-choice questions are some notable features of Moodle helping students to get quality education. Moodle also offers a dedicated LMS for corporates called Moodle Workspace.

Canvas LMS: Whether virtual, hybrid, or in-person, Canvas LMS is an open-source teaching and learning management platform that  provides a robust solution to elevate student learning. Besides standard learning management system features, it offers some unique services like turning content into conversation, video quizzes, and ready-to-use course templates, providing an extra edge to the learning management system. The software follows a tier-based pricing structure. Canvas LMS, integrated with the project management feature, helps institutes to accelerate their core activities.  

Cypher Learning: Cypher Learning is a holistic LMS tool designed for academia and business enterprises. The software is loaded with features that make the learning process frictionless and interactive, especially for educational institutes.   Some of them include timed quizzes, proctored assignments, H5P assignments, team assignments, micro-learning, and so on. Being the only platform to provide a universal translator, it allows students from all over the globe to connect and learn from each other. Cypher support for e-commerce and marketing tools even helps tutors to sell online courses (audio, video, or e-books).

BrainCert: It is an all-in-one unified training platform to learn, teach, and collaborate online. The software provides an unparalleled learning experience by embedding 4 modules that include an online testing platform, virtual classroom, online courses platform, and content management system. BrainCert is supported with tools to create, sell, and market courses online. 

Itslearning: Itslearning is a great LMS tool for educational institutes to create, organize and deliver courses and assess student performance. Itslearning facilitates students’ stronger engagement by fine-tuning workflows and continuous collaboration. Automation, 360-degree reporting, test tools, interactive assignments, etc., further fills the gap in the learning process. Inbuilt plagiarism tools and the ability to lock down students’ computers during tests enhance online learning credibility. The software offers a flexible pricing model and varies based on additional services, customized setup, and integration with other tools. 

Schoolbox LMS: Schoolbox is a simple yet powerful LMS tool designed to create student-centric learning. The cloud-based LMS tool supports digitized learning with its extensive list of features like course builder, self-assessment, rubric reporting, and customized learning solution. The tool provides a  parent’s dashboard that encourages parents to actively participate in their child’s learning process. Discussion boards, forums, content sharing, and social streams are exclusive features of tools making Schoolbox a collaborative learning platform for students. The tool offers affordable pricing.  

WizIQ: For Online teaching, test preparation, or corporate training WizIQ is a one-stop cloud LMS solution to train students, stakeholders, and customers. The tool makes the learning process productive with best-in-class features like high-definition video conferencing, automated server-side recording, live screen sharing, polls and surveys, interactive whiteboard, and real-time collaboration. The tool allows teachers to create unlimited tests and choose 9 different types of test formats from MCQ test to cloze test and image label test. Tutors can use this tool to create and sell customized courses. With its pay-as-you-go, WizIQ is an affordable and flexible LMS solution.

Teachmint: Teachmint LMS makes the teaching and learning process easier through two-way live class, live polls, digital whiteboard, online tests, and so on. The tool saves teachers’ a lot of time by automating activities like planning exams, creating tests, evaluating assignments, and student performance analysis. Teachmint LMS ensures active learning takes place by providing practice questions, unlimited recording, and premium content access. Large institutes can also take advantage of their other services like fee management, admission management, transport management, HR management, and hostel management.  

uQualio: The cloud-based video learning platform is a versatile tool used by academia, business enterprises, and NGOs for teaching and training purposes. uQualio streamlines the online learning process through its powerful course builder features, such as screen recording videos, quizzes, and micro-learning videos. Publishing, tagging, and distributing courses become super easy through its course management module. Other distinguishing features of uQualio include locating courses through QR code, timed learning, detailed course reports, and customized user certification. The tool gives the flexibility to embed courses as iFrames on any device.

Edsby:  Edsby is a next-generation LMS that is designed to serve K-12 schools. The tool gives centralized control to the learning system through its features like content builder, learning object repositories, and knowledge bases. It facilitates teacher-student collaboration through social classrooms, Google Workspace, whiteboards, screen-sharing, and live video sessions. Users can simplify the assessment and reporting processes by creating tests online, automatically grading them, and generating report cards. Services that differentiate Edsby from the rest include emotional check-ins, recording students' projects, parent-teacher conference scheduling, and so on.

Feature Comparison Guide to the Top Learning Management Systems

With thousands of LMS systems and a wide range of features to choose from, it becomes difficult for users to filter the best LMS system. To help end-users in selecting the best LMS system for their organizations or academic institutes, here is the comparison table of the LMS system features.   

The table below compares some top-notch learning management on various features and services like support for online courses, online test and assessment, virtual classrooms, gamification, mobile support, parent engagement, group collaboration, and synchronous learning.

learning managment tools feature comparison

Besides the above-listed features, there are a few other factors that users should consider before buying top learning management software. It includes customization, security, scalability, cloud-based access, and user experience.

Cost Comparison Guide to the Top Learning Management Systems

Name of Software Deployment model Set up fee Free trial/ Paid Software prices
Moodle Cloud / on-premise No setup fee (only for Moodle for school) Completely free Free and open source
Canvas LMS Cloud / on-premise One time charge Completely Free- basic version Available on request
Cypher Learning Cloud No setup fee Paid

Available on request

BrainCert Cloud No setup fee Paid $49-$279 billed monthly
Itslearning Cloud One time charge Paid Available on request
Schoolbox LMS Cloud / on-premise No set up fee Paid $28 -$36 per student, annual


Cloud / on-premise No setup fee Paid Available on request
Teachmint Cloud No setup fee Completely Free- basic version Available on request
uQualio Cloud No setup fee Free trial available $19.99 - $499 per month
Pay-as-you-go model
Edsby Cloud One time charge Paid Available on request

While these costs reflect prices of some popular LMS users can expect variation in the software price based on the number of users, monthly/annual payments, and other factors. Different software vendors follow different pricing structures like pay per users basis, pay-as-you-go, license fees, free and open source, etc.

“If you need to manage training and education programs for employees, customers, or students, you need an LMS. Don’t waste time and money picking the wrong one,” says Steven D. Foreman, writer and management consultant.

Tips to Choose the Best Enterprise Learning Management Systems

Align LMS with your business requirements: There are numerous LMS available in the market, but the key to find the best LMS for the organization is to align the business requirements with the LMS.  It is recommended that business organizations gather all their business requirements and identify the objective for implementing LMS in their organization.  It involves analyzing business workflow, goals, and budget and shortlisting the LMS that matches the most.

Research and filter the best LMS vendor: The process of finalizing the LMS vendor is just like finding a needle in a haystack. There are many factors that define the LMS vendor capabilities and delivering LMS that meets your needs, such as responsive customer support, zero downtime, flexible payment model, robust security, software pricing, etc. There are ways to find and gather information about the LMS vendor, like directly connecting with them through phone calls, visiting their web portal, social media accounts, etc. These can be helpful, but it provides limited data to gauge vendors' capabilities. The best way to find vendors is to collect reviews from genuine users or customers, and this can be achieved through a well-reputed review and rating platform like GoodFirms

Look for advanced features and architecture:  Old and outdated technologies can hamper LMS effectiveness. In the age of remote and personalized learning, features like real-time video streaming, automatic updates and notifications, on-demand resource access, etc., can keep users connected to the LMS and enhance their learning experience. LMS that is compatible with the latest technologies like cloud computing, AR/VR, AI and machine learning can enhance staff productivity and manage the workflow seamlessly. It is recommended that users choose the LMS that is equipped with advanced technologies and features.

Scalable: LMS that quickly adapts to the growing needs of an organization can save ample costs and time. The data stored on LMS are huge, and this volume increases as new courses, users, or knowledge resources are added to the LMS. Practically, it is not feasible to invest time and money to find new LMS whenever an organization expands its work horizon. LMS that is not scalable can often face issues like slow loading time, frequent bugs, and regular downtime. It is ideal to buy LMS software that is scalable and accommodates a large number of users.  

Compatible to existing setup: LMS can save users time in administrating courses, but if LMS is not compatible with the existing setup, it can become an overhead for the organization. Shifting everything from one system to another from scratch could be an overwhelming job and could go through lots of technical complexities before it is fully operational. It is necessary that users ensure that LMS seamlessly integrates with the existing setup.  

SCORM compliant: SCORM, or Sharable Content Object Reference Model is a technical specification that is interoperable; in other words, it allows content to upload to any LMS system. SCORM provides the flexibility to cater a wide range of content based on individual or organizational needs. Other standards and specifications that the learning management system should comply with are WCAG, ADA, xAPI, AICC, and IMS.   

How does Automation In Learning Management Systems Make Organization Efficient?

Beneficial for administrators and learners both, automation in the learning management system helps users to bypass many manual tasks and finetune the learning process. There are multiple ways users can explore LMS automation potential, for instance, centralized notifications, which ensure that users get every updates about the tasks like upcoming exams, scheduled meetings, important announcements, collecting certificates and accolades, etc. Similarly, many administrative tasks can be automated, like enrolling candidates, allocating training, updating class curriculum, tracking attendance, sending feedback, and so on. Automation can even be useful to set up rule-based triggers and apply filters that help to target specific groups or classes. For example, organizations can create triggers to enroll students to revision classes automatically when they score low. These time-saving automation properties in LMS further increase its potential by integrating with other tools like workflow management, project management, course authoring software, school management software, exam software, CRM, and email marketing automation tools. The LMS even helps tutors to automatically track their Edtech business (creating rule-based triggers), like when prospects subscribe, purchase, or cancel courses. Realizing the significance of a streamlined learning management process, the automation feature in LMS can be used in infinite ways to increase productivity and save time.

What Are the Future Trends In Learning Management Systems?

“Think before you buy.”

Developing skills like critical thinking, quick learning, and problem-solving are the main objectives of educational or training programs.  Although LMS is simplifying the learning system and helping organizations to achieve these goals, there are a few soup-to-nuts trends that will further unlock the potential of LMS and shape the future of online learning.

Immersive learning ( AR/VR and Metaverse): AR/VR immersive learning techniques have driven the attention of educational institutes and business enterprises due to their potential to enhance the learning experience through experiential learning. It allows students or learners to immerse themselves in a virtual world and engage with content in a multi-sensory, visceral way. Coupled with the Metaverse, AR/VR can be a game changer in learning management systems. As per one of the reports, Metaverse in the education market is estimated to grow from $3.9 billion by 2028. It can leave a positive impact on learners and improve various aspects of learning like engagement, attention, knowledge retention, etc. As per morehouse report, students have achieved better results with Metaverse studies than with traditional in-person teaching methods. AR/VR also helps learners to connect with peers that don’t have access locally. It helps to create an environment like the real world and interact with subjects on a deeper level. 

Nano learning and micro-learning: Nano-learning is a type of learning where content is consumed in a condensed form through videos or animation. The idea behind Nano learning is to save time and learn things quickly. Microlearning is somewhat similar to nano learning, but it is more focused on a particular topic, and it is slightly lengthier compared to Nano learning. In both types of learning, the content is delivered to users in creative ways like quizzes, games, podcasts, slide shares, infographics, etc. For today's digitally native generation accessing nano or microlearning on their device can be more interesting. The next-generation LMS system supporting nano-learning or micro-learning material can reinforce the learning experience.

AI-driven learning management system: As per one of the research, AI integrated with online learning systems can enhance learners' performance and learning quality. However, AI is not just impactful to students alone but teachers too, who most of the time find themselves occupied in handling administrative work. They can become productive by automating administrative tasks through AI, like tracking attendance, grading exams, preparing questionnaires, student evaluation and feedback, etc., and teachers can save and invest their valuable time in the teaching process. There is much anticipation of AI and NLP in training students or employees with learning (intellectual or physical) disabilities, and as per the report, it has the potential to replace traditional classroom learning for special needs students.    

Personalized learning through chatbot:  Different learners have different learning preferences and pace for absorbing the content. The Edtech industry that is optimistic about using AI-based chatbots for delivering personalized learning sees great benefits when integrated with the learning management system. Advanced chatbots like Chatgpt can be used to curate teaching material that is tailored to learners' specific needs. Some Edtech industries are already using chatbots like Q-chat to make learning personalized and interactive. Learning Management Tools integrated with AI can test learners' knowledge and create a learning model that is personalized to the users.


quote grail knight from the last crusade

The future of work, rapidly evolving on the cusp of digitalization, places greater emphasis on the next-generation workforce that has better analytical, critical, and problem-solving skills. The learning management system supporting the hypothesis of continuous and flexible learning helps enterprises to achieve these goals through its range of features. There is no doubt that LMS makes the learning process more engaging, interactive, and frictionless, but finding the right LMS tool that aligns with your business projects and budget is mission-critical as it can help you avoid technical debt. Use the tips given in this blog to pick the right learning management system.

Paul Richards
Paul Richards

Paul  Richards is a Senior Content Creator at GoodFirms, an IT research and review firm with 7+ years of rich experience. An ardent sports enthusiast and travel freak, he loves to share his ideas and knowledge on everything technology, software systems, digital marketing, and the latest industry trends. An avid reader, he likes to explore and browse various websites to accumulate more information on different topics.

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