How Much Does a Free LMS Really Cost!

LMS

We have already discussed how to calculate the cost of an enterprise LMS. We have also discussed the pros and cons of an open-source vs SaaS Learning Management System. Open-source software (OSS) is an effective example of open collaboration. A licensed source code gives users the option to use, study, change, and distribute the software. In EdTech (for both corporates and educational institutions), an OSS LMS can be used for many activities. For instance, blended learning, distance learning, flipped classroom, and e-learning.

Several users opt for an open-source LMS, believing that it is free. But at the end of the day, does it really arrive at zero cost? Yes, the source code of the software is available openly for download and is free to use. But there are certain hidden costs that organisations must be aware of before opting for this solution. And today, we are here to enlighten you about the real, long-term pric  e of the so-called ‘free LMS’. Therefore, let’s get on with it!

What Are the Hidden Costs in an Open-source Free LMS?
Installation and Customization

It’s true that once you download and install a free LMS, you can instantly access the code without paying any additional fee. You can even avail yourself of the user licenses free. However, the issue arises when you decide to get the LMS running. You have to scour for the necessary skills required to install the server. For the purposes mentioned above, you have to deploy your IT team or recruit external experts. In both cases, you end up spending quite an amount of money.

Hosting                  

Once you complete the installation and customization processes, you have to think about hosting your free LMS. Users will access the software for learning and corporate training. One option is to host the LMS on-premise by buying the specified hardware. The second alternative is to host the LMS on the cloud. Even in the latter case, you need to subscribe to a reliable hosting service.

Technical Support

It’s rare for open-source free LMSs to offer dedicated and consistent tech support. You will usually have access to forums, where finding a solution for a time-bound problem is difficult. Since the customization and administration of an open-source LMS is solely your responsibility, you are forced to solve technical roadblocks like de-bugging and upgrades on your own. Again, you will need to invest in a dedicated IT team or external experts to give you timely solutions.

Training and Administration

It’s challenging to administer most of the open-source free LMSs. You have to seek expert assistance. And this demands money and a budget. The choice is yours — do you want to deploy your in-house staff or do you wish to hire an external professional. Will s/he be full time or part-time? Moreover, you will also need to offer the necessary training to your LMS administrators.

Regular Upgrades

After the customization and setup of an open-source free LMS, you have to continually improvise on its features as your organisation evolves. For installing the next upgrade, you spend some extra bucks.

Conclusion

Open-source and free Online Learning Management Systems appear to be the perfect fit when you compare them with a commercial LMS. There are no licensing costs. You even have the flexibility to customise and add features. But they do involve several hidden expenses as mentioned above — such as setup, hosting, maintenance, and support. If you already have a dedicated in-house team to handle the aforementioned tasks, you can rest assured of lesser costs. If not, it is better to consider all the factors before picking an open-source free LMS.

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