Whether you’re using online learning to train your employees or monetizing your knowledge in the form of online classes, you’re going to need a learning management system (LMS). An LMS will make it easier to build your courses, keep your content organized, and make everything accessible to your students.
Moodle is one of the most popular LMS software on the market with comprehensive course-building features. This free, open-source platform offers organizations the ability to build a customized, effective learning environment.
Although Moodle is popular and widely-used, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right LMS for you. Let’s dive into some Moodle alternatives and what makes them great options for different types of companies.
An overview of Moodle
Moodle enables educators to create personalized learning environments for their students. And it does all this through a free, robust, secure, and integrated system. As an open-source learning platform, Moodle can be customized to fit the needs of any organization with a wide variety of plug-ins and add-ons.
With 213 million users across academic and enterprise organizations, Moodle is the world’s most widely used learning platform. It’s easy to see why— given that it’s free, and you can scale it to meet the needs of a few users or millions of students.
In addition to a flexible tool set that supports both blended learning and online courses, Moodle also includes external features that inspire collaboration like forums, wikis, chats, and blogs.
So why would you want a Moodle alternative? As an open source platform, Moodle requires you to download the software onto your own web server or a hosting company’s server, which may not be the best option for smaller businesses. It also lacks graphic user interface (GUI) customization features and can be hard to navigate for first-time users.
Top Moodle alternatives for online learning
1. Google Classroom
Google Classroom isn’t your typical learning management system. Rather than providing robust features that allow you to control every aspect of online learning, it’s focused on integrating tools that instructors already use. Instructors choose Google Classroom for its simplicity and ease of use, and it’s often used as a supplement to in-person learning rather than a replacement.
What makes this Moodle alternative attractive to businesses and SaaS brands is that it’s part of G-Suite, which many people are already familiar with and using regularly. Anyone with a Google account can access Google Classroom with their Google credentials. They don’t have to sign up for yet another account with another password just to access your course materials.
Instructors can create their course in a matter of minutes, adding course materials by uploading them from your computer or Google drive. Inviting students is as easy as inputting their email address (which doesn’t have to be a Gmail account). Students can access the material on any device, making it ideal for non-traditional classrooms.
Google Classroom has three main areas—Classwork, People, and Grades. In Classwork, you can organize your class materials by topic and create assignments and quizzes. You have the option to use either short-answer or multiple choice questions. You can also use Google forms to create assessments.
While Google Classroom is not for those who need a comprehensive, robust learning management system, it’s ideal for anyone looking for a simple, free solution with not much of a learning curve. It offers the basics, making it a nice complement to in-person learning or online workshops.
- Easy to set up classes and assignments
- Makes it easy to share materials and announcements
- Simplifies the process of collecting and evaluating student work
- Integrates Google’s productivity tools you may already be using
- Automatically comes with G-Suite
- Doesn’t have well-defined roles like teacher, teaching assistant, student, admin, etc.
- Can’t customize or rearrange the course page
- Missing some of the more comprehensive LMS features like control over user permissions and a variety of question types
- Not designed to replace in-person classes, but rather support them
- Does not offer advanced reporting
Who it’s best for: Those who need a platform that supplements an in-person course or just need something simple and free
Price: Google Classroom is free!
Thinkific makes the course-building process easy with quick upload and drag-and-drop functionality. You can build a course quickly—no coding required—but still have enough powerful features and customization options to make your branded course comprehensive. (And if you do want to code, you have access to the HTML and CSS to make tweaks!)
A place where Thinkific excels is in student management. The platform displays the learner’s name, picture, and contact info. It also gives you details on how the learner is progressing through the course.
One unique aspect of Thinkific is that it allows you to build and design a website to sell your courses, something Moodle doesn’t offer. If you want to monetize your courses, this drag-and-drop course website can be fully customized to your branding, and you can even use your own domain name.
Thinkific offers ecommerce payment processing with a secure checkout process, allowing you to accept all major credit cards without any transaction fees. You can offer flexible pricing options like one-time fees, subscriptions, coupons, and promos. It also allows for free trials, payment plans, and customized first one-month payments.
- Permanently free version that allows you to sample core features
- Get full hosting of your course so you don’t need an additional web host
- Includes full ecommerce payment processing, accepting all major credit cards with a simple, secure checkout
- Doesn’t charge transaction fees on payments made by learners
- Allows you to dive deep into the HTML and CSS for full customization (if you want to code)
- Unlike similar CMS Teachable, Thinkific does not have an online marketplace where you can market your courses
- Email and email marketing are not integrated into the platform
- Only offers phone or email support, no chat support for quick troubleshooting
Who it’s best for: Brands that are monetizing their online course content and need an all-in-one platform
Price: There’s a free plan for core features with paid plans ranging from $39/month to $399/month.
3. Canvas LMS
Canvas LMS is only behind Blackboard in terms of LMS market share, making it a popular option for those who need a comprehensive Moodle alternative.
With a list of robust features, you can completely customize your Canvas courses to your unique needs. While it can be used as a complement to an in-person course or as part of a hybrid course, Canvas is also ideal for courses that are completely online.
One of the coolest Canvas features is the SpeedGrader, which can cut grading time by 50%, according to Canvas. This grading feature allows you to provide targeted feedback with annotations and video comments. You can also include a rubric for scoring, which just requires you to click on the rubric section the student falls under to have the score automatically calculated.
Another unique feature is the ability to create modules. Modules allow you to organize your course content into units by topic. You can create prerequisites for modules so that students have to complete prior coursework before moving on.
True, Canvas can be overwhelming at first for learners who are new to the platform. But it’s fairly easy to navigate given the platform’s user interface design. Using a menu on the left, learners can navigate to whatever section they need to with a breadcrumb trail at the top of the page so they can see how they got there.
Advanced analytics allow you to track student activity. You can see who is completing which assignments and who is watching which videos and for how long. Detailed video stats give you a better idea of which videos are resonating and which may need to be revisited.
- Features intuitive user interface design that’s easy for non-techies to navigate
- Sophisticated tools to create and customize your course
- Platforms for sharing class modules, enabling integrations, and publishing course content
- Makes it easy to organize content into modules with many options for learners to interact with the content and each other
- Has an open API and extensive third-party integrations
- Can be a bit of a learning curve for both instructors and learners due to its extensive features
- Takes awhile to build out a course, even a simple one, and there are no template options for quick start
- No built-in auto save feature, which can cause students to lose work
- Mobile app can sometimes be glitchy and difficult to use
- No built-in conferencing tools for those who want to incorporate live face-to-face online learning
Who it’s best for: Businesses and individuals who want robust features and customization capabilities to provide a dynamic, engaging online learning environment
Price: Canvas is free to use.
4. Blackboard Learn
Blackboard Learn offers a suite of powerful, yet simple virtual classroom tools. This LMS makes it possible for both instructors and learners to stay organized, engage with others, and take action on classroom assignments with ease.
A unique thing about Blackboard Learn compared to the other Moodle alternatives is its SaaS deployment. This allows you to access the latest features and updates as soon as they become available. You can also enjoy zero downtime updates and the peace of mind in knowing that the Blackboard staff is managing the behind-the-scenes work 24/7/365.
One of the greatest benefits of Blackboard Lean is its analytics and reporting tools. With an immense amount of data at your fingertips, you can dig into information and discover patterns that will allow you to find out what’s working and adjust your approach for optimal learning outcomes.
Blackboard Learn also has a partner network of over 300 third-party tools that organizations can integrate. This allows companies to continue to use the tools they’re already familiar with and use on a regular basis to enhance the learning experience.
- Offers many user-friendly options for organizing content like modules and folders
- Easy to post course-wide announcements, assignments, and other details
- Integrates with third-party apps like Panopto, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams
- Eliminate downtime with SaaS deployment
- Partners with a large ecosystem of educational tools and services
- Cost is on the higher end for Moodle alternatives
- Mobile app is slow and sometimes glitchy
- User interface can be a bit clunky, awkward, and counter intuitive, making it difficult to navigate
- No easy way to duplicate discussion board and journal prompt topics across different course sections
Who it’s best for: Large businesses with sizable budgets that are looking for an alternative just as powerful and robust as Moodle
Price: Contact Blackboard for pricing options.
As another Moodle alternative geared toward monetization, Teachable focuses on helping businesses build, customize, and market their courses online. The platform gives you everything you need to get started monetizing your knowledge by hosting video files, creating sales pages, processing payments, and paying affiliates.
With Teachable, you can create a course in a day. If you have all your content created, all you need to do is upload your text, video, and images. Then, create your sales page and set up a simple funnel. You’re ready to go in just one day. Technically, you could make a course sale on the same day the course goes live!
One of the greatest benefits of Teachable is that it’s easy for beginners with no design or technical experience. The power editor allows you to customize your course pages with different forms of multimedia to create an enjoyable experience for your students.
With a variety of learning tools, Teachable offers unlimited video bandwidth and unlimited courses. Depending on the plan you have, you can also get the tools to offer coaching services, one-on-one meetings, and group coaching sessions as well as quizzes, and course completion certificates.
When it comes to payments, you have flexible options. You can offer early bird pricing options, coupons, subscriptions, memberships, one-time payments, bundles, and more. You can even manage and pay your affiliates through the Teachable platform.
- Offers businesses all the tools they need to create and customize beautiful courses without design skills
- Allows you to manage and pay affiliates through the same platform
- Handles all the tech stuff for you, so you don’t have to worry about course hosting or plugins
- Provides you with easy-to-understand analytics that you can use to better understand your students and make improvements to your course
- Gives you the option for 1-click upsells, making it easier to sell more at checkout
- Charges transaction fees when students buy your course
- Doesn’t offer a lot of integrations, so you’ll need Zapier to connect the tools you’re already using
- Caching issues that may prevent students from seeing up-to-date page information
- Can be tedious to design sales page (though not necessarily difficult)
Who it’s best for: Those who are new to course building or any tech- or design-adverse person that wants an easy way to get their course up and running while being able to monetize it
Price: There is a free plan with base features. Paid plans start at $29/month (billed annually).
LearnDash is a WordPress LMS that enables you to turn your WordPress website into a fully functional course. It integrates with many other popular apps, allowing you to create a completely unique learning platform.
LearnDash works with any WordPress theme without the need for additional coding. You can even use your favorite page builder like Elementor, BeaverBuilder, and Divi to build your course. You can use any type of lmedia, including SWF files, HTML5, SOCRM, xAPI, and others. You can also use LearnDash across a WordPress multi-site network.
It also offers features to help you monetize your courses so you can start making money from your knowledge and experience. Offer one-time purchases, subscriptions, memberships, course bundles, and bulk access, and accept payment using PayPal, Stripe, or 2Checkout.
One of the most unique features of LearnDash is the LearnDash Focus Mode, which allows you to create a completely branded learning portal. This offers a distraction-free environment for your learners and provides a seamless user experience going from your website to your course content.
Gamify the learning process by awarding official certificates and badges based on quiz performance or course completion. You can also display learners who have the top scores with a leaderboard, inspiring others to step up their game!
- User-friendly drag-and-drop builder makes it easy for anyone to design a beautiful course
- Distraction-free interface that includes your branding to provide a seamless user experience
- Integrates with many popular apps like PayPal, Stripe, WooCommerce, MailChimp, Samcart, Slack, ConvertKit, and Zapier
- Integrates a flexible quiz builder that works similar to the drag-and-drop course builder without needing to use a separate interface
- Create email automation rules based on engagement triggers allowing you to save time while improving the learner experience
- Built-in payment options are limited with no option for free trials, one-time sign-up fees, coupons, or promos
- Built-in membership options are limited with no option to restrict access to specific pages for only certain types of learners
- Requires registration for documentation, help videos, and community forums
- More of a learning curve than its cloud LMS counterparts
Who it’s best for: WordPress users and developers who need to change a WordPress site into a learning management system
Price: The Basic package is $159 for one site license and unlimited courses and users.
7. Talent LMS
With drag-and-drop functionality, creating courses on TalentLMS is easy, even for those without design or tech experience. Add videos, presentations, and docs to your courses as you build them from scratch or reuse content from a previous course. Unique to TalentLMS, you can also upload SCORM, xAPI, or cmi5 files to increase interactivity.
While some of the other Moodle alternatives don’t offer support for live sessions, TalentLMS does allow you to set up online or in-person training through the platform. You can invite your learners to self-register and send out automatic reminders to improve attendance.
To keep learners on track, you can set up detailed learning paths with courses grouped into related categories. Course builders also have the opportunity to set up completion rules for pre-requisites so that every learner is getting all the information they need in the right order.
Another unique benefit is the localization capabilities. Make learners feel at home, no matter where they are by setting up the platform to match the user’s language and time zone. With support for over 30 languages, TalentLMS is a great alternative for those with international audiences.
- Allows hosting of live online training sessions with self-registration and automatic reminders
- Provides course builders with the opportunity to create a pre-designed learning path based on the learner’s position or experience
- Offers a solid user experience that makes it easy for both learners and students to find what they’re looking for and access it
- Supports latest e-learning content standards by allowing you to upload SCORM, xAPI, and cmi5 files
- Available in over 30 languages, allowing you to localize the content for the learner’s language and time zone
- As a cloud-hosted solution, its performance can be impacted by poor Internet connections
- Templates for the certifications and portal are rather limited
- Cost is more than some other LMS options based on the number of users
- Reports can sometimes be clunky and lack depth for analytics
Who it’s best for: Businesses that want to add a live online component to their courses and those with international audiences
Price: The free plan offers up to 5 users and 10 courses. Paid plans start at $59/month (billed annually).
Supporting 55 million+ learners, OpenEdX is a Moodle alternative built to make learning more interactive while simplifying communication between instructors and learners. The creators have taken the scalable learning software behind edX—an online learning platform that offers high-quality courses from institutions like Harvard and MIT— and made it available for everyone as a free, open source platform.
The course builder is intuitive, allowing instructors to create and publish courses with ease. Design engaging and interactive content utilizing HD video, animation, simulation, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) learning technology. Encourage teamwork and collaboration using discussion forums, group chats, video conferencing and file sharing.
OpenEdX allows you to integrate with third-party learning tools through XBLock. For example, you can integrate YouTube to bring in your existing video content or with Zoom to provide live instruction, office hours, or video conferencing.
- Created for and able to handle medium to large audiences
- Easily integrate third-party modules using Xblock plugins
- Intuitive course builder that allows anyone to create a course without the need for extensive training sessions
- Allows you to automatically publish an entire course at a specific date in the future
- Export and import courses to use as course templates
- No built-in tools for learning gamification like badges or leader boards
- Specialized for larger online courses, so it may not be the best option for small businesses
- User interface on the mobile app could be more user-friendly
- Evaluations are not as user-friendly or intuitive as they could be
Who it’s best for: Organizations with a large number of learners and those who want to offer large free courses
Price: It’s completely free!
Finding the right Moodle alternative for you
With so many learning management systems available, it can be a tough choice when it comes time to pick the LMS that’s right for you. Use this list as a starting point for finding an LMS that offers the features you need.
Looking for more Moodle alternatives? Keep an eye on AppSumo deals, and you may just see a lifetime deal for the LMS of your dreams!