The leading open source LMS Moodle with its huge user base and profile (at least in the world of e-learning) does have a number of peers. It would be unfair to call them rivals, and of course we would advise you to consider all options if you are selecting an LMS / VLE.

So, which other open source LMS/VLEs should you consider, though none of them have the huge numbers of learners that Moodle has , many are worth considering.

Dokeos came about in 2004-5 and has grown steadily in usage numbers, and appears to be making good progress in European education and European government bodies, especially in Belgium from where it emerged. The Dokeos development community while active appears quite small. Dokeos has a number of iterations – Dokeos Pro and Dokeos Mind, The Pro version being a charged for version.

Sakai – despite its name emerged in 2004-5 in the USA, and has grown steadily across the world. It considers itself a project, and focuses on teaching and collaboration with 2 distinct products. The Sakai eco-system is evolving, with a small number of commercial vendors now providing services for the market such as hosting, though a small number compared to the Moodle eco-system.

EFront is a well evolved platform with which we have had a good experience. It was used to good effect by our partners Asset tec in Athens to support  the delivery of our Leonardo transfer of innovation project “Enable”. EFront dates back over 10 years and has benefited from considerable development, with a number of editions for more commercial usage. The basic level is free, then pricing begins at €379 and upward.

There are of course many other Open Source LMS/VLEs on the market, such as A Tutor, OLAT and ILIAS being just some that have emerged from a number of universities, and that are available without licence fees.

So, can anybody catch Moodle in the numbers of e-learners using its services? Probably not, and here is why:

The success of Moodle, and increasingly of Sakai, is not just the pricing model – (free though it is), but the community-orientated approach that allows and actively encourages development from the broad base of users and also crucially the growing number of commercial support partners that allow many organisations to buy into the benefits of these products, confident that the support levels offered are “enterprise standard”, and not just enthusiast standard!

For a detailed look at the differences of the LMS’s take a look at Haphaestus Books publication on Free Learning Management Systems, which has proved informative in creating this blog piece.

Expert providers: Webanywhere are the largest Moodle Partners in Europe. For those requiring a VLE in schools, businesses, charities or not-for-profit organisations, they are a full-service Moodle provider.