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Top 10 Free Learning Management Systems for HR / Business - November 2020

The best free LMS software for businesses, top vendors, categories, pitfalls, pricing, and more

Making an effort to keep your team at the forefront of their game through in-house training programs doesn’t have to be super expensive. Among many other things, 2020 has shown that having a proper learning management system among your software stack is of extreme importance, even if you’re not exactly running a higher education institution. 

If you’re looking for good LMS vendors that won’t break your organization’s bank account or that will at least have a free and unlimited version that you can try before choosing to pay for something, we’ve done a lot of the initial work for you. Through hours of research and interviews with HR professionals in small and medium-sized companies, we’ve narrowed down the best options in the market when it comes to a free LMS. These are some cost-friendly alternatives to software like Docebo, SAP Litmos, Absorb LMS, and Canvas. You can also checkout our article on the best learning management systems.

Female employee using learning management system

We spend hundreds of hours researching the best HR and recruiting software so you don’t have to.  We never take money from vendors during our research phase and rely heavily on practitioners and experts to help us recommend the right software.  Most of the vendors featured on our site have no commercial relationship with us, we want to feature the best software for our readers regardless. Learn more

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Top Free Learning Management Systems

We track thousands of HR Tech solutions. Here are the best free learning management systems as of November 2020.

The philosophy behind Myicourse is to encourage just about anyone to promote and share their valuable knowledge, which is why it’s free. This LMS platform lets you create a virtual & branded learning institution where you can publish or even sell courses. Content can be set as public and shared with anyone or made private and only viewable by whomever you select. While it’s not entirely aimed at small businesses, it’s proven to be popular with entrepreneurs. Myicourse is fully customizable and therefore a good enough tool for employee training and onboarding. Some highlights among their features are:

  • Advanced Analytics: For corporate training, Myicourse aims towards giving HR managers a bird’s eye view of the student experience. It monitors and reports for student traffic, time spent on courses, test results, and much more.
  • Branding & Naming: The Myicourse site you create is fully brandable with your company’s name, choice of colors, images, and corporate logo. The resulting URL will be something like “selectsoftwarereviews.myicourse.com”.

Myicourse

Stats:

  • Over 225k users
  • 10k+ online colleges created 
  • More than 6 million hours of instructional material provided
  • 12k+ online courses

Myicourse

Pricing:

If you set your content as public, the tool is free for an unlimited number of students and courses. If you set it as private, it’s free for up to 100 students and 100 courses. Additional features like banner ad removal, custom banner ads, and custom certificates are available for a separate monthly fee. 

Get Started

Best for:

Businesses with up to 10,000 users and anything smaller than that. Unfortunately, they don’t offer an enterprise plan as of yet. 

Visit the Myicourse website to learn more.

Worth Checking Out:

Their royalty feature lets you pre-set payments in case you need to compensate someone that helped create your courses.

With a beautiful and intuitive design, it’s surprising that GoSkills is free forever and for as many learners as you like. They offer the option to upgrade and unlock more features or gain access to their library of over 70 award-winning on-demand courses. Their free LMS, however, is simple, easy to use, and includes most of what a small or medium-sized business would need to train employees:

  • Content Management: Upload your courses from any content on the web. Choose to conduct employee training with classroom courses, embedded videos, external links, as well as custom courses through SCORM, xAPI, AICC, or CMI5.
  • Reporting & Analytics: Assign courses to different teams with ease, create learner groups, and generate specific reports for each of them. The key metrics include course completion, time to complete, tests taken, and certificates earned.

GoSkills

Stats:

  • EdTechX Startup Winner 2020 
  • Used by over 600 businesses
  • 93% of learners give their experience at least 4 stars out of 5.

GoSkills

Pricing:

GoSkills is free forever, for as many users as you need, you only pay for the courses that you might use.  

Get Started with a Free Trial

Best for:

All kinds of businesses, but especially those that would favor a cloud-based and easy-to-set up LMS with ready-made content. 

Visit the GoSkills Website to learn more.

Worth Checking Out:

GoSkills’ free LMS also offers self-tracking and goal setting, gamification, social learning (see which courses others in the organization are taking), and more.

Blackboard is one of the most popular LMS tools out there. Their version for business is not free, although they do offer a free demo. For that reason, their free-forever version, CourseSites, has become popular with small businesses. It is hosted online and the user experience is quite similar to the old WordPress dashboard. Whether you’re familiar with that or not, it’s quite easy to sign up for and start uploading training materials. Some of its features are: 

  • Course Discussions: Each course has a built-in feature to facilitate debate around it and encourage students to share what they learn and any pertinent resources.
  • Blackboard Collaborate: You can program live webinar-like training sessions that are hosted right on the app. These can also integrate with the workflow of an existing course and be programmed into the built-in calendar.

Blackboard CourseSites

Stats:

  • Blackboard has over 100 million learners worldwide. 
  • 20 years of experience go into the making of their software.

Blackboard CourseSites

Pricing:

CourseSites is free forever, for as many users as you need, you only pay for the courses that you might use.  

Get Started for Free

Best for:

Small businesses and organizations that would like to get a feel for the Blackboard experience without spending a dime. 

Visit the Blackboard CourseSites Website to learn more.

Worth Checking Out:

The mobile version of CourseSites is the Blackboard app, available for Android & iOS, which would also give you a taste of the Blackboard LMS for Business.

From the eLearning family of TalentLMS and eFront, comes TalentCards. This training platform is mainly designed for mobile workers and it’s free for up to 5 users. It’s for businesses that need to deliver training to staff members regardless of where their work might take them. For this reason, the learning content in TalentCards is oriented toward highly-engaging and bite-sized lessons. The idea is to provide frontline workers, such as on-site support staff, with training that they can access through the mobile devices they already carry with them. Some use cases for TalentCards include:

  • Mobile Learning Card Editor: Training materials are refined into the most essential information presented in the form of cards that users can access on any smartphone or tablet. TalentCards’ mission is to let you leverage the power of microlearning.
  • Micro-assessments: These cards can also include images, audio, and videos, and short assessments at the end to boost memory retention. Naturally, the assessments assign a score to the user and this translates into gamification-like features.

TalentCards

Stats:

  • Available in over 13 languages
  • The first 5 users are free forever 
  • No storage limit

TalentCards

Pricing:

TalentCards is free for up to 5 users, then it’s $49 for up to 50 users and keeps increasing after that until the custom enterprise plans, which are for companies with more than 500 users. 

Get Started with a Free Trial

Best for:

Businesses of all sizes, but especially those with a high percentage of mobile workers, and those looking to enhance their training with microlearning tactics. 

Visit the TalentCards Website to learn more.

Worth Checking Out:

As the LMS for mobile workers, TalentCards also features Card Index and Search so people can swiftly find the micro lesson they’re looking for. They also perform their own training research and share it widely.

What’s interesting about Coggno is that they’re also not just a software vendor, but a whole ecosystem of online courses created by experts in different fields. A good bulk of their offering is directed towards businesses, and their LMS is just a part of the service. If you’re looking for something very basic and access to ready-made courses from third-parties, their Training University program is free for unlimited users. Some of the features are: 

  • Live Training: Apart from letting each team member go through courses in their own time, you can also create live training sessions in the form of webinars.
  • Certifications: A good percentage of Coggno’s collection of courses lets your office get certified in everything from HR Skills to Jobsite Safety.

Coggno

Stats:

  • Over 2,450,00 courses taken 
  • Thousands of online training courses available

Coggno

Pricing:

Coggno is completely free for unlimited users if you narrow your training materials to their complementary course offering. If you want to add original content, their private LMS starts at $19 per user per year for 25 to 200 users. The enterprise version, for more than 200 users, starts at $15 per user per year. 

Get Started with a Free Trial

Best for:

Teams that want to leverage a wide course library and prefer not to create their own training materials for the time being. 

Visit the Coggno Website to learn more.

Worth Checking Out:

Coggno offers many authoring tools, SCORM friendliness, and key features like an automated training process and reporting.

With pricing that’s been reported to get as low as $0.60 per year, per user, UpsideLMS is worth a mention here even if they don’t have a fully-free version. They do offer a free trial though, and are a highly valued and award-winning SaaS LMS. They’re also the makers of Plethora, an eLearning library with over 80,000 courses and videos for organizational training. Here are some of the features that set their LMS apart:

  • AI-Powered Engagement: The LMS makes tailored recommendations to users based on their previous behavior, interests, and learning style.
  • Multiple Portal Management: You can host several portals with different branding, separate login access, and a distinct URL. These personalized learning environments can be adapted to different departments or multiple organizations.

Upside LMS

Stats:

  • 250+ clients all over the world
  • 1.5 million learners and growing 
  • An 80% repeat business rate 
  • Used in over 20 different industries

Upside LMS

Pricing:

UpsideLMS offers custom pricing depending on your needs and team size. As mentioned above, the price per user per year can be as low a fraction of a dollar, but it’s really a matter of getting in touch with them and they’ll set you up with a personalized quote. 

Get Started with a Free Trial  or Request a Demo.

Best for:

Enterprises looking for cost and time savings in an LMS that is rich in capabilities, scalable, and extremely reliable. 

Visit the UpsideLMS Website to learn more.

Worth Checking Out:

Among its many features, Upside LMS comes with multi-lingual support. English is the default, but you can change the platform to Arabic, French, Spanish, and much more, with a single click.

If you’d like to go the open source route, Chamilo is one of the best-rated learning management and collaboration systems out there. Like with any open source tool, It would require you to do the installation yourself and configure your own servers, which is certainly a cost that needs contemplating. Other than that, the software is free to use and there is a very active community of users that supports the project and offers guidance in the face of any issues. As to the software itself, it’s a powerful and customizable LMS with features like:

  • Course Creation: You can organize your learning content in separate courses and decide how complex to make them, whether it’s a simple text course with multiple choice quizzes or advanced courses with features like their own forum, group collaboration, and assignments.
  • Learning Types: Choose from teaching styles like asynchronous instructor-led, asynchronous self-paced or blended learning. You can also host live lessons in virtual classrooms through video conferencing. Mobile learning is also supported as long as there is an internet connection.

Chamilo

Stats:

Chamilo

Pricing:

Completely free and for as many users as you like, you just have to consider the costs of setting up and maintenance, since it’s self-hosted. 

Get a Demo

Best for:

Chamilo is used by organizations of various sizes and in all kinds of sectors, ideal for those that prefer the open-source alternative for their LMS. 

Visit the Chamilo Website to learn more.

Worth Checking Out:

Chamilo offers specific features for certification and compliance management.

This highly-popular LMS is designed for organizations that want online learning for their employees, partners, and even customers. They strive to get rid of the complexity that comes with creating and distributing learning programs and help you launch courses in record time. Their claim is that people are able to share courses two times as fast as with similar software because of how easy they make it for you to reuse content from other sources. Their notable features include: 

  • Gamification: Courses are made more fun with the option to give out points and badges, set up different levels, and even sync with leaderboards in real-time.
  • Fast Content Creation: TalentLMS lets you build courses with the training materials you already have or using content from other web sources such as Google Drive, Youtube, Prezi, WordPress, SCORM, and more.

TalentLMS

Stats:

  • Trusted by over 70,000 organizations worldwide
  • Publish your course 2 times faster than with the category average.

TalentLMS

Pricing:

TalentLMS is free for up to 5 users as long as you don’t create more than 10 courses. Afterwards, the pricing is as follows:

Starter: $59 / monthBasic: $129 / monthPlus: $249 / monthPremium: $429 / month
Up to 40 usersUp to 100 usersUp to 500 usersUp to 1000 users

Custom enterprise pricing is available for companies with more than 1000 users. 

Get Started with a Free Trial

Best for:

Thanks to its many plans, TalentLMS is likely to fit the needs of any company regardless of size, training necessities, and whether they have existing instructional content or not.

Visit the TalentLMS Website to learn more.

Worth Checking Out:

The TalentLMS platform is available on mobile, desktop, and also supports virtual training sessions. Sourcing from all sorts of original content and their talent library is also possible.

Among its many tools, Bitrix24 comes with a knowledge management system. Although they call it an eLearning module, it is in essence an LMS. You can create online training courses, conduct tests, and certify your workforce. It also supports both internal use and external for partner certifications or licensing. This module is offered with their free plan which is for unlimited users and includes an ample variety of other tools.

  • Wiki: Bitrix24 expands the learning experience at your company by letting you create a company-wide wiki-style database. This content management tool lets you create an employee handbook, process manuals, or a wiki for each department and/or workgroup.
  • Idea Management: Ideas on improving the workplace can certainly spark during training, so the Bitrix24 eLearning module also comes with a tool that allows any employee to express an idea to the organization and have colleagues vote or comment on it.

Bitrix

Stats:

Used by over 7 million organizations worldwide

Bitrix

Pricing:

The Bitrix24 Knowledge Management System is included in the free plan which is for unlimited users.

Get a Demo

Best for:

Businesses that want the breadth, if not all of their digital workplace to be provided by a single vendor, in a single portal. 

Visit the Bitrix24 Website to learn more.

Worth Checking Out:

The free version of Bitrix24 also offers a very wide array of other features and tools, from a project knowledge base to a basic eCommerce module.

iSpring comes in the form of an eLearning authoring toolkit that lets you create and distribute video courses with ease, or as a full-fledged LMS for all sorts of internal training. The latter, iSpring Learn, offers a 14-day free trial. After that, it’s not precisely free but the value is so good that we just had to include it here. Here are some of the key features for iSpring learn:

  • User Management: This LMS allows you to re-create your organization’s structure so that it’s easier to assign, manage, and track training. For example, you can assign a specific course only to certain teams or see activity reports per department.
  • LMS Customization: The platform can be branded for consistency with your corporate identity. For international companies, the user portal can also be translated into any other language to localize the learning experience.

iSpring

Stats:

  • 83% of customer support cases are resolved within 2 hours.

iSpring

Pricing:

The smallest plan is for up to 100 users, with up to 50 courses, and 1 authoring tool for $3.66 USD per user per month. For larger companies, it can go to as little as $2.82 per user for less than 500 employees.

Get Started with a Free Trial

Best for:

Small and medium-sized businesses looking for a feature-rich LMS with great design, who are also willing to spend a bit but are looking for great value. 

Visit the iSpring Learn Website to learn more.

Worth Checking Out:

Although iSpring Learn is a cloud-based solution, they offer optional on-premise installation for businesses that prefer to host the software in an isolated environment.

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SoftwarePricing Model
TalentLMSFree for less than 5 users and less than 10 courses. $59 per month for up to 40 users after that.
GoSkillsThe GoSkills LMS is free forever, you just pay for external courses you might want to use.
Bitrix24Their knowledge management system is included in the free plan for unlimited users.
CoggnoTheir Training University LMS is free for unlimited users if you use their courses.
Blackboard CourseSitesFree forever light version of Blackboard for business.
ChamiloFree because it’s open source, but you need to configure your own servers.
TalentCardsFree for up to 5 users, $49/mo for up to 50 users after that.
MyicourseCompletely free and for unlimited users if your courses are public. Free for only 100 students and 100 courses if you set them as private.
iSpring Learn14-day free trial. After that, its price can be as low as $3.66 per user per month for up to 100 employees.
UpsideLMSCustom pricing, free trial, afterwards it’s as low as $0.60 per year, per user.

Key Features of a Learning Management System

In order to determine the key features that a learning management system must have, one should start by reviewing the primary function that it will be fulfilling at an organization. Course building, distributing, and tracking is the most common use for an LMS, but depending on one’s needs, X or Y LMS could also prioritize remote learning, developing materials from scratch, or integrating with different content types. 

A good LMS should work like a master archive where employees can access the company’s online training resources at any time. Instructor-led training could also be facilitated by an LMS. Overall, the primary hope with an LMS is that it’s user-friendly and effective for both the learner and the team that is distributing and updating the company’s content library.

With that in mind, these are the key features for a corporate LMS: 

  1. Reporting & Tracking: Like any sort of relationship, online training is a two way street. It doesn’t end with choosing a learning platform and uploading course content. You have to be able to understand how people are interacting with said content in order to fine tune it as you go. Any LMS should come with some reporting, analytics, and tracking capabilities, such as learner progress, completion rates, time to complete each course, individual learning paths, etc. If they don’t, you can check and see if they’ll support any plugins that would help you get those reports.
  2. Integrations: The learning experience with any LMS is enhanced when it can communicate with the rest of your software stack. Depending on your needs, you might want to make sure that the new tool integrates with your HRMS or ATS.
  3. Assessment tools: While it may be up for debate if every course should come with a test or some kind of learning assessment at the end, it’s certainly better to have this tool than to lack it. Most of the training tools we’ve discussed come with one or another way of evaluating learning outcomes. They can be as simple as a multiple choice quiz or as complex as exams with several types of questions and assignments.
  4. Gamification: Features like points, badges, and leaderboards can be a fun way of increasing employee engagement during the learning process. If your company is already into these kinds of dynamics, it will certainly make your life easier if the LMS of your choice has these built-in tools. It is also worth mentioning that the benefits of gamification in eLearning are widespread.
  5. Compliance Training & Certification: If your business requires employees to remain compliant with government regulations or a corporate policy of your own, this can cover that need. The exact shape and form of these features will vary from vendor to vendor, but they may include a log of all training activity to easily download and present in the event of an audit, for instance.

Demo Questions

Let us insist, the best thing you could do to make sure you pick the right LMS is to test it yourself (and with your team). Assuming that we’ve established that, the next best tips we could offer would be to approach your first encounter with the software, or demo if you book one, with a specific set of questions in mind. 

To do this, you can use the following list of questions as inspiration or download our excel organizer for free. 

  • What are the key features I want to try out and validate?
  • What expectations do we have for this software? What are the key things that it should help us achieve? 
  • How will this solution fit into the rest of my tech stack and therefore what integrations do I need?
  • How will others in the organization use this solution?
  • How will this tool improve the learning experience of our employees? 
  • What are the things that would make me or my coworkers nervous about switching our current processes to this platform? 
  • How are employee data and company learning materials kept safe if trusted to this vendor? 
  • What conclusions can I start to make about the quality of customer support? Is there a help center? Are the support articles clear and easy to read? Did I experience any issues?

What Does the Implementation of a LMS Look Like?

As most of the best LMS software is cloud-based & from SaaS vendors, implementing these tools can be as quick as setting up an account and your company domain. After that, it all depends on the needs of your organization, but you should consider ample time to add users and other admins, manage permissions, upload the training materials and course content you already have, and set up certifications. 

In other words, course building will likely be more time consuming than implementing the software. All of these are made with both the user and admin experience in mind, so often setting up an admin account will be almost as quick as it is for a future learner to set up theirs.

The obvious exception would be an open source system such as Chamilo or Moodle. The initial set-up process will be far more tech-intensive since it’s self-hosted. It will also be more time consuming for a user, since depending on how it’s set up, they may need to download their own version and then log-in to the company portal.

Last advice

We’re always big fans of software companies choosing to make some version of their product available for free. Nevertheless, you should always keep in mind that your organization’s current needs likely won’t stay the same. Even if you’d prefer a free tool today, you should make your decision considering how you might evolve with it as your business grows.

To put it differently, our last piece of advice would be to pick a free tool if you prefer to save money right now, by all means, but do it with a growth mindset. Many of the tools we outlined here offer quite a clear path to more capabilities and advanced features for competitive prices. This should also go into consideration in your decision making, as picking one tool or another and having to replace it in a year or two could be more time-consuming and expensive than going with a mildly-priced solution from the beginning. So to close off, we’d highly recommend taking a look at the full pricing models of each software outlined here and just how expensive they can become if you choose to upgrade.

In conclusion, when selecting your next & free LMS, make sure to keep the following steps in mind: 

  • Have clear objectives. 
  • Define your present & future training needs. 
  • Make a list of the deal-breaker features as well as nice-to-haves. 
  • Make a list of vendor options with all the relevant stakeholders. 
  • Demo them as a team

Best of luck!

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