Open Source

Open Source springs up

A large number of Open Source LMS projects come from schools and universities  where they are particularly appreciated. Nevertheless, their adoption by enterprises – SMBs first – and sensitive institutions (e.g. defense) gets more and more obvious. We can notice by the way open source solutions targeting vertical markets (e.g. health sector).

Most of our current customers are SMEs that choose eFront Enterprise for its business-logic functionality that can be, otherwise, found only on very expensive LMSs (e.g., Branch management, Job-description management, Skills management, Skill-Gap analysis). —–Athanasios Papagelis, eFront
Another very frequent case is corporate training (although JoomlaLMS doesn’t have any really specific functionality for corporate training, this is the one of the most frequent things JoomlaLMS is used for). The largest Clients we have use JoomlaLMS for corporate training of their employees, most often on an Intranet. —–Elena Butramenko, JoomlaLMS
We have international industrial companies that use ILIAS worldwide for training and knowledge management. And we are very strong in military education thanks to our SCORM compliance. (…) But you find ILIAS also in SMBs where it is often used to organize to support HRM processes (…). —–Matthias Kunkel, ILIAS
E-learning gets systemized and progressively integrated to the hospital management tools and medical imaging. Dokeos MEDICAL supplies these professionals with tools adapted to the clinical reflection (training based on cases, tests and mistakes) as well as imaging tools (radiography tests, etc.) and the capability to convert within 24 hours a PowerPoint-based presentation into a Webcasts library. —–Thomas De Praetère, Dokeos

An increasing credibility

Open Source fights against preconceived ideas by competing with commercial solutions in several domains. Let’s notice for instance that some open source solutions are able to comply with high security requirements. Moreover, more and more Open Source LMS obtain certifications related to e-Learning standards (e.g. SCORM).

It was the first time that an open source software was certified to be used in the NATO intranet. This test does not include only an analysis of ILIAS itself but of all software components that are needed to use ILIAS. —–Matthias Kunkel, ILIAS
The same time,  eFront became the second LMS world-wide that offer support for SCORM 2004/4th edition. —–Athanasios Papagelis, eFront

Several business models

The growth in maturity of the Open Source market does by no means compensate for their weakness: a certain confusion remains on the property of the sources codes. This often leads to a competition between 2 models:

  • A community-oriented model, based on a non-profit organization holding the property of the sources codes and supported by a community of contributors as well as a network of partners supplying commercial services.
  • A commercial model, based on a profit-making enterprise, sometimes holding the property of the sources codes or part of them, supplying most of the services with the associated guarantees.
The project was created out of a different vision of the software future by the technical staff, (…) who thought that the project should remain attentive to the community, including “in a non-exhaustive way” the customers’ units. The Chamilo project aims at ensuring the software freedom in all its forms and at encouraging the companies as well as the institutions to collaborate under a same framework: the one of an association with no lucrative purposes. —–Yannick Warnier, Chamilo
Our customers’ demand is to get the best from both worlds: on the one hand, an open source product, guaranteeing a rapid evolution and a shared intelligence to make the solution move to the right direction. On the other hand, a guarantee upon the result. A qualified service-provider who commercially commits himself upon the operation of the solution, its evolvability with time and its integration with the existing systems. —–Thomas De Praetère, Dokeos

An opportunity for LMS vendors?

Open Source is sometimes considered by vendors as an opportunity to enter the market. This trend can be noticed among the software leaders (e.g. Oracle with Open Office, Adobe with Flex, etc.) but also within the LMS market.

The LMSs market is a very competitive one. We found through time that in order to make a difference we needed to improve the audience and the quality of the product. We did not have the needed capital to make expensive marketing efforts thus we decided that an open-source solution would help us penetrate in a much faster way the elearning market while the same time help us improve the product under a win-win scenario for the company and the community. This strategic shift turn out to be a very successful one. —–Athanasios Papagelis, eFront

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