August 6th, 2018 Grow with LearnDash

Less options means less flexibility, and that can cost you!

There was once a time when I dealt exclusively with closed source learning management systems. I was consulting some of the world’s largest brands on their e-learning programs, and without fail they all didn’t care for their learning management system.

When asked why they didn’t switch providers, the answer was simple: we can’t. They had signed a multi-year (multi-million dollar) contract with the provider. They were stuck.

But they were stuck in more ways than one.

Organizational needs change over time and as such so do the training needs. Getting new functionality out of their LMS was near impossible and often came with a hefty price tag. Their LMS could not grow with their business. Rather than being an asset it starts to become a hindrance.

Closed source LMS options will try to scare you.

I have seen hundreds of LMS options over the years come and go. I have read all of the sales copy, the features, the promises, and the marketing. One of the hardest hurdles for a closed source LMS to overcome is the fact that their solutions cannot adapt to the specific learning needs of an organization.

This is not the case with open source of course. If you need a feature, you can modify the code (or easily find someone to do it for you). What’s more, in the case of WordPress you often just need to spend one minute getting a plugin and activating it. Need a forum? Okay, no problem. Install the forum plugin and you’re good to go.

This kind of feature flexibility is unheard of in the closed source world. Now, I will admit they are getting better by offering APIs and popular integration options. I also happen to think that this became a necessity given what’s possible on the “other side of the fence” with open source.

But feature flexibility is inevitably limited in the closed source world. So to combat this I have seen a common trend of attempting to label open source as less secure. It’s a silly argument but these businesses have very good copywriters and can make the claim sound convincing.

Some will say that your content (like videos) can be stolen or downloaded. That’s not true.

Others claim sensitive data will be mined. Again, not a credible claim. It’s not that one is more secure than the other. The truth is that proprietary software solutions and open source options share equal risk.

Determining if open source aligns with your business.

While I am certainly an advocate for the open source route for any LMS, I do recognize that a closed source option does have its uses. Often the lack of feature depth means that the learning curve isn’t quite as steep.

If you need simple functionality and don’t anticipate that this simple approach will change for your business then I think you can entertain the option of a closed source, hosted LMS.

Speaking from experience I can tell you that these cases are quite rare. We get customers coming from hosted, monthly payment platforms all of the time because they simply outgrow it and are frustrated.

Our businesses are often subject to the tools we choose, which is why we have to choose wisely or suffer the consequences. If you are questioning your current LMS, or maybe you are interested in getting a few courses online, then we’d love to hear about it. Contact us today to explain what it is you’re looking to do and we’d be happy to tell you if our open source LMS is a good option for your needs.

Justin Ferriman photo

About Justin Ferriman

Justin started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide. He is currently founder & CEO of GapScout. Justin's Homepage | GapScout | Twitter

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