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<i>Dear Workforce</i> What are some simple and affordable learning management systems

August 20, 2003
Dear Training on a Budget:
Here are a few systems that might fit your requirements for a simple, locally installed, low-cost (under $5,000 cumulative three years, for 500 users) LMS to track CD-ROM and classroom-based training.
Training Wizard (Gyrus Systems Inc.)
Training Wizard is a moderately priced system oriented to organizations of any size who do most of their training in an instructor-led context and who need to manage all its aspects closely.
On the downside:
Training Wizard provides no support for the creation of learning assessments; the Web-based "SST tool" is a less-than-stellar learner interface; multiple language interfaces and good localization functions are not yet available; and the flexibility of customization functions does not extend to user roles, which are rather rigid. The company is still hammering out its strategy to stake out a wider piece of the e-learning market with enhanced functionality and partnerships.
Best use recommendation:
The Training Wizard suite of tools should be on the short list for organizations with high-end classroom training-management requirements, but less need to manage online learning and compliance training. Not recommended for those looking for Web-based administration capabilities.
Xtention Learning Management System (Xtend )
Xtention Learning Manager has been creating quite a stir in the industry because it has been termed the first "free" LMS. The folks at Xtend are emulating the Adobe/MacAphee/Linux model and distributing free basic products. There is a catch to the free system. Add-ons, such as 360-degree evaluation, e-commerce, classroom management/calendar scheduling, and OSHA reporting, are tools that must be purchased to extend the core functionality. Part of the licensing agreement for the free product is that users send their added code back to Xtend.
On the downside:
Xtend told us first-hand that the interface could use some tightening up. Maintaining and expanding the system on the customer's side will probably require technical staff or services from Xtend.
Best use recommendation:
Because they offer the core module for free (to launch and track standard-compliant e-learning), companies can make a low-risk investment of time to see if the product will meet their needs. This will be a very interesting company to watch in the next year to see if their free distribution program gains the market penetration they desire.
LMSLive (Wizdom Systems Inc.)
LMSLive is an easy, simple-to-use, Web-based system that provides content to anyone over an intranet, Internet, or extranet.
On the downside:
It has only very limited classroom-management functionality (keeping attendance reports) and is not recommended for use if this is a primary consideration. It also lacks e-commerce capability.
Best use recommendation:
Look at this system if you are looking for a low cost alternative to larger LMS products, realizing that it is designed primarily for launching and tracking e-learning and has almost no classroom-management functionality, no utility for creating test questions, and no built-in collaboration tools.
SOURCE: Richard Nantel, director, information technology services,Brandon-Hall, Sunnyvale, Calif., Dec. 10, 2002.
LEARN MORE: ReadTake the Gamble Out of an LMS.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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