While Google Classroom works well enough, it’s not always the best learning management system (LMS) for everyone. Luckily, there are a variety of LMS alternatives to Google Classroom. From completely free systems that integrate with other free and premium tools to premium systems with more features, you’ll likely find the perfect alternative right here.
What Is a Learning Management System?
If you’re not familiar with the term learning management system, it’s a system that helps house and control all your educational content. While often thought of as just for schools and colleges, an LMS is also often used by businesses for training.
Features vary based on the system, but some of the basic features typically include uploading and accessing material (videos, documents, tests, etc.), delivering assignments, getting feedback, communication, and progress tracking, such as grading. You can also add announcements.
More educational institutions and businesses are turning to LMS to make the transition to remote learning easier. Think of an LMS as a collaborative online learning community.
Benefits of Google Classroom
Google Classroom is one of the more well-known learning management systems. It’s a suite of tools to help teachers and students learn better in a digital environment. This can include uploading, delivering, and grading assignments in one place, creating study guides, and even meeting in groups or one-on-one.
It’s online-based, making it easily accessible from most any device. One of the biggest benefits is Google Classroom is free, though there are some premium features. Schools just need to sign up and add members. Of course, you also get the benefit of Google’s array of tools, such as Docs, Sheets, Earth, Slides, Calendar, Gmail, and more.
Since many people, teachers and students alike, may already be familiar with Google’s tools, it’s often seen as an easy entry point when using an LMS for the first time. But, LMS alternatives to Google Classroom may offer additional features or more comprehensive systems. Often, it just comes down to personal preference.
1. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams isn’t just for business executives to collaborate. In fact, it’s a commonly overlooked learning management system. For schools and businesses that already use Microsoft for most of their working groups, Teams is the ideal LMS.
- Integrates well with other Microsoft tools.
- Secure communication.
- Create personalized learning options.
- Free for students and educators.
- Free plans might not be enough for businesses.
- Pricing starts at $5 per month/user and requires an annual commitment.
For schools, it’s an amazing deal to get Office 365 Education for free, which includes Teams. Plus, most educators and students are already familiar with using Microsoft Office. This is also the best option if you’re transitioning from Google Classroom as the tools are similar.
There are also educational tools built in, such as Reading Progress for improved literacy. OneNote Class Notebook is also perfect to give every person their own personal digital notebook. Plus, there are built-in tutorials to help everyone learn the system quickly.
2. Moodle LMS
Moodle LMS makes it easy to customize every aspect for your specific needs. It’s this feature alone that really sets Moodle apart from the rest. Whether you just need something for a dozen people or a large university, you can set all the details and create your own educational site. Every course contains all educational resources in one easy-to-access place.
- Easy to customize.
- Host your own site or use the cloud-based version.
- Works well with MOOCs (massive open online courses).
- Only free if you download and host the software yourself.
- Pricing starts at $110/year for up to 50 users (can get expensive when using for an entire school).
- Can be complicated to set up.
Another benefit is if you choose to host your own Moodle LMS server/installation, you can add plug-ins and integrations to increase functionality. Whether you choose the premium cloud-hosted or free self-hosted version, there are mobile apps and online access available. For new users, the Moodle Academy is an invaluable resource.
3. Beneylu School
Benelyu School has the advantage of being designed specifically to engage K-8 aged students. This means more colorful graphics and fun fonts that make learning more engaging for younger students. As one of the simpler LMS alternatives to Google Classroom, you don’t have to jump back and forth between various apps.
- Simple setup.
- 26 educational apps to integrate (blog, homework planner, audio recorder, calendar, etc.).
- Unlimited file storage.
- Designed just for K-8.
- Starts at $250/year for schools and lowest priced plan doesn’t include all apps.
While three plans are listed, only two are actually active. You’ll need to subscribe to the $699/year plan for full access to all apps. There is one major con — there aren’t any mobile apps, but students can access the website on most any device and browser.
Otus is clean-cut LMS designed to make teachers’ lives easier. One major standout feature is the ability to analyze data from lessons, tests, homework, and third-party assessments to better plan the right educational strategy for students.
- Features standards-based grading.
- Offers progress monitoring.
- Analyze data from third-party assessments.
- Designed mainly for K-12, though businesses can use it.
- No mobile apps.
- No clear pricing structure.
There are also common assessments available to help teachers judge a student’s progress. When analyzing growth, Otus is the perfect tool. The only major downside is that it’s mainly for K-12 and doesn’t offer much in the way of collaboration or real-time interaction. It also has a higher learning curve due to the data analysis and assessments.
No pricing info is available unless you schedule a demo.
Edmodo is perfect for teachers who want to create a more social classroom experience. Instantly, it stands out as a social media platform, which may make it more engaging for students. Plus, another benefit is that parents are able to sign in to see their child’s grades, assignment/project due dates, and progress.
- Has a familiar Facebook look and feel without the privacy concerns.
- Major focus on communication.
- Easy to use organization for students and parents to find information.
- Not designed for higher education or businesses.
- Might feel too much like social media.
- Pricing is difficult to find.
Edmodo integrates with Microsoft and Google, so it works well if you’re transitioning from Google Classroom. There are two plans. The first is free and offers limited file storage. The Pro plan starts at $8 per user/month, though details aren’t clear. This plan includes unlimited storage and Zoom integration, along with better support.
The great thing is Edmodo does offer superb training resources. This lets you get started quickly and easily. While there aren’t mobile apps, you can access the platform via a browser on most any device.
Schoology is mainly a learning management system for K-12 learning, but it can be implemented for enterprise use. Schools, including universities, get access to the platform for free. Thanks to integration with Google, it’s an easier transition as you can sync your files and course materials.
- Tools to track student performance across a variety of assessment types.
- Integrates Microsoft, Google, and a wide range of classroom tools (grading, professional development for teachers, attendance, etc.).
- Build your own course apps or use one of Schoology’s hundreds of apps.
- Amount of content and resources can feel overwhelming at first.
- Enterprise pricing (for businesses) starts at $10/student.
What really sets Schoology apart is the over 300 apps designed to help improve classroom and virtual learning. There are also academic community tools for teachers to communicate with each other, in addition to students, to share resources.
7. Tovuti LMS
Tovuti can be customized for most any type of course for businesses, schools, and anyone selling access to their own courses. You have full control over course design and can create unlimited courses. Set up special training events and even collect fees. The gamification element is ideal for making learning experiences more fun.
- Designed for most any type of course and highly customizable.
- Features gamification elements to improve learning progress.
- Create full virtual classrooms, including holding live classes.
- One of the more expensive LMS and includes a $2,500 setup fee.
- Initial setup can be time consuming.
What really sets Tovuti apart from the rest is its focus on creating individual courses versus being designed mainly for K-12 schools and universities. However, the pricing also reflects that with the lowest plan for up to 50 users costing $700/month and the highest plan (without a custom quote) is $30,000/month for up to 100,000 users.
Showbie is one of the more interactive LMS alternatives to Google Classroom. Students can practice handwriting directly in the app and teachers can write out notes, grades, or comments on assignments. Students can even highlight details to make studying easier.
- Offers voice comments in addition to just grades or text-based comments on assignments.
- Create and share documents from Google Drive, Dropbox, or iPad apps.
- Users can write or draw using their fingers or a stylus on the web and iPad apps.
- Many of the best features, such as document organization, are behind a paywall.
- No Android app.
Communication is also front and center with some standout community tools, such as adding a co-teacher, keeping parents updated, starting a staff room just for teachers, and individual student groups. You can also create portfolios to show off students’ work, especially to parents. The free version gives you all the basics you need to get started, but Showbie Pro ($16.99/month) and Showbie Complete (by quote only) give you access to highly useful premium features.
TalentLMS is kind of a unicorn LMS for business training. Once it’s set up with your business branding, you can quickly create completely new courses using a simple drag and drop interface. It works well with a variety of industries, such as healthcare, retail, consulting, and manufacturing.
- Create courses in minutes.
- Personalize branding and experience to match your business.
- Works with all types of business training (onboarding, sales, new software, etc.).
- Integrates well with common business apps, such as Salesforce, Zoom, and Zapier.
- Not meant for schools or universities at all.
From employee onboarding to compliance training, if employees need to learn something this platform makes it easier. Quizzes, video calls, and customizable organization create a pleasant and engaging user experience. Plus, you can get started for free for up to five users and 10 courses. Pricing then ranges from $59/month to $429/month depending on the number of users.
Instead of just having one option, WordPress gives you a variety of ways to turn the blogging/website creation platform into a full-scale LMS that works well as a Google Classroom alternative. They’re usually easy to implement, especially if you’re already used to WordPress.
- Create a custom website along with your LMS.
- Users may already be familiar with using WordPress.
- A variety of available plugins makes it easy to customize.
- Many plugins are completely free.
- Many plugins require the self-hosted WordPress.org, which means you’ll need to pay for hosting or have your own server.
- To use plugins with WordPress.com (which is free), you’ll need a premium plan.
Some of the best LMS plugins for WordPress include:
- LearnPress – free / premium add-ons available / $250 for Pro Bundle with all add-ons; create courses, upload curriculums, host quizzes.
- LMS by Masteriyo – free / premium starts at $50 a year; simple course creation, host tests, show student progress.
- Academy LMS – free; create courses quickly with no coding required, add videos, allow multiple instructors, show student progress.
- Tutor LMS – free / premium starts at $150 a year; create interactive lessons, host quizzes/tests, generate status reports.
- LifterLMS – starts at $120/year with a $1 30-day trial available; includes numerous plugins that work seamlessly together, Zapier integrations, generate tests, upload assignments, create courses.
- LearnDash – starts at $150/year; create interactive courses, implement quizzes, drag and drop content creation.
- WP Courseware – starts at $130/year; drag and drop course creation, create quizzes, keep track with grade books, supports various integrations.
11. Canvas LMS
Canvas LMS is a truly robust and customizable platform that keeps everything students and teachers need all in one place. With support for a wide range of commonly used document types, educators are able to grade and annotate directly within the platform versus having to download and re-upload documents.
- Manage grades, students, assignments, and more in one place
- Includes communication features
- Offer customized learning for individual students
- Blueprints make creating and sharing content easier
- Includes mobile learning
- Audio recording is sometimes faulty
- Assignments can be erased if a due date isn’t set correctly
It’s an interactive platform thanks to video calls and notes, audio notes, and messaging. Students are also able to work together within the platform, which makes it ideal for remote learning. Of course, it’s not just for schools. Businesses can also utilize Canvas LMS to make training faster and more efficient. It can even be used as a team collaboration tool.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do any LMS platforms offer an import function to transition from Google Classroom?
None of the learning management platforms above offer a direct and full import function. However, many do offer integration with Google Drive, meaning you can import documents, spreadsheets, and slideshows.
Which LMS is best if you want something close to Google Classroom?
Microsoft Teams is the closest option simply because Google and Microsoft tools are so similar. If you’re used to Google Docs, for example, Microsoft Word is almost the same. However, you may find you encounter some of the same frustrations, such as having to jump from app to app versus having everything in one place. Teams is also adding fun new features.
How long does it take to move away from Google Classroom?
Depending on the amount of resources you need to move, the transition period can take a while. However, many of the systems above offer import features to quickly add users.
How will I know how to use the learning management systems above?
Every LMS on this list offers some form of training resources. These can include video tutorials, guides with screenshots, and even live help via phone and chat (sometimes this is only available to premium users).
Is a free option enough to be effective?
It can be, depending on your needs. Often, free options are best suited to smaller groups versus entire school systems. This is because free alternatives may not offer quite as many features to separate students by grade or school. However, they’re perfect for homeschool groups, individual classrooms, or even managing business training. If you’re just looking for a way to make remote learning more engaging, try one of these Zoom alternatives.
Image credit: Kenny Eliason on Unsplash
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