Navigate: Tools for Deciding on an LMS Quest

posted May 19, 2016, 6:33 AM by Emily Kroutil   [ updated May 19, 2016, 8:00 AM ]
I found a couple excellent articles online that ranks the top LMS for education.  They was quite enlightening.  Because I teach K-12, I wanted to look at a ranking of just those LMS and not ones that are targeted at the corporate, military, or government community.  The K-12 community is different than the previous groups.  Adults are motivated by money, prestige, advancement, and/or intrinsically.  Students don't always have these motivations so their content needs to be engaging and interesting.  Unfortunately, adult professional development programs do not need to meet either of these requirements.  I also saw that the availability of some sort of gamification within the LMS was an important criteria.  This was interesting to me since I just completed the Trend Impact Quest (yes, I skipped around) and I *almost* chose gamification for the trend I was most interested/intrigued/excited about.

This article ranks the LMS marketed at K-12 as follows.  If there is an LMS in his listing that is not for high school or for higher education only, I've removed it because it doesn't fit my needs:
  1. NEO LMS
  2. Instructure
  3. Fishtree
  4. Its Learning
  5. Blackboard
  6. eSchools
  7. My Big Campus
  8. Haiku Learning
All of the above are fee-based for all of the features.  He purposely chose not to include Moodle because it is open source and isn't as robust as the fee-based programs (in his opinion).  Of course, he won't tell you how each ranked in his extensive ranking system unless you purchase his report (he offers a code for $100 off!  Oh wow!).  So, of course, I'm NOT doing that.

The next article I found was written almost EXACTLY 6 months BEFORE the previous article and ranked LMS for K-12 in this order:
  1. Google Classroom
  2. Pearson SuccessNet, SuccessNet Plus, Online Learning Exchange
  3. Haiku Learning
  4. BrainHoney and BUZZ
  5. Schoology
  6. Blackboard
  7. Desire2Learn
  8. Moodle
A few LMS appeared in both lists: Blackboard and Haiku.  This suggests that these should be looked into first since they were in the top 8 by two independent reviewers.  It doesn't mean they're the best, but it would be a good place to start.  This is interesting, given that I was really intrigued by Blackboard in the Recorded Session Quest and I've been using Haiku for the past 4 years with my classes.  Honestly, I've done quite a bit of research on both.  If you want a true-fully featured LMS, and have the money to pay for it, Blackboard is probably the way to go because it is a one-stop shop.  You can record lectures, videos, they have a mobile app, and a ton more features.  Because you can do all of these tasks within the Blackboard software, it should work seamlessly together and, from what I saw on their website, has a pretty spiffy user interface.  If you cannot afford the bells and whistles of Blackboard, Haiku would be an excellent option.  It is very user friendly, but you must cobble your resources together.  As far as I know, you cannot record lectures or screencasts in Haiku.  It's kind of like cars.  If I could afford it, I would totally get a Lexus or BMW and would have fun exploring all of the bells and whistles they offer.  However, I am not independently wealthy, so I had to rank price in my car search and chose a Subaru.  It's a great car and I love it, but its not nearly as fancy schmancy as a luxury vehicle.