A Great Learning Management System On A Budget


When you first switch to online courses your budget may not have a huge budget if any. This article will show you how to benefit from a learning management system without spending a fortune.

There are heaps of paid Learning Management Systems (LMS) on the market but when you are on a tight budget then you are better off with a free or open source one.  The ones we have selected for this article you can use at no cost.

If you are looking for an LMS on a budget here are two you can use:

  • Google Classroom
    • Features
    • Costs
    • How To Start
  • Moodle 
    • Features
    • Costs
    • Plugins And Additional Tools

Let’s dive in and decide which learning management system fits both your needs since both of them are free to use..

Google Classroom

http://classroom.google.com

Google Classroom is one of the most popular learning management systems. It is available worldwide and can be successfully used for both individual educators, schools, universities vocational training and private training organisations. 

Features

This learning management system features heaps of interesting features that will help you throughout your online course.

The most noteworthy features are:

  • Cloud storage for your training content (using Google Drive)
  • Live audio-video conferences with your students (using Google Meet)
  • Multiple assessment methods (using Google Forms)
  • Submission marking and grading tools (using Google Assignments)
  • Communication with your students’ and parents (using the Guardian function)
  • A mobile app that includes all the important functions
  • And more.

If you want to learn more about all the features that Google Classroom offers to its users make sure to check out the following links:

ARTICLE: Google Assignments vs. Google Classroom: What’s the difference?

Costs

Available Subscription Types

Google Classroom is available for free for individual trainers and for approved educational institutions.

If you are not eligible for the free version of this learning management system you will need to pay a monthly subscription fee. This fee is calculated in accordance with the number of expected students and teachers that you will add in your classroom. 

Take into account that if you are using Google Classroom at a school / university with students you will have to register under the G Suite for Education account. This type of account will allow the school administration to manage the Google Services that can be used by their students. Signing up a new institution can be done without paying any fee. 

The main advantage is that if your school registers under G Suite for Education your students will not have to create individual G Suite accounts. They will be able to access the classes using their regular Google accounts without experiencing any trouble.

Feature Limitations

All its features are also available for free. Let’s find out what the limits of the free usage is for the included tools.  The limits for Google Classroom are different for the two account types. 

When using an individual Google account you will be able to add only 250 members to every class you create. If you are using a G Suite account the limit goes up to 1,000 members. This number includes both students and teachers. 

Keep in mind that the Guardian feature is not available when using a personal Google account. In order to use this feature and easily communicate with your students’ parents you must register for a G Suite type account.

Google Drive offers 15 gigs of free cloud storage for every Google account. This means that you as a teacher will be able to upload tons of material into the drive without having to struggle to free up space. In the unlikely case when you need more than 15 gigs of storage memory you will have to pay a yearly fee to get more cloud storage space.

Google Meet allows students and teachers to resemble together in live web conferences. Those calls have audio and video capabilities and are offered for free and without any limitation.

Google Forms allows teachers to create an unlimited number of forms free of any charge. It also provides access to the responses that were submitted using the created forms.

How To Start

If you want to create an online course using the Google Classroom learning management system, you must perform the following steps:

  1. Sign in to Google Classroom
  2. Create the class
  3. Add your students
  4. Begin your class

To learn more about how to start using Google Classroom as your low budget learning management system, I suggest reading the following article:

ARTICLE: How To Create An Online Course With Google Classroom (Step-By-Step Guide)

Step 1 – Sign In To Google Classroom

If you do not have a Google account you will have to create one before proceeding to the following step. In order to create a free Google account, go to the Account Creation page and fill in the required information. Then sign in to Google Classroom.

Step 2 – Create The Class

This step contains multiple smaller steps that must be carefully performed. Therefore, I suggest reading the above-mentioned article. There you will find valuable information about how to create an online course using Google Classroom.

Step 3 – Add Your Students

For this step, you will have to add the desired students to your course. This can be done either by inviting them manually (email address) or sending them the class code.

Step 4 – Begin Your Class

After all your students have accepted the invitation, you can start teaching your online course using the Google Classroom interface.

If you have decided that Google Classroom is the learning management system that fits both your needs and budget, I suggest reading the following article to get familiar with the interface:

ARTICLE: How To Use Google Classroom As a Teacher: Complete Guide 

To learn even more about how to use Google Classroom take a look at the complete list of articles written on this topic:

ARTICLES: Google Classroom – Article List

Moodle

Moodle is another well-known learning management system. It is open-source, meaning that you can use it without paying. This LMS is commonly used for distance education, blended learning, and other forms of eLearning. 

Features

The Moodle LMS contains heaps of features that prove very helpful for online teachers regardless of the taught subject. The available tools are comparable with the ones offered by paid learning management systems. If you want to see how Moodle compares to other LMS in matters of features, take a look at the following articles:

ARTICLE: Canvas Vs Moodle: Which is better for online teachers? 

ARTICLE: Blackboard vs. Moodle: How To Choose What Works For You?

Its functions include but are not limited to:

  • Assessment and Grading Methods
  • User Security Management
  • Live Conferencing (using BigBlueButtonBN)
  • Mobile app (both for students and teachers)
  • Payment Handling Methods

It also has a demo website (Moodle Demo) where you can try out all its features without installing Moodle on your server. 

To learn more about the available features I recommend taking a look at the following article:

ARTICLE: LMS Moodle Features 

Costs

Moodle is available for free. The only aspect that may influence the overall cost is hosting it. When it comes to installing Moodle you have two options:

  • Host it on your own domain
  • Use the cloud-stored Moodle

Custom Domain

The first option involves paying for a custom domain. If you already have your own hosting provider then this option will not increase your expenses much. You can create a sub domain  on your website and use it to host Moodle. 

You can install it using cPanel on the server. Another great method is using the self-installers available on the official website. All you have to do is to have PHP and a database installed prior to the Moodle install.  You can also just give the installer to your hosting provider and they will install it for you.

Choosing this method will allow you to add an unlimited number of users (teachers and students).

Cloud-Stored Moodle

If you do not have a custom domain and you prefer not to struggle with creating and hosting one you might want to choose the cloud-stored version of Moodle. This option ensures that you will not have to worry about a thing. Moodle will store all the content for you in their drive. Moreover, the database will be set up and administered by their specialists.

The only drawback is that you will only be able to add up to 500 users. This will not be an inconvenience if you are planning on teaching as an individual educator. According to the Moodle pricing page, the cloud-stored version is good for small to medium organizations.

To learn more about the maximum number of students you can add to this learning management system I suggest taking a look at the following article:

ARTICLE: How Many Students Can You Have on Moodle?

Plugins And Additional Tools

Moodle allows teachers to integrate heaps of plugins. This is especially helpful when you can not find the right tool for your classroom task. 

For example, you can choose one of the available plugins to detect plagiarized content submitted by your students. Making sure their work is completely unique is very important if you want to teach them proficiently.  If you want to learn more about how to detect plagiarized submission on LMS Moodle I recommend reading the following article:

ARTICLE: Does Moodle Check for Plagiarism?

To learn more about how to use LMS Moodle, I suggest taking a look at the complete list of articles written on this topic:

ARTICLES: Moodle – Article List

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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