How much does it really cost to create a distance learning system?

lms development company

Free and paid. Boxed and cloudy. With a basic “gentleman’s” set and a bunch of cool features. The choice of lms development company in the EdTech market is just huge, but! At the first opportunity, companies run not to existing providers, but to … developers. Why does it happens? How much will you have to pay for a custom solution for yourself? How to reduce the amount announced by programmers by 2, 5, 10 times? We understand.

And may the force be with you to read my longread to the end!

“Free” open source platforms – what’s the catch?

Why spend money and cut a product from scratch if there are open source services? Just take and use! Also for free. And this is where the fun begins.

Therefore, it will not work to create an account in 2 clicks and start creating your own online courses. The slightest change in the business model leads to the need to reconfigure the platform as well. Many companies refuse such services because it is unprofitable for them. It is easier to order development for yourself.

Paid resources, or many pluses and one significant minus

If open source platforms are only shareware, then with services that work on a commercial basis, everything is clear at the start – you pay for the required period and get access to a virtual learning environment.

And all this is good, but only on condition that the chosen platform closes your tasks. Such decisions significantly limit the company’s capabilities, so training centers either change LMS like gloves, looking for a more suitable one, or order development for themselves. There is a real struggle for each client, so it is not in their interests to lose profits due to inconvenient service.

For example, we have a customer who wants a distance learning system with parental controls. But at the same time, the ability to track grades does not play a key role here. It is important that all processes take place without the knowledge of children. Platforms known to me cannot close such a task. And this is one of millions of cases.

millions of cases

Customization: expectations and reality

As for the refinement of an existing product, no SaaS service will fall under the LMS model for a company, because there are very narrow settings there. You will have to copy the application and tear down all the functionality to almost zero, so in the end you still get a completely new product.

One of our clients had a request that the student, when retaking the test, drop out questions that he had not answered before. At the same time, not one or even two attempts are given for a retake. This is a huge database of tests, where new 150 questions are randomly selected each time. Again, no off-the-shelf platform could provide such functionality. Moreover, it was important for the customer to be able to constantly upload reports: who logged in, how many minutes they spent, which questions users gave the most and least number of correct answers, and so on.

Creating a distance learning system for yourself

With the pluses of this solution, everything is clear, but what to do with the minuses? It can take coders months, if not years, to create a finished LMS. And all this time the project will require constant financial investments, and no one will give you guarantees that the service will eventually reach users.

Just keep in mind that even Vanga would not tell you the final amount of such a product without a clear terms of reference or at least an approximate list of Wishlist. Therefore, I will talk about three completely different distance learning systems developed on the Bubble platform so that you can test the technology in action and estimate your budget. Fasten your seat belts, we are in for a long way from the simplest service to the “full stuffing”!

A small lyrical digression to complete the picture. Our project is part of a group of companies that has already developed a platform for launching and scaling an eLearning business through the placement of paid courses. But despite free access to the service with a whole range of features from gamification tools to advanced analytics, we still decided to develop our own distance learning system. But we are highly recommended to hire custom lms development company. This will significantly reduce your budget and save you time.

I’ll explain why.

What do we want when users enter their personal account? It is right that they see Skillum LMS everywhere, and not ads from another site. Our logo, our trigger emails, our corporate colors and, most importantly, our domain. By the way, about the latter: for one of the most popular EdTech solutions in Runet, connecting such a bun costs around $ 800, but for us, for a minute, the entire product cost $ 2,000.

In addition, most of the functionality was simply not needed for us. Passed all the modules for free, got the necessary skills and into battle! No leaderboards, gamification and other distractions. The course was used solely for the purpose of lead generation. We planned to supplement it later with usefulness and introduce additional monetization in the form of a fee for checking homework, but this was not possible on the platform that we used.

But there were a bunch of other bells and whistles that scattered attention and distracted from our main goal – education. Therefore, we decided that it was easier to assemble a new product from scratch, but for ourselves. If we weren’t developers, we would hardly have created our own LMS at that stage. But when you have the opportunity, why not.

Such a service may be required by training centers that have a specific learning model, such as blended learning, flipped classroom or community. That is, everything that the usual SaaS solutions do not allow due to standardization for the classic version with materials, tests and assignments.

Now there is enough functionality to implement any learning format, but at the same time, users get exactly as much as they need, no more, because it confuses and distracts. It is then technically difficult to work with such students further.

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About the Author: John Lucas

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