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What are the different pricing models for an LMS?

There are many different types of price models that exist for LMSs, which are important to understand whether or not you are getting a good deal for the system, not to mention that the solution is going to meet your needs.

An image of a piggy bank to represent payment options for an LMS.


The ever-popular free. While the benefits of a free LMS are apparent - that it is not costly. There are some important things to keep in mind. One, that most of the time “Free” comes at a cost of usability. Typically these systems are not user friendly, and take quite a bit of development knowledge to import courses and upload content. If you are looking for a solution for a very small organization or small set of purposes - a free solution may be exactly what you are looking for. Advanced functionality, however, typically exists in other paid platforms.

Per Learner

The per learner pricing model is typically the most widely used of paid platforms. With this model, organizations and institutions can typically expect that they will pay a fee per each additional user that will have access to the content. With this model, you can expect that there is an unlimited amount of content, courses, tests, and additional functionality that is included. Additionally, as the number of licenses that can access the system increases, it is normal to see that the price per user tends to decrease.

Per Use

This pricing model varies between provider and as such tends to be a more flexible option for organization. For example, each provider has it’s own definition of “use” such as an online course, access to a module, etc. Verify with the provider what the definition of “use” is in each case to avoid overpaying for the system. This option is best for organizations and use cases that do not need a wide-range of features and have a large audience. Be mindful that it is difficult to anticipate costs when all is said and done, but this option is still viable.

Per Active Learner

The difference between active learner and learner in pricing models is just as the name suggests. This pricing model charges by the number of users who are actively taking course content, as opposed to the number of “learners” that are eligible/enrolled to take a course. As an example, if you have 300 learners enrolled in a course and only 150 are actually accessing the content, you only pay for the 150 that are using the content. This is a great option for those organizations who are unclear on how many will be accessing content and engaged with courses.

Limited Time Licensing

A limited time licensing means that an organization pays annually for use of the LMS. While this model can be charged monthly as well, no matter how many learners access the courses or content, you will be charged the same flat fee. This pricing model is most cost effective for those organizations that have very large audiences that will consumer content as well as an abundant amount of online course libraries. This model could also make sense for those that are planning on an expansion of their current course offerings.

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