Top 3 Learning Management Systems for Online Learning

Sara Illahi
5 min readAug 21, 2021


Learning has been a huge part of humans since time immemorial. While learning itself has never gone outdated, the various methods of learning sure have.

Our world today has minimal physical interaction. Learning today is not only changed but shifted to a different medium altogether. This makes it indispensable that instructors and students have the best teaching and learning experience online.

Stats show that in 2019, the global e-learning market was sized at approximately 101 billion U.S. dollars. By 2026, the total market for e-learning worldwide is expected to skyrocket to approximately 370 billion U.S. dollars. A learning management system — a subsequent innovation after the advent of e-learning —holds great importance in that regard.

A survey by L&D (Learning & Development) department in North America from 2016 and 2020 showed that about 70% of the people used an LMS. This makes an LMS worth looking into…

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

..but before this article goes on to enlist the three widely used LMSs, here’s a quick definition of an LMS and a list of places it is used at:

Google defines a learning management system as a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation, and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs. In layman’s terms, an LMS is basically a virtual university that keeps a record of your credit hours, makes sure you turn in your assignments on time, and documents every click, every scroll, and every highlight during the course of the time you spend on the system.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

The spaces, other than educational institutions, where LMS is used are:

  1. Corporate organizations
  2. Government institutions
  3. National government agencies
  4. Employee recruitment and training

There are innumerable reasons for learning spaces to have an LMS, and that is exactly why we bring you the top 3 learning management systems. These LMSs have been widely used by some of the leading institutions of the world and the Ivy League varsities, and they are as follows:

1. Canvas

Canvas is an LMS created by Instructure that makes it simple to integrate the material, tools, and services that teachers and students demand via its open and cloud-based technology.

When it comes to campus-wide LMS adoption, Canvas considers and welcomes users’ suggestions, pays heed to their requirements and wants, and consequently rolls out the most usable, configurable, adaptive, and dependable solutions, consequently making a great learning platform. Its adequate and spot-on responsive design makes accessing it on any device a smooth ride. Its user-friendly design and interface ensure that it passes the eye-candy test.

Canvas LMS vendor also provides a top-notch support system. Apart from that, Canvas also incorporates automation in its system, which makes tedious tasks like grouping, adding new members, removing old members, speed grading easy-peasy-Japanesey. Canvas also holds the capability of integrating Zoom into its system, making it easier for you to attend lectures.

If you are looking for a smart Learning Management System that, other than catering to your needs, offers multiple features to save your time, Canvas is probably a good choice. It, however, is a paid system, and Instructure does not release its pricing unless you really want to purchase it.

Canvas LMS Logo.

2. Sakai

Sakai LMS is an LMS mostly used by institutions that offer bachelor’s degrees. It has a lot of features that can help with online processes of learning.

Sakai LMS is open-source software with community-contributed features and other complementary integrations to ease your work. The system may be tailored to meet specific needs and contain grading, assessments, content creation, communication, and more.

Educators can calculate, save, and communicate grade information to students using the LMS’s in-built grade book styled as a spreadsheet. Assignments can be developed in a variety of ways, including peer review and group submissions.

For any queries, you can hit the Sakai community page to have your queries resolved. So, the support system of Sakai LMS is not an efficient one, per se.

But the best thing about Sakai LMS is that it is open-source software, which means that it can be used by any institution for free.

Sakai LMS Logo.

3. Brightspace

Brightspace as an LMS includes all of the sophisticated tools, services, and support you need to create a world-class teaching and learning experience. It saves your time with an intuitive mobile-first design.

Brightspace provides a fantastic experience on every device thanks to its responsive design that adjusts to any screen size. In Brightspace, students can navigate tools using assistive technologies with ease, thanks to its accessibility features. Instructors can also build courses, produce content, and grade assignments due to Brightspace’s straightforward interface and built-in templates.

Brightspace’s integration with Google Drive makes it super easy to share content. Moreover, using its in-line annotations on papers, grading rubrics, voice and video feedback, you can give diverse and helpful input. With the activity feed, you can post announcements, links to content, and assignments on a single page, one for you to update and one for your students to check. Brightspace, although it provides a free trial, does not come free. However, you can always try it before really making up your mind.

D2L Brightspace Interface.



Sara Illahi

BSc. (Hons.) Social Development and Policy @ Habib University’23 I Researcher I Freelance Writer I American University’18