Best Cloud LMS: Top Cloud-Based Learning Management Systems For 2020

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Continuous learning isn’t just a bonus for a savvy company. In the modern workforce, it’s life or death. Before, managers could get by with a handful of training videos and company policy print-outs. Now, workers demand more powerful tools to equip them for the future. When looking at learning management systems software, there are few things to consider that make leading cloud LMS solutions a remarkably effective way forward.

First, the use of these cloud-based LMS solutions is growing fast. With a compound annual growth rate of 20.5%, the industry could reach $28.1 billion by 2025, according to Meticulous Market Research. E-learning isn’t going away anytime soon.

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Absorb LMS Courses

Learning management systems are extremely versatile and can be used in corporate or educational situations.

That brings us to cloud-based LMS. The best ones provide on-the-job skills training that employees need to continue their professional development. Creating a knowledge management program is a worthwhile investment for any business with an eye to the future. By 2030, there will be a global urgency to reskill over 1 billion people while 42% of essential job skills will change by 2022, according to the World Economic Forum.

The value of finding a cloud learning management system is clear, but comparing them is an overwhelming task. That’s why, in this guide, we’ll cover the most common questions. What are the most popular cloud LMS solutions? How do you choose a cloud-based LMS? What are the best options?

Before all that, it’s important to start with the basics. What exactly is an LMS, anyway?

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Table of Contents

Best Cloud LMS

The top cloud-based learning management systems.

What is an LMS and What Can it Do?

An LMS (learning management system) is a software, or a centralized framework that creates, deploys and manages learning content. In corporate settings, an LMS can help standardize, train employees, organize important assets and help workers create goals. Overall, it’s an update to how companies develop their employees.

For educational institutions and academic settings, it runs online courses for administrators, students, teachers, and districts. In any setting, it provides automation for assessing, tracking, reporting and testing learner competence in many subjects.

Common Uses

In the modern age, it’s almost impossible to have schooling without an online component to manage classes, grade assignments and give feedback. For the workplace, it’s similar with a slight twist. The most common uses for a corporate solution are below.

Onboarding

Bad onboarding means death for employee motivation. Research from The Harris Poll shows that 93% percent of employers say excellent onboarding makes new people stay. It helps new hires with more consistent instruction, well-organized paperwork, centralized forms and a reliable place to get answers. New people acclimate to company culture and acquire essential job skills more quickly.

Employee Training and Development

Upskilling workers, reinforcing competencies, teaching new skills and staying up to date on industry information are other ways online training software helps. Learning and development help with employee retention. Employees are more likely to stay where they feel valued. Recently, The Harris Poll found that 70% of staff members would leave their current job and join a business known for good employee development. Companies looking for more advanced development options for workers may want to consider a talent management system.

Compliance

Going online cuts down on paper and keeps businesses in better compliance. They can provide lessons about standards to follow for full-time, part-time and contract workers alike saving millions in potential fines and downtime. LMS features that address compliance include resource management, detailed reporting, audit trails, online signatures and more.

Learning solutions can also save a company lots of money. In the 2020 IT Compliance Benchmark Report, respondents talked about how much non-compliance incidents had cost them. Here were the results:

  • A total of 31% lost between $100,000 to $1 million.
  • A total of 34% lost between $1 and $5 million.
  • A total of 18% lost between $5 and $20 million.
  • A total of 4% lost more than $20 million.

Sales and Marketing Tools

Some systems can integrate with other sales or marketing software. In conjunction, these two types of systems can be used to inform salespeople of new product information or new value-adds to better appeal to customers. It provides valuable research about their demographics.

Customer Training

For organizations that need to teach members or clients how to use the platform, a customer-facing LMS works well. It distributes materials and keeps everyone in communication through messaging apps, white papers and webinars.

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Types of Users

While there are LMSs tailored to a specific industry or purpose, most fall into two categories; educational institutions and corporate. Here’s what learning management can offer each of them.

Educators

Instructors use these solutions for teaching, managing classes and assigning projects. They look for tools that allow them to monitor student progress and have access to reusable templates for units and lessons for every semester.

Assessments and analytics identify at-risk students while in-depth grading and annotation capabilities help them reach their learners. Educational uses include individual schools, universities, school districts and online organizations from K-12 to higher education. Users could be students, teachers, administrators and even parents.

Enterprise/Corporate Customers

Businesses use tech for employee training and career development. It’s an easy way to standardize, develop and track learning while developing employee talents and helping them reach the next tier of their career.

Unlike in educational institutions, these assessments are focused on skill acquisition and key competencies to ensure the staff can do their jobs. It’s never been more important. One report from McKinsey & Company found that the demand for social and emotional skills will grow by 26% in the U.S. and 22% in Europe by 2030.

With an eye for the future, administrators can use more advanced systems to see how, when, and where workers are accessing information. After combining an LMS with an HRIS or other software, it becomes a powerful tool for actionable insights.

Pricing Structures

Is your budget enough to get your own LMS? Here are the different pricing models and what to consider when looking for different options:

  • Open Source: These systems are generally much more affordable and sometimes free. They’re usually highly customizable, but make sure your software has the capabilities you need. Also, keep an eye out for scalability options.
  • Free Trial: This is a good way to test and implement an LMS on a small scale before committing.
  • Monthly Subscriptions: Common for the industry, this cost is usually a fixed rate per month. Sometimes, it’s fixed per month and per user.
  • Annual Subscription: Sometimes accompanied by a deal when it comes to price, this is a rate paid per year. It may be based on the number of users or other factors.
  • One-Time License: This is common for on-premise solutions and is a one-time fee.
  • Payment Per User: Many platforms charge by the number of users.
  • Tiered Pricing Plans: Most LMSs offer more diverse features with increasing prices. It’s important to watch out for plans that manipulate you into bumping up to a price point you’re not comfortable with. Read the fine print carefully.
  • Add-Ons: It’s sometimes difficult to tell what’s truly included in a plan and what’s an add on, so make sure you have a comprehensive list of must-haves.

Many plans fall into the monthly subscription model with tiered pricing. They often have extra costs for add-ons. Be sure to question your salesperson extensively before committing. Demo as much as possible and understand the pricing structure inside and out before you buy it.

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Best Cloud-Based LMS

Now that we’ve covered the how, why and what of learning management software, it’s time to get to the who. These are the top five cloud-based LMS, based on our analysts’ assessment, and what you must know before you buy:

Adobe Captivate

Adobe Captivate Prime is a platform that’s notable for its robust functionality and options for content and training delivery. Administrative control features can create a hierarchy so one main brand can control a web of partner sites. Used by midsize and enterprise businesses, its capabilities include course and team management, authoring tools, pre-made assets, custom workflows and HTML5 support for mobile design.

Adobe Captivate Dashboard

A cloud LMS can bring many design elements to the table.

Fluidic Player and Intuitive Dashboard

The fluidic player is a universal playback device that can access multiple kinds of content. By using one plugin, rather than requiring a user to filter through different windows, sites and learn different players, it creates a smoother experience for accessing content. Users can access files in a multitude of formats including PDF, PPT, DOCX, SCORM, AICC and xAPI formats.

This means that instructors don’t have to worry about fitting different content into their presentation. Instead, they can more easily stream lessons with a wider variety of materials. Instructors can pick the best content each time, not just the content with the right format.

Branching and User Management

User management lets administrators enroll individuals, assign work and manage roles. From there, they get divided by brand, channel, client, division, department, partner or location while still being grouped under one big umbrella. Individual locations can customize and brand while global reporting keeps an eye on progress.

Training and Development

It helps organizations develop their team in the following ways:

Employee Skill Development
It drives engagement and increases skill level through gamification features such as certifications, leaderboards, milestones and badges. The platform also comes with a task list that lets them see how they stack up against their coworkers. On the management side, executives can make decisions regarding training priorities based on performance.

Sales and Customer Service
For outward-facing workers who are in the weeds with customers, it has quick delivery for microlearning quick product updates, company policy or new releases in the field.

Customer Education
If an organization needs to coach its customers on the use of their product or channel, it has personalized materials and customizable URLs to present relevant and engaging information.

Language, Format and Delivery Type

Designate the language, format or preferred method of delivery to get the most out of the process This could include instructor-led and virtual classrooms. It can also access materials offline. If used offline, it’s auto-synced when back online.

Other Functionality

  • Attendance: Students can sign-in by scanning a QR code.
  • Compliance: It has audit-ready reporting to ensure compliance.
  • Discussion Boards: Students, staff and other learners can collaborate and post. Administrators can divide groups based on job title, skill level or subject.
  • Learning Summary: Managers see a visual overview of completion rates, enrollments and worker progress. They can sort by team view or training view.
  • Note-Taking: Users can create bookmarks, make notes for revision and then email their notes to themselves when finished.
  • Social Learning: The AI-driven search allows users to find posts, discussions and user-generated information on discussion boards or through a feed.

Limitations

  • It can’t export reports from the content library.
  • No evaluation or employee communication modules.
  • It can’t upload customized certificates.
  • There’s no custom role within the import log.

Pricing

It comes with a 30-day free trial and begins at a starting price of $4.00 per month per user with a minimum of 10 users. From there, it has various premium options.

Conclusion

Adobe Captivate is a great solution for medium to large enterprises or educational institutions that need robust playback and delivery options. Worker training and development in particular could benefit from its wide range of functionality.

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Bridge

Bridge combines staff development with authoring tools creating a versatile LCMS that handles career coaching, engagement, learning management and performance management for a mid-sized business or workplace.

Base Functionality

Some of its core elements include course and training management, collaboration with peers and mentors, goal tracking, online classes and integrating into the workflow of the organization. It can join pre-existing HCMS or HRIS products to become part of a broader ecosystem of solutions.

Employee Engagement

Team leaders can check-in with groups to test for retention and start discussions around relevant topics. Through algorithms, it can analyze comments and share actions the company has taken as a result of worker feedback. It helps the workers feel heard and valued.

Bridge My Career Employee Profile

Employee profiles can help managers improve motivational strategies.

Training Management

It provides appropriate instruction based on role and encounters mentoring between peers. This helps get everyone onboarded or coached in new skills quickly. Even leaders can show their learning paths so executives see how it’s impacting the organization as a whole.

Career Development and Performance Management

Executives can coach, monitor, and assess skills. This can help everyone feel more empowered in shaping their career, see the next steps to take and what skills they need to improve to get there.

It can also address more specific questions about a staff member’s performance. It aids in facilitating conversations, planning personal goals and mapping out ways to improve overall performance.

Languages

The solution supports Armenian, Chinese (simplified), Czech, Dutch, German, English, Estonian, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and more.

Other Features

  • Anonymous Feedback: Employees can provide comments sans name, allowing for an open exchange of information for continuous improvement.
  • Agile Planning: Company and personal goals are updated quickly to reflect the fast-changing work environment.
  • Mobile Functionality: Users can access the app on mobile and tablet devices.
  • Reporting and Analytics: Administrators can pull reports and statistics that align with their permissions. This lets them see metrics on courses, performance and other trends.

Limitations

  • The design overlaps on phones.
  • Without SCORM support, it crashes during coding.

Pricing

There isn’t pricing information on the website. Contact the vendor for more answers.

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Docebo

Docebo is a cloud LMS solution that’s used by all types of businesses, from startups to enterprises, from corporate to nonprofit. Its main users are the employees, partners and customers of mid-sized companies. It serves industries such as technology, retail, consulting, healthcare, manufacturing, energy, oil and gas. Docebo has a diverse set of features and its capabilities include onboarding, microlearning, certification management, AI operations, coaching and delivery, multi-lingual support and responsive design.

Advanced Reporting

Administrators can create simple reports or customize by group, certification, course type, learning plan and other data fields. There are customizable dashboards to get the necessary breakdown of information.

Certifications and Retraining

It can easily track and manage the skills and certifications that must be renewed by their workers. This is especially helpful for annual or quarterly requirements. Users can see the progress by program and identify nationwide trends.

E-Commerce

For organizations looking to sell their training, the platform lets shoppers browse, see an overview and purchase content and other information. Payment methods include wire transfers and administrators can oversee the process. A company looking to buy materials can access the Content Marketplace and select professional information from various creators.

Instructor-Led Learning

Teachers can broadcast to more than one location. Students can gain knowledge from experts in-person, in a digital classroom or a combination of both through blended learning.

Extensions and Integrations

When Docebo doesn’t have the right options, its API allows the software to integrate with third-party applications. Users can find integration and extensions for audit trails, automation, blogs, coaching, course catalogs, custom domains, labels and subscription codes. The pre-established integrations are Adobe Connect, BigBlueButton, BlueJeans, SkyMeeting and more.

Docebo Courses & Communication Center

In-app chat feature streamline communication.

Other Features

  • Customization and White Labeling: The platform can customize a URL and change the branding as needed. It offers logos, branding or be white labeled.
  • Gamification: It has awards, badges, points and rewards to get staff excited about the system and their training.
  • Multiple Languages: The software is available in 40 different languages.
  • Notifications: It sends notifications about achievements, certifications, comments, course completions and progress through over 70 different pre-made templates.
  • Responsive Design: The application works on mobile devices, PCs, laptops and tablets with Android and iOS.
  • Personalization: AI can tailor information to learners who want a more personalized experience.

Pricing

It has scalable tiered pricing and a free 14-day trial period. The plans include:

  • Growth: The basic plan accommodates up to 300 users.
  • Enterprise: For organizations with more demands who want an advanced solution. It has cloud hosting, single sign-on capabilities, SLAs and better implementation and onboarding plans.

Limitations

  • There’s no phone support. It only has email, a ticket system and online chats.
  • Webinars often fail without warning because of issues with integration.
  • It has a cap on video file size at 800MB.

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SAP Litmos

SAP Litmos has an easy, intuitive interface that even the least tech-savvy employees can navigate. It facilitates compliance management, collaboration, content creation, course management and instructor-led classes. The mobile-friendly solution comes with strong assessment and testing tools and is easy to adopt. It also has e-commerce functions and extended enterprise capabilities.

Tracking and Reporting

Administrators can use custom and standard reports and send them via email to stakeholders within or outside the company. It provides feedback on individual and team performances to monitor how training is affecting the organization overall.

Online Course Builder, Assessments And Surveys

Instructors looking to enrich classes can add teaching modules, assessments, surveys, quizzes and other feedback features.

Gamification and Engagement

It rewards workers with engaging tools such as achievements, badges and points. This is enriched with social options like interactive hotspots and discussion forums where staff can collaborate on their latest projects.

User Management

Sign-on more quickly with automated email invitations, comfortable interfaces and single sign-on capabilities. Administrators, on the other hand, can assign learning paths and automatically place teams.

Automation & Embedded AI

The solution uses automated alerts to prompt employees to take mandatory training; defines rules to automatically assign classes and team placement; and schedules automated reports. It offers AI-powered analysis and scoring of video self-assessments.
SAP Litmos

Users can access an LMS with responsive design on the go.

Other Features

  • Accessibility: It’s compatible with multiple web browsers, works on or offline, comes with 33 pre-configured languages and has accommodations for people with disabilities.
  • Branding: Users can customize the interface and align with company goals, keeping brand integrity intact.
  • Content Management: It supports online, blended and other delivery forms with virtual or classroom instruction and allows for feedback and progress reports.
  • E-commerce: SAP Litmos integrates with Shopify for organizations that want to sell classes.
  • Security: In addition to GDPR compliance, it uses the HTTPS protocol, encrypts and stores data behind a firewall and has data keyed with a private certificate.

Limitations

  • It records all opened courses into the dashboard.
  • The library structure is different for customers and administrators.
  • It doesn’t let the manager change authors or give out permissions.

Pricing

SAP Litmos has tiered pricing and comes with three different packages and a 14-day free trial. It starts charges at $4 per active user per month when billed annually. The more people, the more the price goes down.

The packages include:

  • Entry Level:
    • $6 per user per month for 150 to 500 active users.
  • Pro:
    • $6 per user per month for 150 to 500 active users.
    • $4 per user per month for 500 to 1,000 active users.
  • Pro + Courses:
    • $15 per user per month for 50 to 150 active users.
    • $9 per user per month for 150 to 500 active users.
    • $6 per user per month for 500 to 1,000 active users.

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TalentLMS

Overview

TalentLMS, owned by Epignosis, makes it easy to set up classes in minutes and repurpose old content. Some reviewers have said it’s one of the easiest to use. It generally serves small and mid-sized institutions. In addition to the core functionality of delivering training, it has e-commerce, testing, white labeling and class management.

Course Management

Authoring and management make up the base functionality. However, it does have a few more advanced tools to create assignments, file repositories, learning paths, progress reports, surveys and deliver quality control.

TalentLMS

Users can see details on their progress from their personal account.

Integrations and Interoperability

It makes integration possible through its API and SCORM module and can link with other solutions. It supports various multimedia files such as presentations, videos, iFrame and SCORM. The open API allows users to use third-party apps for e-commerce, video conferencing and other web apps. If content follows SCORM and xAPI standards, it works within the system.

Certification

The certification feature designs the certification that is valid for predefined periods. It also supports a variety of compliance scenarios that might require a re-certification.

Reporting and Analytics

The TalentLMS reporting engine chooses the information that the organization needs. It allows scheduled reports to arrive at any weekly interval of choice. It gives a snapshot of the training with infographics. Easy-to-understand analytic reports that inform online facilitators about all aspects of their courses.

Enterprise Readiness

Mid-sized companies may appreciate the administrative and communication functions. It has calendars, discussion boards, messaging, video conferencing and other mass actions. Video conferencing requires third-party integration. TalentLMS provides additional support in these cases.

Languages

TalentLMS is available in multiple languages such as Arabic, Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai and Turkish.

Other Features

  • Accessibility: It follows WCAG-2 accessibility requirements.
  • Branching: The solution offers the learning environment that’s segmented into branches. Each branch is a separate installation.
  • Compliance: It tracks and manages their compliances with audit trails, electronic signatures, ILT management, facility management, broad content support and reporting.
  • Customization: Access a custom domain, add logos and port over a theme. Automated notifications remind instructors and students if the class is online or offline.
  • E-Commerce: It sells courses via PayPal or Stripe and offers global discounts or coupons. Users can buy individual classes or get a subscription payment.
  • Gamification: Users get rewarded with badges, points, levels, rewards and leaderboards.
  • Homepage Builder: The software enables creating a public website on top of the portal and can extend it with pages that are available only to logged-in individuals.
  • Infrastructure: The servers combine with that of Amazon’s CDN for file delivery.
  • Responsive Design: It’s available on iOS and Android mobile and tablet devices.
  • Security: The platform works over a secure communication channel and enforces strong passwords. It also adds watermarks on the videos.

Limitations

  • There’s no live chat support.
  • The customization feature is restricted to administrators.
  • It has a static front page that can’t be customized with drag-and-drop elements.

Pricing

There’s a free version that’s limited to five users and ten courses. Otherwise, it employs a tiered pricing system. Buyers can choose between an annual or monthly subscription fee.

The paid plans include:

  • Starter Pack: Costs $59 per month.
  • Basic: Costs $129 per month.
  • Plus: Costs $249 per month.
  • Premium: Costs $429 per month.

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Cloud-Based vs. Open-Source

If you find the price point just isn’t lining up from your selection of cloud-based LMS, it could be time to consider an open-source option. Sometimes free, usually competitively priced and always highly customizable, these options have benefits and drawbacks.

These are the most common pros and cons:

Pros

  • Low-cost, more affordable or free
  • No set pricing model
  • Good for small businesses
  • Additional functionalities available a la cart
  • Support in communities from other learners
  • Can be modified or customized
  • Work well as a basic stand-alone option

Cons

  • It requires installation and is often more work upfront
  • It’s hosted on another server meaning you have little control when issues arise
  • It sometimes has fewer options for features, customization and reporting
  • Can’t add as many people

Popular Open-Source LMS

For those who are still considering an open-source option, this list gives you a place to start.

Accord LMS

This e-learning solution is scalable and provides enterprise training for small and midsize businesses. Administration tasks are automated and it can host multimedia tasks such as videos, SCORM-compliance content, online documents and live classes. It has a drag-and-drop option making it easy to understand and use. Other capabilities include testing, surveys, unlimited user roles, certification management, webinars, HTML5, e-commerce and HRIS synchronization.

Blackboard Learn

A popular choice for many educational institutions, Blackboard Learn is scalable, helps prevent plagiarism, user management, virtual classrooms and a litany of other tools. Founded in 1997, it integrates with multiple other applications and creates an online collaborative space. The Blackboard for Business module in specific helps companies with analytics, aligning company goals and overseeing the process.

Canvas

Canvas is free for educators, reliable and has a wide range of authoring capabilities. The customer support team helps with implementation and adoption. It’s customizable and comes with a repository for learning objects, catalog and course index for those who want further training.

Google Classroom

It provides basic functions such as creation assignments, grades and feedback and has a wide range of free content to choose from. While often used in educational settings, it adapts easily to corporate ones. It comes in three plans: G Suite Basic, Business and Enterprise. While the base is free, the other tools cost more but come with more functionality that could aid in training and onboarding.

Moodle

Moodle is a highly customizable open-source LMS based in Australia. It’s well-known for its quick course setup, open API, and easy to use administration options. With content available in over 100 different languages and strong community support, Moodle works well for small and medium-sized organizations that have strong implementation plans and a support team.

Totara

The flexibility and responsive design of this LMS, make it an appropriate choice for coaches looking for customization options. Through the use of individual learning plans, managers can ensure that they deliver the correct training to the relevant employees. Its use of objectives helps users track and achieve goals. The mobile options are accessible, even on the go.

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Other Options

For those who still want to explore either cloud-based and locally hosted systems, here’s a list of options to start your search.

  • Absorb LMS: Built with a RESTful API, Absorb is a highly customizable option that provides e-learning, web conferencing, e-commerce and social learning functions.
  • Edmodo: This free, open-source platform is popular with educators and is used by more than 400,000 schools.
  • iSpring Learn: It’s easy-to-learn because of its integration with PowerPoint and is a popular choice for businesses and institutions that want to set up simple instruction.
  • LearnUpon: With a focus on certification, course management and gamification, this is a custom solution that’s upgraded as needed.
  • Schoology: While it’s often used in K-12 settings, Schoology offers tools for enterprise users such as better communication, advanced administration control, customization and advanced analytics.
  • Tovuti: It focuses on employer training, content selling, certification management, branding and virtual classrooms. It also serves educational institutions.

Final Thoughts

A cloud-based LMS is essential to keep up with the constantly changing skills of the modern marketplace. Picking a cloud-based option gives you flexibility and accessibility. To that end, Adobe Captivate Prime, Bridge, Docebo, SAP Litmos and TalentLMS are all excellent options when organizations are looking for training.

It has an excellent playback function that supports multimedia and branching hierarchy structure. Bridge has versatile tools for LCMS capabilities. The cloud-based LMS solution offers many course management features and over 40 languages while SAP Litmos is notable for engagement and its accessibility. Lastly, TalentLMS is very enterprise-friendly and provides many options for coaching programs, certification and gamification.

Ultimately, the decision of picking a solution comes down to needs. Whether it’s cloud-based or locally hosted; open-source or closed source; pricey or inexpensive, e-learning software can help. Consider it as a way to upskill workers, get your staff engaged and transform your company into a more streamlined and capable business.

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What Do You Think?

Did we cover your favorite cloud LMS in our article? What experience have you had with these solutions? Are their other considerations we missed? Leave a comment below!

Grace SavidesBest Cloud LMS: Top Cloud-Based Learning Management Systems For 2020

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