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Free Hosted Course Management Systems, A Closer Look – Rcampus

by Kelly Walsh on February 20, 2011

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Rcampus is a fully featured application that provides a lot of it’s capabilities for free, but you will need to pay for some “premium” functions.

Last week I started researching free, hosted Course and Learning Management Systems, in search of those that provide relatively unlimited use for little or nominal cost. My focus was to find apps that could be used by teachers who wish to work with a CMS/LMS and have none in their schools (and presumably have little or no budget for it). I selected four that seemed like they might fit the bill, with the intention of coming back this week to take a deeper dive.

As I considered which to work with first, I decided to put SchoolRack to the end of the list, since they do charge a fee (albeit very small) to use their more fully featured “Plus” plan. I figured I’d give the other three a good workout to see what I could get for no cost. I signed up for Schoology, but they had to validate my school, and this took a couple days, so I moved on to Rcampus in the meanwhile.

I signed up for Rcampus, logged in, and created the beginnings of a ‘welcome’ page and some course work. I made the video below, illustrating the process. I knew going into this that Rcampus did not offer all of it’s functionality for free, but in my initial reading through their website I came away with the impression that the paid version was required only for enterprise-level functions (like integration to an SIS and that sort of thing). I quickly learned, however, that there are more limitations to their free version than I originally thought.

Rcampus is a robust application, offering extensive functionality, and is certainly worth considering if you’re looking for a Course Management System that you can use for free. It does turn out though that some features, such as Tests/Quizzes, and some advanced editing capabilities, are only available under their Premium paid version. This in and of itself is does not exclude Rcampus from further consideration, but unfortunately the Premium version is not available yet, and I saw no information about when it would be available, what it would cost, or what other differences exist between the free version and this new Premium version.

Perhaps when they do release this information, it will turn out that the fee for Premium use is nominal, making Rcampus worth continuing to trial and learn about. In the meanwhile I’m looking forward to learning more about other contenders for the “Best Free Hosted CMS/LMS” crown.

Next Week
Next week we will continue our closer look at the tools originally selected last week. My next two targets are Schoology and MyiCourse. I hope you’ll come back and join us.

Your feedback is welcomed and encouraged!
As always here on EmergingEdTech, I and my readers love to hear from other site visitors, and to share experiences and insights (after all, this sort of dialogue is one of the most important reasons I’ve developed this site and write these articles). We are all on a learning journey, and learning from others is a wonderful part of the process. Questions are also welcomed and encouraged, so please be don’t hesitate to drop a comment and share your observations, ideas, or inquiries! Thanks.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
What Are The Best Free Hosted Course Management Systems On The Internet?
Moodle 2.0 versus Blackboard 9.1 – a Brief Comparison
Exploring the World of Free Teaching Productivity Resources on the Web

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Class Workshop in a Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Doyle September 6, 2012 at 9:39 am

Our firm just initiated a hosted version of our comprehensive course management software, Class Registrar. Please contact us to discuss its possible value.
Larry Doyle
Both Worlds Software, Inc.
877.268.4967

Jon Nemeth February 22, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Hey Kelly,

Great article. As someone in the edtech field, its always great to see teachers out there who are taking an active interest in the way technology can aid education.

In this article, you wrote about a few “free” LMS platforms. I just was wondering if I could add one to your lists. The company I’m talking about is called Novachi, and they have an integrated SIS/LMS that is 100% free, no set-up costs, contracts, or fees.

I work for Novachi, so if you have any questions about it, or would like to set up a free account, let me know.

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