Are you using Brightspace as your school’s LMS and wondering if better alternatives exist?
When it comes to education platform options, Brightspace is probably the first to come to mind for most people. It’s been a popular option since 1999 when the internet was practically just getting started. Although it lacks the financial resources of tech giants like Google and Microsoft, the features of Brightspace continue to make it a strong choice for educators.
There are Brightspace alternatives that you should know about, however. The most well-known of these is probably Google Classroom. Started in 2014 as part of Google’s education advocacy program, it’s a little late to the party as an LMS. But that hasn’t kept Google Classroom from becoming the LMS of choice for many schools.
Although it’s a less obvious alternative, Microsoft Teams for Education can supplement or even replace your Brightspace system. It includes the familiar video conferencing features of Teams with additional useful tools for students and teachers.
Would one of these competitors to Brightspace be the best choice for your students and teachers? Or should your school stick with its tried-and-true LMS? Hopefully, the following information will help answer that question.
|Brightspace||Google Classroom||Microsoft Teams|
|Company / Developer||Desire2Learn (D2L)||Microsoft|
|Type||Cloud Software: Education Technology||Cloud Software: Education Technology||Collaborative software|
|Founded / Released||1999||Aug. 12, 2014 (Initial); Apr. 14, 2021 (Stable)||Sep. 27, 2021 (Stable)|
|Headquarters||Kitchener, Ontario, Canada|
|Number of Employees||900+|
Before we compare Brightspace with Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams, it might be helpful to dial in on exactly what it does.
Brightspace is a learning management system, or LMS. As we mentioned, it’s been around for quite some time, as it got its start all the way back in 1999. At its core, it’s a digital platform that connects students and teachers together and allows them to communicate conveniently.
Brightspace gives schools a cloud-based learning environment for creating, editing, and hosting lessons and resources. Teachers can create custom content and store it in their library to give to students when they’re ready. Classes can even be held online in virtual classrooms, which is especially important nowadays.
Brightspace also provides a social experience for students. It offers reminders for due projects and options for student communication and collaboration.
Although Brightspace may have been one of the earliest LMS platforms on the scene, it isn’t the only option. Today, educators have many learning management systems to choose from. Some popular ones include Canvas LMS, Blackboard Learn, and Google Classroom.
Now that we’ve established what an LMS should do, we can effectively compare Classroom and Teams as alternative systems. We’ll start by seeing how Google Classroom’s features stack up next to Brightspace.
Brightspace and Google Classroom are both well-known and very popular with schools. But which one is better? Perhaps not surprisingly, it depends on your needs and budget.
In the following sections, we’ll compare different aspects of Brightspace and Google Classroom to see which one comes out on top.
When you’re adding a new product or service to your existing system, compatibility is important. Google Classroom and Brightspace both offer integration options to make the user experience as convenient as possible.
But when you’re paying for software, its built-in tools and features may be more important to you than what software it’s compatible with. That brings us to our first question: taken by themselves, what can Brightspace and Google Classroom do?
When it comes to built-in features, Brightspace easily surpasses Google Classroom. Classroom is free, so its built-in tools are limited.
Brightspace includes tools for specialized learning environments, virtual classrooms, and student portfolios. It lets educators use automated graders and maintain digital class records. Teachers can even use it to give assignments through video and interactive slides.
Google Classroom’s main focus is on paperless learning. It’s designed to allow teachers and students to complete classes and assignments in a digital-only workflow. It comes with basic LMS features, like grading and document management tools, but it’s limited.
We already saw that Brightspace is the clear winner where built-in features are concerned. Unfortunately for Google, it also comes out ahead in terms of available integrations.
Being a Google product, Classroom integrates seamlessly with its cloud-based Office alternative, Google Docs. It also integrates nicely with other mobile and web-based Google products, such as Android phones, Chromebooks, and Google Apps for Work.
Brightspace can be integrated with many third-party apps, including Google Apps for Work and Microsoft Office 365. So unless your students and teachers use Google apps and services exclusively, Brightspace is a better choice.
That said, both platforms have an open API. This means developers and administrators can connect either system to an unlimited number of third-party apps. While this allows for more customization, it’s limited to people who know how to build their own API solutions.
Virtual classroom capacity and school member limit are important considerations in choosing an LMS.
Google Classroom limits class members to 1,000 people. On the other hand, Brightspace allows as many as 3,000 students per class. This makes Brightspace the obvious choice for large schools and enterprises.
Last but not least, what is the pricing difference between Google Classroom and Brightspace?
Cost is often the deciding factor in whether to choose a software or service, especially for smaller organizations. Fortunately for those with tight budgets, Google Classroom is completely free.
Meanwhile, Brightspace utilizes a quote-based pricing structure for its enterprise-level service. The final cost will depend on the number of students enrolled and the features activated.
Brightspace and Microsoft Teams don’t have as much in common as Brightspace has in common with Google Classroom. To begin with, Microsoft Teams isn’t a learning management system. Although Teams for Education has some similar features to those offered by Brightspace, it isn’t meant to replace an LMS.
That doesn’t mean your school can’t use Microsoft Teams to help with learning, however. Depending on your specific needs, you could even use it instead of a traditional LMS. And if you want to use Teams and Brightspace together, they actually work well in integration.
We’ve already gone over some of Brightspace’s core features. Here, we’ll share some of Teams’ main features for comparison.
On its surface, Microsoft Teams seems like a basic video conferencing tool. However, it’s actually much more complex than that. It also offers document sharing with collaborative editing that makes it ideal for students and teachers.
Teams is the perfect tool for presenting online lessons. It also lets students collaborate on assignments.
Students and teachers can share notes, chats, reminders, and even third-party apps. Resources can be shared within entire classes or subgroups within classes, all created by teachers.
Even though Teams for Education isn’t advertised as an LMS, you can probably see how it could be used as one.
We already mentioned that Teams can be integrated with Brightspace. But does it offer any other software integrations?
As you might have guessed, Teams works perfectly with other Office 365 apps. These include the ever-popular Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as OneNote. Sharing and collaboration on different kinds of documents are supported with OneDrive.
Besides Office, there are several third-party apps that Microsoft recommends with Teams. These include various LMS’s, tools for communication and content creation, and more.
A single organization using Microsoft Teams can have up to 500,000 members on the free plan. Not only that, but each user can use up to 2 GB of free storage with OneDrive. Users can get more storage with an upgraded 365 subscription if they want it.
As already mentioned, Microsoft Teams is free with Microsoft Office 365 for Education. While the free version of Office 365 is less robust than the version intended for businesses, it’s more than sufficient for students. Compared to Brightspace, Microsoft Teams is a budget-friendly option for schools.
So which platform is best for your school?
The answer ultimately depends on your school’s budget and needs. Google Classroom is a great free platform with seamless integration with Google Docs. And Microsoft Teams for Education can complement an existing LMS or function on its own.
Using one of these free Brightspace alternatives could help reduce costs for your school. But this isn’t the only way Insurdinary can help you save money. Whether you’re looking for the best bank account, credit card, or insurance plan, use our financial comparison tools to help you make an informed choice.