LMS, an acronym for Learning Management System, is a software application designed to plan, implement and track learning content. It helps integrate all training administration activities under one roof. A Learning Management System is sometimes also known as Course Management System (CMS), Learning Content Management System (LCMS), Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Virtual Learning System (VLS), learning portal, or eLearning platform. Though a Learning Management System (LMS) is defined differently by different vendors, its functions remain the same.
Functions of an LMS
LMSs are used to automate the administration, tracking and reporting of learning programs. But, these powerful software applications can do much more, including the following
- Administer online, classroom, and webinar training programs automatically from a single place
- Help learners use the system on their own, in an easy and effective manner
- Create and deliver online training content, quickly and efficiently
- Integrate various training programs on an accessible, online platform
- Provide effective access to eLearning courses on various platforms
- Ensure that prescribed standards are supported
- Deliver content which is tailored to the specific needs of the learner
What does it take to buy the perfect LMS?
Although, most potential clients prefer an enterprise-system, based on the scope of the requirements, there are three options that revolve around size and complexity.
- For smaller implementations, say 500 or less users, creating an interface using WordPress and adding a WordPress LMS plug-in is very cost-effective.
- In a medium-size implementation, Moodle, the open-source LMS, may be a good fit. What is a medium-size implementation? Maybe over 500 users. Definitely over 1,000 users. Maybe up to 2,500 or 3,000 users.
- When the users scale higher than a few thousand, the system requirements usually become more complex as well. Then, an enterprise system is required.
Of course, there are numerous considerations in terms of features:
In the spring of 2009, Learning Circuits and E-Learning News conducted a survey on how organizations were using their LMSs. Here is a chart that indicates the extent to which companies use the features of their LMSs.
Source: A 2009 Learning Circuits survey on LMSs
Since 2009 one other important feature has been added to the list that did not seem relevant then. Today learners access LMSs using PCs, Macs, iPads, Android tablets and all varieties of smartphones. LMSs and the courses they serve must be browser and device agnostic.
In my next blog we’ll look at the three options (WordPress, Moodle and Enterprise) in general terms that can help you determine the best fit for your organization.