What IS a Learning Management System?
A Learning Management
System (or LMS) is a software package, usually on a large scale (that scale is decreasing
rapidly), that enables the management and delivery of learning content and resources
to students. Most LMS systems are web-based to facilitate "anytime, anywhere"
access to learning content and administration.
At a minimum, the LMS
usually allows for student registration, the delivery and tracking of e-learning
courses and content, and testing, and may also allow for the management of instructor-led
training classes. In the most comprehensive of LMSs, one may find tools such as
competency management, skills-gap analysis, succession planning, certifications,
virtual live classes, and resource allocation (venues, rooms, textbooks, instructors,
etc.). Most systems allow for learner self-service, facilitating self-enrollment,
and access to courses.
Some LMS vendors do not
distinguish between LMS and LCMS, preferring to refer to both under the term "LMS",
but there is a difference. The LCMS, which stands for "Learning Content Management
System", facilitates organization of content from authoring tools, and presentation
of this content to students via the LMS.
LMSs are based on a variety
of development platforms, from Java EE based architectures to Microsoft .NET, and
usually employ the use of a robust database back-end. While most systems are commercially
developed, free and open-source models do exist. Other than the most simplistic,
basic functionality, all LMSs cater to, and focus on different educational, administrative,
and deployment requirements.