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What Is an LMS (Learning Management System)?

Business News Daily Editor
Business News Daily Editor

Many organizations use a learning management system to give employees opportunities for expanding their professional development.

  • Learning management systems help companies train employees. With an LMS, all trainings can be done remotely and on demand while stored in the cloud.
  • Any LMS is beneficial to managers who need better tracking tools to confirm compliance. LMS courses can be completed in a flexible timeframe for added convenience.
  • LMS resources follow different pricing models. You may be allowed to pay monthly, per user or per course.

A learning management system is a powerful resource focused on training and professional development, whether it's for staffing agencies or extension schools or corporations. This powerful software combines database management with the digital framework for managing curricula, training materials and evaluation tools. The impact of an LMS is mostly felt outside of traditional educational institutions, though the same technology is slowly finding its way into even those entities.

History of LMS

The application of computers as educational resources isn't a new concept, though the existence of comprehensive learning management systems is much younger. Terms like "computer-based instruction," "computer-assisted instruction" and "computer-assisted learning" described earlier applications of individualized, electronic instruction. Early inceptions of computer-based learning simply entailed a computerized curriculum with little to support it from a tracking and course library standpoint. As software infrastructures advanced, the ability to effectively implement a content management system for managing and integrating courses increased the overall functionality of the LMS into what is now commonly used.

Who benefits from LMS?

Large groups of employees benefit the most from LMS. This allows an organization to provide large-scale training that is efficient and uniform. All e-learning materials are managed and stored in a single interface. This makes it easy for employees to access the required trainings on demand. LMS resources are usually stored in the cloud, allowing employees to launch trainings remotely. This is a benefit to HR workers who want trainings to be finished before the employee starts a new job.

Managers benefit from LMS because the programs make it seamless to track and monitor employees' progress. Reports are generated to show the status of all staff's progress with the required trainings. Scores are also provided to show managers who has performed well on the tests. LMS resources are important to ensure compliance with any training regulations.

An LMS is perfect for companies that need flexible learning options. It's very scalable, with trainings added and eliminated as needed. Content can always be updated to provide the latest information to relevant employees.

Components of an LMS

No hard-and-fast list of components exists to specify what is and isn't a learning management system. While a certain series of features is quite common, the full capabilities of the LMS will vary by organization and intended usage. 

In general, an LMS has these abilities:

  • Create class rosters, control registration and create waiting lists
  • Upload and manage documents containing curriculum content
  • Deliver course content over a web-based interface, allowing an entirely remote educational experience for the instructor and student
  • Create and publish course calendars
  • Foster interactions between students via functions like instant messaging, email and forums
  • Establish methods for assessment and testing, such as multiple-choice quizzes

In the corporate training environment, learning management systems offer additional features that cater to the busy and professionally driven individual:

  • Automatic enrollment and reminders for mandatory courses
  • Manager access for approving materials and participation
  • HR integration for tracking performance goals, course completions and employment eligibility

Advantages of an LMS

The purpose of a learning management system is to add another level of efficiency to an organization and the growth of its employees. An LMS effectively creates an online learning environment through which employees can select courses that interest them and management can track potential improvements in the office based on course history. The LMS allows an organization to do the following:

  • Manage learning more effectively. Learning activities are housed in one location, reducing costs while increasing the visibility of learning opportunities.

  • Improve compliance reporting. Learning management systems can track the courses employees take and the scores they receive, allowing management to better focus training and identify needs for certifications.

  • Combine social and formal learning for higher overall value. The integration of an online method of study accelerates learning, increases knowledge retention and allows employees to go at their own pace.

  • Empower administration. Management will stay informed of the learning employees participate in and what topics need greater focus to create more well-rounded employees.

  • Improve content delivery. Instructors can more easily prepare and present quality courses that will act as positive learning opportunities for course participants.

LMS software

Several learning management systems exist, offering access to their own vast libraries of training or giving organizations a clean slate to fill with their own content. Blackboard Learn, Desire2Learn (D2L), Moodle and Sakai are among the most popular learning management systems out there. They each offer a comprehensive interface for managing and setting up curriculum and for tracking employee progress and course history. These applications are available for both in-house installation and web-based monthly subscription.

LMS pricing options

LMS pricing varies by provider, and vendors can usually offer multiple pricing models to companies. For instance, the LMS may be priced per user. Companies are given a set price each time a user is registered in the system. Another option is a monthly price for a set number of users. As an example, the company may charge $100 per month for 50 users.

Some companies may charge per course instead of per user. These prices are usually generated when the LMS relies on third-party learning software.

Image Credit: Sjale / Getty Images
Business News Daily Editor
Business News Daily Editor,
Business News Daily Writer
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