What is LMS mostly used for today, especially in the education sector, is as the core the main content management infrastructure that takes care of all the features and different modules of the online learning and training process an organization whats to implement. It stand for Learning Management System and it is used to describe different types of educational computer applications and e-learning training programs.
Most of them are web based and are compatible with most browsers and but differ on features and sophistication depending whether they are commercially licensed or open-sourced.
Regardless, today they have many uses, especially in the corporate training world, since the cost benefit of training employee online versus offline at the company headquarters, remote offices, and on-site trainings, have reduced dramatically.
Usage In The Real World
Its main uses in both education and business include:
- Student Management – Signup, Registration and Administration (like the one used at the Klein School District)
- Training Event Management – Scheduling, tracking, and delivery
- Records Management
- Course Management
- Certification Management
- Curriculum Management
- Competencies Management
- Skills Management
Chances are your school or company is using an LMS. It is a central hub of sort for them to control your learning process. They can check your attendance (logins/logouts), your participation (forum posts, homework submissions, etc..), and they can change the whole class content if they so choose to. This wasn’t the case just a few years back.
The Most Common Bunch
The main six providers include:
- SuccessFactors Learning
- Sumtotal Systems
The main open source providers are:
- Moodle – The most popular and well known of the bunch.
- Docebo – Supports Both the SCORM and Tin Can Standards.
- eFront – designed mostly for medium size organization
- Sakai (this one is gaing traction with the higher education public school sector)
An honorable mentioned should go to the WordPress platform. With the usage of a few premium plugins and advanced themes, a vanilla site can become a full fledged LMS. And the best part is that most WordPress hosting services are inexpensive and many of the updates for the primuim addtions are completely free
Many corporate IT departments have started to test the open source providers as they are getting more and more support and stability (a key element when implementing any time of software in a business), and it is also significantly cheaper since there is not outright cost to the software itself. This makes it a very appealing proposition when compared to the top six mentioned above. Each one costing thousands of dollars just for the software, let alone the yearly maintenance cost, phone support, and other relevant expenses.
When you compare a solution make sure you find out all the costs!
If you are still not sure what’s an LMS, then you can checkout Wikipedia and its take on learning management systems or better yet what this short video on what is called the Swiss army knife of online learning!