In the ever-evolving world of online applications, many of us website and intranet managers have used or know something of content management systems (CMS). As with most technologies these are now becoming more specialized in their application. Enter Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS).
What is the difference between an LMS and an LCMS? The primary
objective of a learning management system is to manage learners,
keeping track of their progress and performance, in essence the
administrative side of a learning initiative. Learning Content
Management Systems, on the other hand, manage the delivery of the
More educators are discovering the benefits of being able to
deliver such things as streaming video presentations and virtual
meetings. By using synchronous tools for collaboration these kinds of
learning tools can be made available across an entire enterprise. Other
The aim of this effort is to effectively mirror a live classroom
setting in a virtual community.
An LMS is designed to support a collaborative learning community,
offering multiple modes of learning. This might include self-paced
coursework or scheduled classes and group learning. LMSs are often
compared to enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions; by
streamlining the delivery of learning initiatives in the same manner
ERP streamlines back office tasks.
Learning content management system (LCMS)
An LCMS, manages the delivery of course materials. A good LCMS
offers numerous advantages: rapid content creation and deployment,
collaboration tools, reusable learning objects, and an intuitive
student experience. The latter is the most complex factor that must be
delivered. Despite our knowledge and comfort level in the digital age,
concentrating on computer delivered coursework can be a difficult task.
Given this, an LCMS can assist by providing regularly updated content
in a varied delivery style.
The differences between LCMS and LMS functionality can be very
confusing because most of the LCMS systems also have built-in LMS
abilities. In fact, according to a research paper by Dr. Brandon Hall
(a leading expert in e-Learning)...
81% of the LCMS systems include LMS functionality as part of their
100% of the LCMS systems list themselves as being interoperable
with third-party learning management systems.
54% have actually performed interoperability tests with leading
A good LMS provides an infrastructure that enables planning,
delivery, and management of learning programs in any chosen format. It
will support multiple authoring systems and integrate easily with the
leading LCMS systems. As a catalyst for the overall learning
environment, an LMS can integrate LCMS learning objects and assume
responsibility for all content management, including:
Delivery and tracking
Storage in a content repository
Assembly and re-assembly of content objects
Incorporation of content objects into blended curriculums
Tracking learner progress through courses
As Krista Skalde, a senior consultant specializing in learning and
performance support processes, tools and systems, highlights:
“The LMS and LCMS tools available today make it possible, in ways never
before seen, to truly ‘serve up’ a learner-centric
intervention: what the learner needs to do her job, when she needs
it. And, the integrated capabilities between an LMS and LCMS mean
that the tracking of these interventions occurs at both ends: did
the learner get value from the intervention and perform better and did
the developer create compelling and relevant content?”
Another of the main, and perhaps most compelling, differences
between an LMS and an LCMS are the analytic capabilities that each of
these solutions provide. Learning Analytics features have become more
and more prevalent in vendor offerings over the past few years, with
the promise of more robust enhancements to come. Typically, the
analytic capabilities in an LMS help organizations understand the
various levels of learning evaluation (i.e. Kirkpatrick Levels of
Evaluation). In other words, an organization is able to
Of greatest interest to the executive sponsors of these
initiatives is the ability to compare and analyze successful completion
of a learning intervention with an increase in performance (i.e.
learners who successfully completed an intervention sold 42% more
widgets than those who did not). These features are the ones that
assist learning and development professionals to justify the costs
associated with their programs.
An LMS and LCMS combination
can provide all the necessary tools for your enterprise to carry out
effective online training programs
On the other hand, an LCMS’ analytic capabilities are able to
measure and analyze the results of a specific learning intervention at
a more granular level. These capabilities are meant to drive an
increase in performance of the content developers themselves so that
they can better serve the needs of their “clients” (i.e.
learners). An example of this is the ability for an LCMS to drill
down into the results of a test found at the end of an online module.
If 90% of the learners did not answer a specific question successfully,
content developers are then able to drill into the material covered by
the question. Fundamentally, this type of analysis helps answer the
question: Is it the learners or is it the material?
An LMS and LCMS combination can provide all the necessary tools
for your enterprise to carry out effective online training programs. By
utilizing a content repository, content can be re-used for different
training segments without having to be rewritten or redesigned. Should
redesign be necessary to better suit a different learning group, this
can be facilitated through the LCMS without programming knowledge or
special server access.
There are several articles available which rate the top systems in
this segment. Which is the best? The answer, of course, lies with the
end user. With so many systems available, it is extremely important
that the one you choose fits with what you are trying to accomplish
rather than you trying to fit your content to the parameters of a
Selecting an LMS or LCMS vendor in today’s landscape can be an
overwhelming task. Many vendors, old and new, are more than willing to
show you their wares through online flash demos, brochures and
websites. All of them seem to have great features and
functionality. Some vendors boast of their extraordinarily powerful and
flexible collaboration including:
But are all these bells and whistles going to meet your
Understanding your company’s requirements is paramount before
considering any vendor selection. Failure to develop an integrated plan
that accounts for an organization’s business, stakeholder and user
requirements can result in failure.
Gartner estimates that one
third of IT projects in small to mid-sized companies exceed budgets and
schedules by almost 100%.
When choosing any software product, functional user and
stakeholder requirements must be clearly defined. A structured
methodology needs to be invoked to not only ensure that the proper
vendor is chosen, but that the product has a productive lifespan.
Gartner estimates that one third of IT projects in small to mid-sized
companies exceed budgets and schedules by almost 100%.This represents a
lot of wasted time and money due to ‘scope creep’.
Scope creep happens when the scope or deliverables of a project
change during the project implementation, mainly because of weak
planning that doesn’t fully account for the business requirements of
A thorough assessment and overall plan, along with documenting the
needs of the organization and securing the necessary buy-in from
multiple stakeholders and business managers will greatly reduce, if not
eliminate scope creep.
Prescient's LMS Blueprint
company in choosing the proper LMS vendor and end solution. It includes
our proven methodology for gathering requirements, a robust LMS
Evaluation Matrix, an overview of the present LMS vendor landscape, RFP
management and more. For further information contact us