What is a Learning Management System?

Learning Management Systems Allow Powerful Training Programs to be delivered on the Go

Learning Management System – www.mindflash.comOver the past decade or so, powerful software for managing complex databases have been combined with digital frameworks for managing curriculum, training materials, and evaluation tools. This technology is known as a Learning Management System (LMS).

Nearly a billion-dollar industry, LMS products and software allows organizations to develop intelligent electronic coursework; and deliver it with unmatched reach and flexibility. It provides the users the ability to manage its continued use over time. An LMS offers an incredible balance between functionality and ease-of-use. It provides an easy, simple yet modern user interface.

The LMS has become a powerful tool for consulting companies that specialize in staffing and training, extension schools, and any organization looking to obtain a better grasp on the continuing education of its workforce. Its impact has been felt mostly outside traditional education institutions, though the same technological and market forces are dramatically changing today’s classroom as well.

Below is a quick evaluation of some of the common aspects of the LMS industry, a few of its strengths and limitations, and a peek at what the future holds.

Components of an LMS

There is no standard industry definition or published standard defining the components of an LMS, but several features are common:

  • Creation of class rosters, control over registration processes, and the ability to create waiting lists.
  • Uploading and management of documents containing curricular content.
  • Delivery of course content over web-based interfaces, most often allowing remote participation by the instructor or pupil.
  • Creation and publication of course calendars.
  • Interaction between students, such as instant messaging, email, and discussion forums.
  • Methods of assessment and testing (like creating pop quizzes).
  • Full training management system with easy to use reporting

LMS systems used in corporate training environments often have additional features that satisfy goals relating to knowledge management and performance evaluation, such as:

  • Automatic enrollment and reminders for mandatory courses.
  • Options for manager access, such as to approve materials or participation.
  • Integration with human resource systems for tracking employment eligibility, performance goals, and similar corporate priorities.
  • Control over access and class groupings according to a number of metrics, such as geography, involvement in a particular project, or levels of security clearance.

Advantages of an LMS

Like several information technology innovations in recent decades, the Learning Management System is able to add a level of efficiency to an organization’s learning systems, with a number of other benefits as well, such as:

  • Easily adapting and reusing materials over time.
  • More choices for creators of curriculum, such as method of delivery, design of materials, and techniques for evaluation.
  • Creating economies of scale that make it less costly for organizations to develop and maintain content, as they rely on third parties.
  • Improvements in professional development and evaluation, allowing companies to get more value from human resources while empowering individuals with additional tools for self-improvement..

The Future of LMS

While still at a relatively nascent stage, LMS continues to evolve and adapt to new learning challenges and technological capabilities, including:

  • New uses for e-learning content, ranging from the arts to marketing communications.
  • Tighter integration into collaborative software platforms and messaging frameworks, such as GroupWise and Microsoft Outlook.
  • Migration of data storage to network-based methods, commonly known as "the cloud."
  • Further integration with talent management software systems.

Current trends in technology and business are favoring the increase of collaborative, web-based applications, user-oriented design, and other features that are often grouped together under the term "Web 2.0." By further inverting the traditional forms of interaction between instructors and pupils, and enabling a great amount of content to be created and managed more easily, the future of LMS appears to be a dynamic one.

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Image used under Creative Commons by Flickr user algogenius.

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