Many organizations looking to add more e-learning elements to their company training programs get stuck choosing between two similar-sounding, but ultimately different, systems: Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS). There are a number of similarities between the two, and recently many software packages have blurred the differences between them. However, there are a few key differences that organizations should keep in mind when looking for an online training system.
An LMS provides the simplest platform for managing the experience of students or trainees as they interact with e-learning content. One of the assumptions about an LMS, which will become clearer in the explanation of an LCMS, is that the content has already been created, and that it’s in the right format to be compatible with these systems. Beyond that, most LMS packages have several similarities in common:
An LCMS provides a more complex platform meant for developing content used in e-learning programs. Many LCMS packages available on the market also contain tools that resemble those used in an LMS, and most assume that an LMS is already in place. The emphasis in an LCMS is the ability for developers to create new material. Most content-management systems have several aspects in common:
Organizations that have all their existing materials in commonly used business software formats – like Microsoft Office products – will find that few LMS platforms allow for them to simply be imported and modified. Those materials need to be created from scratch, and to do that you will need an LCMS.
A number of LMS platforms serve the education market, including some of the most well known, such as Blackboard. There are a few key differences that make education packages unique, and that may also obscure the boundary between LMS and LCMS.
Despite the nuances and complexities of different packages, a few simple generalizations can help organizations make a choice when choosing between an LMS and an LCMS.
Because of inconsistencies in the way different platforms are made and marketed, be sure to pay close attention to the details of any new product you select. Over time, these two choices will continue to evolve to meet changing demand for e-learning.
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