A Learning Management System (or LMS) is a software package, usually on a large scale (that scale is decreasing rapidly), that enables the management and delivery of learning content and resources to students. Most LMS systems are web-based to facilitate “anytime, anywhere” access to learning content and administration.
At a minimum, the LMS usually allows for student registration, the delivery and tracking of e-learning courses and content, and testing, and may also allow for the management of instructor-led training classes. In the most comprehensive of LMSs, one may find tools such as competency management, skills-gap analysis, succession planning, certifications, virtual live classes, and resource allocation (venues, rooms, textbooks, instructors, etc.). Most systems allow for learner self-service, facilitating self-enrollment, and access to courses.
Some LMS vendors do not distinguish between LMS and LCMS, preferring to refer to both under the term “LMS”, but there is a difference. The LCMS, which stands for “Learning Content Management System”, facilitates organization of content from authoring tools, and presentation of this content to students via the LMS.
LMSs are based on a variety of development platforms, from Java EE based architectures to Microsoft .NET, and usually employ the use of a robust database back-end. While most systems are commercially developed, free and open-source models do exist. Other than the most simplistic, basic functionality, all LMSs cater to, and focus on different educational, administrative, and deployment requirements.