What is a Learning Management System?

There are a variety of Learning Management Systems, so knowing which one to select for your organization is critical to your training program’s success. The formal definition of a learning management system, also referred to as an LMS, is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of educational courses or training programs.

But an LMS is a lot more than that. Learning management systems house all your lessons in one place, whether its safety compliance training for factory employees, re-certification for engineers, or corporate policy refresher material for the office. Making a learning management system a very important and integral part of your organization.

An LMS has the ability to take what we know as typical, lackluster training and make it fun, more engaging, and will help your learners retain information better.

Learning management systems have matured a lot within the last decade - a time when LMSs were all very similar and generic. Over the last five years it is apparent that the LMS market has started to segment into specializations, and as of today it can be broken down into three segments.

What Are The Three Types of LMSs
  • Academic: k-12 and higher education
  • Employee: Training within an organization for an employee to achieve career growth
  • Partner: Training outside of an organization's "building premises". Such as partners, customers, resellers, etc.

You can learn more about these three types of learning management systems in depth. But here is a quick overview:

 Academic LMS:   Used to train k-12 and university students. Content within the LMS is used to support classroom instruction. An academic learning management system contains rich functionality to maintain their virtual and classroom environments. The process of managing the scheduling of classrooms, teachers and students outside of a virtual environment is very complicated and requires a lot of data exchange in order to accomplish.

 Employee LMS:   Focuses on the training of an organization's employees. An employee learning management system helps accomplish three main training initiatives: training new employees, career development, and compliance training.

 Partner LMS:   Focuses on training among individuals who are selling or servicing an organization's product. This can include: associates, franchises, resellers, service contractors, agents, and brokers. An extended enterprise learning management system is also used by manufacturing organizations to train suppliers.

What The Future Holds
Hot topics in eLearning are ‘environment’ and ‘ecosystem,’ which is another way of saying “all-encompassing” learning. With the variety of choices and “noise” employees are dealing with on a daily basis, learning has been incorporated in all aspect of the work day.

An employee logs into their system to start their day will be greeted with a course or alert to take a course, this will become the norm. The employee will have a choice to take the course or wait until another point. The employee will also have the choice of where and how they can take the course. In order to accommodate this new thinking LMSs have to be flexible, scalable and reliable.

Another trend we will start to see develop in the learning management system space are specialized systems. Companies will want an LMS product that was specifically designed for their industry's needs. Partner (or Extended Enterprise) will be a sector where we will see increased demand for a specialized system. In order for an LMS to be truly enterprise ready for global operations they will need to be able to automate almost all training functions, customize their underlying workflows to fit the needs of each organization and seamlessly embed training into other operating systems.

Learn more about the importance of automating, customizing and embedding.