What is LMS
LMS (Learning management system) is an entity meant for delivering, managing and tracking training and educational programs across world wide web. It is meant for imparting knowledge and streamlining the large scale distribution of course material through online media in an effective way to ensure advancement in teaching, research and e-learning. LMS packages are not only the need of academicians today, but also facilitates the administrative part.
Bare minimum features that one can expect from learning management systems are :
There can be different combinations of underlying architecture and technological stack for LMS. It can be built using Java/J2EE, PHP, Grails or Microsoft .NET. Secondly, it ought to have to have a robust back-end and a supporting database management system such as MySQL, Oracle, Postgresql, HSQL that allows easy access and manipulation of stored data.
Both open source as well as paid learning management systems are available. They differ in their intrinsic capabilities and the degree to which they allow flexibility of customization depending on the specific requirements. Examples of open source LMS are Sakai, Moodle, Fedena, aTutor, Dokeaos etc. On the other hand, eCollege, Informetica, SAP, Ning are proprietary LMS. In the latter category, Blackboard is the leading LMS, having 51% market share. For the purpose of compliance training, most of the LMSs are used by regulated industries too. They are well suited and widely used by financial services, banking sectors and bio pharma. It can also be used as a part of human resource as well as other ERP(enterprise resource planning) systems. Often PMS (performance management systems) are incorporated as a part of LMS. This often serves as a medium for employee assessment and appraisals, job enrichment and enlargement, skill-gap analysis, recruitment activities and succession planning.
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How is it different from VLE and LCMS
VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) is used by the college and university instructors to be able to manage the courses they take up and facilitate exchange of information. It works best in cases where the tenure of courses is short and the frequency of face to face student-teacher interaction is higher. An LMS may or may not have the characteristics of a VLE.
On the contrary, LCMS (Learning Content Management System) is an environment supporting multiple concurrent users where the content is created, stored, managed, recycled and reused. There is a centralized object repository for delivering the digital learning content. An LCMS also caters to the course instances modification and republication. The other features include maintaining the history and sub versions, tools that are meant for authoring and re-purposing content and providing virtual spaces meant for student interactions. These are the distinguishing features that separate LMS and LCMS. Learning content management system, in most cases, works as a complimentary solution to LMS.