Differences between LMSs and LCMSs
by Logan Smith
Many companies are beginning to understand the importance of a Learning Management System; they help train and educate employees and keep them organized and up-to-date. Finding the perfect LMS to suit your companies needs can require a bit of time and research. A very important lesson to learn is the difference between a Learning Management System and a Learning Content Management System.
An LMS (Learning Management System) will include learning management, reporting and monitoring, administration, security and content management. Depending on the LMS you choose, you may have content authoring and publishing abilities, competency and performance management and integration with your company’s financial systems and e-commerce. In short, a Learning Management system focuses mainly on the distribution of training and education and gathering of data. An LMS Administrator decides how the training will be administered, its platform, and its format. An LMS can also monitor, gather and analyze each student’s progress.
In contrast, the function of an LCMS is to create, manage and maintain learning materials or content. Microsoft PowerPoint and Word are not supported by most Learning Management Systems, so you need a course creation tool that will integrate easily. Content sections include audio, video, graphic, and written pieces, making your courses fully customizable. Most Learning Content Management Systems are very user-friendly as well, first a content creator will create an outline, and then you can add in content sections, creating a media-rich presentation. The content can be organized and adjusted and then you can add in your tests, quizzes, and review sections. With a customizable content creation tool, each instructor can add their own unique style to their courses.
Learning Content Management Systems can be used in conjunction with an LMS, or as a separate application for learning initiatives that require quick development and distribution of learning material. In most cases, when a vendor refers to an LMS, they are referring to both the LMS and LCMS, as many programs will include both. However, it’s always important to know what you’re purchasing and know the right questions to ask. If your company is looking for both the content creation as well as the content management, make sure the vendor offers an LCMS, or else you could end up paying more to buy courses that may not be tailored to fit your needs.
The simplest way to differentiate between the two systems is to think of an LMS is learner–centric and an LCMS as content-centric. Learning Management Systems focus on e-learning management and content delivery, whereas an LCMS focuses on the creation and authoring of e-learning content. Each course is created by LCMS but delivered by LMS.