What's a Learning Management System?

A learning management system (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of educational courses or training programs. Learning management system is a concept emerging directly from e-Learning.

Learning management systems help the instructor deliver material to the students, administer tests and other assignments, track student progress, and manage record-keeping. LMSs are focused on online learning delivery but support a range of uses, acting as a platform for fully online courses, as well as several hybrid forms, such as blended learning and flipped classrooms. LMSs can be complemented by other learning technologies such as a training management system to manage instructor-led training or a Learning Record Store to store and track learning data.

Purpose

An LMS delivers and manages instructional content, and typically handles student registration, online course administration, and tracking, and assessment of student work. Some LMSs help identify progress towards learning or training goals. Most LMSs are web-based, to facilitate access. LMSs are often used by regulated industries (e.g. financial services and biopharma) for compliance training. Some LMS providers include "performance management systems", which encompass employee appraisals, competency management, skills-gap analysis, succession planning, and multi-rater assessments (i.e., 360 degree reviews). Some systems support competency-based learning.

Though there are a wide variety of terms for digital aids or platforms for education, such as "course management systems", "virtual or managed learning platforms or systems", or "computer-based learning environment", the term "learning management system" has become the ubiquitous term for products that help administer or deliver part or all of a course.

Technical aspects

There are a variety of integration strategies for embedding content into LMSs, including AICC, SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) and LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability). LMSs were originally designed to be locally hosted on-premise, where the organization purchases a license to a version of the software, and installs it on their own servers and network. Many LMSs are also offered as SaaS (software as a service), with hosting provided by the vendors.

Through LMS, teachers may create and integrate course materials, articulate learning goals, align content and assessments, track studying progress, and create customized test for students. LMS allows the communication of learning objectives, and organize learning timelines. LMS leverage is that it delivers learning content and tools straight to learners, and it can also reach marginalized groups through special settings. Such systems have built in customizable features including assessment and tracking. Thus, learners can see in real time their progress and instructors can monitor and communicate the effectiveness of learning. One of the most important features of LMS is trying to create a streamline communication between learners and instructors. Such systems, besides facilitating online learning, tracking learning progress, providing digital learning tools, manage communication, and maybe selling content, may be used to provide different communication features.

Features

Managing courses, users, roles, instructors

LMS may be used to create professional structured course content. The teacher can add, text, images, tables, links and text formatting, interactive tests, slideshows etc. Moreover, it can offer the opportunity of different levels of users, like teachers, students, visitors and editors (hierarchies). It helps to control which content student can access, track studying progress and engage student with contact tools. Teachers can manage, student interface, course and module, self-enrollment, user reporting and import students to their online classes.

Online assessment and tracking students' attendance

LMS can enable teachers to create customized tests for students, accessible and submitted online. Platforms allows different multiple question types like, one/multi-line answer, multiple choice answer, drag-and- drop order, essay, true or false/yes or no, fill in the gaps, agreement scale, offline tasks. Through Attendance Manager, teachers view attendance and record whether each student attended, arrived late, or missed classes and events.

User feedback

Students' exchange of feedback both with teachers and their peers is possible through LMS. Teachers may create discussion groups to allow students feedback and increase the interaction in course. Students' feedback is an instrument which help teachers to improve their work, identify what to add or remove from their courses, where students feel more comfortable, what makes them be more included.