What Is LMS? [Everything You Need To Know + Examples]

Keelan Balderson
Keelan Balderson

Updated · Aug 23, 2022

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What is LMS? In the age of computer-based and online learning, these management systems aid schools, other educational facilities, and workplace training schemes deliver and manage courses efficiently. Today, we’ll explore everything you need to know about LMSs.

What Does LMS Mean?

LMS, meaning a learning management system, is a platform educators use to develop, deploy, and manage e-learning programs. This is usually done over a local network or the web, which is increasingly common in remote learning and education. E-learning has been on the rise for more than a decade, even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Depending on the organization’s needs, your LMS can encompass an entire series of remote courses, or you can use its features alongside traditional in-person classes, lectures, and training seminars. It easily lets you share learning materials, interact with students or colleagues, and track progress.

One typical example is the assignment of a piece of homework, where the materials can be accessed via student accounts and later submitted for marking, all on the same platform.

What Does LMS Feature?

Although there are many different systems on the market, a good LMS platform will include most of the following features.

  • Admin and User Accounts—This allows administrators to manage the system and users to access the content they need. The best platforms will support multiple permission levels, user groups, and other forms of segmentation.
  • Course and Materials Hosting—Courses and learning materials are either physically hosted on the platform or seamlessly embedded from other sources. This takes things a step beyond a simple shared file drive.
  • Editing Tools—The ability to create and modify courses and materials using an editing suite included in the admin dashboard.
  • Integrations—An LMS cannot stand on its own. Integrating with other online tools and services makes for smoother deployment and extends the platform’s functionality.
  • Exams—It is now increasingly common for a particular LMS course to also include the exam process at the end. Users can log in, and admins can monitor the exam in real-time. Alternatively, some exams can be taken at any time in an autonomous manner.
  • Automation—Admins can spend less time micromanaging training with LMS automation. This eliminates traditionally tedious administrative work. Many platforms will integrate with your HR or CRM systems to streamline the process of adding and deleting users. Even better, you can set up auto-enrolments based on criteria that place your students in the appropriate courses or learning paths.
  • Tracking and ReportingLearning management system online tracking is invaluable for knowing your courses are having an impact. Reports commonly include info on user progress, received feedback, test outcomes, and more. The ability to export reports or schedule their delivery to your email is pretty handy. As is spotting patterns, pointing out areas that need improvement, and discovering what and how people wish to study. For instance, if you offer a lot of video material, you may have noticed that courses with textual content have a greater pass rate. By using this knowledge, you can refine them and create more engaging and valuable content.
  • Gamification—Gamification is otherwise known as badging or certification and is the process of awarding users for their progress or formally recognizing their grades and exam marks. By utilizing milestones and accomplishment recognition, you create clear goals and inspire students to strive for their best.
  • Webinars—Webinars make it simple and entertaining for you to educate students and encourage student participation in the training subject. In the age of video, all good LMSs should allow for such content. This is sometimes hosted within the platform but more commonly includes integration with the likes of Zoom, MS Teams, GoToMeeting, or Webex. Here you can schedule events for self-enrollment and make use of features like attention monitoring, real-time polling, and virtual breakaway rooms. Webinar tools users are already familiar with can reduce training costs and allow you to further your organization's blended learning and virtual classroom initiatives.
  • Multi-lingual—Support international learners and trainees via built-in multi-lingual materials.
  • CorrespondenceWhat is LMS software if you cannot correspond with your users? The best systems will have a built-in email, forum, or other forms of messaging so you can contact individuals and groups directly.
  • Feedback—To keep your content engaging and up to date, it's critical to collect feedback from users and assess each user’s experience navigating the LMS and completing the courses. With a survey or feedback feature, you gain further insight into what works and what doesn’t.
  • Notifications—Both admins and users get notifications within the platform and often by email as well. This lets everyone know about new course information, deadlines, scheduled maintenance, and more. Admins will also get to know when courses have been completed, what needs grading etc. Everything will often be linked to a calendar.
  • Mobile and Device Responsive—To be effective, learning programs must have a responsive LMS because it helps you create and distribute course content on all devices. Users want to use their laptop, mobile, or tablet, not just a desktop computer. This degree of flexibility boosts course enrollment because it gives students the freedom to decide when, where, and how they want to engage with the course. This is also helpful for remote teams where learning may take place outside office hours, from home, or even overseas.
  • Branding and White Labeling—Whether it’s an LMS in education or the workplace, a common feature is personalized branding. It looks more professional and ensures users know they’re using the right portal. For example, a student at X University will see the name and logos throughout the LMS rather than a generic version. Simply put, it’s easier to establish a seamless user experience and increase learner engagement if the theme and design are constant. Furthermore, full-blown white labeling allows you to alter URLs and get rid of visual clues that the platform is cookie-cutter, as well as any references to the LMS developer.
  • Paid Course and Content—In some situations, providing content for a fee and handling payments within the LMS may be helpful. This feature often integrates with payment services like Shopify, Paypal, and Stripe. You may also manage different plans for different user groups and design and sell bulk course packages. By providing special discounts on courses based on membership type, you could go even further and turn learning into a membership perk.

What Is LMS Good For?

So, what does LMS do for you that you cannot achieve in a traditional manner?

Cut Costs and Save Time

Compared to old-fashioned techniques, LMS platforms save you time in creating, managing, and executing educational and training materials. This is accomplished via a high level of automation.

Online classes lower costs where it has previously been necessary for personnel to travel for training sessions and stay in hotels, among other expenses. What’s more, online learning environments enable students from various geographic areas to all take part at once, and these same courses can subsequently be used with different student groups in the future.

Efficiency

LMSs enable efficient management and administration of materials, users, educators, and communications between everyone. Course development, as well as registration and sign-up administration, is all handled in one place. A good LMS also includes notifications, reminders, and messages for users and administrators. 

Moreover, students submit and exchange work and notes with their lecturers and other students. 

Everything is tracked and monitored and in-person and paper methods are not needed.

Easy Accessibility

The fact that all the information is centralized and organized on one platform makes it easily accessible to all users. With just a few clicks, students can access their courses, calendars, media materials, older archives, assessments, results, and so forth. As long as the user has an internet connection, everything can be accessed at any time with any device.

Seamless Updates

Administrators can quickly change the LMS course content or add new materials and resources that students can access right away. Notifications can keep everyone informed. Gone are the days of having to wait for the next scheduled in-person class to move things forward.

Insights

State-of-the-art management systems let you gather, customize, and download data, as well as view visual reports. These outline students' progress, completed tasks, and time taken; the list of insights is endless. This helps educators assess content, as well as individual and group performance. 

For example, if a course has a high fail rate, you can find out why and change things accordingly.

Multimedia Learning

An LMS lets you easily create and share multimedia learning materials for on-demand consumption or during live webinars. Video, images, audio, slides, and a combination of them all can be combined for engaging courses and less direct teaching. Content can be reused time and time again, adding to the overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Better Communication

A good LMS platform has multiple communication modes, allowing administrators and learners to correspond personally and publicly. This can come in the form of individual or group emails, notes on content, forums, live chats, interactive digital whiteboards, and more.

Learners will feel comfortable knowing they have multiple communication channels with their educator. Meanwhile, educators know they will always be able to deploy course materials and reach everyone with important information. 

None of this requires in-person classes or meetings.

Make Money

An LMS can also help you generate profit if your business fits the paid course model. Charge for enrollment, sell individual educational materials, and create premium webinars – the possibilities are endless. 

Integration with standard payment processors like PayPal can give you a full-blown ecommerce feature for your LMS.

Multiple Industries 

Learning management system examples are boundless. The obvious application is in education. Most schools, colleges, and universities use some form of LMS to help deliver materials. 

However, any industry that requires ongoing employee training can benefit significantly from such a platform. 

Different Types of LMS

LMS stands for learning management system, but not all platforms are the same. The type you choose will depend on your organization's needs, though cloud-based ones are becoming the norm. Let’s take a closer look:

Locally Hosted

As the name suggests, a locally hosted LMS is installed on your organization's local network and can only be accessed internally. Furthermore, it may need to be installed on any individual computer that requires access.

In some respects, this gives your team the power to customize the software in ways not possible with other LMS types. It also has better security because it is not exposed to the wider world. 

The downside is the IT department is responsible for maintaining and upgrading the system, and you also bear any costs related to hardware and bandwidth.

Cloud-based

By far the most common in 2022, cloud-based LMSs are hosted by the software developer, and you pay a subscription based on features and resources. The key benefit is that the LMS is accessible using any browser or mobile device. There is also little maintenance required on your part.

Conversely, any downtime, security breaches, or other tech issues are often out of your control.

Open Source

What is LMS open source? Simply put, this is a locally hosted LMS but with full access to the underlying code. Therefore, if you have an experienced development team, you can fully customize the platform to your liking. In fact, using it as a base, you could greatly expand its functionality into something never previously seen.

Of course, this will only appeal to certain experienced users and is not worth the hassle for others.

LMS Authoring

It is now common for LMSs to feature authoring tools, i.e., the ability to create the courses and content to deploy through the platform. However, some are more powerful than others. 

Some emulate popular software like Word and PowerPoint, while others integrate with them. The key benefit is that there’s a little learning curve, and everything you create is centralized in one place.

Integrated LMS

An integrated LMS, meaning one that connects with other common tools and software, is typically an adjunct to cloud-based platforms.  It will let you use the likes of Zoom, Dropbox, your email provider, CRM, ecommerce, and others, within the LMS.

This makes it more accessible and expands functionality.

Bespoke

A bespoke or enterprise LMS is the most expensive option but, arguably, provides the best solution for you. That’s because it's tailored precisely to your specifications and is not available to anyone but your organization and users.

This is best suited to large corporations or educational institutions with a big budget. 

Before opting for a bespoke solution, make sure the developer is reputable because a poorly made LMS is a massive waste of money and time.

Mobile LMS

Everyone has a smartphone, so it stands to reason that your LMS should be accessible on mobile devices. This may come in the form of mobile browser responsiveness or dedicated apps for iOS and Android.

Modern cloud-based LMSs typically come with mobile support. You do not need to acquire a mobile-only LMS.

How to Use an LMS Platform?

Using a learning management system online or locally is a straightforward process. Once the platform is installed, you can follow the steps below.

Create Your Courses

Before going live, you will need to create your courses and materials. There will usually be one or more tabs in your dashboard to create content. This could include text, images, video, slides, interactive elements like polls, any kind of document, and more. 

You might upload these or create them from scratch using authoring tools or embeds.

Remember to give everything clear titles and descriptions as these are what your learners will see.

The name of the game is engagement, so be sure to use all the tools available to you to motivate and inspire.

Organize the Content

Content also needs to be organized in a coherent manner, especially if there’s a lot of it. You might break things down into subjects, sub-topics, and dates if you intend to run a course to a schedule. 

Exactly how you arrange content depends on how your course unfolds, but all LMSs will have a mechanism for categorizing materials.

Decide How to Deliver the Courses

The next important factor is how you intend to deliver courses to the user. If everything is going to be online, you could dump the entire course on the LMS. However, it is still common for in-person lectures or webinars to take place with accompanying content made available to users accordingly.

You might deliver ongoing content using a built-in email sender to ensure users are aware it has been released.

Manage Your Users

A big part of an LMS in education and the corporate world is managing users. Fortunately, once you’ve directed someone to create an account, their profile is saved in the system and can be grouped, sorted, emailed, and edited by those with administrative access.

Permissions and access levels make it easy to limit users to the courses and areas of the system they require.

Evaluate Progress

A good LMS will give admins all the data they need to monitor users' progress. This includes enrollments, how often content has been accessed, completion rates, grades, webinar viewing figures, etc.

On the educator’s side, the effectiveness of a given module or piece of content may be assessed using tools like surveys. You can also gather helpful feedback for what doesn't appear to be working.

Learning Management System Examples

There is now no shortage of LMSs for your educational institution or work training environment. Below are some learning management system examples that are currently leading the pack.

Absorb LMS

Absorb LMS has everything you need to transform learning into business success. It has an extensive editor to create business training courses that are unique to your brand. Course creation is straightforward, and you can easily segment users, so they see only the content relevant to them. This user-friendly and scalable solution is a top pick for workplace training.

Blackboard

From the blackboards of old to this powerful LMS for educational institutions, Blackboard is perfect for delivering learning materials and managing assessments. It stands out with powerful video conferencing, collaboration tools, and a user interface that’s easy to navigate.

Canvas

Blackboard’s closest rival is Canvas. It boasts endless integrations, a user-friendly interface, and native web hosting. Its open API lets developers build on its functionality for a truly unique platform.

Rippling

Marketed towards the HR department, Rippling brings together learning management and other elements like payroll and attendance tracking. This highly customizable solution can accommodate more than 2,000 employees or other users.

Thinkific

Thinkific is the platform to go to if you’re planning to sell your online courses. This includes paid digital downloads, membership libraries, webinars, and mini-courses that act as pre-sells for pricier and larger “flagship courses.” Its range of themes and landing pages are impressive, and its underlying course builder includes everything from quizzes to interactive presentations.

Wrap Up

What is LMS software? We hope this guide has answered all your questions. Whether you represent an educational institution, corporation, or any industry in between, there are LMSs with the necessary features for you.

FAQ.


What is LMS training?

LMS training is the process of learning how to use a particular learning management system. This may be accomplished through documentation and web guides provided by the software developer or hands-on training from technicians. Moreover, an LMS itself can be used by your organization as a mechanism to train staff.

What is an LMS and how is it used?

The definition of a learning management system is simply a platform for both teaching and learning in a digital environment. It’s first used by an admin side that creates, shares, and manages course material. This is followed by the user or learner side, which then accesses and completes the courses.

What is a learning management system?

So, what does LMS mean and do? In short, it is an e-learning system for delivering educational courses and training programs, with features like tracking, reporting, and automation.

What does LMS stand for in education?

What is LMS when it comes to education? Typically, when a school or other learning center uses an LMS, it acts as a portal for teachers and students to carry out learning beyond standard in-person classes. The degree an LMS is used can vary from just sharing sporadic materials from a class to entire remote online courses and assessments.

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Keelan Balderson

Keelan Balderson

A qualified journalist and longtime web content writer, Keelan has a passion for exploring information and learning new things. If he's not writing or pushing his own brands, you'll find him watching pro wrestling or trying not to rant about politics online.

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