Acronyms can be a minefield, and in a fast-changing industry like eLearning that’s full of innovative products, knowing your CMS from your LCMS is more important than ever. Learning management systems (LMS) act as a virtual classroom, helping facilitate courses and students while streamlining presentation and administration. But what about Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS)? This is a platform that allows you to create, manage , host and track digital learning. It may sound the same, but it’s not. So what’s the difference between an LMS and an LCMS? Let’s find out.
There is some crossover between an LMS and an LCMS in that both systems allow you to host and deliver eLearning courses and modules. Where they differ is in how they specialise. For instance, an LMS allows you to manage a learning experience, but you couldn’t create the experience. That’s where an LCMS comes in.
A learning content management system specialises in housing the creation and delivery of eLearning in one place: it’s a one-stop-shop. Accordingly, an LCMS will give you much more detailed analytics about the courses you create, and those who are using them. This can be an important difference for tutors and students alike.
A good LCMS will do the hard work of optimising design across all devices. This is important since you want courses to be available anywhere at anytime (on a phone, a tablet, laptop or desktop). Template based systems give you the ability to create, cut, paste and generally repurpose content and visual themes across different courses. This will save a lot of time, effort and money.
As you know, good data is the cornerstone to continuous improvement. Tracking engagement, performance and other insights from an informative dashboard will provide the data you need to keep refining eLearning courses and modules.
LCM systems also permit collaborative authoring, usually in real time. It takes much of the pain out a reviewing process and allows you to launch a course much more quickly. Then, when you’re ready, the LCMS delivers your content without having to run it through another system (as you might with authoring tools and a separate LMS).
Questions you need to ask yourself when making a learning content management system comparison include:
- Will the majority of learning be digital?
- Do I have the skills to create content in-house?
- Do I already have authoring tools?
- Is SCORM tracking enough, or do I need more detailed analytics?
To further complicate things, some products can be a hybrid of an LMS and an LCMS. They won’t be as robust as a system that is specifically designed to match your needs, but they may still achieve your desired outcome.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to comparing an LMS with an LCMS, or the various options within each system. To get the most from a learning content management system you’ll need to research, compare and even trial one until you find the right fit for you, your students and the types of courses you’re planning to run.