LMS vs LCMS: What’s the Difference?

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Olga Demidenko
Author, Geomotiv
Published: Sep 9, 2021

Today we observe how the world is being transformed with the help of modern technologies. It is difficult to find an industry or a field that hasn’t been changed under the influence of global digitalization. And learning, in all its forms and types, is definitely among those spheres that have changed rather significantly. From simple educational websites to complex AI and AR-powered systems - the range of products is vast. And it is constantly expanding thanks to the progress made in the eLearning software development. But are you sure that you correctly understand the peculiarities of different types of EdTech solutions? For example, let’s have a look at LMS and LCMS. 

What is the difference between learning management system and content management system? And is there any difference at all? Or maybe there are just two different names of the platforms with the same functionality? This article intends to explain what these systems have in common and what makes them different.

What is a Learning Management System?

Let’s start with a closer look at the peculiarities of a learning management system, or just “LMS,” as it is commonly abbreviated.

This software is used for creating, managing, and distributing various types of educational content. In other words, learning management systems represent comprehensive platforms intended for implementing and evaluating elearning courses and corporate training programs. 

The platforms can have wealthy functionality, including those tools accessible to users as self-service solutions.

A typical LMS enables its owners/administrators to identify educational goals, collect real-time data on learners, their demands and progress, control learning practices, and track the use of various elements of educational programs. In addition, these platforms are enriched with eLearning modules targeted at different groups of users and unique features for employee/student assessment.

Let’s consider its core functionality in more detail.

  • Training and testing. These modules play the most crucial role in corporate education. For example, managers can create online tests for their employees to evaluate their knowledge in workplace safety, emergencies, and other aspects in which they are supposed to demonstrate competency. Moreover, administrators can find the best ways to streamline the training process and simultaneously reach the most significant number of employees with an LMS.
  • Analysis and reporting. Learning management systems usually have in-depth analytics and reporting functionality. The received data can be used for better understanding the progress of users. By getting a complete overview of the employees’ results, the management can see the effect of their educational programs and introduce efficient changes if needed.

Based on its target audience, we can define LMS software for enterprise and individual use. As a rule, enterprise platforms are intended for 500+ users. They can be used by organizations working in an extensive range of industries, including healthcare, banking, insurance, manufacturing, and many others. On the other hand, individual learning management systems are developed for small companies or single persons responsible for designing and managing learning programs. Usually, the first type of systems are more scalable and easily enriched with new features following companies’ needs. 

Individual platforms are created to satisfy the requirements of small organizations. They are usually not so rich in functions as enterprise solutions.  It is explained by the desire of small companies to minimize their expenses on software development and support given a relatively limited range of their existing needs.

Actually, why does a company need an LMS?

An LMS helps to organize the educational process within your organization. With the help of such a system, you can streamline many tasks like registration of users and sending tasks to them. Moreover, many of the tasks will be automated, enabling you to have more free time to create excellent learning programs.

Among examples of learning management systems, we can name Canvas, Edmodo, Joomla LMS, Moodle, Skillsoft, Auzmor.

https://auzmor.com/learn/

In one of our previously published blog posts, we’ve shared our tips on building a good LMS website. So, if you are considering launching an LMS, we highly recommend you follow this link to get valuable insights.

LCMS: What can you do with this software?

As it is pretty clear from its name, a learning content management system (LCMS) is primarily focused on all the activities around content creation. Thus, it covers the entire cycle of content delivery, including authoring, publishing, and measuring.

In other words, an LCMS is a centralized platform for authors to cooperate on projects, share the content that can be reused, and update the previously created materials. As a result, such a solution allows avoiding duplication of content. 

An LCMS-created content can be further distributed in an LMS and out of it.

What features does an LCMS usually have?

  • Comprehensive learning content storage
  • Cloud-based authoring that can be executed collaboratively in real-time
  • Content publishing
  • Metadata tagging
  • Translation and localization management
  • Content reuse, assessment creation.

As you can see from the functionality of such systems, their target audience comprises learning content creators.

Why do content creators use LCMS platforms?

  • These solutions offer customizable design templates for content of different types and help make content creation significantly easier and faster.
  • Thanks to indexing and metadata tagging, learning content becomes more searchable.
  • As such platforms enable content creators to use various interactive formats and translate their materials into multiple languages, it is possible to ensure learners’ more personalized and highly engaging experience.
  • With the automation of the content creation process and the possibility to reuse the created materials, it is possible to significantly cut down the costs of course development and reduce the time needed for it.

The example of learning content management systems is LearnWorlds, Thinkific, TalentCards.

https://www.learnworlds.com/

LMS vs LCMS: differences and similarities

Now, when we have a more precise understanding of both types of elearning software solutions, it’s time to discuss the difference between LMS and LCMS. 

The first thing that we need to pay attention to when talking about such systems is their target audiences. While learning content management systems are targeted at content creators, learning management systems are intended for a significantly wider circle of users, including managers of corporate educational programs, course designers, and learners themselves. 

Moreover, the functionality of a typical LMS is more comprehensive if compared with the capacities of an LCMS. However, what unites them both is their final goal to bring the quality of the elearning process and its efficiency to an entirely new level.

CriteriaLMSLCMS
Target audienceLearners, course managers, and administratorsContent creators
Content creation functionalityBasic tools for authoringAdvanced tools for authoring
Learning management functionalityElearning support, virtual classrooms, support of offline learning, course scheduling, assessmentContent management
Types of learningDigital, offline, hybrid, and blendedMainly digital

They both can be enriched with some functionality intended for learning process automation and management, tracking the results. It’s essential to bear in mind that both systems can’t interchange but can complement each other. And if you don't want to have two separate platforms, you can use an integrated approach that will cover the functionality of both.

If you are considering different EdTech solutions for your organization, there is also one more option for you. And it is a learning experience platform (LXP).

LXP: What is it?

An LXP is a cloud-based platform. The main goal is to ensure a highly personalized learning experience. Therefore, it’s essential to understand from the beginning that while an LMS is a platform primarily targeted at those who admin and manage the learning process, an LXP is a learner-focused platform that allows users to choose their learning journey from a wide range of available options.

Quite often, an LXP functions as a content aggregation layer that includes the content offered by the organization, materials available on the internet, and the content created and generated by users.

These platforms go far beyond traditional learning management systems and make the educational process more engaging and highly interactive, thanks to the freedom provided to learners.

Learning experience platforms can be integrated with other external solutions, expanded with gamification elements, collaborative tools, and AI-powered features.

Your cool project and our talented team will make a perfect match! So share your ideas with us, and we will find the best way to transform them into an actual product.

Instead of a closing word

As you see, the main difference that we can name comparing LMS and LCMS is that learning management systems are usually not used for authoring educational content due to their limited functionality in this aspect. At the same time, LCMS platforms typically offer rich capacities in content authoring. 

Though the two types of systems share some functionality, their key features and the core purpose are different. To choose between them, you should realize the needs of your company. 

Moreover, do not forget that when you turn to Geomotiv experts for creating a software solution for you, you are free to choose what functionality it will be enriched with. It means that some “hybrid” solutions can be built based on your specific needs.

It doesn’t matter whether you already have a clear understanding of your future solution’s functionality or just a general idea of an elearning product that you want to launch. Our seasoned experts are always ready to help you. So leave your inquiry on our website, and we will contact you as soon as possible to discuss the details of our potential cooperation.

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