Learning Management Systems Overview

Learning Management Systems Overview

Learning Management Systems (LMSs) have been around for a long time.  Essentially the first schools were the first LMSs.


I divide the History of LMSs into two broad “Ages.”  The first Age was from the beginning through to the 20 century.  During this 1st Age, learning was done in pretty much done the same way.  The only major technological change during this 1st learning Age was the introduction of the Printing press.

Before the Printing Press the learner had to be physically present with the teacher.  After the Printing Press copies of teachers words could be physically distributed to the learner. The printing press broke the physical link between teacher and student. This greatly enhance learning, and with the development of Public Libraries, learning was opened up to the general public.  This was so earth shattering that the Age of Enlightenment and the Reformation resulted.

The second learning Age I call the “Electronic” age.  Now learning can happen globally at the speed of light.  I point to the specific scientific discovery

The Domestication of the Electron

In the middle of the 1800’s inventors like Michael Faraday learned how to domesticate the electron.



And, as a result, in a short 150 years, we now have the Internet for Transport, Cheap memory for virtually unlimited storage, and super fast processors.  The Combination of the three delivered to the community the “Cloud.”

The Key Features of a LMS:

  • content management and tracking
  • Personalized instruction
  • Multi-Media
  • Context sensitive search engines.

LMS is the framework that handles all aspects of the learning process.

An LMS is the infrastructure that delivers and manages instructional content, identifies and assesses individual and organizational learning or training goals, tracks the progress towards meeting those goals, and collects and presents data for supervising the learning process of the organization as a whole.[7]

A learning management system delivers content but also handles registering for courses, course administration, skills gap analysis, tracking, and reporting.[8]

LMSs are used by regulated industries (e.g. financial services and biopharma) for compliance training. Student self-service (e.g., self-registration on instructor-led training), training workflow (e.g., user notification, manager approval, wait-list management), the provision of on-line learning (e.g., computer-based training, read & understand), on-line assessment, management of continuous professional education (CPE), collaborative learning (e.g., application sharing, discussion threads), and training resource management (e.g., instructors, facilities, equipment), are all-important dimensions of learning management systems.

The ALC LMS include “performance management systems”, which encompass employee appraisals, competency management, skills-gap analysis, succession planning, and multi-rater assessments (i.e., 360 degree reviews).

The ACL LMS employs competency-based learning to discover learning gaps and guide training material selection.

The ACL LMS takes advantage of recent technology developments and web application advancement, to provide some new features that include: open, social, personal, flexible, and mobile

The ACL LMS supports:

  • Online or blended learning
  • Dynamically controls the placement of course materials online
  • Associates students with courses
  • Tracking student performance
  • Stores student submissions
  • Mediates communication between the students as well as their instructor.

The focus of the ACL LMS is to deliver online courses or training to learners, while managing students and keeping track of their progress and performance across all types of training activities.

A differentiator between traditional LMS and the ACL LMS is; Traditional LMS is not used to create course content, however, a primary driver of the ACL LMS is that the ACL will help develop course content. The ACL LMS provides a multi-user environment where developers, authors, instructional designers, and subject matter experts may create, store, reuse, manage, and deliver digital educational technology (also known as e-learning) content from a central object repository.

The ACL LMS focuses on the development, management and publishing of the content that will typically be delivered via an LMS. Users can both create and re-use content and reduce duplicated development efforts.

Rather than developing entire courses and adapting them to multiple audiences, the ACL LMS provides the ability for single course instances to be modified and republished for various audiences maintaining versions and history. The objects stored in the centralized repository can be made available to course developers and content experts throughout an organization for potential reuse and repurpose. This eliminates duplicate development efforts and allows for the rapid assembly of customized content.

The ACL LMS provides tools to deliver and manage instructor-led synchronous and asynchronous online training based on learning object methodology.

The ACL LMS provide tools for authoring and reusing or re-purposing content (mutated learning objects, or MLOs) as well as virtual spaces for student interaction (such as discussion forums, live chat rooms and live web-conferences).

ACL LMS technology can either be used in tandem with other LMSs, or as a standalone application for learning initiatives that require rapid development and distribution of learning content.

LMS functionality

  • Course Content Delivery (Phase 1)
  • Student Registration and Administration
  • Training Event Management (i.e., scheduling, tracking)
  • Curriculum and Certification Management
  • Skills and Competencies Management (Phase 1)
  • Skill Gap Analysis (Phase 1)
  • Individual Development Plan (IDP) (Phase 1)
  • Assessing and recording
  • Reporting
  • Training Record Management
  • Courseware Authoring
  • Resource Management
  • Virtual Organizations
  • Performance Management System Integration
  • Template-driven, Collaborative Content Development (Phase 1)
  • Facilitated Content Management (i.e., indexing and reuse)
  • Publishing (Phase 1)
  • Workflow Integration


Due to lack of industry standardization as well as being a young industry, products that combine LCMS and LMS attributes may be referred to as course management systems (CMS), learning management systems (LMS) and LMS/LCMS.[10] Blackboard Inc. currently refers to their Blackboard Learn platform as an LMS (Blackboard Inc., 2013). At this time, LMS represents the ubiquitous term for a product containing attributes of both a LMS and a LCMS, whether for CMS or LMS use. New popular LMS services include EduShare, Itslearning, Canvas, Moodle, Desire2Learn and Kannu.

Technical aspects

Most LMSs are web-based, built using a variety of development platforms, like Java/J2EE, Microsoft .NET or PHP. They usually employ the use of a database like MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle as the back-end data store.

Although most of the systems are commercially developed and have commercial software licenses there are several systems that have an open-source license.

The ACL LMS will be “Open-Source.”

Learning management industry

In the relatively new LMS market, commercial vendors for corporate and education applications range from new entrants to those that entered the market in the nineties. In addition to commercial packages, many open source solutions are available.

In the higher education market as of fall 2013, Blackboard is the leading provider with 41% market share, with Moodle (23%), Desire2Learn (11%) and Instructure being the next three largest providers.[12] Kannu is a new system launched in 2015 directly geared towards art, music and design schools.[13] In the corporate market, the six largest LMS providers constitute approximately 50% of the market, with SuccessFactors Learning, Saba Software, Voniz Inc and SumTotal Systems being the four largest providers. Vendors focused on mid-sized companies (200+ employees) include Halogen Software, ADP, and Workday.[14]

In a recent study among HR professionals in February 2015, Litmos was the leading HR LMS platform at 21% of market share, with Absorb LMS (8%), Skillsoft (6%) and Grovo (6%) as the next three largest providers.[15]

In addition to the remaining smaller LMS product vendors, training outsourcing firms, enterprise resource planning vendors, and consulting firms all compete for part of the learning management market. Approximately 40 percent of US training organizations reported that they have an LMS installed, a figure that has not changed significantly over the past two years. Another service related to LMS comes from the standardized test preparation vendors, where companies such as Princeton Review or BenchPrep offer online test prep courses.

Most buyers of LMSs utilize an authoring tool to create their educational content, which is then hosted on an LMS. In many cases LMSs include a primitive authoring tool for basic content manipulation. For advanced content creation, buyers must choose an authoring software package that integrates with their LMS in order for their content to be hosted. There are authoring tools on the market which meet AICC and SCORM standards and therefore content created in tools such as these can be hosted on an AICC or SCORM certified LMS. By May 2010, ADL had validated 301 SCORM-certified products[16] while 329 products were compliant.[17]

Evaluation of LMSs is a complex task and significant research supports different forms of evaluation, including iterative processes where students’ experiences and approaches to learning are evaluated.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Ellis, Ryann K. (2009), Field Guide to Learning Management Systems, ASTD Learning Circuits 
  2. ^ Parr, Judy M.; Fung, Irene (October 3, 2006). “A Review of the Literature on Computer-Assisted Learning, particularly Integrated Learning Systems, and Outcomes with Respect to Literacy and Numeracy”. New Zealand Ministry of Education. Archived from the original on March 9, 2007. Retrieved February 13, 2013. 
  3. ^ “History and Trends of Learning Management System (Infographic)”. Oxagile. 12 April 2016. 
  4. ^ Ashok Sharma. “The History of Distance Learning and the LMS”. ELH Online Learning Made Simple. 
  5. ^ “History of learning management systems”. ProProfs. 
  6. ^ Watson, William R. (2007). “An Argument for Clarity: What are Learning Management Systems, What are They Not, and What Should They Become?” (PDF). TechTrends. 51 (2): 28–34. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Szabo, Micheal; Flesher, K. (2002). “CMI Theory and Practice: Historical Roots of Learning Management Systems”. Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2002 (White Paper). Montreal, Canada: In M. Driscoll & T. Reeves (Eds.): 929–936. ISBN 1-880094-46-0. 
  8. ^ Gilhooly, Kym (16 July 2001). “Making e-learning effective”. Computerworld. 35 (29): 52–53. 
  9. ^ Kerschenbaum, Steven (4 June 2009). “LMS Selection Best Practices” (White paper). Adayana Chief Technology Officer. pp. 1–15. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  10. ^ LMS/LCMS, BIS Training Solutions 
  11. ^ Learning management system, stratbeans consulting 
  12. ^ A Profile of the LMS Market (page 23) (PDF), CampusComputing, 2013 .
  13. ^ {Tara García Mathewson, “Kadenze follows up arts-focused MOOC platform with LMS”, Education Dive, November 19, 2015.
  14. ^ Bersin, Josh. “Talent Management Software Market Surges Ahead”. Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  15. ^ Learning Management Systems UserView, Software Advice, 2015 .
  16. ^ Certified products, ADL .
  17. ^ SCORM adopters, ADL .
  18. ^ Ellis, R.; Calvo, R.A. (2007), “Minimum indicators to quality assure blended learning supported by learning management systems” (PDF), Journal of Educational Technology and Society 
  19. ^ Stone, D. and Zheng G.(2014) “Learning Management Systems in a Changing Environment,” In book: Handbook of Research on Education and Technology in a Changing Society, Chapter: 56, Publisher: IGI Global


  • Expertus; TrainingOutsourcing (August 30, 2006), Survey 1: Channel Partner Training (PDF), Training Challenges Survey Series, conducted by Expertus and TrainingOutsourcing.com 

Further information[edit]

  • LMS Data – The First Year Update (2014). Retrieved November 26, 2014, from http://edutechnica.com/2014/09/23/lms-data-the-first-year-update/
  • Blackboard Academic Suite brochure. (2006). Retrieved November 14, 2006, from http://library.blackboard.com/docs/as/bb_academic_suite_brochure_single.pdf
  • Blackboard Company. (2006). Retrieved November 21, 2006, from http://www.blackboard.com/company/
  • Connolly, P. J. (2001). A standard for success. InfoWorld, 23(42), 57-58. EDUCAUSE Evolving Technologies Committee (2003). Course Management Systems (CMS). Retrieved April 25, 2005, from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/DEC0302.pdf
  • A field guide to learning management systems. (2005). Retrieved November 12, 2006, from http://www.learningcircuits.org/NR/rdonlyres/BFEC9F41-66C2-42EFBE9D-E4FA0D3CE1CE/7304/LMS_fieldguide1.pdf
  • Gibbons, A. S., Nelson, J. M., & Richards, R. (2002). The nature and origin of instructional objects. In D. A. Wiley (Ed.), The instructional use of learning objects: Online version. Retrieved April 5, 2005, from http://reusability.org/read/chapters/gibbons.doc
  • Gilhooly, K. (2001). Making e-learning effective. Computerworld, 35(29), 52-53.
  • Greenberg, L. (2002). LMS and LCMS: What’s the Difference?. Learning Circuits from http://www.learningcircuits.org/2002/dec2002/greenberg.htm.
  • Hodgins, H. W. (2002). The future of learning objects. In D. A. Wiley (Ed.), The instructional use of learning objects: Online version. Retrieved March 13, 2005, from http://reusability.org/read/chapters/hodgins.doc
  • Introduction: why we need AMG, first version, and redesign. (2006). Retrieved November 20, 2006, 2006, from http://ariadne.cs.kuleuven.be/amg/Intro.jsp
  • Wiley, D. (2002). Connecting learning objects to instructional design theory: A definition, a metaphor, and a taxonomy. In D. A. Wiley (Ed.), The instructional use of learning objects: Online version. Retrieved March 13, 2005, from http://reusability.org/read/chapters/wiley.doc