What is a learning management system?
Shaping the future of learning
Whether you’re starting out in learning and development (L&D) or simply interested in how development happens in your organisation, you will no doubt hear a lot about Learning Management Systems (LMS).
But what exactly are they and why might you need one?
Learning Management Systems (LMS) explained
Typically, a learning management system (LMS) provides you with a good way to create and deliver educational content, plus monitor learners’ participation and performance. It is usually a software application or web-based technology and it can be used to plan, implement and report on specific training or L&D programmes.
The main objective of an LMS is to enhance the learning process, whether that’s delivering online training programs, keeping your organisation up to date with compliance regulations or providing elearning education courses.
Why use an LMS?
There are numerous benefits to using an LMS; as well as saving you time and money, you will soon notice that you can efficiently manage the delivery of consistent and up-to-date training programmes. As a fully interactive learning environment, an LMS provides a really flexible channel of communication for all users, including content creators, instructors and learners.
The jargon surrounding learning management systems can often be confusing, especially when you don’t know quite what you’re looking for. Before you make a decision on which application is best for you, have a read of some of the most important terms and familiarise yourself with the language
LMS jargon buster
AICC Standard – designed by the now defunct AICC for CBT in the aviation industry, this is a standard for elearning content which guarantees it’ll be compatible with an AICC compatible LMS.
Application Programming Interface (API) – an interface or set of functions that allow the creation of applications which access the data of an operating system or other service, so that programs can communicate.
Asynchronous Learning – the ability for learners to access online courses at different times and a learner-centric way of delivering training.
Authoring tools – a desktop or browser-based tool that allows instructional designers to use an array of media formats to create engaging elearning.
Blended Learning – a combination of elearning as well as in-person teaching or discussions in a traditional classroom setting, also called hybrid learning.
Branching – elearning branching is where the consumed exercise content can vary based on decisions the user makes.
Cloud-based hosting – software that is in the ‘cloud’ is hosted by a physical server that is not based in your office, which takes care of storage space and security. To access it you just need an internet connection.
CBT – this acronym can stand for both computer-based training and competency-based training, depending on context.
ePortfolio – the accumulation of evidence displayed on a platform which demonstrates a learner’s accomplishments.
Flipped Learning – also known as the flipped classroom, this switches the learning element of the learning to the individual’s own time, allowing them to take in the information at their own pace.
Gamification – this adds a layer of game design theory to learning content and activities in order to boost motivation and achievement.
On-premise hosting – as opposed to cloud hosting, on-premise hosting involves hosting software on a server that is based in your office and is favoured by large companies who like having an extra level of control over their data.
Open Source – often free, this is software that has open and editable source code. It’s a good choice for tech-savvy businesses on a budget.
OTJ training – this is an acronym for ‘on-the-job training which happens when a new employee is being onboarded.
Portal – this is the homepage of an application or software; learners will often see different version based on their administrative privileges.
Learning Experience Platform – referred to as the LXP or LEP, this is the idea that while the LMS tends to be employer-centric, the LXP is learner-centric – a places where employees want to go and learn of their own accord.
Learning Record Store (LRS) – a database that stores, manages and performs analysis on learning data. This can be part of a LMS that supports the xAPI data format or a standalone system.
Rapid Authoring – a content creation method that makes the transfer of information to the SCO format fast and easy. It’s useful for people who want to create hybrid content but aren’t familiar with LMS content standards.
SCO– the acronym for Shareable Content Object; a launchable learning object that communicates back to the LMS that launched it.
SaaS – an acronym for Software as a Service; which describes companies that host software and sell licenses to use it.
Tin Can or xAPI - the Experience Application Programming Interface develops on existing API functions by recording data in a consistent format using a universal language.
VLE – an acronym for Virtual Learning Environment.
WBT – an acronym for Web-based Training.
White Labelling – a branding option that removes the name of a software developer and features the company’s name instead.
XML – a format for documents which means they can be understood by a human or a machine.