Finding the Best LMS starts with an LCMS vs LMS Comparison

Finding the Best LMS starts with an LCMS vs LMS Comparison

The terms LMS (Learning Management System)  and LCMS (Learning Content Management System) generate a fair amount of confusion due to their similar acronyms and capabilities. In many cases, the terms are wrongly used to refer to the same thing. This further muddies the water when it comes time to determine business requirements, research vendors and find the best LMS or best LCMS.

Before we move further, a few definitions are in order:

  • LMS:  Learning Management System.
    Software that administers, tracks, reports, and delivers online training programs.
  • LCMS: Learning Content Management System.
    A software platform that enables multiple users to collaborate on creating, managing, and delivering digital learning content.

An LMS and LCMS have an almost symbiotic relationship. The LMS manages the learners – the people whereas the LCMS manages creation and distribution of new etraining – the content. The LMS is the ‘public’ facing component that learners interact with directly. With its people focus, the LMS provides its users –  trainers, instructors, and administrators – with course and student performance reports. The LCMS’ primary users are typically behind the scenes: Courseware Developers, Instructional Designers, and Project Managers. This enables a collaborative approach to administer content creation and reuse. Unlike an LMS, the LCMS’ performance reporting is of secondary importance although an assessment structure including gap analysis, pre-testing, and adaptive learning are generally supported.

Research has shown that a higher rate of student success is achieved in training environments where both an LMS and LCMS are used. That’s not to say that both are absolute necessities simultaneously. A scaled rollout in a corporate environment may see implementation of an LMS initially with the LCMS implementation occurring at a point in the future when content management demands justify. Until the LCMS has been implemented, courseware can be created using third party authoring tools or custom designed by an online training development firm. Alternately, completed elearning courseware could be licensed or purchased from content owners and delivered through most Learning Management Systems. As a sidelight, be sure that your LMS and courseware are SCORM compliant to guarantee compatibility.

Many Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS), are designed for course development professionals who have advanced skills. As a result the course creation component of the LCMS is difficult to use for novice course builders. Newer standalone authoring tools are much easier to use however most of them are so basic that the finished courses lack substance and effectiveness.

The best LMS, for most users, is one that is integrated with an ease to use, yet powerful authoring tool. A powerful, easy to use authoring tool that integrates with an LMS is hard to find however it solves many LCMS/LMS comparison problems. It is extremely valuable for users who are not technically advanced and therefore require ease-of-use and yet enough power to develop online training courses that excel at improving student performance. Vantage Path provides this type of solution and more can be found on the website.

The best LMS or best LCMS is different for different people and is determined based on needs. The LMS solution that meets your needs may be a cloud based LMS, it may be one that integrates with your ERP system, an ecommerce engine or an authoring tool. You may require advanced analytics or not. The best course of action is to itemize your functional needs and look at several LMS, LCMS, and LMS plus authoring tool combinations until you find one that fits all your needs.

These are complex systems and deserve in depth analysis before a purchase or licensing decision is made.This blog post may only whet your appetite for more detailed information. If you need to find out more about LMS and LCMS features,  have a look at our ebook “What’s the Difference Between an LMS and an LCMS?” You’ll learn more on the software components that make up each as well as a more detailed breakdown of their differences.

Image by Katie Harris

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