Learning Management System (LMS)

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Learning Management System (LMS): this article provides a practical explanation of the Learning Management System or LMS. Besides what it is, this article also highlights the target groups, the benefits, the types of licenses, the industry and competition, the comparison with a CMS and final conclusion. After reading, you will understand the basics of this software tool for managing remote training programs, for companies or educational institutions. Enjoy reading!

What is a Learning Management System (LMS)?

A Learning Management System is a web application which is used for the management, delivery, monitoring and control of non-contact education activities (online education) of an educational institution or organization.

This software is used by educational institutions or companies to build educational experiences with their employees or students, in order to promote online learning and track results of learning experiences in a virtual way. In example, Browse Oppida online course design services to partner with an online education provider that specialises in building online learning experiences for institutions or companies.”

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In organizations, this Learning Management System tool is used to give corporate training with training content on company policies, the product or knowledge that must be acquired to fulfill the functions that the company needs from its employees.

In this space of educational interaction and learning experiences between (students, users and teachers) you can find forums, real time chats, essay writing guides, videoconferences among other tools to control and monitor the learning process, carry out evaluations and reports.

A learning Management System generally does not include authoring possibilities (creating own content) but focuses on managing training content created by external sources. The work to create courses is done through a plugin installed on a server and is executed as a complement to an LMS or through a Learning Content Management System (LCMS).

The LMS is a platform designed and developed to improve the distance learning-teaching experience in a virtual environment where you can manage, administer, organize and coordinate learning programs, taking into account the needs of your organization.

Learning Management System and it’s educational background

Learning systems started in 1924. Then the problem cylinder appeared in 1929, the adaptive teaching system in 1956, the Hewlett Packard desktop computer in 1970, the Internet protocol family in 1982, Softarc, the first LMS software in 1990, the internal open source network, Moodle and the private cloud in 2008, and finally the LMS systems offered in the cloud in 2012.

The term LMS is used to describe educational information applications. The Learning Management System appeared from e-Learning. Although it focused on the higher education sector, today it focuses on the corporate market.

Its first introduction was in the late 1990s with the FirstClass which is recognized as the first learning management system, running on Apple personal computers that allowed students to ask questions and discuss theories presented in learning modules.

Who makes up an LMS?

There are several profiles that support the teaching-learning processes that this software shares.

1. Students

They are the people they find within the courses, who are acquiring the learning.

2. Teachers or facilitators

Those people who are in constant feedback with the students regarding doubts or questions they have about a specific topic that is being presented. They are also attentive to the process of each student in forums and debates.

3. Administrators

It manages and updates the functionalities of the LMS platform and its virtual spaces (resources, access to courses and to visualize and follow the students’ process).

4. Designers

These are in charge of designing the courses and are experts in multimedia, hypermedia language and distance education techniques.

Use of the Learning Management System in companies

With the previous explanation about LMS as learning software, it is important to define what functionalities companies can find for their employees, partners and clients.

The Learning Management System (LMS) is often used by companies to train, update and add learning knowledge to their employees to meet SMART Goals and learning goals with new skills that are necessary in the field of action for each administrative area of the company.

This LMS tool can be interactive, real time and attractive for them, since it will help to potentiate and develop skills that are necessary. You can also identify staff weaknesses by constantly analyzing how shared learning can improve these points for job performance, related to learning goals.

Types of Learning Management System

Currently there are more than 600 LMS platforms available in the world, however, there are three sectors where these virtual applications are most used:

  • Academic: Educational organizations such as schools and universities that use the LMS platforms to promote the learning of online courses for students.
  • Corporate: Organizations and companies that use the LMS for virtual training of partners, employees and clients.
  • Commercial: Sector made up of people and companies that want to sell courses online.

It should be clarified that LMS platforms must keep minimum standards of functionalities, these are defined by IEEE (learning Technology Standards Commitee). LMS specialized in a specific sector develop functionalities depending on the sector they are in:

  • Academic: specializes in student management functions, compatibility with e-learning and content management
  • Corporate: specialized in the management and training process and information security
  • Commercial: it is identified for developing integrations with Digital Marketing platforms and advanced customization options

Key advantages

Advantages for a company:

Allows mobility, cancels the problem of geographical or temporal distances, offering freedom in time and pace of learning

  • Reduces learning and development costs in people’s training
  • Constant updating and interaction of learning, through a facilitator (coach)
  • Conferences in multiple languages
  • Centralize e-learning resources
  • Conduct induction training for partners and employees to improve sales points, strategies, etc.
  • Measurement of how learning impacts the performance of the organization
  • Evaluates learning and its effectiveness in employees

Advantages for a student:

  • Increase student knowledge
  • Constant updating of learning
  • Acquire skills and knowledge required for professional advancement
  • Improve performance
  • Encourage permanent self-training
  • Access to resources and materials 24 hours a day

Types of Licenses of an LMS Learning Management System

Most systems are commercially developed and have commercial software licenses, there are several that have an open source license that are free and online based.

The use of commercially licensed platforms implies the payment of a generally annual fee.

  • Full commercial license: the economic fee depends on the total number of users of the institution
  • Limited commercial license: limited to the number of allowed users

Online learning platforms

Depending on how you use the commercial (proprietary) LMS or free and cloud software (SaaS)

They are classified into different aspects:

  • Free systems / softwares: it is free and it matches what the company wants. Disadvantage is that it has limited or no support.
  • LMS SaaS type: it is a software distribution model which through an application is offered to several clients and is online. It is characterized by having accessible software that is controlled and marketed through the network. Customers can have this through fees or subscription. Users can access it from any part or device since the data is in the cloud.
  • Adaptation in the form of a plugin: it offers integrations with other online functions such as marketing in courses or membership zones.
  • Proprietary systems: it has a commercial cost and includes a support system, whether it be in person, online or by phone. Adaptations are made by the provider.

LMS Industry, LMS vendors and Competition

The learning management industry in higher education marketing U.S in the fall of 2018, the main LMS by number of institutions were Blackboard (31%), Canvas (30%) and Moodle (18%). The same three systems led in terms of the number of students enrolled, but Canvas slightly outperformed Blackboard. Globally, the image is different, since Moodle has more than 50% of the market share in Europe, Latin America and Oceania.


Blackboard (Blackboard Learning Management System) is a virtual learning platform and a learning management system developed by Blackboard.Inc which is a web server software that offers courses.


Moodle is a free and open source and web based learning management system. Moodle is used for blended learning, distance learning, virtual learning projects from schools, universities or companies.


Canvas is a web based learning manager and a massive online course platform.

Learning Management System online

Proprietary systems

  • iLearning by Oracle
  • Aulapp
  • Catedr@
  • Desire2Learn
  • eCollege
  • Fronter
  • Saba Learning
  • SidWeb

Free systems

  • ATutor
  • Docebo
  • Moodle
  • Claroline
  • Dokeos
  • Proyecto Sakai
  • Chamilo
  • iSpring Learn

Comparison of a Learning Management System and CMS

It is important to explain the similarity between the Learning Management System (LMS) and the Content Management System (CMS) since it can be confusing when choosing which one best suits your needs.

The LMS is the distance learning management system which manages, controls, distributes and evaluates the activities of the online learning process. The LMS is the intermediary between the student and the teacher or coach, this facilitates the monitoring of the learning process and they offer communication tools such as forums, video conferences and chats.

The CMS creates the content page, the online publications and controls the databases where the content of the site is stored. Its function is to manage, create content on web pages and allows publication and editing. It is not involved in learning management like the LMS does.

Conclusion regarding Learning Management Systems

Today technology connects people in a dynamic and easy way with education and learning processes. With just one click the LMS Learning Management System software offers the possibility of interconnectivity to educational institutions and companies, this being an important part for the accompaniment of students or employees who wish to progress in the academic or professional field, regardless of the distance in which they are.

In the professional sphere, today’s companies opt for an LMS so that their employees are increasingly prepared to face the labor circumstances of the industry or the market in which the company finds itself. This means that academic training and certifications are vital for the company’s staff to be in constant professional development.

The educational stimulus is also part of the motivation for employees to acquire specific knowledge of the area in which they work and for this to be an approximation of trust and experience in the field of their professions.

It is furthermore important to mention that the LMS Learning Management System is not only used for training and internal business support. It is also used to approach partners and clients of the organization, offering courses or hypermedia materials where they can be in constant interaction with the company. This means that the company can continuously monitor the results of each individual and analyze it for the company.

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Now it’s your turn

What do you think? Is the implementation of the Learning Management System important in companies? Do you implement the LMS in your company and how do you do it? Do you think that the LMS saves time and is effective in induction training sessions? Do you have anything else to add?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Kakasevski, G., Mihajlov, M., Arsenovski, S., & Chungurski, S. (2008, June). Evaluating usability in learning management system Moodle. In Iti 2008-30th international conference on information technology interfaces (pp. 613-618). IEEE.
  2. McGill, T. J., & Klobas, J. E. (2009). A task–technology fit view of learning management system impact. Computers & Education, 52(2), 496-508.
  3. Wang, Q., Woo, H. L., Quek, C. L., Yang, Y., & Liu, M. (2012). Using the Facebook group as a learning management system: An exploratory study. British journal of educational technology, 43(3), 428-438.

How to cite this article:
Ospina Avendano, D. (2020). Learning Management System (LMS). Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero: https://www.toolshero.com/information-technology/learning-management-system/

Original publication date: 12/15/2020 | Last update: 02/01/2024

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Daniela Avendaño
Article by:

Daniela Avendaño

Daniela Avendaño is a content producer and translator at toolshero. She obtained a Bachelor in Communications & Journalism, and with her theoretical and practical knowledge she supports the toolshero production team with interesting articles on management, personal & professional development, marketing and more. She is driven by sharing knowledge and stimulating others to develop.


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