Do I Need a CMS or an LMS?

The short answer to whether you need a content management system (CMS) or a learning management system (LMS) is: it depends on what you want to do. Which is about as unsatisfying an answer as “you’ll understand it when you’re older.”

So, CMS or an LMS? Let’s define what each one is and figure out a more satisfying answer.

An LMS is a software platform that lets you create, publish, and track training material. A CMS is software used to create and manage digital content. Those definitions are kind of similar if you’re seeing them for the first time, so let’s get a little deeper and look at how each one’s used.

An LMS is great for training or teaching.

They’re used most often by businesses and educational organizations to deliver educational material online. You can create or upload content into an LMS. You can stack those pieces of content together to form a learning path or a curriculum. And with an LMS, you can assign that path to specific groups of learners (and to individual learners) and track their progress through the material. Learners can also poke around and find content they’re interested in.

A CMS is great for building content.

You control who has editing access to the piece of media and whether it’s available publicly or privately. It’s great for managing a workflow, and an easy way to store and edit website content.

The biggest difference between the two systems is the user’s experience. With a CMS, the user is passive. They don’t get to do much. You can push out content, but all the user can do is look at it. There’s very little interaction going on.

With an LMS, the user takes an active role in the system. They’re able to go through and choose which content they want to check out. They can talk back and forth amongst themselves.

If what you’re looking to do is create and publish content, you want a CMS. But if you want to pass along knowledge or teach something, you want an LMS.


Is There A Difference Between eLearning and an LMS?

The term eLearning is a broad concept—electronic learning—that describes learning material delivered online. It has a ton of benefits. In contrast, an LMS is a software platform for delivering learning material online. In addition, it gives you tools to manage training and development, increase learner engagement, and build a sense of community.

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