Q: What is a Learning Management System?

A: The best LMS not allows the creation, delivery and tracking of learning online but also inspires and empowers.

A Learning Management Systems (LMS) is a piece of software which provides the ability to create, deliver and track learning and training online, on any device, at any time.

The LMS first came into existence decades ago as means for companies to provide the consistent compliance training and capture transcript data in one place. The purpose behind the original LMS was primarily to benefit the organization.  In our modern, digital, internet-connected world it’s hard to imagine exactly how transformational simply moving records and training from paper to a computer was for the world at large. It was a huge advance and laid the foundation for what the LMS is today.

Core LMS Functionality

Core Learning Management System functionality centers around the ability to create courses, deliver courses digitally and then track course completions via user transcripts.  Every LMS will have a library or catalog of courses and tools to filter access to these courses based on user characteristics (although there is wide scope of how admin friendly and powerful enrollment and permission functionality can be).  Reporting in the form of user transcripts and online certifications is also core LMS functionality. Most LMS’s are now cloud-based (SaaS) and access via an internet browser.

The Modern LMS

Today there are more than 600 LMS companies in the marketplace and the feature set for each system varies dramatically depending on the age of the company, the vertical or industry a company specializes in and the philosophical approach to online learning their software is built on.  While legacy LMS functionality was built on top-down, company-first priorities – the best of modern LMS functionality is designed to engage and inspire the learner first.  Community and social features can be woven seamlessly into the user experience which, in the end, benefit everyone involved because they foster conversations and stimulate feedback and participation.