A learning management system (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of electronic educational technology (also called e-learning) education courses or training programs.
LMSs range from systems for managing training and educational records to software for distributing online or blended/hybrid college courses over the Internet with features for online collaboration. Colleges and universities use LMSs to deliver online courses and augment on-campus courses. Corporate training departments use LMSs to deliver online training, as well as to automate record-keeping and employee registration.
The key to understanding the difference between LMS and other computer education terms is to understand the systemic nature of LMS. LMS is the framework that handles all aspects of the learning process. An LMS is the infrastructure that delivers and manages instructional content, identifies and assesses individual and organizational learning or training goals, tracks the progress towards meeting those goals, and collects and presents data for supervising the learning process of the organization as a whole. A Learning Management System delivers content but also handles registering for courses, course administration, skills gap analysis, tracking, and reporting.
Most LMSs are web-based to facilitate access to learning content and administration. They are also used by educational institutions to enhance and support classroom teaching and offering courses to a larger population of learners. LMSs are used by regulated industries (e.g. financial services and biopharma) for compliance training. Student self-service (e.g., self-registration on instructor-led training), training workflow (e.g., user notification, manager approval, wait-list management), the provision of on-line learning (e.g., computer-based training, read & understand), on-line assessment, management of continuous professional education (CPE), collaborative learning (e.g., application sharing, discussion threads), and training resource management (e.g., instructors, facilities, equipment), are all-important dimensions of learning management systems.
Some LMS providers include "performance management systems", which encompass employee appraisals, competency management, skills-gap analysis, succession planning, and multi-rater assessments (i.e., 360 degree reviews). Modern techniques now employ competency-based learning to discover learning gaps and guide training material selection.
For the commercial market, some Learning and Performance Management Systems include recruitment and reward functionality.
A robust LMS should be able to do the following:
centralize and automate administration
use self-service and self-guided services
assemble and deliver learning content rapidly
consolidate training initiatives on a scalable web-based platform
support portability and standards
personalize content and enable knowledge reuse