When you first start getting into the learning management software market, there is often some initial confusion between two very similar terms, leaving many people wondering about the difference between and LMS system and an LCMS system.

LMS System

An LMS system stands for learning management system and is software that helps you organize, distribute, manage, track, and evaluate all the various learning programs in your company. Notice that the emphasis here is on managing learning as an activity. When you’re looking at LMS software explainer videos, you’ll inevitably get to a place where it says something like “upload your learning content.” And there’s the catch – the LMS system assumes you already have pre-existing learning content.

By contrast, an LCMS stands for learning content management system. By adding in that one extra word, content, it is different from the LMS system because it is an aid in creating the learning content to be used in your learning programs.

The LMS system and LCMS system serve different purposes, but obviously they need to complement each other. While you can find separate offerings for each one, there are also some that blend the two together. Typically, this means you can find some LMS system options that included some amount of LCMS functionality. If you decide to have separate software for each function, make sure can be seamlessly integrated.

Both types of systems track and manage both content and learner achievement, but only the LMS system can handle managing multiple types of content delivery, including eLearning, face-to-face learning, and blended learning. What the LCMS system brings to the table is the ability to efficiently build content, as well as tailor it to learner needs and requirements.

Another way to distinguish between these two types of systems is by their end users. For the LMS system, the ultimate end user is the learner – the company employee who needs to take a course or undergo training. The end users for the LCMS, however, are the people tasked with creating the learning content that will be delivered by the LMS. So the LMS system is for managing the people participating in the learning process while the LCMS is for managing the creation of learning content.

If you’re not going to create your own learning content, you don’t really need an LCMS, you’d only need the LMS system. But companies who do a significant amount of learning and training programs with their employees and also want to create that content in-house are going to need both systems. Although there an LMS system might have some LCMS functionality, and an LCMS might have some LMS functionality, neither blended option is probably going to give you as much as you need for each aspect.

The next trend may very well be systems that combine the best of both LMS and LCMS, which can be referred to as ILMS or iLMS – integrated learning management systems, but this is very much an emerging class that has a long ways to go before it becomes common.

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