Types of Learning Management Systems (LMS)

Within the last few years, eLearning has turned into a pressing necessity. As Covid-19 took the entire world by storm, universities, colleges, and schools moved their teaching processes online. To avoid any disruption in education, these institutions started to utilize various learning management systems. Many went even further—they used LMS development to create modern software to meet their specific requirements. Read on to find out what learning management tools are out there and which one might be the best fit for you. 

LMS with Course-Creating Options or Not 

There’s a widely-circulated ambiguity about a learning management system and a learning content management system (also known as LCMS). While the latter is specifically used to create diverse educational content, you use the former to skillfully handle learning experiences for all your users. Simply speaking, this is the single place where you manage and organize educational materials as well as keep track of learning progress.  

As a rule, an LMS doesn’t allow you to produce courses or any other educational materials. However, there’s an exception to every rule. Some LMSs come with built-in features that will enable you to create content. What’s more, you can always develop a custom-made learning management system with the help of third-party software providers or in-house developers. 

Custom solutions are more expensive than those with build-in features or those that don’t have any content creation options at all, yet, such an LMS will successfully help you resolve many tough tasks and cover your needs in the short and long run. 

It’s also important to bear in mind, that if you already have a tool for creating online courses and you need an LMS, it’s important that these two software solutions interact with each other seamlessly. To respond to this technical challenge, you have to be positive that the learning management system you’d like to use is SCORM-compliant. The abbreviation stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model and it is a programming standard used for eLearning technology to deliver any courses to learners. 

On-Premise vs. Cloud LMS

The crucial difference between on-premise and cloud learning management systems is where they are hosted. On-premise (sometimes also called on-site) solutions are installed locally. Such software might be installed on a university computer and servers and can be accessed only via that computer. Cloud software resides on the provider’s servers and can be used from everywhere. The only thing you need is a stable internet connection.  

On-premise LMS is more resource-demanding as it requires upfront payment for all licenses. Also, it’s not that convenient to use installed software as it does restrict you to only one place. Furthermore, you have to maintain the on-site system yourself by employing competent IT professionals. Data recovery, software, hardware maintenance and update, any troubleshooting is on you, whereas the provider of a cloud-based LMS is responsible for all these things. 

Cloud-based LMSs are scalable as they come as SaaS or Software-as-a-Service model products. It means that any number of your users can have access to the system once you’ve paid the required sum of money. 

Open-Source vs. Closed-Source LMS

Once a learning management system is ready to be released, the providers of the LMS can decide to make its source code either open or closed to the public. When the source code is closed, you can make no changes to your LMS or even see its code. Hence, you use the solution as it was provided to you. With open-source software, you don’t have such limitations—you are free to customize it as you please. You can create the feature you need and not wait for the provider to roll it out. 

Another advantage of open-source LMS is that it’s usually free of charge, but you may require additional support services from the provider. Even so, a closed-source learning management platform also has an upside. Such a tool is more stable and secure. And if you don’t need to customize your learning management tool, it won’t matter if it’s open-source or closed-source. 

Free vs. Commercial LMS 

To distinguish between free and commercial learning management software, you need to know the “free” and “open-source” terms apart, as these two cause a lot of bafflement. Free software is open-source by default as it gives users the complete freedom to modify the system as they wish, while commercial solutions can be both open-source and closed-source. Free LMS it genuenly free. If it says that your trial period ends in fourteen days, it’s a commercial solution. You always have to pay to use commercial learning management tools.

LMS with and without Integration Options

When opting for the right system for eLearning, you have to give heed to the things that are essential to you. Do you want to use the system as a communication base for your users and use Facebook or Twitter directly in the system? Or you’d like to merge it with some talent management software, various human resources tools, corporate Gmail accounts, etc. In that case, you will need a learning management solution with an option to integrate third-party applications. You should make sure that such an LMS has an open API (application programming interface), which means that developers can have easy access to necessary features of the learning management software. 

Otherwise, you can use a system that doesn’t have integration options. However, many LMSs come with built-in features and out-of-the-box integrations with selected third-party apps. Covid-19 has propelled the rise of eLearning everywhere in the world. And it seems that it won’t be stopping soon. On the contrary, the virus has impacted online education positively. Not only do educational institutions need a robust LMS, but also many business firms across the board are required to have such a tool. Wider adoption of EdTech by universities, colleges, schools as well as corporations is only a matter of time. So, picking up the right learning management system for your purposes right now is a future-proof investment.