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Learning Management System (eLearning)

A Learning Management System (or LMS) is a software package that enables the management and delivery of online content to learners. Most LMSs are web-based to facilitate "anytime, any place, any pace" access to learning content and administration.

Typically an LMS allows for learner registration, delivery of learning activities, and learner assessment in an online environment. More comprehensive LMSs often include tools such as competency management, skills-gap analysis, succession planning, certifications, and resource allocation (venues, rooms, textbooks, instructors, etc.).

LMSs are based on a variety of development platforms, from Java EE based architectures to Microsoft .NET, and usually employ the use of a robust database back-end. While most systems are commercially developed, free and open-source models do exist. Other than the most simple, basic functionality, all LMSs cater to, and focus on different educational, administrative, and deployment requirements.

Open source and Web-based LMS software solutions are growing fast in the education and business world.

Characteristics:

As previously mentioned, LMSs cater to different educational, administrative, and deployment requirements. While an LMS for corporate learning, for example, may share many characteristics with an LMS, or Virtual learning environment, used by educational institutions, they each meet unique needs. The Virtual learning environment used by universities and colleges allow instructors to manage their courses and exchange information with students for a course that in most cases will last several weeks and will meet several times during those weeks. In the corporate setting a course may be much shorter, completed in single instructor-led or online session.

The characteristics shared by both types of LMSs include:

  • Manage users, roles, courses, instructors, and facilities and generate reports.
  • Course calendar.
  • Learner messaging and notifications.
  • Assessment/testing capable of handling student pre/post testing.
  • Display scores and transcripts.
  • Grading of coursework and roster processing, including waitlisting.
  • Web-based or blended course delivery.

Characteristics more specific to corporate learning, which sometimes includes franchisees or other business partners, include:

  • Autoenrollment (enrolling learners in courses when required according to predefined criteria, such as job title or work location).
  • Manager enrollment and approval.
  • Boolean definitions for prerequisites or equivalencies.
  • Integration with performance tracking and management systems.
  • Planning tools to identify skill gaps at departmental and individual level.
  • Curriculum, required and elective training requirements at an individual and organizational level.
  • Grouping learners according to demographic units (geographic region, product line, business size, etc.).
  • Assign corporate and partner employees to more than one job title at more than one demographic unit.
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