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  Instruction > Instructional Design  > LMS - LCMS

Instructional Design

"A good educational system should...provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them...."
  Ivan Illich (1971)

Virtual Learning Environments: online software

There are at least four layers of learner interaction and experience in a Virtual Learning Environment: Portal, LMS, Course and Lesson delivery. Click on the graphic to see a larger version of the illustration.

Virtual Learning Environments
1. Portal Site  Learning Community Support
  Announcments, News, Calendar
  Web services & applications
2. Learning Management
    System (LMS)
 Personalized Student Portal (individual student plan,
      records, progress reports, personal links to courses)
 Navigate to program resources & course catalogue
  Enrollment in courses
3. Course Web Pages

  Instructor posting of course syllabus, plan, assignments,
      calendar, lesson & activity pages,
 Links to tutorials, virtual classroom sessions, discussion
      forum, tests, and collaboration

4. Lesson Instructional
 Virtual Classroom sessions
  Discussion Forum
  Self-paced Tutorials
 Tests, Quizzes, Surveys
  Social Networking & Collaboration
  Lesson specific instructional media
      (static, interactive, rich media, & social)

Learning Management System (LMS)

Learning Management Systems (LMS) provide an infrastructure platform through which learning content is delivered and managed. It provides a combination of software tools that perform a viarety of functions related to online and offline training administration and performance managment.

Typically, an LMS is an internet-based software that

  • Deploys
  • Manages
  • Tracks
  • Reports on

the interaction between the learner and the content, and the learner and the instructor.

Learner and content interaction, includes:

  • Student registration in program
  • Enrollment in specific courses and special activities
  • Entry and re-entry into online learning space: WBT, virtual classroom, learning labs, etc.
  • Tracking participation & progress
  • Recording scores: quiz, test, final evaluation
  • Documenting status, completion & certification

Learner and instructor interaction, includes:

  • Publishing and receiving communication --
    • email
    • instant messaging
    • threaded discussion
    • chat
    • personal mentoring through online learning space: virtual classroom, learning labs, etc.
  • Posting
    • announcements
    • course descriptions & syllabus
    • course requirements & pre-requisites
    • assignments & activity schedule
  • Eliciting feedback from students and faculty

Learning Management Systems (LMS) perform student registration, course enrollment, course presentation, student bookmarking, track learner progress, record test scores, and indicate course completions, and finally allow instructor trainers to assess the performance of their students.

Here is an illustration of an LMS system diagram that uses the SCORM protocol developed by ADL to deliver SCOs (Shareable Content Objects). See the discussion on Learning Objects for an explaination of SCORM.

Some of the current LMS products and vendors in 2007 include:

Learning Management System
Absorb LMS

Blatant Media e-Learning Solutions

Allen Communication Learning Portal

Allen Communication Learning Services

BlueVolt University


Cornerstone OnDemand Enterprise Suite

Cornerstone OnDemand Inc.


Course-Source Limited

CourseMill LMS

Trivantis Corporation

DOTS - Dynamic Online Training System

WebRaven Pty Ltd


STEAG & Partner AG

Ed Training Platform


Generation21 Enterprise

Generation21 Learning Systems


GeoLearning Inc.

IBM Lotus Workplace Collaborative Learning



time4you GmbH communication & learning


InfoSource Inc.

Inquisiq EX

ICS Learning Group Inc.

Intellinex LMS 6.0

ACS Learning Group

IntraLearn XE

IntraLearn Software Corp.


Integrated Performance Systems

Isoph Blue

LearnSomething Inc.

Kallidus LMS



Websoft Systems Inc.


Element K

KnowledgePlanet On-Demand Learning Suite

KnowledgePlanet Inc.

+Learn Enterprise Learning Management System

Compendium Corporation






Operitel Corporation

Learningworks Suite

DocworksCPTI Inc.

LearnShare LMS



Wizdom Systems Inc.

Meridian KSI Knowledge Centre

Meridian Knowledge Solutions Inc.

mGen Enterprise

mGen Inc.

Mindflash E-Learning System

Mindflash Technologies

NetDimensions EKP Bronze


NetDimensions Enterprise Knowledge Platform (EKP)


On-Tracker LMS

Interactive Solutions New Media Inc.

Oracle Learning

Oracle USA Inc.

OutStart Evolution LMS

OutStart Inc.

PeopleSoft Enterprise Learning Management (ELM)

PeopleSoft (Oracle)

Plateau 4 Learning Management System

Plateau Systems

Saba Enterprise Learning Suite


SAP Learning Solution

SAP America

SSA Learning Management


SSElearn Portal


Syntrio Enterprise LMS




TeraLearn LCMS

TeraLearn.com Inc.

The Learning Manager

Worldwide Interactive Network Inc.


Technomedia Training Inc.

TopClass LMS

WBT Systems


SumTotal Systems Inc.


TTG Systems Incorporated


Platte Canyon Multimedia Software Corp.

Training Partner 2006

GeoMetrix Data Systems Inc.

Training Wizard MX/SST



Frontline Data Solutions Inc.

TrainingOffice Audit

Novasys Information Services Ltd.


Upside Learning Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

Virtual Training Assistant


Vuepoint Learning System

Vuepoint Corp.

WebMentor LMS

Avilar Technologies Inc.

XStream RapidShare LMS

XStream Software Inc.

Xtention Learning Management System

Xtention Inc.

Learning Content Management System (LCMS)

A Learning Content Management System (LCMS) is a multi-user environment where learning developers may create, store, reuse, manage, and deliver digital learning content from a central object repository.

LCMS products allow users, such as administrators, authors, instructors and subject matter experts, to create new instructional content, or to upload existing 3rd party instructional content. The LCMS manages the organization of content — curriculum, courses, modules, learning objects, and units of digital learning content/assets

Digital assets includes products such as MS Word & text documents, PowerPoint slides, Instructional Authoring docs (Authorware, ToolBook, etc.), Flash animation, HTML docs, illustrations & graphics, audio clips, video clips, and quiz questions.

An LCMS manages the process of creating, storing and delivering learning content. Typically, the components of an LCMS include: an authoring application (editors), a learning object repository, a dynamic delivery interface (automation that provides content assembly, and administration tools. The following graphic illustrates the role of the LCMS in supporting the workflow of authoring, development and project management.

The benefits of an effective LCMS can be summarized in this way:

  • Rapid Content Development (faster time to market)
    • Workflow model
    • Reuse model (tools & procedures for automated assembly)
    • Tagging, storage & retrieval model
    • Template model
  • Integrated E-Learning Platform
    • Support of web-standards
    • Support of multiple media formats
    • Support flexible mixing and matching of authoring / delivery tools & formats
    • Ease of administration
  • More Efficient Content Production
    • Support of development workflow
    • Support of templates & CSS skins
    • Support of assessment & data tracking
    • Ease of content & asset reuse
    • Efficient asset management
  • Enterprise Learning Content Management
    • Just-in-time access
    • Systematic content development for short-term & long-term needs
    • Administration of an enterprise content strategy

The following graphic illustrates Cisco Corporation's model of how an LCMS linked to a Dynamic Delivery Engine can automate personalized delivery to individual learners:

Some of the current LCMS products and vendors in 2007 include:

Learning Content Management System
chalkboard LCMS

Chalk Media



eLogic Learning's eSSential

eLogic Learning

ePath Learning ASAP+

ePath Learning Inc.


Creative Logic Solutions


FirstAlign Inc.


Eedo Knowledgeware

Galbraith Media LCMS



Gemini Performance Solutions Inc.

Generation21 Enterprise

Generation21 Learning Systems


time4you GmbH communication & learning


Any-3 Ltd.

Knovada Knowledge Systems LCMS

Knovada Knowledge Systems

KnowledgeBridge LCMS

Websoft Systems Inc.

learn eXact

Giunti Interactive Labs S.r.l.

Lecando LCMS


Lumenix PI Developer

Handshaw Inc.

MOS Chorus

MindOnSite Integral Coaching SA

OnDemand Knowledge Pathways

OnDemand Software

OnPoint CourseManager LCMS

OnPoint Digital Inc.

OutStart Evolution 2006

OutStart Inc.

OutStart Studio

OutStart Inc.



Saba Enterprise Content Management



SAP America


Suddenly Smart

SNAP! Studio

Percepsys Inc.




Vitalect Inc.

TeraLearn LCMS

Ask International

Thinking Cap Studio

Agile.Net Inc.

TopClass LCMS

WBT Systems Ltd.


SumTotal Systems


Frontline Data Solutions, Inc.

Vuepoint Learning System

Vuepoint Corp.

Xtension LCMS

Xtention Inc.


The distinction between LMS and LCMS has not always been clear. The first LMS systems to market handled the first order of content management as an integral feature. However, these systems evolved over time through experience in real-world implementation and problem-solving, and as more complex needs of content management emerged.

  • The automation for course delivery in LMS has improved as SCORM and AICC standards have been established and widely adopted. These standards dictate how content and learning systems should be designed so that content is sharable among disparate systems.
  • The need for a distinct LCMS functionality emerged as the needs of content authors and learning object reuse were defined.
  • The concept of Learning Object methodology has evolved and clarified, although it has a long way to go before it achieves its intended goals.

Various vendors claim superiority of their particular LMS or LCMS product. However, the following table provides a comparison of typical functionality in order to understand the broad distinction, and what an integrated system achieves.

Key Functionality
Who does it serve?
Primary Targeted Users
Learners (students & workers), Training Dept Admin, Managers, Instructors, Administrators
Content Developers, Instructional Designers, Project Mgrs, Subject Matter Experts (SME)
What is the primary goal?
Primary Targeted Services
Learner Mgt:
Course Publishing & Enrollment
Learning Content Mgt:
Author & SME Course Creation
Peformance Reporting of Training Results
Primary Goal of System
User Collaboration
Learner collaboration
Author collaboration
Keeping Learner Profile Data
Primary Goal of System
Sharing Learner Data with an ERP system
Event Scheduling
Competency Mapping — Skill Gap Analysis
Content Creation Capabilities
Some vendors include this
Primary Goal of System
Organizing Reusable Content
Assembly Engine
Primary Goal of System
Creation of Test Questions &
Test Administration
Dynamic Pre-testing and Adaptive Learning
Workflow Tools to Manage the Content Development Process
Primary Goal of System
Deliver Content by Providing
Navigational Control


System Architecture

The following graphics illustrate the logical framework of a Learning Internet or Intranet portal site that includes both LMS (for content delivery) and LCMS (for content development). Discussion of these specific components has been presented in the section entitled "E-Learning System Architecture."

The following system diagram was suggested by IDC (2001) to illustrate the relationship between LMS and LCMS. Note the user roles: Author, Instructor, Learner and Administrator. Note also that the LMS is designed to support both online and classroom presentation, and can resource CD-ROM and EPSS delivery systems as well. Click on the graphic to see a larger version of the illustration.

Cisco outlines its system distinction between LCMS and LMS in a white paper: E-Learning Content Management vs. Content Delivery.

Automated Course & Lesson Presentation

The technology infrastructure of E-Learning provides the mechanism for automated course delivery and lesson presentation. Here is a list of the major elements of instruction that are enhanced by this automation.

E-Learning Lesson Presentation

  • Self-checks -- questions interspersed within the instruction
  • Lesson and module quizzes
  • Positive and negative examples
  • Mixed media -- text, audio and visual
  • Review
  • Mnemonic devices
  • Content chunking -- breaking up the content into manageable and logical topics and lessons as well as individual nuggets of instruction
  • Letting learners practice — with feedback

E-Learning Course Delivery

  • Tutorial presentation (receptive & directive learning)
  • Guided discovery
  • Role-play
  • Guided and unguided demonstrations
  • Simulations and practice
  • Gaming
  • Storytelling
  • Exploratory learning
  • Mentoring


  ©2003 Cognitive Design Solutions, Inc.