What is a Learning Management System?

2nd August 2022

Learning Management Systems: supporting people and organisations to improve performance outcomes

A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software application that’s used to support the delivery, management and tracking of digital, classroom and blended learning programmes.

An LMS lets organisations publish and deploy training content – including eLearning courses, videos, podcasts and performance support tools such as PDFs, Office documents and weblinks. They can also manage, schedule and record training activities then report on their users’ progress.

An LMS is a fundamental component of an effective learning strategy.

Key users of an LMS

There are two key types of LMS users:

Administrators are responsible for managing the LMS. This involves content curation, uploading learning content courses and creating learning pathways (curricula). Admins will also assign content and pathways to individual learners and groups then track their progress.

Learners use the LMS to access learning initiatives, personalised pathways and content to develop their knowledge and skills. They’ll also be able to complete assigned courses, assessments and evaluations to gauge their understanding. Learners are typically assigned content on an individual basis, or according to their job function and/or role within an organisation.

What is an LMS used for?

Learning management systems can support a variety of internal and external use cases, including:

Employee development and retention: the most common LMS use case is to support the training and development of current employees. Within the LMS, learning content can be assigned to ensure employees acquire the job skills they need to function and develop within their role.

Employee induction and onboarding: an LMS can be used to support new employees with their preboarding and initial induction and onboarding. Within the LMS, new employees are brought up to speed on an organisation’s culture, their department and their role and function, by giving them relevant learning content.

Compliance training: an LMS can be used to make sure employees receive any mandatory training and to manage recurring training programmes and certification. This helps organisations to mitigate risks and avoid any potential regulatory compliance issues.

Customer and partner training: an LMS can be used by organisations to provide external learners, such as customers and partners, with learning content. This is especially common for organisations who need to effectively train the relevant people to use a product or service. Ongoing training will help to prevent customer and partner churn and provide more value.

Member learning and development: an LMS can be used to enhance membership value by providing relevant learning and continuing professional development (CPD) content to members. This enables them to record learning and CPD activities and facilitates engagement among members.

Key LMS features

Some of the key LMS features include:

Branding and customisation: connect learners with an organisation by providing a learning platform that looks and feels like a brand.

Course and catalogue management: a central solution that holds all learning content and enables administrators to easily curate and manage the materials required to deliver targeted learning programmes.

Compliance and certification: the LMS should allow for the tracking and management of all compliance and certification activities through recurring training and compliance programmes.

Mobile learning apps: learning content should be accessible anytime, anywhere, regardless of device. An LMS should allow content to be accessed via native apps – for iOS and Android devices – to better enable learning when it’s needed.

CPD: empower learners to take ownership of their CPD and to build a continuous record, helping them to plan and log all relevant activities. Organisations can configure their LMS to reflect internal or external CPD requirements and enable the auditing of activities.

Microlearning: microlearning provides easily accessible, bite-sized content that gives learners what they want, when they need it.

Social learning: social learning features encourage community content sharing, collaboration and discussions.

Learning Record Store (LRS): an LRS provides a view of the learning experiences across an organisation. It tracks, measures and analyses the activities that occur inside and outside of the LMS – so organisations can see the impact of their learning programmes.

Reporting: the LMS should provide learning insights through customised reports, automatically delivered to the right reporting audiences.

Integrations: this enables organisations to keep their data in sync with other platforms, such as HR, talent management, CRM, eCommerce, online conference tools and identity management systems.

Gamification: increase engagement by allowing learners to achieve points, badges and awards based on their learning activities.