Learning management system

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A learning management system (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs.[1] The learning management system concept emerged directly from e-Learning. Although the first LMS appeared in the higher education sector, the majority of the LMSs today focus on the corporate market. Learning Management Systems make up the largest segment of the learning system market. The first introduction of the LMS was in the late 1990s.[2]

Learning management systems were designed to identify training and learning gaps, utilizing analytical data and reporting. LMSs are focused on online learning delivery but support a range of uses, acting as a platform for online content, including courses, both asynchronous based and synchronous based. An LMS may offer classroom management for instructor-led training or a flipped classroom, used in higher education, but not in the corporate space. Modern LMSs include intelligent algorithms to make automated recommendations for courses based on a user's skill profile as well as extract meta-data from learning materials in order to make such recommendations even more accurate.



An LMS delivers and manages all types of content, including video, courses, and documents. In the education and higher education markets, an LMS will include a variety of functionality that is similar to corporate but will have features such as rubrics, teacher and instructor facilitated learning, a discussion board, and often the use of a syllabus. A syllabus is rarely a feature in the corporate LMS, although courses may start with heading-level index to give learners an overview of topics covered.


There are several historical phases of distance education that preceded the development of the LMS:

Correspondence teaching[edit]

The first known document of correspondence teaching dates back to 1723, through the advertisement in the Boston Gazette of Caleb Phillips, professor of shorthand, offering teaching materials and tutorials.[3] The first testimony of a bi-directional communication organized correspondence course comes from England, in 1840, when Isaac Pitman initiated a shorthand course, wherein he sent a passage of the Bible to students, who would send it back in full transcription. The success of the course resulted in the foundation of the phonographic correspondence society in 1843. The pioneering milestone in distance language teaching was in 1856 by Charles Toussaint and Gustav Langenscheidt, who began the first European institution of distance learning. This is the first known instance of the use of materials for independent language study.[4]

Multimedia teaching: The emergence and development of the distance learning idea[edit]

The concept of e-learning began developing in the early 20th century, marked by the appearance of audio-video communication systems used for remote teaching.[5] In 1909, E.M. Forster published his story 'The Machine Stops' and explained the benefits of using audio communication to deliver lectures to remote audiences.[6]

In 1920, Sidney L. Pressey developed the first teaching machine which offered multiple types of practical exercises and question formats. Nine years later, University of Alberta's Professor M.E. Zerte transformed this machine into a problem cylinder able to compare problems and solutions.[7]

This, in a sense was "multimedia", because it made use of several media to reach students and provide instruction. Later printed materials would be joined by telephone, radio and TV broadcasts, audio and videotapes.[8]

The earliest networked learning system was the Plato Learning Management system (PLM) developed in the 1970s by Control Data Corporation.

Telematic teaching[edit]

In the 1980s the modern telecommunications start to be used in education, with computers more present in the daily use of higher education institutions. Computer aided teaching aims to integrate technical and educational means and instruments to student learning. The trend then shifted to video communication, as a result of which Houston University decided to hold telecast classes to their students for approximately 13–15 hours a week. The classes took place in 1953, while in 1956, Robin McKinnon Wood and Gordon Pask released the first adaptive teaching system for corporate environments SAKI.[9] The idea of automating teaching operations also inspired the University of Illinois experts to develop their Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations (PLATO) which enabled users to exchange content regardless of their location.[9] In the period between 1970 and 1980, educational venues were rapidly considering the idea of computerizing courses, including the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute from California that introduced the first accredited online-taught degree.

Teaching through the internet: The appearance of the first LMS[edit]

The history of the application of computers to education is filled with broadly descriptive terms such as computer-managed instruction (CMI), and integrated learning systems (ILS), computer-based instruction (CBI), computer-assisted instruction (CAI), and computer-assisted learning (CAL). These terms describe drill-and-practice programs, more sophisticated tutorials, and more individualized instruction, respectively.[10] The term is currently used to describe a number of different educational computer applications.[11] FirstClass by SoftArc, used by the United Kingdom's Open University in the 1990s and 2000s to deliver online learning across Europe, was one of the earliest internet-based LMSs.[12][13]

The first fully-featured Learning Management System (LMS) was called EKKO, developed and released by Norway's NKI Distance Education Network in 1991.[14] Three years later, New Brunswick's NB Learning Network presented a similar system designed for DOS-based teaching, and devoted exclusively to business learners.

Technical aspects[edit]

Most modern LMSs are web-based. There are a variety of integration strategies for embedding content into LMSs, including AICC, xAPI (also called 'Tin Can'), SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model)[15] and LTI (Learning Tools Interoperabilit). LMSs were originally designed to be locally hosted on-premise, where the organization purchases a license to a version of the software, and installs it on their own servers and network. Many LMSs are now offered as SaaS (software as a service), with hosting provided by the vendors.[16]

Through LMS, teachers may create and integrate course materials, articulate learning goals, align content and assessments, track studying progress, and create customized tests for students. LMS allows the communication of learning objectives, and organize learning timelines. LMS leverage is that it delivers learning content and tools straight to learners, and it can also reach marginalized groups through special settings. Such systems have built-in customizable features including assessment and tracking. Thus, learners can see in real time their progress and instructors can monitor and communicate the effectiveness of learning.[17][18] One of the most important features of LMS is trying to create a streamline communication between learners and instructors. Such systems, besides facilitating online learning, tracking learning progress, providing digital learning tools, manage communication, and maybe selling content, may be used to provide different communication features.[19]


Managing courses, users and roles[edit]

The LMS may be used to create professional structured course content. The teacher can add, text, images, videos, pdfs, tables, links and text formatting, interactive tests, slideshows etc. Moreover, you can create different types of users, such as teachers, students, parents, visitors and editors (hierarchies). It helps control which content a student can access, track studying progress and engage student with contact tools. Teachers can manage courses and modules, enroll students or set up self-enrollment, see reports on students and import students to their online classes.[20]

With much of the integration of new resources being controlled by technical guidelines outlined by SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model), the process of integrating new features within multiple LMSs has become more efficient.

Online assessment and tracking students' attendance[edit]

LMS can enable teachers to create customized tests for students, accessible and submitted online. Platforms allow different multiple question types such as: one/multi-line answer; multiple choice answer; drag-and-drop order; essay; true or false/yes or no; fill in the gaps; agreement scale and offline tasks. Some LMSs also allow for attendance management and integration with classroom training wherein administrators can view attendance and records of whether a learner attended, arrived late, or missed classes and events.[17]

User feedback[edit]

Students' exchange of feedback both with teachers and their peers is possible through LMS. Teachers may create discussion groups to allow students feedback and increase the interaction in course. Students' feedback is an instrument which help teachers to improve their work, identify what to add or remove from their courses, where students feel more comfortable, what makes them be more included.[2]

Learning management industry[edit]

In the U.S. higher education market as of fall 2018, the top three LMSs by number of institutions were Blackboard (31%), Canvas (30%), and Moodle (18%).[21] The same three systems led in terms of number of students enrolled, but Canvas slightly surpassed Blackboard. Worldwide, the picture is different, with Moodle having over 50% of market share in Europe, Latin America, and Oceania.[22]

Many users of LMSs use an authoring tool to create content, which is then hosted on an LMS. In some cases, LMSs that do utilise a standard include a primitive authoring tool for basic content manipulation. More modern systems, in particular SAAS solutions have decided not to adopt a standard and have rich course authoring tools. There are several standards for creating and integrating complex content into an LMS, including AICC, SCORM, xAPI and Learning Tools Interoperability. However, utilising SCORM or an alternative standardised course protocol is not always required and can be restrictive when used unnecessarily.[23]

Evaluation of LMSs is a complex task and significant research supports different forms of evaluation, including iterative processes where students' experiences and approaches to learning are evaluated.[24]

Advantages and disadvantages[edit]


There are six major advantages of LMS: interoperability, accessibility, reusability, durability, maintenance ability and adaptability, which in themselves constitute the concept of LMS.[17]

Other advantages include:

  • An LMS supports content in various formats: text, video, audio, etc.
  • One can access materials anytime, from everywhere, teachers can modify the content, and students can see the updated material.
  • The evaluation of students is easier and fair, based on student attendance and online quizzes.
  • Teachers can track students' performance easily in the form of Tables & Graph.
  • Students and teachers can re-use the material every time they need.[25]
  • Students can learn collaboratively by setting up a School website with the LMS software and helps "Keeps organizations up-to-date with compliance regulations. If your organization must stay up-to-date with current compliance regulations, then a Learning Management System can be an invaluable tool. Compliance laws change on a regular basis, and updating a traditional course to reflect these changes can be a time-consuming chore.


  • Implementing LMS requires a well-built technology infrastructure. Teachers have to be willing to adapt their curricula from face to face lectures to online lectures.[20] 
  • LMS can often come across as impersonal and lacking in the dialogue opportunities provided by in-person training.[26]
  • Having a learning module presented in only one style can make it difficult to accommodate different learning styles.


  1. Ellis, Ryann K. (2009), Field Guide to Learning Management, ASTD Learning Circuits, archived from the original on 24 August 2014, retrieved 5 July 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 Davis, B., Carmean, C., & Wagner, E. (2009). "The Evolution of the LMS : From Management to Learning". The ELearning Guild Research. 24.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. "A Brief History of Online Education". bear.warrington.ufl.edu.
  4. "History of Distance Learning". www.godistancelearning.com.
  5. Morris, Sam (2019-02-14). Education: An Introduction. Scientific e-Resources. ISBN 978-1-83947-222-0.
  6. E.M. Forster, "THE MACHINE STOPS" Archived 15 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine, archive.ncsa.illinois.edu.
  7. Solomon Arulraj DAVID, "A Critical Understanding of Learning Management System", academia.edu.
  8. [1]
  9. 9.0 9.1 Solomon Arulraj DAVID, " Teaching Machines", teachingmachin.es.
  10. Parr, Judy M.; Fung, Irene (3 October 2006). "A Review of the Literature on Computer-Assisted Learning, particularly Integrated Learning Systems, and Outcomes with Respect to Literacy and Numeracy". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Archived from the original on 9 March 2007. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  11. Watson, William R. (2007). "An Argument for Clarity: What are Learning Management Systems, What are They Not, and What Should They Become?" (PDF). TechTrends. 51 (2): 28–34. doi:10.1007/s11528-007-0023-y. S2CID 17043075. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  12. "History and Trends of Learning Management System (Infographic)". Oxagile. 12 April 2016.
  13. Ashok Sharma. "The History of Distance Learning and the LMS". ELH Online Learning Made Simple.
  14. "The NKI Internet College: A review of 15 years delivery of 10,000 online courses", irrodl.org,.
  15. Learning management system, stratbeans consulting
  16. Lin, Sandi (16 November 2015). "SaaS Learning Management System: Is your LMS Truly SaaS? - eLearning Industry". eLearning Industry. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Long, Phillip D. (2004). "Learning Management Systems (LMS)". Encyclopedia of Distributed Learning. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc. pp. 291–293. doi:10.4135/9781412950596.n99. ISBN 9780761924517.
  18. Wang, Qiyun; Woo, Huay Lit; Quek, Choon Lang; Yang, Yuqin; Liu, Mei (2011-06-09). "Using the Facebook group as a learning management system: An exploratory study". British Journal of Educational Technology. 43 (3): 428–438. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2011.01195.x. ISSN 0007-1013.
  19. Chaiprasurt, Chantorn; Esichaikul, Vatcharaporn (2013-07-05). "Enhancing motivation in online courses with mobile communication tool support: A comparative study". The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 14 (3): 377–401. doi:10.19173/irrodl.v14i3.1416. ISSN 1492-3831.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Schoonenboom, Judith (February 2014). "Using an adapted, task-level technology acceptance model to explain why instructors in higher education intend to use some learning management system tools more than others". Computers & Education. 71: 247–256. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2013.09.016. ISSN 0360-1315.
  21. 6th Annual LMS Data Update, 2018.
  22. "Academic LMS Market Share: A view across four global regions". e-Literate. 2017-06-29. Retrieved 2019-05-30.
  23. "SCORM is dead – what are the alternatives to SCORM?". Plume. 2018-08-22. Retrieved 2019-02-21.
  24. Ellis, R.; Calvo, R.A. (2007), "Minimum indicators to quality assure blended learning supported by learning management systems" (PDF), Journal of Educational Technology and Society
  25. Montrieux, Hannelore; Vanderlinde, Ruben; Schellens, Tammy; Marez, Lieven De (2015-12-07). "Teaching and Learning with Mobile Technology: A Qualitative Explorative Study about the Introduction of Tablet Devices in Secondary Education". PLOS ONE. 10 (12): e0144008. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144008. PMC 4671718. PMID 26641454.
  26. https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2019/09/16/pros-and-cons-of-utilizing-an-lms/


Further reading[edit]