Learning Management Systems (LMS)

Best Learning Management Systems (LMS) include:

Google Classroom, Schoology Learning, a PowerSchool Unified Classroom product, Moodle, and Blackboard Learn.

Learning Management Systems (LMS) TrustMap

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Learning Management Systems (LMS) Overview

What is a Learning Management System?

A Learning Management System (LMS) is a platform that helps instructors manage and organize educational materials online and conduct online courses. Learning management systems help streamline the learning process by providing a central location for accessing material online and developing content. LMS software is used by K-12 schools, higher education institutions, school districts, etc.


LMS software benefits administrators, teachers, and students. Students and teachers can access and upload course material such as calendars, syllabi, assignments, and grades. LMS platforms also allow instructors and administrators to track student progress on an individual basis and at the aggregate level. This software also helps minimize the use of paper materials and supports remote learning.

Corporate LMS and Learning Content Management Systems

Vendors typically offer either education-focused or corporate-focused LMS. However, some companies offer platforms that can be used for both purposes. Corporate learning management systems are commonly used internally for employee training and externally for customer training. Corporate LMS that are used for online employee training may also be called training management systems, or eTraining/ eLearning portals.


Both corporations and educators may use learning content management systems (LCMS) to organize and create content for learning or training purposes. LCMS software focuses on digital learning as the primary educational medium and allows the instructor to create new content. Alternatively, LMS platforms do not focus exclusively on digital learning, but also manage in-person and off-line learning.


LMS vs. eLearning Software

While there is some overlap between LMS platforms and eLearning software, there are a few key differences between the two.


ELearning content software offers the user access to a curated digital library that can include videos, ebooks, and online courses/lessons. The primary function of eLearning software is to provide the user with a large content library for self-guided learning or integration with an LMS platform.


LMS platforms, on the other hand, may not offer content libraries at all. Instead, they focus more on managing the learning process and storing and tracking individual/ aggregate progress. Most vendors offer eLearning software that can be integrated with an LMS platform.


LMS and Virtual Learning Environments (VLE)

The term ‘virtual learning environment’ (VLE), or virtual classroom, is often used synonymously with LMS. These two terms essentially refer to the same products, but emphasize different aspects of the software.

Virtual classrooms typically have a larger focus on the collaborative aspect of learning. Products that are marketed as a VLE may have stronger discussion, forum, or student collaboration features. On the other hand, LMS has traditionally referred to products with strong performance tracking and analysis capabilities. Many LMS vendors have strengthened the virtual classroom aspects of their platforms as virtual-only learning has become either more financially attractive or socially necessary.


LMS Features & Capabilities

Most LMS platforms offer a basic set of features:

  • Content creation: Allows instructors to author content and use web tools to embed files from the web or their own files into lesson materials.

  • Content management: Allows instructors to share materials between courses and upload materials from the web or their own files.

  • Assessment creation: Ability to create new questions/ assessments - including support for various question types, randomization of MCQs, the ability to import third-party question banks etc..

  • Assessment management: This can include automatic updating of questions and automatic and manual marking.

  • Learning object repository (LOR): An online library for sharing, storing, searching, and managing learning objects (e.g. content, specific lessons etc..)

  • Grading and feedback tools: This can include the ability to annotate student submissions and create student reports.

  • Course management: This can include course catalogs, course registration management, calendars, gradebooks, and virtual classrooms.

  • Student and instructor portals: Individual portals for students/instructors to access course materials.

  • Collaboration tools: Ability to comment and share on the LMS interface through channels such as live chat, blog articles, and discussion boards/threads.

  • Progress data and analytics: Ability to track student progress against standards such as Common Core or NGSS, identify gaps in individual learning, and set customized learning objectives.

  • SCORM/ AICC/ Tin Can Compliant: Ability for an eLearning software and LMS to interact over a standard protocol.


Some vendors offer more advanced capabilities or features aimed more at corporate buyers rather than education institutions:


  • Social media support: Ability to integrate social learning tools and keep track of student engagement.

  • Mobile app: Allows students and instructors to connect to the LMS interface using a mobile application.

  • Blended learning support: Ability to record, share, and assess off-line learning events such as seminars, workshops, demonstrations etc…

  • Gamification tools: Using game-mechanics in order to boost user engagement - including things like badges, trophies, leaderboards, or points.

  • E-commerce support: Ability to sell educational materials and/or online courses, track purchases, and monitor the performance of marketing initiatives.

Learning Management System Comparison

When comparing learning management systems, consider these factors:

  1. Mobile accessibility: As mobile devices become the primary method of accessing the internet, they are also an increasingly core method of accessing learning resources and academic information. Be sure to evaluate how optimizes various LMS systems are for mobile-first students, particularly in areas like video content, forums, and grade reporting.

  2. Scalability: Your LMS platform should support your institution’s expansion, not hinder it. Factors that can influence scalability include whether it is cloud-based or on-premise, the pricing model, and the scope of available features like gamification and native content creation.

  3. Ease of use and customization: The majority of your LMS users will be teachers and students, so the platform should be as intuitive and easy to use as possible to accommodate a wide range of user capabilities. User reviews will be the best non-trial gauge of how easy an LMS is to learn and regularly use.

  4. Content creation vs. content management: While most learning management systems have both, LMS platforms will vary in their focus on user-created content and content management capabilities. Before selecting an LMS, determine whether your institution is more focused allowing instructors to design content, courses, and assignments or if managing preexisting content and students’ progress through lessons and courses is a higher priority.

Pricing Information

There is a wide range of free or open source LMS software, for example Moodle, Canvas, and Google Classroom. However, these products can be costly to implement and customize, charge extra for non-basic features, and typically do not include support staff.


Commercial offerings such as Blackboard and McGraw-Hill's Connect are an alternative option. These LMS platforms have higher upfront costs (compared to the free versions), but also typically include a dedicated support staff and professional services. Most paid LMS do not advertise pricing, but quotes frequently range from $2.50-$4 per user per month, up to a certain number of users.

More Resources

Learning Management Products

(1-25 of 88) Sorted by Most Reviews

Articulate Storyline
197 ratings
116 reviews
Articulate Storyline is a learning content creation platform. It provides prebuilt and customizable content, along with gamification capabilities. Articulate emphasizes user-friendliness, including mobile accessibility. It is offered on a perpetual license.
Schoology Learning, a PowerSchool Unified Classroom product
132 ratings
105 reviews
Top Rated
Schoology, now a PowerSchool Unified Classroom product, is a learning management system (LMS). The Basic Package is free for instructors and includes features such as an Academic Activity Dashboard, Instructional Tools and a Native Document Grader. The Enterprise Package includes the Basic Package …
Blackbaud Education Management Solutions (formerly Blackbaud K–12 ON Solutions)
152 ratings
74 reviews
Top Rated
TRUE
Blackbaud Education Management Solutions is a unified student management system for K–12 private schools. Blackbaud Enrollment Management System™ (formerly onBoard®): Blackbaud Enrollment Management System gives schools and families the ability to track admissions progress from inquiry through accep…
Canvas
159 ratings
68 reviews
Instructure is an educational software company based in Sandy, Utah. It is the developer of the Canvas learning management system, which is a comprehensive software package that competes with such systems as Blackboard Learning System, SumTotal and Saba.
Moodle
167 ratings
58 reviews
Top Rated
Moodle is an open source Learning Management System used by educational institutions. The product is administered by the Moodle Project which is led by Moodle HQ in Australia.
Blackboard Learn
170 ratings
52 reviews
Top Rated
Blackboard Inc. is an enterprise learning management systems vendor. Blackboard was founded in 1997 and became a public company in 2004. The company provides education, mobile, communication, and commerce software and related services to clients including education providers, corporations and govern…
Adobe Captivate
134 ratings
52 reviews
Top Rated
Adobe Captivate is an elearning authoring and course design tool (or LCMS). It supports mobile HTML5 content. Captivate’s users are commonly midsized businesses to enterprises. Adobe Captivate includes some prebuilt assets as well as customizable workflows.
Articulate 360
89 ratings
50 reviews
Top Rated
Articulate 360 is an e-learning course development subscription offering. It includes every Articulate authoring tool, including the latest version of Storyline and Rise, a web-based app for creating inherently responsive courses. The vendor offers a 30-day free trial.
Prezi
99 ratings
43 reviews
Prezi’s advantage over static slides is that its interactive, zoomable canvas shows the relationship between the big picture and the fine details. The vendor’s value proposition is that this puts ideas in context, and makes them more likely to resonate, motivate, and be remembered.
Brightspace
62 ratings
41 reviews
Brightspace is an academic and corporate learning management platform. It provides core e-learning features, as well as mobile accessibility and granular personalization and analytics insights.
Blackboard Collaborate
94 ratings
25 reviews
Blackboard Collaborate is an online, collaborative learning platform well-suited for the education industry and corporate learning needs. It includes features such as screen and application sharing, web conferencing, and integration with Blackboard Learn.
WizIQ LMS
18 ratings
15 reviews
WizIQ LMS is designed to meet both teaching and training needs and to give users more control over the learning process.  Users can build their learning environment within minutes, add and manage multiple teacher accounts, create online courses, and schedule live classes. This solution provides a sp…
Articulate Studio
28 ratings
15 reviews
Articulate Studio is a PowerPoint plugin used to develop elearning course content. It includes assessment, on-screen recording, and interactions integrations.
Sakai
20 ratings
13 reviews
Sakai is an open source learning management system provided by the Apero Foundation. The LMS provides what it calls Core and Expanded Features. The Core Features encompass an integrated tool set that is tested by the Sakai community members and is then included with each new release. The tool set ca…
iSpring Learn
14 ratings
12 reviews
iSpring Learn is an LMS integrated with a powerful authoring toolkit. The system aims to be straightforward with an intuitive design. The vendor says even users without any technical skills can start eLearning the day they create an account. No training required. With iSpring Learn, users can upload…
Tovuti LMS
12 ratings
12 reviews
Tovuti's cloud-based learning management system (LMS) gives users the tools they need to create, deliver, and track the effectiveness of eLearning programs.
TalentLMS
14 ratings
9 reviews
TalentLMS is designed to deliver engaging online training. This platform offers functionality for course authoring, user testing, extended enterprise, teaching and training administration, and e-commerce for small and midsize businesses and schools. The platform’s course builder offers embedded con…
Docebo LMS
10 ratings
5 reviews
Docebo is a SAAS/Cloud platform for e-learning, also known as a learning management system. Docebo is available in 30 languages. While the primary users of Docebo are midsized companies, it is also assessable for large companies and SMEs.
Edsby
5 ratings
4 reviews
Edsby is a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) for K-12 school districts that uses web and mobile technologies to connect teachers, students, parents and administrators in new ways. This LMS allows students and parents to check grades, attendance, homework and more from a browser, tablet o…
GoGuardian Teacher
4 ratings
4 reviews
GoGuardian, headquartered in Los Angeles, offers GoGuardian Teacher, a classroom management and digital learning environment application featuring activity timeline, screen viewer, and other features.
Frontline Professional Growth
4 ratings
4 reviews
Frontline Education offers a learning management system focusing on the development goals of teachers, in Frontline Professional Growth.
PowerSchool Unified Classroom
14 ratings
4 reviews
PowerSchool Unified Classroom is a learning management and classroom collaboration solution suite. It aims to empower teachers with real-time student interaction inside and outside the classroom, bringing in more social and collaborative learning. Teachers can quickly create and deliver rich engagin…
ProProfs LMS Software
4 ratings
3 reviews
ProProfs LMS is a learning management system software that is designed to help instructors create and deliver online training courses. The LMS offers both businesses and educational institutions comprehensive training solutions by allowing them to create online courses, complemented by tests, survey…

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a learning management system?

Learning management systems (LMS) provide a centralized platform for educators and administrators to manage and organize educational materials and track student progress. They are also used for designing content and courses, and facilitating online learning.

What are the features of learning management systems?

LMS can include a range of features, but the most common are content management and sharing, student progress tracking, grading and feedback tools, collaboration tools, and assessment creation and management.

How much is a learning management system?

Some basic LMS, or limited versions of broader LMS products, are available for free. Paid versions’ pricing can vary dramatically based on number of users, features offered, and level of customer support.

What is the difference between LMS and eLearning?

eLearning is focused primarily on content creation and content libraries, while LMS products offer broader support for the education process, such as assessments, collaboration, and grading.

What is a SCORM compliant learning management system?

SCORM is a standard model of building an LMS. A SCORM-compliant LMS is a system that can share online content with other SCORM-compliant systems.