cms_diagram_lThe Course Management System (CMS) and Learning Management System (LMS) are very similar.  When looking at the definitions of both the CMS is “the technology platform through which online courses are offered”  where as the LMS is “the technology platform through which students’ access online courses“.  The definitions are almost identical, however, if you look closely you will notice the slight difference.  In the CMS the emphasis is on the courses, whereas in the LMS the emphasis is on the students ability to access the online courses.  The LMS is a more “robust” version of the CMS because not only does it host the CMS but it hosts other tools to allow the students to interact in a way that extends beyond the classroom.  The LMS  contains more features such as the ability for teachers to post announcements, threaded discussion boards or forums for asynchronous discussions, drop box capability for turning in assignments, online grade book, integrated email system and/or interface to an external email system, wikis, blogs, and other web 2.0 tools to name a few ( ).

So the CMS or the LMS, THAT is the question!

Justin Ferriman in an article entitled Course Management System vs Learning Management System narrows the decision between the CMS to the LMS down to a few questions:

  • Will your organization grow?
  • Will it need a way to demonstrate performance improvement through learning?
  • Will it eventually require various modes of knowledge transformation?

Ferriman states, if you answered yes to any of the questions above, then you need an LMS.




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