GAVS – Discussing the LMS and the CMS

Navigate 1.3.1 – Discussing the LMS and CMS

lms cms

Similar in kind but different in scope, both Content Management Systems (CMS) and Learning Management Systems (LMS) give schools and virtual teachers tools to save time and focus on instruction. Specifically, they enable teachers to find, modify, upload, and share content for virtual learning. The difference between them is that a CMS is limited only to storing content, but an LMS can incorporate software that handles all aspects of the learning process, such as the enrollment of students into courses, the assessment of student work, the facilitation of courses, and the methods of communication among students, teachers, administrators, and parents. A school choosing between a CMS and an LMS should consider two things: their current technological support and their long term goals.cms

Schools not interested in eventually expanding to online classes that also have limited technological support and/or funding should choose a CMS over an LMS. Many CMS are free online and are available through app stores, which means individual teachers may choose to use them in their own classes without needing the technological support of the school or additional funds. The smaller scale of Content Management Systems also provides more flexibility with implementation. As a school researches CMS vendors, a few classes could test different systems before deciding which best matches the school’s goals and content. Since CMSs focus only on content, a school or teacher is free to switch between the available options. Ideally, a school or teacher will find one CMS that best meets the needs and implement that throughout the school. Agreeing on a standard CMS will allow teachers to collaborate on content, since they need only one program for content development and aggregation, and students will appreciate the consistency.

LMS_1Schools that want to expand their digital and online options in the future will want the more robust Learning Management System, even if teachers only use the content management options of the LMS in the first year after adoption. LMSs are more robust than their CMSs counterparts, so a school will need to carefully prepare and train staff on the new software. Even before choosing an LMS, schools should form research committees and contact vendors about pricing, customer service support, and security. Besides managing content, an LMS’s features help personalize the student’s learning and facilitate teacher collaboration, and the analytics the system generates will help all stakeholders analyze and evaluate lessons for their effectiveness.

Online education is trending more toward the adoption of LMSs over CMSs, so competitive schools should eventually plan for adopting a Learning Management System. The LMS is comprehensive in nature, and its available tools enable schools to track teaching and learning from curriculum development to assessment analysis. With the rising popularity of these systems, more companies are finding ways to work with schools to make their software easy to use and scalable in price and features. Unless a school has a pedagogic problem with expanding digital learning beyond managing and delivering content, a Learning Management System is the better choice.


“Course Management Systems vs. Learning Management Systems.” Ferriman, Justin.

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