There’s no getting around the fact that learning has moved online, especially in the workplace. The rise of elearning has ushered in a new toolkit for everyone from content creators to C-level decision-makers, and it seems that every stakeholder in the learning lifecycle has their own set of tools and tricks that make collecting, managing, and acting on data easier.
That’s where the LMS and LCMS come in. Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, these two acronyms represent distinct systems designed to meet two different business goals.
Sure, they both boost the elearning experience, decision making, and data collection process, but what’s the real difference between the two? And which one is better for the world of corporate elearning?
Differences between an LMS and an LCMS
The key differentiator between these two acronyms is - you guessed it - the letter ‘C’. That’s because while the Learning Management System (LMS) is all about distributing and measuring the effectiveness of resources and content, the Learning Content Management System (LCMS) is about creating, hosting, and teaching the content that is being shared.
Think of an LMS as the outer structure that the LCMS fits within. The LMS manages communities of learners, while the LCMS launches the content that they use and are assessed on. Both platforms facilitate, measure, and report on learning - but the end goals themselves differ. The LMS wants to track things like student progress, while the LCMS wants to track the effectiveness of the content and learning being assessed in the first place.
LMS vs LCMS: Which One Is For You?
The good news here is that you don’t have to choose between the two. Because an LMS and an LCMS serve two different business goals, more often than not they are designed to work with each other instead of being in competition with one another.
Look for tools that offer interoperability and integration through webhooks and APIs. As elearning expert Peter Schroeder explained to eLearning Industry, these programmatic features are what help two different systems (LMS & LCMS) push and pull data from one another and perform automated functions. These are basically the tin can telephones of cloud-based software, and they make it possible for two different platforms or systems to communicate effectively.
Not only do tools that integrate with one another save time, effort, and sanity - they also demonstrate an understanding of your organization’s business processes and needs.
Reduce Redundant Data: Integrate Your Elearning Systems
With so many tools out there designed to measure and report on elearning, it’s important to have a fleshed-out data governance strategy that keeps sensitive information up-to-date and secure. That’s why one of the biggest benefits of having integrated LMS and authoring tools (LCMS) is that it reduces the risk of inaccurate and redundant data. To manually collect data across many isolated systems takes time, and keeping track of several different datasets can lead to inaccurate reporting or gaps in information.
Integrating your LMS and LCMS can enable a seamless connection between the two platforms, and help the entire team glean the full picture of the elearning experience being curated.
For example, while an LCMS might collect and store assessment data to inform better elearning design, that information often becomes siloed within the L&D team. When it is integrated with other systems like the LMS, however, that same data can be tracked, analyzed, and surfaced to other departments to be understood from a learner-management side as well.
Choose Interoperability to Personalize Elearning
As microlearning and just-in-time learning become more common in the workplace, the ability to add context to professional development and corporate elearning is more important than ever. The LCMS, which is built to facilitate these pedagogical approaches by design, provides authoring tools that enable rapid content development and deployment. It can report on the assessment of elearning and measure virtually every data point that relates to content, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of learner management the LCMS is much more powerful when combined with an LMS.
Streamline Your Workflow
At the end of the day, one thing is for certain: choosing tools that are built to work with instead of against your existing technology and processes will save you time, money, and headaches. Believe us - we've made it happen - a streamlined workflow really can lead to better results.