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LMS vs LCMS vs CMS: Feel The Difference


With the rapid adoption of the Internet worldwide, the e-learning industry is actively expanding, reaching new heights faster than ever before. In fact, it’s not going to stop, considering that ReportLinker forecasts a 16% CARG during 2021-2025 for the global e-learning market.

The growth isn’t driven by the educational sector alone. Corporate education is becoming more and more accessible with online tools that drive the industry’s development. Many businesses show particular interest in modern education software, but little understand which one meets their needs better. 

In this article, we are going to cover the main difference between learning management systems, course management systems, and learning content management systems to help you choose the right software for your company.

Learning Content Management System (LCMS)

A learning content management system is a platform that supports the entire E-learning lifecycle, from content creation to delivery. However, the primary focus of an LCMS is on authoring: the target audience is people who are building E-learning products (courses, quizzes, online-lectures, etc.) - which is the ultimate difference between LCMS and LMS (learning management system).

An LCMS allows users to easily create and manage E-learning content in several types (text, image, video, audio, etc.) and formats that are compatible with ILT, SCORM, AICC, and other E-learning standards. Therefore, learning content management systems are primarily designed to facilitate content creation, management, and distribution.

As stated by Industry Research, the LCMS market is steadily evolving in 2021, but the trend is going to improve between 2021-2026. The growth may be motivated not only by the rising demand for E-learning from the educational sector but also from the corporate world. The global corporate E-learning market is predicted to grow by approximately $20 million from 2019 to 2026, according to Statista.

learning content management system

Advantages of LCMS

  • Safeguarded data. Predecessors of LMCS couldn’t boast cloud-based features that eliminate the risk of data loss and allow constant access to content.
  • Improved collaboration. An LCMS often offers integrated workflow tools that allow streamlining management and communication. Besides, it supports co-authoring and advanced supervision for you to work together with a team, monitor project implementation, control access, and set up the roles for tailored co-authoring. 
  • Enhanced reusability. Since data is stored as units or learning objects, a content creator can change a single unit, and it will be automatically updated in any file (course or test) it’s embedded into.
  • Tailored approach. With the rise of personalized learning, content can no longer be universal and must be adapted to the target audience. An LCMS allows you to create a parent project with all the data and then reuse only the appropriate content in children’s projects. This facilitates updates and saves time, for there is no need to build three personalized projects from scratch.
  • Simplified international content creation. If you are a global contributor, you need flexible tools that allow you to automatically update lectures or tests on all languages. An LCMS makes it possible while also providing simple text import/export features: you can let the translator work with the text without giving access to the LCMS.

Disadvantages of LCMS

  • Limited monitoring capabilities. While an LMS provides an array of tracking features beyond E-learning, an LCMS doesn’t. What is more, analytics is collected on the platform itself, excluding third-party sources.
  • Minimal Learner Profile data. An LCMS doesn’t gather much information about learners, nor does it allow integrations with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems for streamlined operations. 
  • Scarce Learning Features. An LCMS can’t offer an outstanding learner’s experience with assigned learning paths, real-time event tracking, and scheduling.

Examples of LCMS

It’s an LCMS designed with a focus on corporate learning. Its key feature is rapid creation and project deployment thanks to step-by-step guidance and an easy-to-navigate online editor. Users can reap the benefits of scenario-based learning templates that drive interactivity and dynamic education - two factors contributing to enhanced student engagement. The engagement is also boosted by an in-module assessment that offers prompt feedback and maintains the same level of motivation throughout the entire online course.

Voluxion is a platform created for the sake of personalized training for every language center. It offers teachers access to data and materials for any educational level and allows instructors to create one-of-a-kind language courses. Moreover, Voluxios boasts impressive functionality, from advanced communication to interactive content.

Learning Management System

A learning management system or LMS is software for delivering training content. Therefore, the development of a learning management system is always carried out with the focus on learners, not content creators. Some platforms offer functionality to create content, though it is rather limited compared to LCMS. 

To use an LMS, you will need SCORM-compliant learning content that is uploaded to the LMS and then distributed among students. The materials can be adjusted to various groups based on their needs, educational background, and other factors. An ultimate distinguishing feature of LMS is advanced tracking and monitoring. 

With the rising popularity and adoption of E-learning, more LMS will appear. According to MarketsAndMarkets, the market will increase from $13.4 billion in 2020 up to $25.7 billion in 2025. While it highlights the attractiveness of learning management systems for businesses, competition in the niche is also going to escalate. Therefore, unique features and outstanding user experience may become the only competitive advantages.

learning management system

Advantages of LMS

  • Combined digital and offline learning. With an LMS, you can now reach students who are unable to attend regular, offline classes. Whether it’s a course for international students or employees, an educator can deliver the same material for anyone regardless of their location.
  • Bigger reach. While a traditional class allows dealing with around 30 students maximum, an LMS is a way to distribute E-learning content among an unlimited number of participants.
  • Personalized learning. The platform supports personalized student paths, where learners can study at their own pace with the focus on their own weak points, while instructors can track the progress on a student-to-student basis and adjust the curriculum accordingly.
  • Advanced analytics. An LMS offers a wide variety of tracking tools. The basic ones include monitoring who starts and finishes the course, the progress, the time required for a course/module completion, tests/exams/quizzes results, and the number of attempts until a student gets a pass. Moreover, some systems even allow assessing the level of engagement.
  • Data sharing. With an LMS, it’s possible to share the data with ERP, which fosters effectiveness, saves time required on manual data entry, and allows users to easily switch between different software. 
  • Scheduling. You can not only assign the courses but also work out and implement a schedule. Thus, students will get notified when it’s time to start a new module, which helps to maintain motivation even for large-scale online courses. 

Disadvantages of LMS

  • Limited content creation. While some systems offer functionality to build online courses, it’s rather basic and proprietary. For example, the authoring tools don’t allow mass updates and aren’t suitable for big projects. 
  • Inability to reuse the stored content in different systems. In an LMS, you can’t change the format to reuse the content in other systems. You will need to do this with the help of authoring software. 
  • No changes can be implemented within an LMS. If a course or a quiz requires even a minor update, you will need to export it to an LCMS or CMS (Content Management System) for adjustments. 

Examples of LMS

It’s a customizable LMS to educate associates, contractors, suppliers - in a word anyone, who lacks knowledge about a product or service. Bluevolt offers numerous solutions, including virtual conferences, employee training programs, compliance and safety centers, and product portals. Besides, a platform allows you to set up personalized learning paths and monitor the results via advanced analytics. 

Litmos is another LMS for businesses that strive to educate their employees. Besides quick deployment and simple integration, the platform offers more than just training for international students (it supports 35 languages): you can harness the power of automation and embedded AI that drives better engagement. Moreover, Litmos has course-creation features and off-the-shelf content. 

In our blog you can find a full guide about development of a learning management system or LMS implementation, please take a look.

Now Let’s Consider the Features of Course Management Systems (CMS)

Unlike LMS and LCMS, a course management system is used solely by content creators. Basically, it’s an online environment where instructors can upload and share E-learning materials, as well as manage content together. The software encompasses various tools:

  • Content creation tools for uploading and managing content
  • Communicational tools for announcement and distribution via emails
  • Administrative tools for managing groups (adding or removing participants), files.

Some CMS even allow tracking user’s activity, managing grades, and creating tests/ surveys. However, unlike an LMS or advanced LCMS, content management systems aren’t designed for setting up an online educational environment and serve more like online storage.

Since cloud infrastructures are among the top drivers of the E-learning market, according to PRNewswire, course management systems are going to gain wider adoption. The convenience of content management systems is another trigger for further market growth. Since currently, more than 40% of all websites use WordPress, the E-learning industry will need alternative solutions that will satisfy the educators' needs. Given that, developing a CMS is an opportunity to take a significant share in a rather small but potentially beneficial niche.

course management system

Advantages of CMS

  • All the data is in a single place. Instead of suffering because of distributed course information among different systems, instructors can store all the data in a CMS. It doesn’t only foster keeping track of all the materials but also allows easy edits when necessary. 
  • Accessibility. If more than one person needs to adjust E-learning materials, it’s much easier to have a single version to work with. This way, you can ensure that everyone has access to the latest updates, thus reducing the risk of data loss and the number of numerous confusing copies.
  • Integration possibilities. A CMS can be easily integrated into a website used for content distribution. Therefore, you no longer need to constantly import or export course materials. This boosts productivity and eliminates human errors, as updates are automatically applied to the final output.
  • Resource allocation. Top-notch CMS allows you to assign instructors, materials, and even classrooms to online courses, ensuring smooth project implementation. 

Disadvantages of CMS

  • Requires additional software to build and manage online courses. A CMS, at its essence, is a framework to store and manage educational content. It’s neither a course-builder nor an online E-learning environment. Therefore, if you need more than uploading materials to a website, you have to find other systems. 

Examples of CMS

EdApp is both a microlearning platform and a course management tool. It encompasses authoring tools, course and template libraries, quiz makers, and even analytics. The software allows users to upload files or build and edit courses from templates. Besides, you can distribute the materials among students.

It’s a CMS for web content distribution. You can easily upload all the materials and distribute them among desktop and mobile users. The platform offers numerous customization tools to make learning accessible for anyone.

Functionality Comparison: LMS vs. LCMS vs. CMS

Above, we explain the difference between LMS, CMS, and LCMS. Let’s summarize the functionality comparison into a single table:





Content creation




Content management




Content storage




Students management




E-learning analytics




Learner profile management




Skills evaluation




Content distribution




With the right company, you can be confident that your developed LCMS, LMS or CVC will perform as expected. Better yet, contact HuskyJam.

LMS vs. CMS vs. LCMS: What Should You Finally Choose?

LMS, CMS, and LCMS may seem pretty similar, but they are very different if you dig deeper. While they can be complementary, you need to use each in a particular case.

functionality comparison cms lms lcms

Here are some common cases when it’s better to choose a specific system:

  • To Store Content

Obviously, a CMS is the best option if you want to have all your instructions in a single place. However, those who create courses in-house had better choose an LCMS. First of all, learning content management systems usually offer far more tools for content creation. Besides, they allow easy customization and support several formats and content types, including VR materials.

If, however, you are uploading your files to a website, a CMS is sufficient to edit and manage your data.

  • To Build Courses

LCMS is the ultimate winner here. You can access various tools for content creation without relying on additional authoring software, which is compulsory for an LMS. LCMS gives you an opportunity to build stellar E-learning products that will be customizable. Thus they will boost motivation and engagement and deliver much better results than general online courses.

Those who prefer to outsource content creation can suffice with an LMS that sometimes allows editing materials.

  • To Distribute Learning Materials

Here, you can opt for all three options depending on your needs:

  • LMS is a universal one that offers simple distribution and advanced analytics. It’s ideal for both those who deliver blended education and focus solely on online learning. An LMS allows you to set up an advanced online environment to deliver high-quality education.
  • LCMS boasts rather limited distribution features. If you don’t plan to track student’s activity closely and need to merely deliver the content, you may share courses via an LCMS.
  • CMS isn’t designed for content distribution, especially if you want to set up an online educational environment. However, it allows you to share files via email or website if the CMS is integrated into it.

Ready to start your E-learning project? Get a free estimate within 24 hours.

The Verdict: LMS vs. CMS vs. LCMS

What to choose: CMS, LMS, or LCMS? There is no single answer to this question. Most likely, you will need to use two of them, if not all, if you plan to run an E-learning business. While some may suffice with a single system, none offers advanced functionality to build, store, and distribute online courses and deliver top-notch service. 

Thus, when wondering how to make an educational app, you may need professional guidance from experts who understand the differences to the slightest details and know which solution to implement. We at HuskyJam, are proud to be reliable partners who can not only advise you on what functionality to embed but also successfully implement it. Our vast experience in E-learning software and brilliant team are what help us reach new heights every time we engage in EdTech projects.

If you are looking for 360-degree support, from idea validation to development and further maintenance, let us know! Contact our representative now to see for yourself what professional EdTech-project development looks like!

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