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Last updated: 31.08.18

The Difference between an LMS and LCMS

Businesses that have a strong commitment to developing their employees will no doubt have come across the terms LMS and LCMS in the past. But what do they mean, and are they the same thing? In short, that one letter variance does make quite a difference. While LMS and LCMS are both terms relating to learning software, they are in a way two different sides of the same coin. Let’s take a look at each one.


An LMS - or Learning Management System - is a hugely powerful tool for businesses, especially larger ones. It’s also used by dedicated training businesses that carry out such services on behalf of other organisations. The concept is simple - by having one piece of software that manages all of the training that employees undergo, businesses can fully track everything and processes are made much simpler.

Functionality is often hugely varied. It will begin for instance with the ability for organisations to upload learning resources from third parties. There are a number of standards used, which allow businesses to pick and choose the courses they want, and upload them to their LMS. For example, a retail business and a construction business might both use the same LMS software, but with different course types covering their respective industries. SCORM is the format used across most learning platforms.

Once the course has been uploaded, employees are able to take the course; their progress on the course is tracked, and a database of this information is maintained. This allows businesses to implement robust training plans for employees without the potential for major complexity when it comes to monitoring dozens, hundreds or even thousands of employees. Progression plans can be established; there’s excellent visibility, and in some cases, this can even help with certain elements of compliance. In certain industries for instance, certain qualifications must be renewed yearly, and an LMS offers a good way of ensuring that this happens.

Training is widely seen as a valuable tool for business improval, which is why LMS software is so useful. Here at Virtual College, we have our own LMS, which is called ‘Enable’. Click here to find out more about what this system can do, and how it’s helped other businesses in the past.


An LCMS, on the other hand, is a considerably different type of software and is less likely to be used by an organisation that is not a training provider.

LCMS stands for Learning Content Management System, and the aim of this software is to allow organisations to actually create courses that will eventually be used by learners. The software allows course content to be created in a number of ways, and they are published in a variety of formats. In this way, an LCMS might be used to create courses that are eventually used in an LMS. A group of experts on a particular subject would come together and build a course using an LMS.

Generally, it’s training providers themselves that will use an LCMS to build their courses and products, which can be used by other businesses. However, larger organisations may also decide to use this software if they want to develop their own internal training programmes. There are lots of options when it comes to building courses, and many instances in which it would be useful.

The key takeaway is that an LMS and LCMS are not the same thing, and this primarily is because they are aimed at different users. The LMS’ end user will primarily be the learner, and the LCMS’ end user will primarily be the trainer.