A learning management system (LMS) is an online system that manages the delivery of self-paced, elearning courses. These courses can be taken entirely online using components such as journals, discussion boards, chats, choices, assignment, and quizzes. The LMS provides online reports for each course for the student and teacher.
The learning management system can also be used as a supplement for face-to-face trainings.
Traditional learning management systems run from $11 to $50 per user, per year plus approximately the same amount for setup and installation (source: Online Learning Magazine, September, 2000). For example, a school with 1,000 students can expect to pay $11,000 for installation and another $11,000 for user fees. An open source solution like Moodle is becoming more popular because there isn’t a license fee. However there is a hosting charge for each user.. Two of the largest Learning Management System companies, WebCT and Blackboard tend to be too expensive for most schools because of the licensing which can run into thousands of dollars.
When you begin to evaluate learning management systems you will need to consider several components.
- The learning management system must be robust enough to serve the needs of thousands of learners, administrators, content builders, and instructors simultaneously.
- The infrastructure should be able to expand to meet future growth.
- The access, delivery and presentation of material must be easy-to-use.
- The learning management system should be based on open industry standards for web deployments.
- The learning management system infrastructure can reliably and effectively run 24/7.
- The learning management system can selectively limit and control access to online content and resources.
- The LMS should have a component for learner expression like a blog or a journal.
- The learning management system needs a place to connect with other learners with discussion boards or chats.
- The LMS need to allow dialogue with the instructor through email.
The implementation of a learning management system is an important tool for online learning. Along with online courses, many schools use their LMS to enroll students in classroom-based events, manage face-to-face training, and generate reports on student’s progress. Choose the LMS that best fits your needs. One option you will need to explore is Moodle, which is an open source learning management system.