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Do you need an LMS?

Learning management systems – or LMS – have been core to the e-learning industry since the 1990s. But L&D is shifting. Employees are taking control of their own learning needs. And because of this, the LMS is no longer the center of learning.

Videhi Bhamidi
do you need an lms

What is an LMS in e-learning?

Before we dive into the topic of this article, let’s get back to basics. What is an LMS and what role does it play in your e-learning efforts?

In short, LMS stands for Learning Management System. As the name implies, the LMS is an online platform that allows your organization to store, manage, and distribute your e-learning content internally. LMSs can also offer results tracking features for you to monitor your learners’ progress. Some examples of well-known LMSs include Moodle and Blackboard.

Many organizations use LMSs to facilitate e-learning experiences, whether by distributing course syllabi for employees, running discussion boards, or giving and grading quizzes.

To learn more about LMS, read our full LMS guide.

Do you need an LMS training system?

Today’s learning world is a collection of different learning tools such as curation systems, content management systems, collaboration tools, and social learning platforms, all of which complement the LMS and create a true learning experience for employees.

But with this new “ecosystem” of tools, do you still need an LMS?

Ultimately, it depends on your organization, your learners, and what you’re trying to achieve. But we’ll do our best to give you some guidance. So, let’s analyze two scenarios and some use cases where L&D teams feel the need for an LMS: 

Read our full LMS guide.

Why you need an LMS

Let’s take a look at two common scenarios to help you decide, based on your specific use case, whether you need an LMS or another tool.

Scenario 1: You are new to e-learning and need an LMS to…

Your use case: Our advice:
Manage my compliance and mandatory training activities Yes, that’s what an LMS promises to do. However, authoring tools with LRS abilities and LMS-Lites can also achieve this “tracking, tracing, reporting” trio.
Create e-learning courses LMS isn’t ideal for creating e-learning. Opt for a separate authoring tool.
Host learning content for my employees This is what the LMS was designed for, but there are other options available. An LXP will give you a more interactive, user-friendly experience, while an LMS-Lite is a cost-effective solution.
Manage learner enrolment and program management An LMS is ideal for this.
Sell courses Go for an LMS!


Choose the right authoring tool

With the right authoring tool in-hand, you may not even need a Learning Management System. Our experts created this guide to help you select the right one.

Scenario 2: You already have an LMS and want to replace it to…

Your use case: Our advice:
Implement blended learning You can’t implement blended learning with an LMS alone, you’ll need other tools, such as authoring tools and analytics.
Host performance support resources in the workflow LMS are designed for L&D-driven courses rather than performance support resources. A dedicated performance support system would be more suitable.
Issue certificates to learners An LMS is definitely more than capable, but there are also simpler and more cost-effective solutions that can do this, like an LMS-Lite.
Host social learning Many LMS have social learning features, as do LXPs. But you need to be clear on what you want to achieve with social learning before you choose a tool just for this feature.
To be a one-stop-shop of all things learning An LMS can be this, but with changing learning needs an LXP is a better tool for this.
Complement other learning systems This is definitely something an LMS can do.

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Videhi Bhamidi is a Learning Product Consultant at Easygenerator. With over 15 years of experience in e-learning, user-experience research, and thought-leadership projects, she is a regular contributor to L&D magazines. She is an Oxford alumnus and strives to fuse design, research, technology, and didactics in her solutions.