What is a Learning Content Management System (LCMS)?

There's a lot of confusion surrounding Learning Content Management Systems. When most people hear the phrase "Learning Content Management System," they usually think "Oh, an LMS." Even a Google search for Learning Content Management System returns ads for Learning Management Systems, and articles that claim to rank the top LCMS's, but really only include Learning Management Systems.

It turns out, that adding the word Content makes a big difference. LMS and LCMS might look like they are the same thing or close, but the two couldn't be more different!

The fact is that there are very few true Learning Content Management Systems out there, but what exactly is a learning content management system? Keep reading to find out.

What is a Learning Content Management System?

learning content management systemA Learning Content Management System (LCMS) is a tool or software that allows an organization, university, or company to create and publish learning content and publish it in print and web formats.

Good Learning Content Management Systems will also have analytics so you can see data on how learners are interacting with your content, and some offer a single-source input, which allows you to create the content once then select which format you'd like to publish it in (HTML, PowerPoint, PDF, etc.).

Isn't a Learning Content Management System the Same as a Learning Management System?

Not at all. A Learning Management System (LMS) focuses on assigning courses, scoring, and managing the classroom. A Learning Content Management System is a place to create, import, and publish that content, offering some delivery options but no classroom management or learning assignments. While they share some functionalities, the two types of software are solutions to different problems.

One easy way to remember is that CMS means Content Management System, which is any software that works for creating and storing content. So, when you add Learning to the front of that, what you have is a Content Management System built just for learning.

You can read more about the differences and see a complete breakdown here: LMS vs. LCMS, or watch the video below.

Why Would an Organization Need a Learning Content Management System on top of a Learning Management System?

Not every organization would benefit from a learning content management system. Small and low-budget companies likely don't have the level of onboarding and training that would require them to seek out a new way to manage their content, but some still do.

Learning Content Management Systems work great for large companies that manage multiple brands, locations, or departments, for big transportation and manufacturing corporations that need on-the-job references that their building teams can access, there content must always be accurate, up to date, and in a single repository, so they're also a prime candidate. Even coffee chains that need to communicate to every store cleaning procedures, health codes, and their brand strategy use Learning Content Management Systems to create, store, and distribute their onboarding and ongoing learning and development.

Learning Content Management Systems allow learning departments to create and import content created in PowerPoint and other programs into one place, giving the company more control over it and making updates and distribution easier in some ways.

When you only have a Learning Management System, your learning content (copy, courses, videos, slideshow, PDFs) is coming from different programs and places and often stored on different devices and servers. Large companies with brand guidelines, regulations, or any sort of compliance issues can't function without a central content repository.

What Should I Look for in a Learning Content Management System?

If you're looking for an LCMS for your organization, the best thing you can do is find a system that best meets your needs.

For example, if you deal with learning and development in a global capacity, you'll want to find an LCMS that will help make your translation process more efficient.

Quick Note: If you are looking for a translation solution, you can check out how we handle translation here: Global Learning. We do a lot of other stuff too!

Another element to look at is whether you are using the same content in multiple places (i.e. a company statement, a regulation, handbooks that require state-specific information). Some LCMS's allow you to reuse and link content in multiple places, making updates a quicker, less tedious process and eliminating the potential errors.

Some other things to consider when shopping for a Learning Content Management System are where you are at in the learning project, demands you might face in the coming years, how your team currently works and where they can be more efficient, and, of course, budget.

Here's a complete list of things you might want to look at when shopping for a learning content management system:

  • How your content is authored, and whether you need to collaborate
  • Templates, output options, and customization options
  • The ability to tag and classify content
  • How you manage your media and documents, and whether you have and/or need a shared content library
  • Whether you have location-specific content or need to support multiple languages
  • How your content needs to be delivered (i.e. web, mobile, print)
  • How your content is currently reviewed and how edits are handled
  • Integration with an LMS, API, and SCORM/AICC
  • Whether you want to see analytics

There's a lot more to consider, but hopefully you now have a better understanding of what a Learning Content Management System is and how it can be used.

Further Reading

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