Learning Management Software – what kind of system does what?


Education - more than one kind of system.

We are often asked if LearningBuilder a learning management system. And our response is “what do you mean by learning management?”
And over the years, we have heard a variety of responses.
The market offers a variety of different solutions designed to solve specific needs in learning and education management.
Yet, they are often swept under the umbrella term, “learning management system.”
So, why not list out the technology solutions we see in the education, learning and professional development space?  
As the education technology market evolves and expands, new entrants to the market solve very specific problems. Often, a system could be classified in more than one functional area. We have found this to be especially true with learning management systems.


Key Points

Learning Management System (LMS)

A learning management system is used to assign, track and access learning activities as they relate to individual or organizational goals.

Learning activities may be housed in the LMS or outside the LMS, activity completion is tracked within the LMS.

Learning content is authored outside the LMS.

Most LMS’s have a tool set for evaluation; tests and / or quizzes.

Primary market is corporate training.

Learning Content Management System (LCMS)

A learning content management system is used by eLearning professionals to develop, organize, and manage online training materials. LCMSs streamline the process of authoring and maintaining content.

Content is authored in a LCMS and published to an LMS.

As an alternative to an LCMS, the market offers a variety of SCORM compliant authoring tools for eLearning that the individual instructional designer may use to create learning content. Where the LCMS adds value is managing reusable content, creating consistency, and facilitating team collaboration.

Competency Management System

A competency management system defines the competences (skills / knowledge / behaviors) for a role, identifies gaps, and makes recommendations for learning activities to close the gaps.

Incorporates measures to assess competence.

Focus shifts from training to performance and outcomes.

Course Management System

A course management system manages instructor-led courses, in person or virtual. Activities may include:

  • Assign instructors
  • Associate students to courses
  • Assign classrooms (if needed)
  • Provide course materials
  • Track student submissions (attendance, assignments or assessments)
  • Facilitate course communications; announcements, discussions, etc.
  • Integrate with video conferencing for live, virtual interaction.

Focus is on managing both courses and the experience within the individual course. Course management systems are not focused on the learners’ objectives outside the course.

Primary market has been higher ed, now expanded to K-12, continuing education providers, and corporate training.

Course Scheduling Software

Course scheduling software automates the process of building course schedules and assigning students to minimize conflicts, especially for large student populations.

The goal is to make sure that students are able to take the courses they need / prefer within known constraints.

Student Registration System

Not to be confused with a course management system, which focuses on the course delivery, a student registration and enrollment system focuses on enrolling students in the courses after the schedule is available.

CE Management

Continuing Education (CE) management software refers two one of two sets of functionality; for an organization to curate third part continuing education content, and/or, for an individual to track their completed continuing education activities.

Typically an organization will have an application process for a CE provider to apply and submit courses for approval against a domain and instructional design rubric, and are able to build a catalogue of related activities for their community which meet a specific set of standards.

Certification Management System

A certification management system manages:

  • the program requirements for certification, typically work experience, education, ethics, and exam
  • the process in which an applicant demonstrates that they have met the requirements,
  • the application audit process, and
  • recertification requirements.
  • Most certification management systems collect fees, integrate with test administrators, and send out notifications.

Robust certification management platforms manage multiple eligibility paths, multiple certifications, practice tests, employer relationships, and offer continuing education provider management and sophisticated reporting.

An LMS with a certification module typically lacks workflow tools to manage time based rules or a complex an eligibility process. Staff often need to develop work arounds for key processes like review and audit.

Candidate Management System

A candidate management system is used to manage the application and registration process for a certification or licensure exams. Candidate management systems may accept fees, handle score reports and exam retake eligibility. They are less involved in recertifications or renewals as their focus is on initial eligibility for examination.

Most certification management systems and licensing management systems function as candidate management systems.

Digital Badging System

A a digital badging system allows an organization to issue and store verifiable digital credentials. It is often used for micro-credentials. These systems typically do not provide the tools to manage the certification or credentialing processes that are involved in earning the credential, or badge. A digital badging system is typically used in addition to a course management, learning management system or a certification management system.

So… what is LearningBuilder?

LearningBuilder is a competency management platform that manages certification processes, curates third party continuing education, and delivers learning activities like an LMS. We even have some lightweight course management and scheduling management functionality.

Getting Started With Heuristic Solutions

Heuristics Solutions provides software solutions for workforce development organizations. If you are considering new technology, connect with us on our contact page or schedule a meeting with one of our expert team members.