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LMS vs CMS: what’s the difference?

Learning and content management systems do very different jobs, but both may be a great addition to your employee training. Find out more with Go1.
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Mike Jeavons, Content Writer
2022-09-19

If your business takes learning and development seriously, then there’s a good chance you utilize, or are considering the utilization of eLearning.

But when it comes to LMS vs CMS, which is best for your business based on your eLearning needs?

In this post, we’ll answer the key questions surrounding LMSs and CMSs, including the benefits of each, the major differences between them, and which is best for you based on your requirements.

What do LMS and CMS mean?

Both LMS and CMS relate to the organization and publishing of content, but with certain key differences:

  • LMS is short for learning management system - this is a platform that has been specifically developed for the management of eLearning materials
  • CMS is short for content management system - this is a more generic style of platform used for managing and publishing a variety of content

What is an LMS and how is it used?

A learning management system is a piece of software used by a business or educational body to organize, manage, track, distribute, and in some cases produce, eLearning materials.

With an LMS, administrators can oversee the learning process for all employees within your business. This includes providing training materials and tracking progress to ensure training has been completed or identifying when employees may need additional support. 

What are the benefits of using an LMS?

There are a number of benefits of using an LMS as part of your business’ training and development strategy, which include:

  • Lessen administrative time and headaches
  • Save employees time throughout the learning process
  • Save your business money by streamlining its learning
  • Increase engagement with learning materials to improve retention
  • Provide consistent training to all employees
  • Use data to evaluate the effectiveness of training and ROI

For more information, check out our blog post on the benefits of a learning management system.

Who is an LMS ideal for?

By using an LMS, eLearning can be easily managed and accessed both from an administrative and a student point of view.

Because you can track how employees engage with the materials, you can ensure mandatory training, such as fire safety or first aid modules, has been completed thoroughly. This allows you to provide additional support to employees who may need it.

An LMS allows you to create bespoke training for individuals, meaning they can be assigned specific training that will help them along their chosen career path. Because LMSs and eLearning use a variety of teaching methods, including quizzes and assessments, this can help employees retain information and put what they’ve learned into practice.

This helps build a culture of learning within your organization, which helps with employee growth and retention.

What is a CMS and how is it used?

Now that you know what an LMS is and how it’s used, what is a CMS and how does it differ?

A CMS, or content management system, is a piece of software that allows you to create, store, manage and publish content online.

A CMS can be used in a variety of ways and isn’t just limited to the publication and distribution of eLearning content. For example, many different types of websites - from blogs through to eCommerce, use CMSs to manage their content.

A CMS will generally have two components: a CMA (content management application) that allows users to create content, and a CDA (content delivery application) that supports the management of the content once it’s been produced.

What are the benefits of using a CMS?

The benefits of using a CMS include:

  • Content can be quickly produced and distributed
  • Users of all experience levels can create and access content
  • They require little maintenance
  • They’re cost-effective
  • They’re user-friendly

Who is a CMS ideal for?

A content management system is useful if you intend on creating and publishing a large amount of bespoke content as part of your eLearning strategy. This may be useful if you need to produce long-form content such as guides or detailed user notes.

This training should also not require employees to take any kind of quiz or assessment, and due to certain limitations with a CMS, the business won’t be required to monitor how employees engage with the training, unlike with an LMS.

How are LMSs and CMSs similar?

The main similarity between LMS and CMS systems is that both are used to create and manage content. To do this, LMSs and CMSs allow users to have different levels of accessibility and permissions.

However, that is where the similarities end. There are several key differences between an LMS and CMS which means one may be more suited to your business than the other.

What are the differences between LMSs and CMSs?

While both are used to create and manage content, the differences between LMS and CMS systems mean you’re more likely to prefer the features of one, depending on what your business requires.

The major difference between the two is that an LMS is specifically designed to be used as an eLearning platform. Meanwhile, because a CMS has a wide range of features related to the creation of content they do overlap.

As a result, an LMS is more capable of utilizing a variety of learning tools and methods, including quizzes, webinars, forums, and even gamification. These all contribute to a more engaging learning experience.

An LMS also enables administrators to produce more accurate and detailed reports, enabling you to analyze the effectiveness of training and the ROI.

Can you use an LMS and a CMS together?

While an LMS and a CMS can be used by your business, you won’t necessarily want to use both to deliver your eLearning. If eLearning is a big part of your learning and development strategy, you will find that an LMS provides more of the features you will need.

Which system is right for your business?

A CMS is a great tool for organizing and publishing content. This makes it an ideal tool for businesses that produce a large volume of content that needs to be accessed by multiple people throughout the business.

However, due to certain limitations and having not been specifically designed as an eLearning platform, it may not provide you with all the functionality you need. If accessibility, engagement, and reporting are required, then an LMS is likely the better option for your business.

Where can you find out more?

The effectiveness of your business’ eLearning strategy can depend on whether you choose the right system for your needs. 

Check out our blog posts on the pros and cons of an LMS, and whether you are ready for an LMS at your organization for more insight.

For more information on how Go1 can help your business with its learning and development strategy, with our wide range of eLearning courses, book a demo with a member of our team today.

Go1 helps millions of people in thousands of organizations engage in learning that is relevant, effective and inspiring.
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