VLE, CMS, LMS or LCMS?

An important aspect of an e-learning project it the rollout. Once your learning material is produced, you have to make it available to the learners. The question to be asked is the following: how to display your resource online? To answer this question, you will have to assess your needs of course administration, resource sharing, communication and collaboration. This will help you to choose what system is right for you: VLE, CMS, LMS or LCMS. But what is the difference between these strange acronyms?

VLE

(Virtual Learning Environments)

A VLE is a software system designed to help tutors or teachers in the management of educational courses for their students. It is used by universities and colleges to help lecturers to create a course website with a minimum of technical skills. It facilitates communication, assessments and document sharing (e.g. textbooks). People can also share and build together a learning resource helped by some tools such as wiki, blogs, RSS, etc. VLE is a good choice if you are an enthusiastic lecturer who wants to post a terrific video relevant to your last class about “risk management in oil and gas project development”.

Examples: Blackboard, WebCT, Moodle,…

CMS

(Content Management System)

A CMS is a system used to manage the content of a website. It allows the creation and administration of online content by several people: pages are composed when requested by a user’s browser. A CMS handles modification, and removal of information resources which are stored in a database. CMS is a good choice if you are working with some people on a webzine and if you want to check what your friend Dany wrote in his last article about “the impact of presidential bioethics commissions” before publishing it online.

Examples: Joomla, Dotclear, or WordPress (that is used to publish what you are reading!)

LMS

(Learning Management System)

A LMS automates the administration of learning programs within an organization. It allows you to deliver, to track and to manage training. LMS is a good choice if you are a bit of a stalker and if you want to track the progress of your learners and to automatically send them an email if they did not complete the course.

Examples: Elearning manager, Moodle, or Dokeos,…

LCMS

(Learning Content Management System)

This software application (or set of applications) is a multi-user environment where learning developers can author, approve, publish, and manage a learning content. It has in the same time the characteristics of a LMS (administrative and management) and a CMS (content creation and personalized assembly). LCMS is a good choice if you wrote a course in French that will be translated in Dutch and republished for another audience.

Examples: Claroline, e-doceo solutions, Ganesha,…

To sum up, it can be said that VLE can be a good complement to on-site training, within a blended-learning context. A CMS is more content orientated and will allow you to easily update and change your resources. A LMS is good to manage the activity of the learners since it has a real pedagogical capital gain. A LCMS will be perfect to manage content (a LMS cannot create and manipulate courses).

Several open-source, public and commercial platforms can help you in your project. Now, it is up to you to decide what system matches your need. But be careful: open-source solutions are not necessarily free since you might have to pay for experts, servers, management, etc.