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What Is an LMS (Learning Management System)?

What is a Learning Management System

Learning management systems (LMSs) have been powering the world of corporate training for years. What started as a teaching machine resembling a typewriter in the early 1920s has now become a must-have platform for businesses and educational institutions everywhere.

In fact, the LMS market is projected to grow from USD 13.38 billion in 2021 to USD 44.49 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 18.7%.

What’s so fascinating about these tools that more and more businesses are adopting them as their staple learning platform? 

To understand this, you need to know what a learning management system is, how it works, the use cases, and what are its top features and benefits.

By the time you’re through with this post, you’ll know all the answers to these questions. You’ll certainly find it informative if you’re new to the concept of an LMS.

So, let’s get right to it.

Learning Management System (LMS): Definition

An LMS is a software application that lets you take charge of all your online learning activities. It enables you to design, deliver, manage, and track online courses and assessments seamlessly.

An LMS is a perfect solution for continuous learning programs in the workplace.

As a modern and smart training solution, LMS platforms are instructor and learner-friendly and help you take full charge of learning. They streamline and accelerate training development and ensure transparency and accountability.

The best part is that they take care of the nuts and bolts of online learning, encompassing the entire employee lifecycle.

Keeping learners engaged is also easy with these tools through multimedia, quizzes, surveys, gamification, collaborative social learning, mobile learning, and learning paths.

Watch: What is a Cloud-Based Learning Management System?

Who Can Use an LMS?

The answer is almost anyone. Those who are engaged in online learning or training programs and looking to streamline the process can take the help of an LMS.

The primary customers or end-users of an online learning management system include:

Businesses of All Sizes

Generally, LMS doesn’t discriminate between businesses on the basis of size. All of them can equally leverage these tools to meet their L&D needs, both in-house and remotely. An LMS does the heavy lifting for you so that you can focus on your core training activities.

Businesses Across Industries

Similarly, LMS software finds usage across all industries, including construction, manufacturing, healthcare, service, non-profits, and government. These sectors primarily use these platforms to administer compliance & safety training,  role-based skills training, awareness programs, and policies and procedures. 

K-12, Colleges, and Universities

Educational institutions rely on these innovative software applications to make learning more efficient and effective. Ease of lesson creation, straightforward administration, insightful assessment, and seamless learner experiences are the main benefits.

Independent Tutors & Coaches

Private tutors and coaching centers can take charge of online learning with an LMS. No juggling administrative tasks with teaching. You can automate most of the tasks in a learning management system.

Consulting Firms

These firms use learning management systems to train their employees on business strategies, compliance, policies, communication skills, managerial skills, etc. Similarly, they use the tools to educate clients who take their services, so that they can get the most out of the services.

Here’s a detailed list of LMS users by industry.

What Is An LMS Used For?

As a highly functional and impactful solution, an LMS has different use cases. They include the following:

New Hire Onboarding

An LMS proves invaluable as an onboarding tool. It provides a centralized platform for course and test assignments, managing learner groups and group admins, and task automation. Also, an LMS makes the onboarding experience consistent, efficient, fast, and effective.

Watch: How to Create an Employee Onboarding Training Program

Ongoing Employee Training & Development

Similarly, you can use an LMS for ongoing employee training & development plans. These solutions let employees engage in continuous learning throughout their careers to upskill themselves. Features like mobile learning, learning paths, microlearning, gamification, and social learning make this possible.

HR Training

Companies can use LMS software to train their HR professionals just like the regular staff. Features such as on-demand self-paced learning work great for busy HR executives. You can use these tools to train human resources on key industrial skills.

Explore these HR training courses.

Sales Enablement

A robust LMS can be an incredible source of knowledge, skills, and resources for your sales team. Standardized training with the help of these platforms can empower salespersons to sell more and sell better.

Watch: How to Master the Art of Selling | Training Course Introduction

Safety & Compliance Training

Safety & compliance training programs such as OSHA, HIPAA, and hazmat are high-stake training with significant implications for employees and businesses. But you can easily train your workforce on these topics and stay compliant with regulations all the time with the help of an LMS. Real-time tracking, due-date reminders, and auto-generated reports make these tools a good choice for mandatory training.

Watch: What Is Compliance Training? Requirements & Benefits

Volunteer Training

Generally, non-profit organizations work with diverse members from all walks of life and experience levels. Managing in-person training at this scale is a huge challenge mainly because of conflicting schedules.

This is another area where you can deploy an LMS to train volunteers with complete flexibility and convenience. You can easily manage learner groups of any class size and assign roles and permissions. Similarly, you can set up multiple admins for ease of training administration.

Sexual Harassment Training

Many states in the U.S. require sexual harassment prevention training, and to deliver it on time and without fail, you can rely on a superior LMS. Whether it is course creation, scheduling, tracking, reporting, reinforcement, or ensuring consistent learning experiences, you can do it all with these tools.

Watch: How to Conduct Employee Sexual Harassment Training in the Workplace

Customer Training

Another common use case of LMS is customer training. Businesses use these solutions to train their customers on products and services. By using an LMS for customer training, you can ensure that customers get the most out of your products and services, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty. An LMS for consulting businesses is an example.

Partner Training

Many organizations use a learning management system to onboard, train, and certify their channel partners, either locally or remotely. It is primarily used to educate partners on the best practices of marketing and selling a product or service. The goal is to develop strategic business relationships with channel partners for growth, expansion, and success.

eLearning or Education

Last but certainly not least, LMS software finds usage in the online learning or education sector. Whether you’re a university professor or an independent teacher/tutor, an LMS can be a reliable assistant. They make learning more accessible and manageable with seamless communication, collaboration, assessments, personalization, and reporting. 

For more LMS use cases, check out these LMS solutions based on uses.

Types of Learning Management System Platforms

There are different types of LMS based on the hosting type, pricing model, source, and use case. Let’s see them one after another.

LMS Types By Hosting

Installed LMS

This type of LMS is installed on a local server and maintained by an in-house team. It entails setup and IT infrastructure maintenance fees.

Web-Based LMS

It is an LMS available on a web browser via the internet. Software updates and maintenance take place online. It incurs just a fraction of the costs of an installed LMS.

Self-Hosted LMS

In the case of a self-hosted LMS, you, as a business or educational institution, are responsible for hosting the LMS yourself. You’re in complete control of the platform, including upgrades.

Cloud LMS

A cloud or SaaS LMS is one where the vendor takes complete responsibility for hosting the LMS for its clients. The vendor owns and manages the IT infrastructure.


Watch: How to Choose the Best SaaS LMS Software

LMS Types By Pricing

Free LMS

Free LMS solutions are for those on a shoestring budget. They come with limited features and suit small organizations with limited learning needs.

Commercial LMS

This class of LMS is suitable for large-scale, commercial training programs. They come with various premium features, including course creation, e-commerce, scalability, and 24/7 support. Such LMSs are more stable and dependable.

LMS Types By Source

Open Source

Any techno-geek will readily understand open-source software products. As a learning management solution, an open-source LMS gives you the liberty to modify and customize the source code. You have more control over data and features.

Closed Source

A closed-source LMS is one with a proprietary code. Only the provider can make changes to the software, not the end-user. It is just like iPhones, which don’t share their original code.

LMS Types By Integration

Integrated LMS

LMSs that support integration with other applications come under this category. You can integrate the LMS with HRIS, payroll systems, marketing platforms, CRMs, and many other popular tools.

Non-Integrated LMS

This type of LMS is just the opposite of the above. They offer built-in core features and don’t support many third-party integrations. They are usually a one-stop solution and work best if those built-in features are all you need.

LMS Types By Use Case

Corporate LMS

Corporate LMS is basically designed for enterprises to train employees, customers, and partners. They can use it to deliver onboarding, skills training, safety & compliance training, and product/service training. Content management, administration, and tracking are among the core features in such an LMS.


Education LMS

This category of LMS is targeted at teachers and educational institutions to help them switch to online learning. Teachers can instruct, assess, and grade students with just one platform. Sometimes, schools and universities use LMS systems to train their staff on policies and procedures or upskill their knowledge.

Now that you know these learning management system examples, let’s move on to the next section.

For more on this, read Top 8 Types of LMS to Power Your E-Learning Programs.

How Does an LMS Work?

Learning management systems take care of the entire training lifecycle – from identifying learning needs to developing, delivering, tracking, and evaluating training programs. Find out how a cloud LMS such as ProProfs works to users’ advantage.

Easily Create Online Courses & Tests

An LMS makes it super easy to create online courses and tests. While you can create these training resources from scratch by uploading your existing material, an LMS with a content library can save you significant time and effort on course development.

 For more information, check out this guide on How to Create an Online Course.

Share Courses & Assessments Any Way You Want

Generally, you can share courses or tests as a link via email. You can also embed them on your website or share them on popular social media platforms.

Watch: How to Share Your Courses With Learners

Train With Virtual Classroom Software

A virtual classroom provides a controlled environment for centralized learning. From here, you can add learners, create learner groups and group admins, share assignments, track progress in real-time, view detailed reports, and issue completion certificates.

To set up your virtual classroom for the first time, watch: How to Set up Your Virtual Classroom in 5 Minutes

Choose From Customization Options

A customizable LMS lets you tailor the platform according to your unique teaching and learning requirements. You can set up rules for:

  • Course availability time
  • Course privacy
  • Data security
  • Access control
  • Notifications
  • Reminders
  • Branding
  • Integrations and more

Along with this, you can choose a preferred language for instruction, set minimum time on a page, enable/disable skipping pages, hide chapters, and enable/disable group discussion.

View Insightful Reports & Analytics

An LMS reporting system auto-generates learning data on instructors’ behalf. More specially, it does the following:

  • Monitor individual & group progress
  • Track completed & pending courses
  • Show the total time taken
  • Identify top performers
  • Show points and scores
  • Help improve online courses

Easily keep track of where your learners are in a course by using an AI LMS. Identify learners who are falling behind schedules and take corrective action. View stats by individuals or groups, and filter reports by day or month.

To learn more about how an LMS works and how to get started, watch these product videos.

19 Key Features in an LMS

Now that you know what is a learning management system, let’s explore some of the compelling features you will find in top-rated LMS software.

1. eLearning Authoring Tool for Rapid Course Creation 

A standard LMS comes with an authoring tool or course builder that enables you to create online courses and tests in just a few minutes. With some LMSs, you have the ability to add multimedia to make your training engaging. For example, you can add audio and video files and upload your existing documents in Word or PDF format.

Watch: What is an eLearning Course Authoring Tool?

2. Professionally Designed Courses to Save Time in Course Creation 

Some LMS providers offer a library of professionally curated courses on various topics ready for deployment. These resources can be used as-is, or you can customize them to suit your specific training needs.


3. Virtual Classroom for Centralized Learning 

Like traditional classrooms, a virtual classroom provides an online learning space where instructors and learners come together. This is one of the most common features you can find in an LMS. It enables you to centrally manage course assignments, learner groups, group admins, announcements, reporting, and more, and train local and remote teams with equal ease.


Watch: How to Set up Your Virtual Classroom in 5 Minutes

4. User and Group Management for Ease of Administration 

With some LMSs, you can easily organize your learners into groups based on their department, role, location, training type, and other criteria. You can also assign group admins to manage each learner group. This simplifies how you manage users and assign courses.

Group admins can perform certain admin tasks on your behalf to ease your workload. This includes adding new learners to a group, sending reminders, viewing and sharing reports, etc.


5. Mobile Learning

Another standard feature you will find in an LMS is mobile learning. It facilitates self-paced learning and helps learners access training materials 24/7 on any portable device. Course participants can learn on the go based on their chosen pace and schedule. In other words, learners can engage in microlearning anytime, anywhere, which adds convenience and boosts retention.


Watch: What Is a Mobile LMS & How Can It Help Train Anytime, Anywhere? 

6. Assessments and Quizzes to Measure Knowledge 

The best LMS solutions have built-in assessments, question banks, and templates to help you with test creation. Assessments help you understand how well your learners have understood a topic. With some LMSs, you can create questions in different formats, automate scoring, prevent skipping questions, enable remote proctoring, and record video responses.

Watch: How to Create an Online Quiz in Under 5 Mins

7. Automation to Simplify Training Administration

This feature in an LMS reduces the number of repetitive tasks that instructors and admins perform. Whether it is self-enrollment or sending out reminders and notifications, you can automate routine tasks like this and focus on managing learning experiences and outcomes.

Watch: How to Set up Reminders and Ensure Course Compliance

8. Collaboration for Group Discussions 

This common feature is present in most learning management systems. It promotes social learning, where learners can clear their doubts and exchange knowledge. With such a tool, you can build a learning community where you can share information in real-time and organize all your questions and answers in one place.

Watch: How to Enable Collaboration & Discussions in Your Course

9. Learning Paths to Offer Need-Based Learning

Learning pathways let you build personalized routes according to the needs of each learner or group. Usually, you can use course bundles to provide structured learning experiences based on certain criteria or orders. These paths show learners the way they should take to achieve clear learning objectives.


10. Gamification to Boost Engagement & Retention

An LMS with gamification features supports game elements such as badges, points, leaderboards, quizzes, flashcards and more. With such tools, you can encourage habit-forming learning systems that make learning fun and interactive. Games bring internal and external rewards and foster healthy competition.


11. Blended Learning to Expand Learning Boundary

One of the best things about an LMS is you can use it for blended learning programs (online and offline learning combined). You can mix technology-enabled online learning with instructor-led face-to-face learning to compensate for each other. Such a hybrid or integrated learning system promotes greater participation and course completion as it is inherently flexible and convenient.

12. SCORM & xAPI Compliance for Software Interoperability

An LMS that supports SCORM and Tin Can ensures it plays well with other compatible software. You can easily import training materials from other eLearning tools that adhere to these technical specifications. Both SCORM and xAPI provide a flexible framework that facilitates seamless communications between different eLearning tools. Training managers can access comprehensive and insightful data in a learning record store (LRS).

Watch: What Is SCORM & How Does It Work?

13. Integrations for Seamless Data Exchange

The software integration aspect of an LMS amplifies the power of these already robust tools. It enables users to exchange data between an LMS and their most used applications. For example, by integrating your LMS with Mailchimp, you can assign online courses to Mailchimp subscribers, send targeted emails to course participants, and sync LMS users’ lists with your email marketing lists.

14. Certification to Keep Learners Motivated

As a form of reward and validation at the end of an eLearning or training program, certificates keep learners motivated. Generally, you can use professionally designed certificates or custom-design them yourself. You can add your logo, preferred colors, participant’s name, date, and signature. You can easily print these course certificates or share them with your learners via email.


15. eCommerce to Sell Courses Easily

A learning management system with eCommerce functionality makes it easy for course creators to monetize their work. Generally, you can sell courses from within the LMSs themselves or your website. You can even add coupons and promotions and set up multiple payment options.

What’s more, a cloud LMS such as ProProfs Training Maker generates advanced sales reports & analytics on items sold, date of purchase, country, buyers’ names, and total earnings, weekly or monthly. You can also download buyer information for marketing purposes.


16. Multilingual to Cater to a World Audience

Today, with most companies targeting customers in all major international markets, there’s always a need to train people in different languages. This is where an LMS with multilingual support proves immensely useful. This feature enables you to easily cater to a worldwide audience and overcome language barriers.


17. Single Sign-On for Ease of Access & Authentication

SSO feature lets you automatically identify users who are already logged onto your website. When you have embedded a course on your website and you have information about users, such as their name, email address & ID, you can automatically pass the information on to the course. This way, learners are automatically identified and they don’t need to enter their credentials each time they take a new course. It eliminates password fatigue, prevents security issues, and saves everybody’s time in user authentication.

18. AI Reporting & Analytics to Track Learner Progress 

As AI-powered learning platforms, some LMS software auto-generate training reports and statistics. This feature in an LMS lets you collect actionable data as and when you want them. These reports show course participation, progress, and completion rates.

View individual and group reports, check where learners spend time and what they skip, and track performance and engagement. 

Watch: How to Analyze Training Course & Quiz Results 

19. White Labeling to Boost Your Brand Visibility 

The white-label feature lets you deliver courses and certificates under your brand name. You can customize them with your brand logo, font, preferred color schemes, theme, and layouts. This helps learners connect better with your training programs and boosts engagement. 

For more on this, read Top 12 Must-Have Features of a Learning Management System (LMS).

8 Benefits of Using an LMS

Learning management systems have been a game-changer for both the education and business sectors. They are instrumental in simplifying, automating, and standardizing how people teach and learn. Here are the top 8 benefits of these solutions.

1. Quick Creation & Update of Courses

Creating and updating online courses is easy with an intuitive learning management system. In most cases, you can do it through a simple drag and drop, no matter the type of material you’re using. This drastically reduces the time you spend developing and modifying your content.

Watch: How to Create Employee Training Courses Online

2. Simplified Training Management

Using a centralized and secure virtual classroom, you can easily manage enrollment, learner groups, group admins, course assignments, reminders, and more. Accessing reports, certification, and custom feedback also become easy under a unified platform.

3. Anytime, Anywhere Learning

Unlike in-person classes, learning in a cloud LMS is not hampered by time and place restrictions. Participants can proceed at their own pace anytime, anywhere, and on any device. This kind of flexible and uninterrupted experience improves learning participation and completion rates.

4. Variety of Training Methods

LMS software supports various training formats, including fully online, blended, synchronous, and asynchronous. You can employ live or recorded webinars, podcasts, mobile learning, gamification, and social collaborative learning. This ensures learners learn according to their styles and preferences.

5. Engaging Learner Experience

Another benefit of using an LMS is it offers several ways to keep learners thoroughly engaged and motivated from start to finish. The ability to pause, save, and resume courses, learn in a language they understand, quizzes, hassle-free LMS logins through SSO, self-enrollment, and personalized learning paths are examples.

6. Training Impact Data

Measuring training progress and outcome is a herculean task, especially if you’re managing hundreds or thousands of participants at a time. But an LMS takes the weight off your shoulders. They provide real-time and actionable insights on training ROI, including comprehension, retention, challenges, gaps, milestones, and the performance of your courses.

This way, you can make data-driven decisions for training improvement.

7. Time & Cost-Saving

You can invest in superior LMS software once and use it for any online training program across your organization. This makes it a cost and time-efficient alternative to traditional classroom sessions, where you have to consider the logistics and remove learners from their productive work. With an LMS, you can simply log in wherever and whenever you wish and take courses and assessments.

8. Continuous Learning Culture

LMS-based training helps build a sustainable culture of learning. When these solutions make training easily manageable, engaging, and available on demand, learners no longer see learning as something to avoid. LMS software provides the tools, resources, and support instructors and learners need at every stage.

Bonus: Here’s what some industry experts think are the real benefits of Learning Management Systems (LMSs).

LMS Licensing and Pricing Models

The final price you pay for an LMS depends on the pricing plan you choose, the number of learners, the features availed, and other factors. It can be either pay per user, pay-as-you-go, subscription-based, or some other model.

There are basically five different pricing or licensing models for an LMS. Providers use one of these models for their software products.

Model How Does It Work? Who Is It Suitable For?
Pay Per Learner You pay a flat fee based on how many learners are signed into the product rather than for simply buying it.
You’re charged irrespective of the usage.
The total price is usually calculated monthly or annually.
The plan is suitable for enterprises that know how many learners they exactly need to train.
Calculating monthly or yearly expenses becomes easier.
Pay Per Active User You’re charged for only users who actively used the LMS during a billing cycle. Businesses that need to train different batches of learners at different times can avail of this plan.
Pay As You Go It is directly linked to your LMS usage pattern. The price increases only with a peak in usage. You aren’t charged for inactive users. It best suits organizations with inconsistent demands for training. As a result, the final bill will fluctuate from one period to another.
Subscription-Based You pay a fixed license fee for a certain period and add as many learners as you want. Generally, the price is tiered based on the features on offer.
You know the total cost upfront and do not have to worry about the number of registered users.
Enterprises with a large number of users can benefit from this plan.
If you know the set of LMS features you need, you can easily settle with a suitable pricing model.
Free or Open Source You don’t pay anything to access the LMS. But you may incur costs in the software’s setup, customization, hosting, and maintenance.
Comes with limited features.
Go for this model if you want the freedom of LMS customization independent of the provider. It gives you features tailored to your specific needs.
However, you need to have your own in-house team and be ready to manage with limited features.

For more on this, read How Much Does LMS Software Cost? Comparison of Pricing Plans.

How to Choose the Best Learning Management System (LMS)

Even as you read this, several new LMS platforms are launched somewhere in the world. But with more solutions, it gets harder for people to pick the right one for their needs. Still, you don’t need to lose hope.

Watch: How to Choose the Best LMS Software for Employee Training

Just keep the following attributes in mind while considering an LMS. These traits are highly valued as they work great for any use case.

Ease of Use

Ideally, the LMS you choose should be intuitive and user-centric. The layout, design, and navigation should be simple and easy. This will ensure that you can implement the tool quickly without spending much time learning the ropes.

Easy Course Creation

Courses are at the heart of any L&D program. Without the right tools, you will take a long time to create them. So, you should be able to develop LMS training courses through drag-and-drop. 

Choose an LMS that allows you to import existing materials through an integrated course builder or provides access to a library of ready-to-use courses.

Virtual Classroom

This is another element to figure in while looking for the best LMS. It can help bring learners and admins together in one place. 

User management, course assignments, assessments, tracking & reporting, and certification – you can do everything via a classroom.


Different LMS users have different training and branding needs depending on their audience type and business plans. 

The LMS you adopt should be flexible enough to customize according to these requirements. Make sure it offers settings for privacy, security, notifications, design, and integrations.

Watch: How to Configure Your Online Course Settings


A quiz-making tool with templates, questionnaires, and other helpful resources should be one of the primary considerations in an LMS. Also, it would be great if the tool had features like anti-cheating settings, preventing question skipping, and automated scoring and grading.

This will make learner assessment easy and quick while keeping your learners engaged with beautifully designed quizzes and tests.



Regular feedback on your course content and instructors is necessary to continuously improve training delivery.

Ideally, you should find in-app surveys and polls in the LMS you choose, to collect immediate feedback on these areas. This will reveal engagement level, learner satisfaction, and the overall effectiveness of your programs.


For any training to be effective, it should be measurable. You should be able to track learning progress in real-time and get actionable data. 

The LMS you choose should offer consolidated reports on individuals and groups to get a complete picture of your learners during and after training.

Here are some help articles on the different types of reports and how to access them.

Customer Support

Never overlook the customer service aspect of an LMS, as it will decide your experience and relationship with it. Go for software that has got your back for after-sales services. They should be available 24/7 through emails, chat, and phone calls.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the learning management system examples?

Some of the best LMS examples of learning management systems include ProProfs LMS, Docebo, eFront, TalentLMS, and iSpring Learn. These are the popular enterprise-level LMSs available on the market. They come with almost all the features users need in such a tool.

Explore a more extensive list of top LMSs here: Best Learning Management Systems (LMS)

How do I implement an LMS & how long does it take?

With a cloud-based LMS, you don’t have to install any software. You just have to log into the LMS portal via the web and access all the features. On the other hand, the self-hosted version is installed and managed locally on your company’s server. In either case, a dedicated customer success team will walk you through the implementation process. The time it takes to implement an LMS varies depending on the complexity of the platform, the size of your organization, and the procedures the vendor follows.

Kick-Start Your Delightful LMS Experience!

Online learning management systems are the backbone of modern workplace training and academic programs. They act as a one-stop solution for training managers, teachers, and learners. Using them, you can streamline and standardize online training for optimal results.

Switch from old-school learning practices to a fully virtual training experience with an LMS. Easily create online courses and assessments and educate employees, partners, customers, and students, in-house or remotely.

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About the author

Michael has more than 10 years of experience in the enterprise software and eLearning industry. He is passionate about online training and exhibits a deep understanding of how organizations can leverage it for success. When not behind the desk, he goes for power walking, reads, and spends time with his daughter.