You must have heard about the terms E-learning and Learning Management System (LMS), most probably from a student or an employee who just got familiar with the term ‘work/study-from-home’. With the pandemic hitting the world, the online learning industry has received an unimaginable boost! LinkedIn’s fourth Annual 2020 Workplace Learning Report showed that around 57% of Learning and Development (L&D) pros increased their time spent on online learning programs over the last three years.
The pandemic has blurred the lines between classrooms and homes, beds have become workplaces, and the training modules include laptop screens! E-learning and LMS became part and parcel of imparting knowledge. Almost everyone uses both platforms, but not many understand their differences. To save you from investing in the wrong option, we took the liberty of explaining the similarities and difference between e-learning and LMS so that you can make a suitable and cost-effective choice as per your requirements.
What is E-learning?
The online learning system as a whole comes under e-learning. It can range from a child learning a rhyme from some YouTube video to a college student gaining technical knowledge about his course and extends to an employee being trained to gain a particular skill.
To impart such learning in a streamlined manner, learning materials such as online courses are designed and then delivered or shared with students or learners via an e-learning platform. Though it is essential to be aware of the common e-learning issues and challenges to make the best use of this up-and-coming learning methodology.
What are E-learning Platforms?
Technically speaking, e-learning platforms are web-based applications that provide administrators and learners with tools and resources to design and deliver courses. You may have heard about Google Classrooms and Adobe Captivate. These are examples of leading e-learning platforms being used in every household or office.
Talking about features that an e-learning platform has, some basic features include mobile learning access, managed and accessible training content library, customised tracking, reporting system and user management.
What are the Benefits of E-learning Platforms?
Though both online learning and traditional forms of teaching have their own sets of pros and cons, online learning or e-learning has the edge over traditional forms of learning in innumerable ways. Some of them are listed below:
- It has no limits in terms of place or time. All you need is a digital device and an internet connection, and you are good to go!
- Since it is not limited to a particular premise, anyone can access it from anywhere. The section of learners who cannot commute to a designated place can leverage this feature.
- It is cost-effective and comparatively cheaper than in-person teaching.
- It promotes collaboration through multiple platforms.
- E-Learning is time efficient as it saves time taken for commuting to a place, and learners can attend classes conveniently.
- Videos create more impact than written material; thus, online learning is more effective.
What is Learning Management System (LMS)?
An LMS is a software application or SaaS (Software as a Service) that gives technically designed space to users where they can create, design and deliver their e-learning course content, learning modules or instructional materials. The accessibility and distribution are managed through a website or a mobile app.
In addition, an LMS provides users with more functionality when designing and managing course materials such as administration, documentation, analytics and tracking of the whole learning process.
Like an e-learning platform, an LMS is supposed to have some basic features apart from organised content delivery which majorly includes training content support, progress tracking of the learner, reports and analytics, personalised learning path, etc. Blackboard and Matrix are widely used learning management systems both in the academic and corporate areas where employers use them to provide specific training to their employees.
What are the Benefits of a Learning Management System?
Learning management system benefits are not just limited to the educational forum but extend to corporates too! Employers use it widely to create effective online learning programs.
Among the diverse benefits that can be derived from an LMS, a few are listed below:
- LMS helps in onboarding, engaging and holding on to employees in a more comprehensive manner.
- In the academic field, LMS is proven to be the most effective. With a carefully designed course curriculum, each student’s progress can be tracked via LMS’s analytics and tracking feature.
- Learning Management Systems help in knowledge retention, and the Research Institute of America has an analysis to support this. The mentioned study reports that learning through LMS increases retention rates by 60%.
- LMS is very cost and time effective. Observation and statistics show beyond doubt that the learnings through LMS are more effective and easier to consume.
What is the Difference Between E-Learning and LMS?
Though prima facie e-learning and LMS may look similar, fundamentally, it can be said that e-learning is a part of LMS. There are certain aspects where both tools differ which are listed below:
1. Functionality and Flexibility
LMS is more comprehensive as compared to an e-learning platform. Where e-learning platforms are focused on merely hosting online courses, which include basic support for adding and storing content, LMS offers a wide range of features. File sharing, data storage, retrieving information, message capability, collaboration and integration with several other platforms are some attributes that are generally not available in an e-learning platform.
E-learning platforms are generally hosted while LMS is installed on specific servers. Consequently, e-learning platforms enjoy a high degree of scalability and flexible access controls. Where an LMS can be accessed within a specific zone (within the premise it has been installed), an e-learning platform can be accessed from anywhere. All you need is an internet connection, and you’re all set!
3. Time to Set up and Market
Talking about the ease of setting up, e-learning wins the game. LMS requires ample time to set up and integrate with other applications. Due to the complexities involved in the integration, it becomes mandatory to hire technical experts.
On the other hand, e-learning platforms are hassle-free when it comes to integrating with an existing website or application. It requires minimal effort for an e-learning platform to set up and get live for usage.
Pricing is a significant factor when choosing between an e-learning platform and an LMS. Essentially, the former is cheaper since it is less heavy in features and provides more scalability. On the contrary, LMS comes with various integration options and features, which gives it power over the e-learning platform but comes at a higher cost too!
If you are only determined to create and present online learning material without any customisation, an e-learning platform is an option to go for. It will suffice your needs at a lesser cost.
While dealing with technology and internet-driven platforms, technical support is a vital aspect to look for. For every issue that may arise during usage, constant support is needed.
You don’t wish to be left on hold on calls when you face any technical issues. LMS allows you to submit queries and a proper ticketing system. This characteristic is almost missing with e-learning platforms or, if available, is not so robust!
6. Tracking, Reporting, and Analytics
LMS is more advanced than an e-learning platform in terms of tracking, reporting and analytics features.
For instance, a student learning through an LMS will have a customised learning path which will be calculated based on the training video and assignments he has completed. And in the same manner, it can be ascertained how a particular class of students is performing, say, in a subject. Fetching such complex analytics is not possible in an e-learning platform since it has a much simpler setup.
What are the Similarities Between E-learning and LMS?
Though E-learning and LMS differ in essential features, some attributes are common in both platforms. Some of such features are:
1. User Management
You can manage user-specific attributes on both platforms. User management may include having different course databases for different users depending on their choice and curriculum.
2. Mobile Accessibility
Mobile accessibility is a feature that is in most demand as users find it comparatively easier and more comfortable to watch and exercise course material through mobiles rather than computers or laptops. Both platforms are providing this feature.
3. Multimedia Content
Content imparted through E-learning and LMS is available in multiple formats, including slides, videos, audio recordings, pdfs, pictures, graphics etc.
The choice between an e-learning platform and LMS falls entirely on your requirements. Given the features, learning management systems are best suited if you aim to build and sustain a very professional platform that delivers content. On the contrary, if your concerns are related to creating and managing content, an e-learning platform can be your alternative to opt. Further, there are multiple software solutions where you can integrate features of both platforms if one cannot cater to your needs.
Want to further expand your knowledge span in the education industry? Learn about the difference between ed-tech and e-learning.