In recent years, particularly if you are involved in education in some way, you have probably heard the term LMS or Learning Management System. 

You may think that Learning Management Systems are a relatively recent thing, but the first LMS was actually developed in 1924 by Sidney Pressey. His “teaching machine” consisted of two windows. One that showed you the question, the other where you gave the answer.

Things have obviously changed quite a bit since 1924 with developments in technology, computers, the internet and education.  The way that adults are training and learning is changing also. 

What Actually is an LMS?

An LMS is basically a way of managing and delivering e-learning courses and online courses.

E-learning courses are educational courses that taught using electronic resources, such as computers and tablets.

Online learning is learning that can be accessed online through the internet and Wi-Fi.

So, e-learning is the learning itself, whereas the LMS is the platform through which the e-learning is presented.

The LMS can be described as a software platform or as a web-based technology.

You can think of it as being similar to a library as it is as large repository of information, where education providers can store and track information.

But it is so much more than a library. It is not just a place to store information, but an interactive platform, where students and education providers can engage and learn.

An LMS can be used to –

  • Plan
  • Implement
  • Assess

There are different types of LMS available and what they do really depends on what the educator wants them to do.

They can be used on a –

  • Computer
  • Laptop
  • Mobile phone
  • Tablet

In simple terms, what does that mean?

An LMS allows a course provider or teacher to –

  • Create content
  • Deliver content
  • Monitor student participation
  • Assess student performance

An example

Creation - Educator A wants to create a course on genetics. They write and develop the course.

Deliver – Educator A uploads the Genetics course to the LMS, so that it is available to their students.

Monitoring – Educator A can now look at what their students are up to. Are students looking at the course notes? Are they taking part in quizzes? Are they submitting assignments? Etc.

Assess – Educator A can now see how the student(s) are doing in terms of their assignments and work they need to complete.

An LMS can also help course providers with more than one tutor to see that the tutors are all marking the work and responding to queries in an allotted time.

Interactive Features

Many LMS also have interactive features such as –

  • Discussion pages
  • Video conferencing
  • Student forums

These can be useful as they enable the student to get answers in real time or quickly.

It also means that the student is more engaged in their learning, as their learning is interactive. 

What Are LMS 's Used For?

One use is for knowledge management.  Knowledge management refers to the –

  • Collecting
  • Organising
  • Sharing
  • Analysis of information.

However, LMS tend to be used mainly for training, educating and meeting the goals of an organisation.

Therefore, LMS can be used in many different settings –

  • Colleges
  • Universities
  • Schools
  • Online Education Providers
  • Businesses
  • National Government Agencies
  • Local Government Agencies

They can be used to –

  • Educate students in 100 hr short courses , soft skills courses20 hr short courses , online certificates and more
  • Train employees – for example, training employees in different skills and theories to do their job well as part of their on-the-job training.
  • Customer training – for example, if a business deals with new software and technology, they may offer training to customers on how to use their products. This can be a good way to improve the customer’s experience and increase the likelihood of the customer returning to the business in the future.

How Does a LMS Work?

LMS tend to have common features -

Responsive design

  • Students and users should be able to access an LMS from any device – their tablet, laptop, smart phone or desktop. This means that LMS should be flexible and easy to use.
  • The user should be able to download the information, so that they can also access it offline, making it more accessible to users who may struggle with their WiFi availability.
  • It should also be mobile-friendly, displaying the best version available for the user’s device.
  • So that whatever the device the user is using, they should be able to view the LMS in an effective and user-friendly way.

User friendly interface

As well as being displayed to suit the device the user is using, a LMS should have a user friendly interface. This means that the user should be able to navigate the LMS platform easily. It should be easy for the user to move around the LMS and find what they need to find.


Reports and analytics for the Student and Education Provider

The LMS can also help the student see how they are doing. They can view

  • their grades
  • the work they have completed
  • the work they need to complete
  • additional resources etc

The LMS can also provide information for the education provider, such as –

  • specific progress and grades of individual students
  • the grades and progress of a group of students
  • specific training initiative and if they are working effectively or not

Course and asset management

The LMS can enable the education provider to manage their courses and assets, such as eBooks, effectively.

Courses and eBooks can need upgrading at times, so the LMS can enable the education provider to determine when the course or asset was last upgraded, when it next needs upgrading etc.

As well as determining when courses need to be updated, the LMS can also enable the education provider to target courses and assets to create a targeted learning experience.

For example, they may be able to target specific groups of students who need additional support in a topic by providing them with additional resources, eBooks, or lessons.

They can also give students access to particular topics and lessons to suit the student’s individual learning needs.

Support services

The LMS also provides services in other areas, such as administration, tutor support and assessments.

For example –

  • Administrative functions – assessing student absence figures, determining if students are progressing quickly enough, answering administrative questions from students and tutors
  • Tutor support – students can ask questions of their tutors, contribute to forums etc.
  • Assessments – The system can be used to determine how a student is doing overall in terms of their assessments and grades.
  • Automation

Some tasks can be repetitious and tedious. For example, group enrolments. These can be automated via the LMS.

Types of LMS

There are different types of LMS.

Cloud Based

A cloud-based system is one that is hosted via the internet. It has substantial benefits -

  • The cloud-based LMS is one that can be more affordable for educators setting up an LMS for the first time.
  • As well as being cheaper in some ways, it can also be updated more easily as it is conducted online. Software updates are often automatic.
  • Cloud LMS are also thought to be more user-friendly for people who are not IT experts.
  • Cloud LMS are usually more mobile-friendly, which is useful for students who want to study in multiple locations, such as their mobile phone, tablet, computer etc.
  • The student and educator can access the LMS from anywhere, using a username and password.


A self-hosted LMS is basically one where the user must either –

  • Install their LMS software on their hard drive
  • Access it via their server

A self-hosted LMS can give the creator greater control, enabling them to customise their LMS

BUT they can be more costly as

  • The creator has to maintain the system themselves
  • The creator must pay for updates, which can be more costly than cloud based LMS.

Desktop LMS

A desktop LMS is one that is installed on the student or educator’s desktop.

The desktop LMS can still be accessible on more than one device.

Mobile LMS

A mobile LMS is one that is accessible wherever the individual is, through a mobile device. These are useful as they enable the user to engage with the LMS wherever they are.

There is overlap between the different types. For example, a cloud based LMS can also be a mobile LMS.

Benefits of an LMS

LMS have many benefits for many different organisations, not just education providers.

Saving Time

  • Saving Time for Students – LMS can save time for students. They do not have to travel to reach their learning. They can study anywhere in the world, at a time that suits them.
  • Some students may find it difficult to travel due to distance, mobility issues etc, so using an LMS means that they can access the course anywhere to suit them.
  • Saving Time for the Educational Establishment – The LMS can save staff time for the educational establishment. For example, the automation of repetitive tasks.

Cutting Costs

Using an LMS can cut down on costs for the education provider.  If educators are working from home or at a set location, there is reduced travel costs. The materials are online, so there are also reduced costs for books and other materials as they are available electronically.  Training days and face to face days may no longer be required, so this reduces costs for the payment of teachers and other staff, as well as the hire of a training space.

Effective Training

  • Streamlined - The LMS can provide a streamlined training process taking the student from the start to the finish of the course in an effective way.
  • Easily Accessible – Using an LMS means that the course is easily accessible for the student. They can access the course anywhere as long as they have WiFi. If not, they can download the information so that they can study offline also.
  • Centralised Learning – The learning is centralised for the student. They can access all of their learning in one spot – the LMS
  • The student can study anywhere, at any time to suit them.

One Stop Shop

As well as providing a centralised place for the students learning, the LMS also provides centralised access for tutors and administrators. It is a one stop shop for them to add courses, update them, monitor progress etc.

Easy to Update Content

It is easy for course providers to update content. They simply upload a new document and it is instantly available to their students and staff. This is much more effective than having to print off  documents and send them out to the relevant people by email or post.

Technology Leverage

Training leverage is linked to a business’s goals and objectives. Using technological leverage, like LMS, a business can ensure that their staff are training ready for the future by engaging in their training and making the training interesting for their target audience.

Customisable Brand Image

LMS can be customised to present the image of the education provider using the LMS. 

Using an LMS

ACS Distance Education works to ensure that our courses are up to date.

We also develop new courses all of the time.

This makes using an LMS effective for us. We can update our courses and add new courses, making them available instantly for our affiliates and students.

We have developed our own LMS platform , which is also available for our affiliates to use to resell our courses.

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What our clients say

We've been working with ACS over the course of the last three years. Being able to mix and match content to suit our students' needs has been extremely useful. With their material in combination with our own in house tutor service we have been able to provide a complete online learning service which has helped us expand our student cohort and advance our teaching techniques! We are thankful that we have had them as a partner throughout our time in the industry and look forward to many more years of growth together.

Jason T - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

ACS Distance Education have been fantastic to work with over our first 12 months as a start-up online short education affiliate.
They provided immense support in the foundation period ensuring we setup the best support mechanisms for students and engaging quality tutors.
ACS have continued to be receptive to feedback and promptly moved to make improvements wherever required.

David C - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

Having access to ACS' extensive library of digitalised education content has allowed us to scale our business quickly and efficiently. Their LMS is easy to access and manage, whilst also providing the consumer (student) with a professional and easy to use experience. John and Kate have always been a pleasure to work with and are quick to provide support when it is required."

Andrew O - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

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