How much do universities pay for LMS

Learning Management Systems (LMS)

The task of an LMS is often to map certain learning structures. Courses can be created, materials uploaded, communication tools activated and students activated for these elements. Critically, it can be noted that this approach also limits the design of learning, since it is not the learner himself, but the teacher or the university that determines the conception and organization of the environment.

If the focus of such a system is on the creation, archiving, reuse and distribution of the learning content, it is also called a Learning Content Management System (LCMS). However, the distinction between a content management system (CMS), a learning management system (LMS) and a learning content management system (LCMS) is not clear-cut. The following definition of a learning platform, which emerges from Schulmeister (2003), appears helpful:

In contrast to mere collections of teaching scripts or hypertext collections on web servers, software systems that have the following functions are called learning platforms or learning management systems:

  • A user administration (login with encryption)
  • Course management (courses, content management, file management)
  • Assignment of roles and rights with differentiated rights
  • Communication methods (chat, forums) and tools for learning (whiteboard, notebook, annotations, calendar, etc.)
  • The presentation of the course content, learning objects and media in a network-compatible browser.

According to this definition, the possibility of creating learning content yourself without programming knowledge is not a mandatory part of an LMS. Quite a few of these systems, however, have more or less mature tools for so-called authoring of the creation of teaching materials. As a rule, common task types such as multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, drag & drop, etc. are integrated here for the creation of exams and tests.

The following diagram ideally illustrates the architecture of an LMS:

Practically all learning management systems are web-based. To use both as a course author and as a course participant, all you need is an internet connection and a normal web browser such as Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer. Corresponding apps for mobile devices are also available for some systems. Certain content such as B. Multimedia files can sometimes require the installation of a browser plug-in.

Installation and administration of an LMS are technically demanding tasks and are usually carried out by the university computer center in the university sector.

Additional information

  • You can find compact presentations of practical information on various learning management systems in our test reports.
  • The Association of Centers for Communication and Information Processing in Teaching and Research ZKI e.V. has started a doodle survey on the spread of LMS in Germany, in which around 180 universities have participated so far. Accordingly, Moodle, ILIAS and Stud.IP are the most widely used systems.
  • Experience reports on the use of learning management systems in universities can be found in Bett & Wedekind (2003). It is reported here, inter alia. about the use of Clix (University of Freiburg), WebCT (Virtual Campus Switzerland) and ILIAS (University of Cologne).
  • The article Free Resources for Choosing an LMS provides assistance in choosing an LMS.
  • In a long text, especially for the Moodle learning management system, you will find specific practical information on online support for courses.
  • We have put together additional literature on the subject of learning management systems for you in the Materials section.
  • The portal opensourceCMS offers numerous demo installations for free learning management systems. Interested parties can get a first impression of the systems and an insight into their administration without having to install them themselves.
  • The Educause Review describes in a detailed article how the systematic selection of the right LMS for the university can succeed.
Last change: 04/22/2016

Print preview

create a PDF (2016). Learning Management Systems (LMS). Last changed on 04/22/2016. Leibniz Institute for Knowledge Media: Accessed on May 24th, 2021


Which functions does an LMS offer and for which application scenarios is it suitable?

Advantages and disadvantages

What are the advantages and disadvantages of an LMS?


What does an LMS cost? Open source or commercial solution?