A learning management system can play a major role in larger corporations and educational institutions in creating and delivering course content, administration of courses, and management of the course content.
While more ad-hoc systems may be used for this purpose, a full-fledged learning management system is favored by more formal training environments for its broader scope. In addition to delivery of the online class, learning management systems also play a role in managing, organizing, and streamlining the actual administration of online classes. In that respect, a full learning management system goes beyond presentation in its scope.
For the user who merely wants to present an occasional class, and who may already be skilled in the area of classroom administration, a learning management system may not be needed. Web conferencing systems, along with some ordinary presentation software such as PowerPoint, can make a very effective online class, and these are excellent tools in the hands of a skilled presenter.
However, for organizations that host frequent classes, classroom administration may be even more time-consuming than creating the presentation. A classroom presenter will ideally have set out specific goals to achieve with each class presentation, and good administration calls for tracking those goals. Although there may be a subjective element in deciding when a class is successful, ultimately the corporation or educational institution delivering the courses needs more than that. Solid metrics are required to justify the expense, and to fine-tune the delivery to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Setting these goals, and then afterwards tracking them and reporting on them, is the domain of a learning management system.
The notes, files, and documents that make up the foundation of a class can be maintained informally if there is just one class involved; but managing course content for multiple courses and hundreds of students requires a formalized system. This too, is the role of a learning management system. Besides the actual content of the course, including the slides, pictures, reports, and scripts, other files may also require careful management. If the course is being promoted online for example, there may be multiple advertisements involved, as well as a system for extending invitations and making reservations. For a corporation that may be hosting its own training sessions, there is further administration to be done, including arranging and tracking for travel time and travel expenses, and crediting each attendee for attendance in their personnel files.
Technology often involves the re-use of objects. In programming, development platforms for example give developers easy access to features that have already been developed. A learning management system may also further the cause of education by allowing instructors to re-use individual learning objects.
A re-usable learning object may be a small piece of a course, such as a single document or a learning module, or it may be an entire class that has been recorded and archived for further use. A learning management system, as well as most web conferencing systems, offers a session recording feature that allows individual classes to be archived in this way, making it possible to create a larger resource library that can be managed and accessed at each learner’s convenience.