What is a learning management system (LMS)?  An LMS is a plugin for WordPress (and other website builders).  It adds functionality to your website.  There are three main components to most learning management systems.  Some plugins will automatically come with all of the components.  Others will require add-ons or additional plugins.  (In most cases, the add-ons are really just plugins.)

The three main components are an organizational framework, interactive elements, and a “walled garden”.

LMS Structure

Organizational Framework

A good LMS will provide a way for you to organize your web pages into lessons and topics.  A lesson can contain text, images, and even video.  These individual pages can be combined into courses.

Interactive Elements

A good LMS will allow you to create “quizzes”.  You don’t have to create a pop-up quiz like the ones you dreaded in school.  Think of quizzes as a way to interact with your students to make sure they are understanding what they have been reading or watching.  You can also use the quiz function to poll your visitors, help them make choices, or gather information from them.

In addition to the quiz function, a good LMS will provide a way for you to send e-mails to your visitors.  You can customize a message to be sent when a student completes a particular lesson.  You can also send reminders if a student has signed up for a course, but has stopped taking lessons for a week.  These interactions help you stay in touch with your visitors and build a relationship with them.

“Walled Garden”

An good learning management system will provide a way for you to limit access to your web pages.  This functionality is similar to a membership plugin, but generally goes further.  For example, if you have a course, you can make sure that students can only take the lessons in order.