Clarifying Moodle and CMS, LMS, VLE, and LCMS

Moodle continues to be referred to by a number of acronyms that may cause confusion. You've probably heard of few (if not all) of these terms and may be wondering about the differences among them. In the following list, I describe each and highlight the similarities and differences:

  • VLE: A virtual learning environment is a software system designed to support teaching and learning in a form distinct from a managed learning environment (MLE), which focuses on management. A VLE usually uses Internet browsers to deliver instructions and assessment tools, such as quizzes. More recent VLEs include wikis, blogs, and RSS.
  • LMS: A learning management system (LMS) is a software system that enables the management and delivery of online and instructor-led training content to learners. Most LMSs are Web-based to facilitate anytime, anyplace, and any pace access to learning content and administration. You will see LMS and VLE used interchangeably.
  • CMS: A content management system (CMS) is a repository for data, where data can be defined as any type of file, such as documents, movies, sound, pictures, and so forth. CMSs are frequently used for storing, controlling, revising, collaboratively sharing, and publishing documentation. Usually a CMS serves as a central repository. This is most likely the oldest term used to refer to software like Moodle.
  • LCMS: A learning content management systems (LCMS) combines the powers of CMS and LMS. An LCMS is defined ...

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