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A learning management system (LMS) is software for delivering, tracking and managing training/education. LMSs range from systems for managing training/educational records to software for distributing courses over the Internet and offering features for online collaboration. In many instances, corporate training departments purchase LMSs to automate record-keeping as well as the registration of employees for classroom and online courses. Student self-service (e.g., self-registration on instructor-led training), training workflow (e.g., user notification, manager approval, wait-list management), the provision of on-line learning (e.g., Computer-Based Training, read & understand), on-line assessment, management of continuous professional education (CPE), collaborative learning (e.g., application sharing, discussion threads), and training resource management (e.g., instructors, facilities, equipment), are dimensions to Learning Management Systems.

Most LMSs are web-based to facilitate access to learning content and administration. LMSs are used by regulated industries (e.g. financial services and biopharma) for compliance training. It is also used by educational institutions for enhance and support classroom teaching and offering courses to larger population of learners across the globe.

Some LMS providers include "performance management systems," which encompass employee appraisals, competency management, skills-gap analysis, succession planning, and multi-rater assessments (i.e., 360 degree reviews).

For the commercial market, some Learning and Performance Management Systems include recruitment and reward functionality.

LMSs are based on a variety of development platforms, like Java EE based architectures, Microsoft .NET, PHP, and usually employ the use of a database back-end. Some systems are commercially developed and have non-free software licenses or restrict access to their source code, Other systems are free and open-source and frequently used. Other than the most simple, basic functionality, LMSs cater to, and focus on, different educational, administrative, and deployment requirements.
LMSs can cater to different educational, administrative, and deployment requirements. While an LMS for corporate learning, for example, may share many characteristics with an LMS, or virtual learning environment, used by educational institutions, they each meet unique needs. The virtual learning environment used by universities and colleges allow instructors to manage their courses and exchange information with students for a course that in most cases will last several weeks and will meet several times during those weeks. In the corporate setting a course may be much shorter, completed in a single instructor-led or online session.

The characteristics shared by both types of LMSs include:

- Manage users, roles, courses, instructors, facilities, and generate reports
- Course calendar
- Learning Path
- Student messaging and notifications
- Assessment/testing capable of handling student pre/post testing
- Display scores and transcripts
- Grading of coursework and roster processing, including waitlisting
- Web-based or blended course delivery

Characteristics more specific to corporate learning, which sometimes includes franchisees or other business partners, include:

- Autoenrollment (enrolling Students in courses when required according to predefined criteria, such as job title or work location)
- Manager enrollment and approval
- Boolean definitions for prerequisites or equivalencies
- Integration with performance tracking and management systems
- Planning tools to identify skill gaps at departmental and individual level
- Curriculum, required and elective training requirements at an individual and organizational level
- Grouping students according to demographic units (geographic region, product line, business size, etc.)
- Assign corporate and partner employees to more than one job title at more than one demographic unit