LMS - Academic VS Corporate

Oct 06, 2012

Our company is evaluating a LMS for our company.  We are now leaning toward a vendor that is bidding for the project has a lot of experience in building e-learning for elementary schools and such. This is a custom-built LMS.

It might sound weird how would an academic LMS would fit in a corporate setting. However, looking at just the features along, we can't find any key differences. 

I am very new to the LMS area and I wonder if there is anything we might overlook. We do not want to be in a position where later in the future we find that there are features not supported by the LMS we choose. 

8 Replies
mashrur nabi

Try to be careful with a feature by feature comparison as on paper they will all seem very similar.

For example, a lot of LMS providers advertise SCORM or AICC compliance, but when it comes to practical use its a pain. A lesson learned for us was that due to cross scripting and our security requirements, we had to adopt AICC tracking.

Do not rush into getting a corporate LMS ( we had asked our potential vendors to run a prototype with our use case scenarios, over a one year period assessment). This allowed us to see and assess how the systems would perform with real scenarios.

The best advice I can give is, if you have a vision of where you see your learning organization and see what platform will be able to grow with your needs. 

Bruce Graham

Hi William, and welcome to the Heroes Community.

I would "second" what Mash says above, and add, make sure that you can get OUT of any contract.

The LMS market is flooded with systems, see as many as you can, and do long-term tests to see that they can actually meet your needs, and your needs WILL change as you develop.

Ask every one if they are Tin-Can Compliant, or have plans to be. If they go blank, or ask you to explain, then they are not at the cutting-edge, and you should consider whether they are able to provide a future-proof product, as Tin-Can is the way things are moving.

Hope this helps.


Bruce Graham


Not sure about specific academic LMS requirements, as have not worked with them, however, for corporate....


In a European role I held, we treated the production and delivery of elearning to 14000 almost exclusively as an "audit of skills", so we needed to know (initially) consumption metrics that were useful to the business.

Our US HQ masters were almost completely focused on "electronic bums on seats...", (as they were trying to prove their project was a success). We wanted to know useful statistics, such as "Which country, by % of population, is the most prepared for the launch of product x?".

We wanted to know things like "What's the average time taken/number of attempts, ranked by country to get to "Completed" on courses or "Passed" on tests?. That gave us the data to ask "Why?" - perhaps there was a bigger problem going on for those lower down the list?"

"97 courses consumed 2 days after launch, 200 courses consumed last week, 350 this week!" - who really gives a damn? That type of reporting proves NOTHING, and does NOTHING to help the learning department become a respected part of business. Would the Board of Directors start a project based on your reports, or immediately forget them? If it's the latter, then you are running the wrong reports, they have no real interest for the people that matter.

Ask LMS suppliers...(and I've spoken to a few in my time...!) to show you a sample of their default reports. See if they matter or not.

All the data was there, we just needed them to give us access to the correct reporting tools. Make sure you can EASILY get your own data back out of any system, in a way that makes sense. Define your EXACT needs before buying a shipload of add-ons and extra reporting tools.


We designed the system so that we could send a compelling email from someone respected which contained a link. That link started a course. One click. All the security/single-sign-on etc. happened in the background. If people have to do 8 clicks to start a course, you will have lost them before you start. Make sure that your LMS is almost an "invisible" part of your infrastructure - it is just a delivery mechanism, not a success story in its own right.

Hope these are a couple of things that help the thought process, and hope someone from the Academic side can chime in.


Bob S

Hi William,

To add some more differences....

Job Roles/Paths

One thing many corporate LMS's allow for is the ability to map content against job roles or learning paths. For example, if someone wants to be a "Account Level III", they might have a certain learning path of courses and experiences that the LMS can track. This is far less common in the academic world.

Learning Portal / As-needed References

In the corporate world, many LMS's have embraced the concept of a Learning Portal with lots of job aid, news feed, just-in-time content, etc. This is happening in academia but at a slower pace from what I see. You may wish to speak with the LMS providers about these capabilities.

Social/Peer Learning

Oddly enough, this seems to be an area where many academic LMS implentations seem to be ahead of the corporate world. The social/peer capablitilies in these LMSs are fully defined and have an established track record of best practices.

Hope these help,


Bruce Graham


No engagement will increase, with ANY type of LMS, if the content is not relevant to the learner, providing a business or personal benefit. I have corporate clients who think, for example, that "gamification" is pointless, and will NEVER have it enabled, yet we have great ROI as the courses are short, text-based (!), yet show their salespeople how to make more sales and commission. The only area of social learning, (for example), is that they can see who makes the most commission,  (on a dashboard, not the LMS), and it becomes competitive.

"...engagement rate of the employees will increase" Be very careful making statements like this, as they are very often disproven in reality. I appreciate that you are posting on "behalf of" Paradiso, however, I would argue that statements like this often do not come from business/training department experience...the LMS is just a delivery tool, no more IMHO.

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