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13 LMS Types: Learn Differences, Choose Wisely

Discover the diverse types of Learning Management Systems (LMS) available, each with unique features and benefits. Find the perfect fit for your organization's learning needs in this detailed overview

Table of Contents

The role of Learning Management Systems in shaping the educational and training landscape is undeniable.

As online learning becomes increasingly prevalent, the choice of an appropriate LMS has become crucial for educational institutions, corporations, and various organizations.

This article introduces you to 13 different types of LMS, each offering unique features and capabilities to cater to varied learning environments and objectives.

From web-based platforms to integrated systems, and from open-source solutions to enterprise-level offerings, we'll explore the diverse range of LMS options available.

This guide is designed to provide insights into the strengths and considerations of each type, helping you navigate the complex world of LMS and choose a system that best fits your specific needs and goals. (Read our guide: LMS Evaluation Checklist: How to Choose the Best Learning Management System)

Types of LMS

Social Learning LMS

LMS Types
Teachfloor Social Learning LMS

Social Learning LMS platforms leverage the power of community and collaboration in the learning process.

They mimic social media interfaces, making them intuitive and engaging for users. Key features include discussion forums, where learners can engage in intellectual discussions; collaborative tools, which allow learners to work together on projects; and social media integration, enabling sharing of resources and experiences.

This approach fosters a learning culture where knowledge is not just consumed but also created and shared among peers, leading to a more enriching learning experience.

It's particularly effective in settings where brainstorming, problem-solving, and group learning are key components of the educational process.

Social Learning LMS also provides analytics to track engagement and collaboration levels, helping educators and trainers to tailor their approach based on learner interactions.

Social Learning LMS Example:

  • Teachfloor
  • Eduflow
  • 360 Learning

Installed LMS

As the name implies, this software is installed on your server and premises. It’s one of the most secure types of LMS for companies because they can store their database locally and easily prevent data breaches.

However, the highlight of this type of LMS is that organizations can configure every part of their software.

Furthermore, companies can easily integrate an installed LMS with authentication systems, CRM, or other tools. This makes it easy to link training data with other types of information in the organization. 

Additionally, an installed LMS is the best option for companies that are located in areas with unreliable internet connectivity. This is because they can access their content offline.

As impressive and attractive as these perks are, there’s a catch. An installed LMS is very expensive to run.

This is because the organization buying it will also be responsible for its setup, maintenance, upgrades, and troubleshooting.

Installed LMS Example:

  • Moodle

Mobile Learning LMS (mLearning)

Mobile Learning

Mobile Learning LMS, or mLearning, is a game-changer in the e-learning domain, offering unprecedented flexibility and accessibility.

Designed for on-the-go learning, these systems cater to the increasing use of mobile devices for educational purposes. They provide a seamless learning experience across different devices, be it smartphones or tablets.

The key features of mLearning platforms include a responsive design that adapts to various screen sizes, offline access capabilities allowing learners to download content and access it without an internet connection, and push notifications to keep learners updated on course progress and new content.

These LMS platforms are ideal for corporate training programs where employees are often mobile or for academic institutions aiming to provide flexible learning options.

The interactive content tailored for smaller screens helps in retaining learner engagement and improving knowledge retention.

Mobile Learning LMS Example:

  • EdApp
  • Thinkific

Open-Source LMS

Moodle Open-Source LMS

Similar to Installed LMS, the clue to the meaning of this platform is in the name. This type of LMS is a learning platform that one develops with open-source code. It’s easily accessible to the public.

Anyone with the relevant technical expertise can modify it to add or remove specific features depending on what the organization requires. 

Open-source LMS is a suitable option for educational institutions or companies that want cost-effectiveness, customization, and flexibility in one package.

This learning platform comes with relevant features, including assessment tools, collaborative forums, and course creation. It's very affordable because one doesn't have to pay for software add-ons. 

This system also has its fair share of downsides. Firstly, one requires a certain level of technical expertise to modify and maintain an open-source LMS.

Secondly, the default user interface is not as polished as one may like. Companies can improve the interface, but they will need extra design resources.

Lastly, the sustainability of this system is uncertain because support from the community may decline over time. 

Opens-Source LMS Example:

  • Moodle
  • Chamilo
  • Odoo

Microlearning LMS

This type of LMS is centered around delivering concise, targeted learning experiences. They break down complex topics into smaller, manageable units, making it easier for learners to absorb and retain information.

Such systems are particularly effective in corporate settings where time is a constraint, and employees need to acquire specific skills quickly.

The content in microlearning LMS is often multimedia-based, including short videos, infographics, and brief quizzes, which are more engaging than traditional long-form content. These bite-sized learning modules are perfect for skill development, compliance training, and as performance support tools.

Microlearning platforms often incorporate AI to provide personalized learning paths, ensuring that each learner receives content that is most relevant to their needs and skill gaps.

Microlearning LMS Example:

  • EdApp
  • eduMe

Customer Training LMS

Customer Training LMS platforms focus on enhancing customer experience and engagement with a product or service.

These systems provide customers with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively utilize a company’s offerings, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Key features of these platforms include user-friendly interfaces, interactive content like tutorials and product demos, and the ability to track customer progress.

By offering a comprehensive knowledge base, FAQs, and self-service learning modules, these LMS platforms empower customers to find solutions independently, reducing reliance on customer support.

They also provide valuable insights into customer learning behaviors and preferences, enabling companies to tailor their products and marketing strategies more effectively.

Customer Training LMS is particularly useful for tech companies, SaaS providers, and any business where customer education plays a key role in product adoption and satisfaction.

Customer Training LMS Example:

  • Teachfloor
  • Skilljar

A Cloud-Based LMS

This type of LMS is also called SaaS (Software as a Service), it’s a budget-friendly alternative to an installed LMS.

Courtesy of its easy accessibility across browsers, companies don’t need to pay a costly installation fee. This is its biggest unique selling point. The web-based LMS is the most ideal platform for companies on a strict budget. 

The vendors of this platform are in charge of its maintenance, software upgrades, and troubleshooting. This saves the company a lot of time and effort that they can channel elsewhere.

Running a loud-based LMS requires a monthly subscription fee, which pales in comparison to hosting a system locally. The drawback of using this system is the security risk because companies have to store their database remotely. 

Cloud-Based LMS Example:

  • Teachfloor
  • Eduflow
  • TalentLMS

LMS With Content Authoring Tools

Authoring Tools
Teachfloor Authoring Tool

This type of learning tool is the best option for companies who want to create digital courses without coding or external software.

With the built-in authoring tools, companies can design courses from scratch and customize them according to their policies or guidelines.

They can also add multimedia elements such as audio, image, and video to make it more engaging for participants. This LMS also has other features, including SCORM compliance and drag-and-drop interfaces. 

However, this LMS has some drawbacks that one should consider. Firstly, the features are limited when one compares it to what standalone authoring tools offer.

Secondly, it’s not ideal for companies with unique content formats or design requirements. Thirdly, it will pose performance issues for large organizations.

Lastly, the content that companies will create on this platform may not be compatible with other systems. 

LMS With Content Authoring Tools Example:

  • Absorb LMS
  • Teachfloor
  • Cornerstone Learning

Compliance LMS

Compliance LMS platforms are crucial for organizations that need to adhere to industry regulations and standards. They are tailored to manage and track mandatory training, ensuring that all employees are up-to-date with the latest compliance requirements.

These systems often feature automated course assignments based on roles or departments, tracking of certification expirations, and detailed reporting capabilities for audits.

Compliance LMS platforms are designed to reduce the risk of non-compliance, which can lead to legal issues and financial penalties.

They can be configured to deliver industry-specific content, such as healthcare regulations, financial compliance, or safety protocols. These platforms are also valuable in onboarding new employees, ensuring they understand the necessary regulatory frameworks from the start.

Compliance LMS Example:

  • Docebo
  • Teachfloor
  • Learnupon

Gamified LMS

The Gamified platforms are a type of LMS integrate game mechanics into the learning process to boost motivation and engagement. Elements like points, badges, levels, and leaderboards add a sense of competition and achievement to the learning journey.

These systems transform learning into a more interactive and enjoyable experience, making them particularly suitable for audiences that benefit from a more dynamic learning approach, such as younger learners or employees undergoing repetitive training.

Gamification also helps in reinforcing learning content through repeated exposure in an engaging context. Advanced gamified LMS platforms use complex game scenarios, simulations, and interactive storylines to create immersive learning experiences.

They often provide analytics on learner progress, offering insights into areas where learners excel or need more focus.

Gamified LMS Example:

  • iSpring Learn
  • 360 Learning
  • Docebo

Integrated LMS

Integrated LMS
Miro integration with Teachfloor LMS

This learning management system is designed to connect or integrate with the organization’s applications. This may include video conferencing or human resources platforms.

It automates and streamlines the whole training process. This makes it the ideal option for companies that want to save costs that they will incur from manual integrations. 

An integrated LMS merges all the features on a single interface, which enhances the user experience. The centralized dashboard this LMS provides makes it easier for instructors to create eLearning content.

Most importantly, it reduces administrative tasks and enables course creators to handle access controls and user roles efficiently. 

The major drawback is that integration may be an issue if the third-party apps are incompatible with the learning platform. 

Integrated LMS Example:

  • iSpring Learn
  • Teachfloor
  • Canvas

Enterprise LMS

This type of LMS it’s the most suitable option for large companies because it's designed to accommodate thousands of users simultaneously without lags.

The enterprise LMS has many exciting features, including an analytics suite, discussion boards, gamification tools, and many more. 

With Enterprise LMS, companies can customize everything from workflows to unique training requirements. This learning platform also plays the role of an integrated LMS.

So, companies can create an ecosystem with it. Most importantly, it secures training sensitive data. 

Aside from its cost, the enterprise LMS's major downside is the steep learning curve for users. This means that users will need extensive training and onboarding efforts to use the system properly. 

Read also our guide: 9 Best Enterprise LMS in 2023

Enterprise LMS Example:

  • Blackboard Learn
  • SAP SuccessFactors Learning
  • Cornerstone Learning

Custom-Built LMS

This is the perfect learning management system for companies that want to meet their unique training requirements. This platform comes with specific functions, custom tools, and third-party integrations. It’s the bridge between cost and efficiency. 

With this type of LMS, companies won’t spend on a low-budget system that lacks most of the desirable features.

On the flip side, companies will also avoid spending on costly software filled with features that they won’t need. This makes it arguably the most functional learning platform for any organization. 

This type of LMS may take a long development time and may clash with the timing of the training programs. There's also the risk of over-engineering the system by adding unnecessary features.

Lastly, companies that use custom-built LMS will get limited community support. 


As one can see, there are various types of LMS on the market. While they share similar features and functions, they have clear differences.

At this point, choosing the right learning management system should be easier for the company because they now know what to look for. For instance, companies with a very large workforce know that an Enterprise LMS will serve them best.

Organizations with the money to spend will go for an Installed LMS. In summary, once a firm knows what it wants with an LMS, choosing the most suitable system becomes a walk in the park. 

Further reading

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