Learning Management System vs Next-Generation Digital Learning Environments

When creating an eLearning course, you inevitably come across a term learning management system (LMS) which is a technology that hosts and distributes your course content. But what about the next-generation digital learning environment (NGDLE)? Let’s take a closer look at what the two types of systems have in common and what sets them apart. 

Functions & Features of an LMS

To start the comparison, let’s refresh your memory on the most important roles of an LMS. 


An LMS will host your content, so you don’t have to worry about finding a separate place to host it or pay for another hosting service. 


Your LMS lets you sequence your course, so your students complete it in the order you intended. This lets them follow the milestones in order and reach their goals. 

Collecting Data

LMSs also collect data. This is important because it helps you understand your learners, including what they engage best with, what they like, and what they don’t like. You can then use that data to personalize their learning experience. Specifically, use it when creating future courses. 

How That Compares to an NGDLE 

One of the biggest differences between a next-generation digital learning environment and an LMS is the level of skill and coding knowledge you need. To handle the backend of an LMS, you will need some coding knowledge, although many LMSs handle that part for you. 

An NGDLE democratizes eLearning by not requiring any coding knowledge. This means that learners, subject matter experts, and anyone else can easily interact with it. That allows for customization and ease of use. 

There are five main ways that an NGDLE democratizes the process for learners and SMEs. 


You can easily mix and match the various apps. For example, you can connect an eBook course and a quiz to each other. You could do this by pressing just a few buttons. 


LMSs do allow for some personalization, but a next-generation digital learning environment takes this to another level. While an LMS gives you customization for the audience as a whole, NGDLEs give you customization for individual learners and SMEs. 


We mentioned that an LMS will collect data. But with NGDLEs, this is in a closed loop. In other words, you can use those analytics to add even more personalization and add more apps thanks to the interoperability. 


When you use an NGDLE, collaboration becomes easy. LMSs don’t allow for collaboration, but NGDLEs do. This is especially important because you can collaborate even across individually personalized experiences. 


Finally, NGDLEs are much more accessible than LMSs. They work well for any type of learning profile, thanks to customization and the other features mentioned. And the closed loop means that learners can access the course anywhere. 


A learning management system hosts your content, lets you sequence it, and lets you gather data to improve the current or future courses. Next-generation digital learning environments do all of this. But they take the analytics to the next level. They also add a higher degree of personalization at the individual level, allow for collaboration, and are accessible and interoperable. 

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