LMS vs. Authoring Tools: What’s the Difference

There are a lot of terms to understand in eLearning, including LMS and authoring tools. You will likely use at least one of these. But what’s the distinction between LMS vs. authoring tools? And how do you know which one to use? 

What an LMS Does

There are four main things that an LMS (learning management system) does, and an authoring tool doesn’t do all of these. 

#1. Host Your Program

One of the main things that an LMS does is host your program. This is among the big differences between an LMS vs. authoring tools, as the latter won’t host your program. 

#2. Sequence Your Course

Another crucial part of an LMS is that it will sequence your course. This is another thing that not all authoring tools will do. It’s fairly common to create modules in an authoring tool and then sequence them in your LMS. This aspect of an LMS is important, as it lets learners go through your course chronologically. 

#3. Delivers Your Program

An LMS will also deliver your content or program to your learners. Without this step, your learners can’t take the course. And it is yet another thing you can’t do with an authoring tool. 

#4. Collect Data

Finally, an LMS will collect data, yet another thing you won’t get with an authoring tool. This data is about your learners, such as how many complete your program and other information. The data is important, as it helps you evaluate your course and if you need to make changes. 

What an Authoring Tool Does

Now that you understand what an LMS does, what about the other half of an LMS vs. authoring tools? As the name implies, authoring tools let you make or create content. There are two main types of authoring tools. 

Type #1. Standalone

Standalone authoring tools are not integrated into an LMS. They are completely alone, and their only purpose is to create content. Some of the most popular examples include Adobe Captivate and Articulate. 

Type #2. Native

The other type of authoring tool is native. These are integrated into an LMS. So, you get an LMS that also lets you create content. A good example of this is Kajabi. If you have an LMS with a native authoring tool, you won’t need to get a separate one. In fact, your LMS will become more than an LMS. It will be more like an LXP or a BMS. 

Do You Need an Authoring Tool?

We already touched on whether you need an authoring tool somewhat. If you have an LMS that already includes an authoring tool, then you don’t need to get a separate one. Of course, if you want functionality that isn’t in the native authoring tool, you could go ahead and get a standalone one as well, but this may be a waste of money. If your LMS doesn’t include the ability to create content, then you’ll need an authoring tool of some sort. But these tools can be simpler than you may realize. For example, simple screen capture software can be enough. 


An LMS hosts, sequences, delivers your eLearning program, and collects data. Meanwhile, an authoring tool lets you create your course. You can use both, but your LMS may already include a native authoring tool. 

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