The modern workforce is constantly evolving, and corporate training has become an essential aspect of ensuring the success of businesses across all industries. With the rise of technology, the way in which companies approach training has changed significantly. One of the most significant advancements in corporate training has been the development of the Learning Management System (LMS).

The LMS is a software platform that provides companies with a centralized location to create, manage, and deliver training content to employees. Click What is an LMS? to learn more. The history of the LMS dates back several decades and has gone through significant transformations to become the powerful tool it is today.

In this article, we will explore the evolution of the LMS, from its early beginnings to its current state, and how it has revolutionized corporate training.


CBT and the birth of online learning

The world of education has undergone a massive transformation over the past few decades, thanks to the rapid advancements in technology. The advent of computers and the internet have revolutionized the way people learn, with the development of Computer-Based Training (CBT) being one of the earliest forms of online learning.

CBT is a type of educational instruction that is delivered using a computer. It was first introduced in the 1960s and gained popularity in the 1980s with the widespread availability of personal computers. CBT allowed learners to access training material on their computers without the need for an instructor, which provided the flexibility to learn at their own pace. However, CBT had its limitations, including its lack of interactivity and engagement.

As the internet became more prevalent in the 1990s, online learning began to take shape. Web-Based Training (WBT) and e-learning were some of the early forms of online learning, which allowed learners to access training material using the internet. WBT utilized the internet to deliver course material, but the courses were often static and lacked engagement. E-learning, on the other hand, introduced the concept of interactive courses that could be accessed online, but custom courses were difficult to create due to limited tools and resources.

To overcome the limitations of creating engaging and interactive courses, third-party providers began offering off-the-shelf courses that could be easily accessed and integrated into learning management systems. These courses provided learners with engaging and interactive content and paved the way for the development of customized courses that were created specifically for an organization's unique needs.

However, the early days of online learning were not without challenges. Modem speeds were slow, which made it difficult to access online courses,

The Internet and Modem Speeds

In the early days of the internet, a browser called Mosaic 2.1 was the first graphical web browser, released in 1993. This was followed by Netscape Navigator, which quickly became the dominant browser in the mid-1990s. Netscape's success was due to its ability to display images and text together, something that Mosaic could not do. Another popular browser from this era was America Online, or AOL. AOL was unique in that it was not just a browser, but an all-in-one platform that provided email, chat rooms, and access to news and information. For many users, AOL was their first introduction to the internet.

Despite the availability of browsers like Netscape and AOL, accessing information on the internet was still limited. Most content was only accessible through FTP sites, which required users to know the specific URL of the site they wanted to access. This made browsing the web a much more challenging and time-consuming process than it is today. As modem speeds improved, online learning became more feasible and accessible.

Along with the rise of online learning, came the rise of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which charged users a fee for access to the internet. These fees were often based on the speed of the user's modem, with faster speeds costing more money. While these fees were initially a barrier to entry for many users, they helped fund the development of the internet and the infrastructure needed to support it.

In conclusion, the evolution of internet browsers and the development of modem speeds have played a significant role in the growth and accessibility of online learning. 

The Online Course Revolution

Online learning has come a long way from its early days of basic computer-based training. The development of the internet and the rise of online technologies paved the way for the online course revolution that has transformed education in recent years.

One of the key drivers of this revolution was higher education institutions. As early as the 1990s, some universities began experimenting with online courses, recognizing the potential of the internet to broaden access to education. These early online courses were typically offered through web-based training (WBT) and e-learning platforms.

However, it was not until the debut of Jones International University in 1993 that the idea of an accredited online university gained significant traction. Jones International University was the first fully accredited online university, offering degrees in business and education entirely through online courses.

Around the same time, Lotus Notes emerged as a major player in the development of online courses. Lotus Notes was an early platform for creating and delivering online courses that allowed for a high degree of customization and interactivity. This technology was a significant step forward from the early WBT and e-learning platforms.

Despite these developments, corporate involvement in online learning during this period was relatively limited. The focus was primarily on higher education and distance learning. It would take a few more years before the potential of online learning for corporate training was fully realized.

The Need for an LMS

In the past, the traditional method of Instructor-Led Training (ILT) was the standard approach for workplace learning and development. However, it had its limitations, such as the challenges of tracking progress and measuring success. As a result, companies began to search for a better solution to manage employee training.

This is where the Learning Management System (LMS) comes in. The LMS provides a centralized platform for companies to house online courses and track user progress. It offers a comprehensive solution to the challenges posed by ILT, such as the ability to track progress and customize learning to individual needs.

The need for an LMS became increasingly apparent as companies began to shift towards online learning, which allowed for greater flexibility and accessibility. With an LMS, companies could deliver courses and training programs more efficiently, at a lower cost, and with better tracking and reporting capabilities.

Department heads and employees alike were becoming increasingly frustrated with the limitations of ILT. Employees often had to attend training sessions at inconvenient times, which resulted in lost productivity and missed deadlines. Additionally, department heads found it challenging to track the progress of individual employees and measure the success of training programs.

In conclusion, the emergence of the LMS was a game-changer for workplace learning and development. It offered a centralized platform for companies to deliver training programs, track progress, and measure success with comprehensive data and analytics. By embracing online learning and the LMS, companies could create a more efficient and effective approach to employee training, resulting in a more productive and engaged workforce.

Conclusion and Free Resources

In conclusion, the evolution of online learning has been shaped by numerous factors, including the limitations of traditional training methods, the development of the internet, and the emergence of higher education in offering online courses. As computer-based training (CBT) progressed to web-based training (WBT) and e-learning, engaging and interactive courses became more widely available through third-party providers.

The history of the LMS is an exciting story of how technology has changed the way we learn and develop new skills. From the early days of CBT to the modern LMS, online learning has come a long way. As technology continues to advance, it is safe to say that the future of online learning is bright, and the LMS will remain an essential tool for the development of training programs for individuals and organizations alike.

If you're interested in pursuing an LMS for your organization, here are a few free resources that may help:

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