The History of Learning Management Systems

By Sean Gordon

Although learning management systems have rapidly increased in popularity in the past two decades, the concept has been around for longer There are several differing opinions as to the inception of LMS; however, many contend that the history of LMS can be dated all the way back to the 1920s with the invention of the first teaching machine by Sidney Pressey in 1924. Though certainly not as advanced as today’s platforms, this machine administered drill and practice exercises and multiple-choice questions.

In the time since the advent of the teaching machine, technological advancements – particularly the introduction of the computer and the Internet – have enabled LMS to move from simple drill and practice programs to incorporating modern features. Content and feedback management, personalized instruction, tracking and reporting, human resources integration, dynamic user experience are just a few of many LMS capabilities.

Check out this brief timeline of some of the key catalysts that drove the development of modern LMS platforms:

History of LMS Timeline:

1924 – Invention of the first teaching machine by Sidney Pressey

1929 – Creation of the “problem cylinder” by M.E. LaZerte, which presented a problem and checked solution steps for accuracy

1956 – Introduction of SAKI, the first adaptive teaching system, by Gordon Park and Robin McKinnon-Wood. Questions were automatically adjusted according to the learner’s responses and relevant performance level.

1960 – PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations) developed at the University of Illinois.

1970 – Future of widespread computer-based learning made possible with Hewlett-Packard’s introduction of the desktop personal computer.

1982 – Advent of TCP/IP giving rise to the World Wide Web, making online learning possible.

1990 – SoftArc releases FirstClass, a system run on personal Macintosh computers and widely recognized as the first real learning management system.

1997 – Interactive Learning Network, the first LMS to utilize a relational MySQL database, is developed by CourseInfo and installed at Yale, Cornell and other prestigious academic institutions.

2001 – Coursework releases the first CMS, allowing for collaboration by designers, authors and programmers.

2002 – Release of Moodle, the first open-source, internal network.

2004 – SCORM (Sharable Content Reference Model) 2004 introduced as the standard of messaging, which many current LMS platforms are still based on today.

2005 – Rise of flash video as an animation and authoring tool, a crucial component of creating multimedia content. NACON Consulting releases “VirtualOnDemand,” a distance education system that uses a web browser to train users in software programs.

2008 – Eucalyptus released as the first open source, AWI API-compatible device for the deployment of private clouds. Enabled LMS platforms to exist solely online without the need for installation on an internal network. Also in 2008, mobile access to the Internet surpassed that of desktop computers – igniting businesses to focus more efforts on the mobile arena.

2012 – Majority of modern LMS platforms are cloud-based, freeing companies from the burden of maintaining in-house systems.

2013- Tin Can API, the next generation of SCORM, is released.

How LMS is used in modern business:

The path to the modern LMS has been a long one, chock-full of various technological advancements. The modern LMS allows for the administration, delivery, organization, assessment and tracking of online education courses or training on an entirely cloud-based platform. Though LMS platforms were originally designed for the education sector, the business sector is increasingly adapting and adopting them as a collaborative training and feedback tool, as well as a centralized location for all of a company’s learning and training content.

Modern businesses are able to accelerate employee development and increase retention through the use of LMS platforms as training initiatives. Employees appreciate the flexibility of an online course, realize the value added in self-improvement tools and embrace professional advancement opportunities.

As the frequency of mobile device use continues to steadily increase, the importance of providing a user-friendly, innovative mobile app is critical. We at vidREACH understand this and have diligently worked to seamlessly integrate vidREACH Train within the mobile landscape and develop market-leading features of the modern LMS to help your business operate efficiently and effectively.   

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