Six critical differences of a public facing LMS

Training programs are normally created for employees of an organization.  MicroAssist’s E-Learning Division has created a number of e-learning programs where the learners are outside the organization.  We have learned that when e-learning programs are created for learners outside the organization a number of design requirements change.   The changes in requirements for the Learning Management System (LMS) are particularly significant.

First, what is a Learning Management System (LMS)?   A learning management system is software that allows you to  manage, measure and report on the  delivery, and effectiveness of training programs. It provides the means to perform administrative tasks, such as:

  • User Management
  • Course Enrollment
  • User and Course Reporting
  • Provision of online learning
  • Assessments and tracking


The requirements for LMS’ that manage public facing training are significantly different than for  LMS’ that manage an organization’s training.   Critical differences include:

  1. Licensing:  Internal LMS are frequently licensed on a per user basis or per course basis.   When you are creating training for an unknown or unlimited number of users the licensing models of internal LMS’ do not work–they become too expensive.
  2. Simplicity:  Public facing LMS need to be easy to use.  It is impossible to train the public on the use of the LMS.  Complex sign-on requirements will result in the students not taking the training.  The student’s focus needs to be on learning the content, not dealing with the LMS.   Also, public facing LMS do not need the complex metrics and reports that are frequently required of internal facing LMS.
  3. Branding:  For marketing and trust reasons,  the look and feel of public facing LMS frequently has to be modified to match organizational branding requirements.
  4. Scalability:  Internal LMS’ have a known number of users and traffic is easier to predict.  Publicly facing LMS have to be designed to scale up and down with traffic (e.g. number of simultaneous students).  MicroAssist has used cloud based hosting to design effective scalable LMS solutions.
  5. Legal Requirements:  The legal requirements for publicly accessible training can be different than for training that lives inside the organization.  For example, publicly accessible training might have to support multiple languages (in Texas, Spanish and English).   Accessibility requirements also come into play.  Publicly facing LMS have to be designed to comply with these requirements.
  6. Client Support:  Externally accessible LMS’ have to support a greater variety of technology than internal LMS’.  For example, on an internal LMS your IT  department can specify which browser is used to access the LMS and training.  This is difficult to do on an external LMS.


Do you already have a LMS for your internal training?  Frequently you cannot use that LMS for training outside the organization.  The cost of using the internal LMS for external training is frequently enough for management to allow for two LMS’ in the same organization.   It is tough for IT to support yet another technology in house.   Again, a hosted LMS can be the answer.

* If you are interested in learning more about MicroAssist’s public facing training programs  please visit:

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