Learning management systems have increased in popularity in recent years, but the truth is they have been around for quite some time.

It wasn’t until the 2000s when elearning really started to take off, and ultimately the demand for learning management systems increased as well.

Some contend that the LMS can trace its roots back to 1960. Naturally it wasn’t the same LMS as we envision today, but it marks the beginning of the general framework.

At this time the University of Illinois created PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations).

In 1963, the first computer for instruction was installed at Orange Coast College in California. Just one year later, the first course content authoring system was developing lessons.

From here we have the basis of elearning as we know it today. As you would expect, the industry evolved over the years. It really picked up steam at the turn of the century.

The infographic below (created by Synotive) provides a glimpse into this evolution over the past 50 to 60 years.

While the overview is certainly interesting, I find that the infographic is missing two critical components.

First, there isn’t any mention of Tin Can API (also known as Experience API). This is a monumental advancement in the elearning field that really should be part of the timeline.

Secondly, and perhaps in some ways related, is that there isn’t anything mentioned about mobile learning.

Surly the modern LMS takes into consideration mobile learning. It has evolved as our mobile technology changes. Many students and working professionals are taking courses from smartphones and tablets.

Nonetheless, it’s still interesting to see the origins of the LMS and how it has adapted over the years.

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter

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Thank you for your article and visual aid. Very helpful


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