Blog Post

Intellum’s Education Platform vs. Content Management Systems

Greg Rose
April 1, 2021
Illustration of a boxing ring

I know we say this often, but it’s true: there is a lot of noise in the education space. LMS, CMS, LCMS, LXP, Education Platform. It goes on and on. The truth is that the lines between these types of tools continue to blur, and the differences between them are becoming harder and harder for buyers and project owners to discern.

I think companies should remain cautious when it comes to bolt-on solutions that attempt to mask the inherent problems of the tools already in their stack and only deliver a portion of the functionality and user experiences a company really needs. You can read more about that here.

We hear about companies choosing to build education initiatives on content management systems because they do not fully understand the benefits of an education platform like Intellum. I think the confusion is due largely to the sudden need to morph and blend customer, partner, and employee initiatives in new ways (Thanks, 2020). This creates exciting new projects and programs, but project owners don’t always know which type of system to turn to. 

I want to clarify the main differences between the Intellum Platform and a Content Management System.

It’s All About Focus

The biggest difference between our Education Platform and a Content Management System is the degree of focus. 


The Intellum Platform is dedicated to customer, partner, and employee education initiatives. We give our clients a number of ways to create educational content and to organize existing assets and experiences like live events, videos, files, and links into paths for deeper contextual learning. Our approach is based on decades of industry experience, and our solution leverages our proprietary methodology informed by the Science of Learning to help clients connect their learning initiatives to measurable business outcomes.  


A Content Management System is not designed for any specific initiative. In fact, most CMSs are built to serve as an empty shell on which a more traditional Website can be built. They can be filled with a wide range of content and used for a wide range of purposes, but don’t really specialize in any one thing. A CMS will offer basic levels of content organization, and the main benefit is reach and awareness aimed at large groups of anonymous users.

Active vs. Passive

Every new initiative should have clear goals for the user and for the business, and these goals should determine which “state” is best for your users and your initiative. 


The Intellum Platform is designed to keep users in an active state of learning. The tactics used to achieve this state of active learning are often grouped together under the terms “engagement,” and “personalization.” We have built a wide range of these tactics into the platform (think persona-based journeys, machine-driven recommendations, notifications, awards, and real-time chat). Our approach to quizzes, assessments, evaluations, and full-blown certifications lead to even deeper personalized experiences. When you combine all of these things, you create an experience that compels users to consistently return to the environment and successfully progress through your content. In turn, this type of active learning results in deeper knowledge retention and promotes positive behavioral changes in users. 


A CMS is considered a passive user experience. Users are directed to the environment to simply read or watch content online, and every user has the same experience with that content. There are no interactive educational moments built into a CMS, like quizzes or simulations. A CMS does not make recommendations for content based on the individual user’s unique activity, history, and preferences. There are no awards or notifications inherent in a CMS, either. And that’s all ok because a CMS is not intended to be an education platform. Its purpose is to store and display content. When the goal is to simply get information in front of the user, a CMS can be the perfect fit.

Customization vs. Custom-Built

Make sure you weigh the differences between customizable and custom-built solutions correctly, so you make the right decision for your initiative.


The Intellum Platform is an application. Our solution is more flexible and allows for more customization than most learning or education platforms on the market. But like any other application, there are some helpful lines to color inside. We offer multiple ways to align our client’s environments with their brand guidelines and other online properties, including a number of layout options, customizable color schemes, and customizable navigation items. Clients can even leverage HTML, CSS, and Javascript for more advanced custom experiences. We have spent decades perfecting the user experience to ensure that our clients, and their users, are achieving the educational outcomes that matter the most. Our clients place a high value on that expertise and are happy to build their initiatives within the framework of the platform. 


A CMS is a blank canvas, and in most instances, a CMS allows you to custom-build a site from the ground up. Project owners oversee the layout and design of the entire initiative, and they plan out and build every aspect of the user experience. This approach is particularly attractive for passive content experiences. Agencies, marketers, and designers are empowered to wireframe and develop bespoke website pages where they present things to read and watch. Launching a CMS-build project is very different than implementing an education platform like Intellum, but when the creative experience is more important than the tangible business outcomes, a CMS makes sense.

Tracking and Reporting

If the goal is to make business decisions based on insights gained from the initiative, your solution needs to track and report on activity. 


The Intellum Platform includes a powerful, native report writer that allows our clients to track user activity, engagement, and performance. Our admin can set controls around who inside their organization has access to what data. They can leverage off-the-shelf reports, easily create custom reports, export data to BI, and data visualization tools to share the impact with internal teams, stakeholders, and external audiences, like customers and partners. All of this functionality exists so our clients can make correlations between their education initiatives and their business outcomes. 


A CMS can be a great solution for creating, managing, deploying, and tracking revisions to passive content, but a CMS does not track or report on user behavior, engagement, or performance. In most instances, project owners are simply monitoring traffic to pages and asset views through tools like Google Analytics. They are not able to follow a unique user’s progress through their Website, determine the effectiveness of an individual asset, or identify performance issues in a specific group without the help of third-party solutions - which adds complexity and cost to the project.

About the Author

Greg Rose Speaker Headshot
Greg Rose
Chief Experience Officer
Greg is the Chief Experience Officer at Intellum and helps ensure that every interaction our prospects, customers, partners, and employees have with our brand is as awesome as possible. He thinks a lot about technology, branding, and Guns N’ Roses.