Content management system

The educational technology and digital learning wiki
Revision as of 15:28, 25 February 2011 by Daniel K. Schneider (talk | contribs) (→‎Links)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search



A content management system (CMS) is a system that permits to create and to organise the creation of content. Generally a CMS is a multiuser web based application that manages a website.

Note: CMS also may stand for course management system, but outside some restricted e-learning community, "C" stands for "Content".


Generally all CMS have different common features:

User input
  • users don't need to have HTML expertises, WYSIWYG or WiKi syntax solutions are implemented to help the users to create or to edit the content of a web page
Content management
  • manage the content and easely structure it
  • Content architects can configure structure and menus of the system. This is not always easy and various systems differ a lot. Some only provide minimal functionality, other a series of "mini-cms" tools.
Layout and Contents
  • separate the structure of a web page from its content
  • easy installation of a CMS (usually through a web-based installer)
  • default templates for the graphical appearance, possibility to download other templates.
  • easy change of the templates (directly via CSS files)
  • easy administration of the website via a web interface
  • multi language support for administration tools
  • sometimes possibility to store the different versions of an edited page
  • user and permission management
  • Most systems have groupware modules (like forums, and file sharing)
  • Possibility to extend the system with modules / plugins. Usually there is a documented API

CMS in education

  • To build a site with educational contents
  • To engage students in project-oriented writing activities
  • To present your school/organization etc.


Standards for data exchange are only slowly emerging. Up to now (feb 2011), migrating contents from one CMS to another is quite a nightmare. In other words, adopting almost any CMS means that your are stuck with it for the worse or the better ...

There are a few exceptions restricted to very specific data types, e.g. data standards for news feeds (RSS) or low-level e-learning IMS Content Packaging. See data exchange standard for more information.


CMS Software

CMS systems are implemented with various kinds of portalware.

The list below only includes systems that focus on content management, i.e. allow/constrain editing of contents through some kind of structured and engineered system.

See 'portalware' for a more general list of software to build portals. (Almost any portal is a kind of CMS, since it lets users add contents ...).

Small and free CMS (in the more narrow sense)
Big systems
  • Some enterprise portals offer CMS functionality
  • Others focus on content management, but are rather difficult to configure

Other resources

  • OpenSourceCMS: you can try a portalware before installing it
  • cms matrix: useful to compare the features of different CMS