With 2014 already in play, it is time for many LMS vendors to awaken by the trumpets playing the background – you might think it is Muzak, but no it’s trumpets.

These fine tunes of blasting noise are telling each and every one of them, to get off the bench or out of their seats, run on over to product development team and say, “Add these video features or off with your head”.  As a bonus they get tossed into the Tower and are fed gruel.

Here is the one thing to remember - VIDEO IS GOING TO BE HOT. In 2014, I believe it will be the year of video for consumers in e-learning, specifically with content and as a one off on that – in the LMS.

And before you scream to me, what about gamification?  Yeah, that is going to be hot too, but I believe video will have a slight edge. 

What are the features end users are already requesting?

  • Analytics tied to video – they want to know what learner accessed the video course or video, how many times, how often, where did the go – From a video course standpoint – analytics is not really in play right now with LMS vendors (VLP a tad different, but not that robust).
  • Analytics tracking on video and/or video courses that have been downloaded onto a mobile device – hearing a lot with people wanting data pushed back from the mobile device – with video into a LMS.  Right now, folks are fine with video usage, but I am surprised how many want those analytics that LMSs offer in terms of course data
  • Ability to play video courses within a LMS – not as a component within the authoring tool – rather as a pure standalone. Some vendors already have this in place, the vast majority do not. 

One vendor right off the bat is Unicorn Training. Another is Biz Library.  They can be true standalone video courses.

  • Video capturing – Overall, if it exists in a LMS it is as a Web Cam capture. Video Learning Platforms will accept video from any mobile device with a camera, and DV/HD cameras. 

I should note that I am talking about video and not “video” that some folks will do – which is nothing more than a screen capture and record – which often comes via a 3rd party authoring tool.

  • Self-contained video on a mobile device – this sort of ties back to the desire to push video/video courses onto a mobile device. Consumers want to have the video/video courses in a self-contained app and not just via the web browser which can be viewed on a mobile device.  Big difference.  They also want – the on/off synch – which would be needed for pushing the data back into the LMS.

What features will set you (LMS vendor) apart from others – and entice customers?

  • Video capturing via mobile devices and HD/DV camcorders and even digital cameras.  Bonus: Allow individual learners to upload their own videos and share them with others (admin can turn on/off).

Double Bonus:  End users can add photos, images, etc. to the video and upload it. The videos should be no longer than 30 seconds.   Of course, the administrator has the same capability but the video length can be quite longer (I recommend 2-3 minutes at the max.)

  • Video creation tool –  Enables admin to upload a video, edit it, add some transitions, effects and then choose the output.    They can also add their voice- so you have a few audio tracks and video tracks – the key to success – is make it easy to use. Your LMS automatically wraps it – for tracking purposes.

If you want to eliminate people using multiple products and list your system truly as a “one stop shop” this will do it.  If you can save your customer some $$$ by using this it, then going outside – it will be worth it.  Best of all, you can find products to interface within your system (i.e. white label) and thus you do not have to re-build the wheel.

  • Video compression tool –  One of the biggest issues with video is the byte size of the video and compression.  People tend to upload videos that need to be compressed.  As a vendor you could already have built into your system, a video compression component, so when the end user uploads a video or video course (the system can recognize it or the end user selects as an upload choice) it will compress the video.
  • Video conversion – Right now, it is h.264/MP4 but that is slowly going to change due to 4K video

4K video? What in the world is that?

If you haven’t heard the term “4K” as it relates to video, don’t worry – the vast majority of people have not.  4K is also known as ultra-high definition – which is making its way into your TV sets (well not yours, but if you decided to buy a TV with 4K video). 

There is also 8K video (but we are talking about way, way down the road and from a LMS standpoint, really not needed).

Let’s jump back into 4K video (aka 4K UHD).

  • 3840 pixels by 2160 line with an aspect ratio of 16:9  to give a comparison, the top resolution for HD is 1920 pixels by 1080 lines with an aspect ratio of 4:3

Thus the quality is far superior than HD, with horizontal and vertical being twice the size of the maximum resolution for HD.

If you use YouTube or Vimeo the maximum resolution you can upload is 4096 pixels by 3072 lines with an aspect ratio of (4:3).

In case you were wondering – 8K video maximum resolution is 7680 pixels by 4320 lines.

The point is?

At some point down the road, you should be open to the idea of going 4K UHD.  I wouldn’t say go do it right now, but I’d consider it in 2015 – once it is solid.

But wait, it gets even better – as there are now changes afoot for video compression standards (consumer does not need to worry, e-learning vendors on the other hand..)

Video compression standards

Two entirely different entities have created their own video compression standards.

It will be interesting to see which one ends up surviving in the long run. The two in play are Google (VP9) and ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group – their product is called High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC).

VP9

  • Open source and free video compression standard
  • Chrome supports V9 (Chrome 25)
  • Reportedly the goal is to have a higher video compression than HEVC

HVEC

  • Reportedly doubles the data compression ratio of H.264/MPEG-4 AVC – but video quality is not diminished in anyway – i.e. same video quality
  • Supposedly can improve video quality at the same bit rate
  • Supports 8K video

Bottom Line

There is no doubt that video is going to be red hot in 2014. Is it going to be hotter than gamification?

 I think it will be because “video” is in the mainstream from video apps (Vine, Instagram Video, etc.), consumers shooting and uploading their own video via mobile devices (oh and sharing them too), and the video editing tools that are no longer expensive to buy.

So, vendors keep on watching your YouTube videos. Keep on laughing at the cat who plays the piano.

Because there are more and more consumers seeking video functionality in a LMS.

And the likelihood they pick one that doesn’t have those features is the same as your pet playing the piano.

Zero.

On a side note, I am quite honored and humbled as I have been identified as the second most influential person in the world for e-learning.  Thank you all.

LMS Features you would want to see  This survey is your opportunity to voice your thoughts on future LMS features. Instead of saying, “Oh, I wish they would add this”, now you can say, “Hey, I want this”. 

 

E-Learning 24/7

Next week: A preview of my “State of the LMS Industry” report – inc. criteria for the top 50 vendors, some interesting features/components that can/will in some cases make a big impact and the approach for the report, which is massively different than anything you have seen before.