So what makes a Lite LMS different from a Standard LMS?

  • Less functionality and features than their standard counterparts, but these features may be “social learning”, or “ability to tie a user to a course” or “creating learning paths for each user” or “assessment tools”, etc.
  • Analytics and thus reports are not as robust as some of the standard systems,  typically lesser amount of reports than a standard system
  • Add-ons are not part of their system, thus “Succession Planning”  “VideoCaster” is non existent , doesn’t mean that none of them have add-on modules, just that it is very limited
  • Pricing includes “storage” which is listed.  “Storage” size =  courses/content, files – media (audio, video), documents, pdfs, graphics, etc.  If you exceed your storage allotment, Lite systems usually charge for additional storage
  • User pricing tends to start extremely low – most offer packages for “2 users” “25 users” and then go up
  • Small business is a very good market for them; but many offer pricing for SMB
  • Education, non-profit, association can be equally good markets for them
  • Cost for entire system is extremely low compared to a solid standard system
  • Segment as a whole is growing in terms of vendors

LMSs Segment Breakout (By the percentage of total number of vendors in each segment)

  • Standard 93%
  • Lite 7%

Vendor: Litmos

Strengths

  • Excellent Administration side – in fact, it was better than some standard systems I have seen (Easy to use, locate information, search)
  • Easy to use Front End
  • Reporting including the ability to do ad-hoc
  • Can create custom themes within the system, all the way down to the color of the mouse click “hover”
  • E-Commerce and accepts multi-currencies
  • Inbox features – to email other users in system
  • Provides batch .CSV template, so an end user would download the file, add in their end users and upload, without having to worry about column settings, etc.
  • Skype integrated into the system
  • Group-Sub-Group functionality
  • Course Authoring Tool
  • Certificates
  • SSL
  • SAAS

Average

  • Front end – very basic, 3 tabs to pick from
  • SCORM 1.2
  • Surveys, Assessments

Poor

  • The term “modules” after clicking on a course, so although you might think its a course module in a course, it appears to be basically a page
  • Under the “People” tab, after clicking the user’s name, the “team” tab and “course” tab have boxes which are pre-filled with the teams available or you can create and the courses available or you can create. The problem though is that the logic for the boxes is backwards. (See below)

Front End

Simplistic, would be the right word for the front end of the Litmos system.  Beyond the client’s theme, logo and entry or welcome message, there are three tabs that are towards the left side of the screen, but very visible.

On the right side, the end user’s photo or image (they have uploaded), Inbox & News (or announcements) which can include links and are date, time stamped

The Tabs

  • To Do
  • My Courses
  • Achievements

To Do

Under this tab, the learner sees the following

  • Course Name, Assigned on Date, Due Date
  • % (percentage) complete, if course is past due, in red “overdue

When the learner clicks on the course name, they see additional information

  • Modules  – Litmos’s terminology is confusing when it comes to how they define a course

For example, in one course I viewed, there was one page (called page) then some elements (which in a sense where on pages – but one was called, “video”, “flash” “assessment” “survey” and lastly a flash puzzle made from Raptivity listed as “SCORM”.  Totally confusing.

Simple WBT (Web Based Training) structure is as follows: Course-Chapter-Page, and within the Page (elements or text or just text in each page), and under this premise – a “Page” can be a survey, or an assessment or an activity.

  • Passmark  – Passing score (set by the administrator)
  • My Score – Learner’s score
  • Status -  Incomplete or Complete

On the right hand side of the Course detailed information, the learner sees a noticeboard which provides additional information (a nice feature, since you can add additional encouragement or positive feedback), a button to continue taking the course, go back to “home” page or additional references.

What would be interesting, would be the ability to have reference materials tied to the specific learner, so that for people in the course, maybe they all get reference A,B and C, but for learner3, they also receive additional reference tied to a skill, role or even some additional assistance.  Lots of options, because reference materials, no longer have to be PDF, word docs or excel files.

They can be audio “Motivators”, video, links to other sites.

My Courses

Lists all your courses, including courses you can purchase

My Achievements

Courses completed and any certificates that are assigned to that course.

Rating: (7/10)

Administration Side

I’ll be frank – this is what makes the Litmos system in my mind, sparkle.  Many Lite LMSs just do not pack the power that this administration side offers – not in ease of use, nor in the ability to acquire the information quickly, nor in its capacity.

Worse, many LMSs (Lite and Standard – inc. some high priced ones) still haven’t figured out who is their administrator, from a technical skills level, to amount of time dedication per day (for may administrators, this is not their only role) to the basic principle of being user friendly and navigation friendly.

Thankfully, Litmos has figured it out.

They understand who is the administrator, what are their needs, what are their typical technical skills and they understand the importance today of efficiency and speed.

Dashboard

Every time you enter the Litmos Administration side, the first screen you will come to is the Dashboard.

On the top header bar – the following tabs

  • Dashboard (default) – your main home screen
  • Courses
  • People
  • Teams
  • Reports
  • Messages
  • Account

The dashboard home page lists

  • Recently Opened Courses
  • Unmarked Assessments
  • Message Inbox

The main screen also provides a daily “How Many People Login Each Day” graph, News, any new items from Litmos – announcing updates, enhancements, etc., &  a User Summary.

User Summary

  • Identifies Total Number of Users in the system
  • Number of active users for the current billing period
  • Number of users who never logged in
  • Enables you to click a button to re-send login emails

Courses

  • Lists all the courses in your system, including price points, whether they come with a certificate or not, active or not-active
  • Metadata search function
  • Create a new course (built in course authoring tool)
  • Recently viewed courses

Let’s say you wanted to start charging a price for a course you currently provide for free.  With the Litmos Ecommerce it is very easy to do. Simply click on the course title,  scroll down the page to the “I want to sell this course”, click the check box and then enter in your price.

Multi-Currencies accepted

  • USD
  • AUD
  • CAD
  • EUR
  • GBP
  • NZD

After selecting your currency, enter in a brief description about the course – that the people who will be purchasing it can see and then a fuller description. Then click “save”.

People Tab

Create new users, Upload users (using their .CSV template) and view the current users.

When you view all the learners in the system, you will see their name, user name (which is their email address), Skype icon (which if they entered in a skype account profile in their contact details) will enable anyone to click on the Skype and communicate with them.  To utilize this feature, both people have to have Skype.

For people who have never logged into the system, it shows a red flashing “Q”.  Not sure why a “Q” was selected, but it works.  You can also delete the user.

Click on the name of the end user to view their contact details = User Profile – Team -Courses.

The end user can be assigned one of four roles in the system, and within the profile, it will be identified.

  • Trainee
  • Team Leader
  • Training Administrator
  • Account Owner

Frankly, I’m not sure why they call their end users “Trainees” and the “trainer administrator”.  This is online learning, not learning in the classroom, and as such the terminology in “e-learning” is different.  I don’t blame Litmos for this, because it is sadly becoming a constant problem.

In “e-learning”  the term “learner” is universal. If your system is for education only, then “student” is equally acceptable.   For the “trainer administrator”, how about “system administrator” or “administrator”?

Teams

Think of “teams” as “groups”, because it is the same thing, just different wording.

  • Create new teams, view current teams – add learners or remove learners from the team
  • Assign course(s) to teams
  • A nice feature I like is the ability to add another team to the main team, thus a sub-group of the team.  Thus your team might be a location – Auckland Division, then your sub-group is accounts payable

Reports

“Active users and Courses”

  • Courses
  • Assessments
  • Survey
  • User
  • Team

My Favorite Report – is another way of saying create your own ad-hoc reports.

Messages

This is where you inbox is located and it is similar to an online email account.

You can compose a message, read, delete/trash, send, and add tags

Account

Billing information, Messaging setup, Custom Themes/Branding – using their color picker for just about everything in the system – quite robust – another wonderful feature, e-commerce including if you wish to accept PayPal or not.

It should be noted that “custom themes/branding” is not available in their “Starter” package.

It should be noted that in order to use the e-commerce feature, you must have a PayPal account. If you do not have one, you will need to set it up (and you can from within the system)

Lastly, the system enables you to activate google analytics within it.

Mobile Learning

Yes. Android, iPhone and the iPad

Social Learning

No

Accepts APIs – created by the end user

Yes, but only in the Silver, Gold and Platinum Packages

Technical Support and Service

Included in the price. For the “Starter” package, e-mail only, for all the other packages 24/5 phone and e-mail

Packages

Based on number of initial users, storage.

Number of users in the package are set, but are within a range.  This is to say, that there is a set number of users for each package, but it goes up to X number of users. So, after the set number – which is listed in the price per month, any extra user is $5 per user per month.

  • Starter $49/m, 5 active users, (up to 24 users)
  • Bronze $99/m, 25 active users (up  to 99 users)
  • Silver $299/m, 100 active users (up to 499 users)
  • Gold $699/m, 500 active users (up to 1,999 users)
  • Platinum $1,499/m, 2000 active users

Example:

Silver Package with 125 active users per month

  • 100 comes with the package, where you pay $299 per month
  • 25 more = $125 per month
  • Total cost per month: $424;  Total cost for the year (assuming you do not pay in full up-front – they offer one month free): $4,664 USD and it comes with the APIs, mobile, unique domain address, 24/5 phone and email support, custom branding/theme

Rating: (10/10)

Bottom Line

The Litmos LMS packs a powerful punch in such a Lite system. While it provides solid front end learner features, it would be nice to see an added feature or two to really take it to where it needs to go. Aesthetically, the front is very nice, especially when you see other systems whose front end appears as though they just recently read the book, “Best of Web Design: 1994″.

The Oomph of this system is the back end.  It is a magnum engine in a Lite system racing down the LMS road.  Streamlined and easy to use.

Put the parts together, and you have a system that offers a nice exterior, excellent interior and power.

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