Video Learning Platforms

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1976. VHS VCR comes home – literally if you bought one.  Beta is better, but VHS wins.  Beta player owners realize the game is up – and decide to cryogenically freeze players until the masses realize what they are missing.

1978 – Laserdisc debuts in Atlanta, GA.  Far superior to anything before.  Beta folks run out and buy it.  VHS still dominates. Beta folks strike out again.

1981 – MTV arrives. Video Killed the Radio Star debuts. Everyone watches it – because it is the first video to be seen on the station.


1980’s – VCRs are huge – I mean big as in large items on top of your TV. They are also big in the market – people are buying them.


1990’s – VHS still dominates. Masses own a VCR.  DVD players appear in 1994.  The masses start buying them in droves in 1998.

1995 – Real Media arrives on the internet scene streaming an entire baseball game that probably no one watched.


2000’s – HD-DVD shows up, so does Blu-Ray. Beta and Lasderdisc fans rejoice! Blu-Ray wins. People who bought HD-DVD players – learn that they make great flying objects out of five story buildings.  Beta folks still waiting for Beta to return.

2012 – Mobile video consumption rises up to 5.4 percent, which may seem nominal, but it is a 64 percent increase from April of the same year. (Ooyala, Nov. 2012)

2013 –  LMSs are not the only learning system in town. The new kids of the block (please no jokes here) are Video Learning Platforms. While they have been making roads in the educational markets for the past few years, some solutions start to target the corporate market too.

Grab your Video

Video in e-learning means something quite different than video in its usual term.

  • Screen recording and capture – often seen in demos or software or web tutorials
  • Screen recording and capture with audio narration
  • Live broadcasting – Steve is in Long Beach, Anna is in Moscow – the communicate in real time with or without a live audience – i.e. watching via their computers or mobile device (may include synched slides, but not a requirement)
  • Taped live broadcast – taped earlier at some point and then posted for people to view
  • Video itself –  streamed, recorded, edited then posted, posted without editing,  etc.  – may/may not include audio incl. background
  • Video captured with a smartphone, tablet, digital camera (if available), DV and HD DVC (digital video camcorders), web cam, etc. – may/may not include audio incl. background

Not your Mom and Dad’s VCR

While a video learning platform might have multiple products at the end of the day it is built upon two key components (which they all have in some form)

  • Recording device – Some call it a recorder
  • Video content management system – this is where all your wonderful videos get housed, including audio podcasts (some offer this feature too), audio, slides, etc. – this is the backbone of the platform

On the recorder side you have a device that can record a variety of things – from your web cam to live broadcasting to screen recording and captures to meetings and much more.  All the VLPs have a recorder (they may call it something else though).

Recorders also

  • Stream your video
  • Publish your video  – more on this in a sec.
  • Deliver live presentations/events/meetings/webcast – to name a few
  • Synch documents, slides with your presentation
  • Other options – depends on the vendor


The video content management platform is a requirement if you are going to use the VLP as a standalone and not in a LMS – yes you can interface (more on that shortly).  The other requirement is that..uh, you know.. uh RECORDER!

Typically the video content management platform consists of (please note: that some vendors call their VCMS something else)

  • Media Library – Where your videos, audio, etc. is housed
  • Folders – think categories – you can put videos in each folder depending on topic, company (if you are offering a B2B angle), departments, events, basically however you want it
  • Encoding  and Processing
  • M-Learning support – all devices including iPad and other tablets
  • Can interface with learning management systems – including educational focused LMSs – always contact your vendor if you want to go this route — i.e. interface/integration/extension
  • Ability for end user to see the videos – i.e. check out which videos they want to view, click on them, watch them, and yes even buy them (some vendors offer e-commerce)
  • Analytics and Reporting – If you are expecting similar to a LMS it is not going to happen, but for most folks they want to know how many times did Sue watch the video, which videos did she watch, how long did she watch, video rankings – can include “most popular”, “highest rated”, “most commented”, “most liked”
  • Access control – Think Admin control
  • Can group a set of learners/viewers to see ABC videos and then set a group of learners or even one learner to see a totally different set of videos
  • User names/passwords, etc. – similar in many ways to the LMS side of the house in terms of user names/passwords
  • Video search – think video search engine
  • A sharing function of some sort – might be via social media
  • Slide synching
  • HTML5 support
  • SaaS or on your own servers – they can do both, but ideally prefer SaaS (they host it)

Optional (not all VLPs offer this, hence optional)

  • Video transcript – this is a must IMO because it enables your viewers to see the text below (not as close caption)
  • Narrative transcript – When the person says “dog” it goes right to the video text transcript where the word “dog” is shown, often this is displayed on the VLP screen (not on your video) with specific clips, so you just click the clip which already contains the word or words and watch it – and yes see it

This is great because you no longer have to watch the entire video or try to hit rewind to go right where the person talks about what you want to hear. Narrative is a must feature IMO.

  • SCORM compliant
  • 508c compliant
  • Offline viewing
  • Video editing
  • Plugins
  • E-commerce
  • APIs – as in their (video learning platform itself) API is open
  • Player templates
  • Playlists
  • Close captions support
  • Social components – beyond the share functionality
  • Users can “like”, “rate”, “leave comments”, “share”
  • Users can download videos
  • Transcription services – already in the platform. Vendor has an agreement with a 3rd party which will transcribe your entire video and publish the text to match the video. This is a nice feature because you do not have to do it yourself – which is available to you as well.

It is all done within the platform, so you do not have to send the video to be transcribed to the 3rd party vendor, wait for it to get back and then publish. It is all self-contained.  This is typically an additional cost – i.e. having an actual human (which is how it works) transcribes your video.

Another capability of transcription services is the ability to change the language. So if your video text initially is in English and you want to change it to German you can via the platform. Again, similar to how the transcription service works, with a real human being translating the text.

Always an additional cost.  Please note that this is in reference to the video text transcript and not the user interface or VLP layout.

  • Supports H.264, MP4, MOV, WMA, AICC, etc. – always check with the vendor – they all support HD
  • Skinning and Branding inc. your own logo (not all the vendors offer this option. If they do it is often included at no charge.) If your VLP is on your own servers most of the vendors will allow you to customize the CSS.
  • Custom domain
  • Multiple layouts. Knowledge Vision offers 85 different layouts – that is a lot
  • Multilingual – as in the user interface, labels, etc. – again not everyone supports multiple languages (besides English). Don’t assume that when they say “we support multiple languages” it means they support nine languages. One vendor supports 25 languages, another supports two.
  • Can change labels, headers, fonts – not everyone offers this ability

Video Break

Uh it is an actual video break. So here is a video for you:

Video Break is over

Video V-Costs

You might be thinking wow this sounds great, but I bet it costs a fortune and you would be incorrect.

VLPs are actually very inexpensive when compared to the LMS market.

Fees are not necessarily charged by seats (i.e. active users) which can create confusion when trying to compare pricing apples to apples.


  • Charging by the number of recorders you purchase and the number of usage hours.  A recorder is tied to a machine (computer). So if you have five people using one computer for the recorder, you get charged only for one license. If the same five are all using recorders on five different computers it equals five licenses.  The usage hours  (which are quite high) equate to the number of hours which can be recorded/viewing. Using this pricing model, the number of people viewing is unlimited.
  • Charging by active users
  • Charging by active presentations.  Active presentations are defined by the number of videos on the platform. The time of each video is irrelevant.  For example, you have 20 videos uploaded, of which eight are ten minutes in length and the rest are 85 minutes in length. Number of active presentations is 20.

With this pricing model – unlimited viewership, unlimited people accessing the system. 

  • One flat fee – Appears in open source platforms. Be aware that an open source platform is just how you imagine it – you have to fully customize it.
  • Charging by number of users, storage and bandwidth

Many of the vendors have a setup fee – but this is not universal.  The same with support – can be the whole thing or just parts and then you pay extra for additional support levels.

Top Five Video Players

  1. Panopto – Very finesse, but lacks the ability to remove their own logo, skinning – as in your colors not doable, no social. Offers recorders pricing model and also active users model – you choose. Does offer educational pricing.  Targets education, non-profit and corporate markets.  SCORM Compliant.
  2. KnowledgeVision – Wonderful platform, loads of features – uses the active presentation pricing model.  Offers three editions – may offer educational pricing – please ask.  The KV Studio is the product to look at.  Targets education, non-profit and corporate markets. SCORM Compliant.
  3. Kaltura – Open source platform, extremely robust.  The platform is not free – you have to pay. They do also additional packages and add-ons, and there is a cost.  What I love is their Exchange marketplace which lists an extensive list of partners that can integrate, support or work with their product. Reminds me of similar marketplaces like Google Apps or Intuit. No SCORM support. Can create a channel in the Roku store.
  4. Vidizmo – Has a nice set of features. Back end is easy to use. Pricing model is active users. Has potential. SCORM Compliant. 
  5. MediaCore – UI is similar to YouTube, but they lack video text transcript, narrative search and a few other feature sets. Heavily focused on education market.  Not sure if they have any corporate clients. While the site says you can customize the colors of your system that is incorrect (according to a person I spoke with at MediaCore).

Bottom Line

Video Learning Platforms are here to stay and more importantly, ready to take off both in terms of usage and feature sets.

If I was looking at entering the e-learning market as a vendor, I’d take a hard look at the VLP space and then I would jump in feet first.

Just making sure that I don’t hit a beta video player that someone has finally realized isn’t coming back.

Because it isn’t.

E-Learning 24/7


  1. Hi Craig, good post! You are so right: the LMS & LCMS will be soon just the embeded grandparents of VMS & VCMS, but … what after that!?!:-)

  2. VHS was a very important part of our video history! I miss the days that old beast VCR! However I’m so thankful for the new technology!

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