E-Learning Musings

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As an honored tradition for the ASTD International Trade Show and whatever else they call it, I present my latest news and notes in the world of e-learning.


I know what you are thinking – T&D means training and development – yes you are correct, but in this case you are not.  I’m referring to trials and demos for a learning management system/talent mgt. system and so on.

You would think that after years and years of having trials and demos, the process to get a trial and see a demo would be as simple as me typing these words.  Oh, you would be so wrong.

While it is true that vendors have trials, actually taking the trial has become worse than in years’ past, especially with mid to large size vendors.  What is troublesome though is that there are small vendors who are applying this approach to their own platform.

Let me be quite clear on this — people want to take your product for a test run.  Having them jump through hoops or listen to your banter to assess their worthiness is not beneficial to anyone – especially your potential new client.

I often refer LMSs to cars because in many ways they are similar:

  • Both cost money, and in most cases are one of the most important decisions you will make
  • Both can be budget busters
  • You test drive a car before you buy it, so shouldn’t you take the LMS for a spin too? (via a trial)
  • The car salesperson either before the test drive, during or after it, shows you the features and discusses – hmm, sounds similar to a LMS demo (showing features, talking about it)
  • Many people lease a car, well when you are buying your LMS (you are really leasing it – unless you actually bought the whole thing – and that is no longer common these days)


Similar to the increasing issue with giving quick access to trials, is an increase in suffering through a demo.

There is a continuance of bad demos, which again – why?  I could see if your product is brand new or the person has never given a demo in their entire life, but a serious chunk of time that is not the case.

Demo gripes from readers are on the rise, and I hear the same scuttlebutt at trade shows.  For every great demo, you hear several more that stunk.

Here are a few gripes (see if you land in any of these categories)

  • The salesperson talked about the company more than showing me the product
  • I saw lots of PowerPoint slides and virtually no product
  • The demo did not match what I bought (still a big issue)
  • The salesperson did not answer my questions OR the salesperson was not listening to me
  • The demo did not work

On a recent call with a vendor, they went way off target and I ended up surfing the internet while listening to them.  I wondered how many other people do the same thing? I am guessing quite a few.

I continue to see a lot of people who should not be on the phone, giving a demo.  They are boring and monotone. 

I’m not saying you should be the next Bobby McFerrin, but at least be positive and engaged in the conversation.

And now..


A few trends that are hitting boost mode just in the past quarter:

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities seeking out LMSs including multi-tenant platforms – in droves – one vendor told me they had never seen this vertical as busy as it has been in the past

Companies who provide products/courses to the B2B and B2C channels (specifically through multi-tenant systems) – I’m talking about high octane here – I forecast this will only gain ramming speed (yes, Animal House reference)

On/Off synch being added by vendors in a variety of e-learning genres – a nice spike – I also forecast this to continue to grow

More LMS vendors – again, this is no where near death or the “everyone wants talent mgt systems” – sure, we are losing vendors, but the numbers are being offset by newbies entering the space. I cannot think of a time when there were more vendors in the market, then right now

  • HTML5 in authoring tools and LMSs – not yet in high gear – not even close, but way better than three months ago
  • Increase in number of vendors offering low cost systems – targeting 300 or less employees – I believe this will also continue to grow

And finally, a slight increase in the change from dated UI to a more modern and crisp UI – hey, I’ll take it!

Bottom Line

As I have said before there has never been a better time then now to be in the e-learning industry – regardless if you are a vendor or a buyer.  The winners are going to be your employees, customers, channel partners and even you.

Best of all, it is only going to continue to gain momentum.

Surprise:  You may have noticed that things have changed a bit here on the blog. A new design and look. Well, this is just a start. If you have time take a look at the channels area, where you can go to a specific category (i.e. one says LMS) and see all the posts. In the coming months, a video channel will be added – featuring quick tip videos from myself.  Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Quick Reminder: Follow me on Twitter to get real time updates (#ASTD2013 and #elearning247) from the ASTD International Trade Show next week (20-22nd for me) in Dallas. I will be posting a special nightly blog covering the day’s events, including my rock stars and products that hit rock bottom.  Plus, see video clips and hear from fellow attendees on the show.

E-Learning 24/7

One comment

  1. Craig,

    I believe your comparison of purchasing an LMS to buying a car is precise. I’ve dealt with LMS vendors who tend to focus on product features that I don’t need. One technique that has served me well in the vetting arena is the “test drive.” I have no problems asking vendors to create a “sandbox” that I can play in.

    I agree with your list of situations that make demos less valuable. In fact, my most useful tests of LMSs occur when the vendor tailors a demo specific to my organization’s real-world learning and reporting needs.

    Thanks for this post.

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