DevLearn Day 1

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Well back to another expo conference installment – this time it is DevLearn Day 1.  First off, this is being written in the WordPress app so there will not be any colors and the text might appear strange in your browser.


Perhaps a better word would be “common themes”, since there were four that came out – loud and clear here at the expo.  Excluding the obvious authoring tools and some LMS vendors, I found these themes with numerous vendors attending the expo:

  • Remediation – as in our product increases retention better than a LMS. BTW, always presented this statement with reference to sales teams
  • Gamification, badges – as in our product has the big “G”
  • Mobile, including apps – mobile apps who wants one? Me. Me. Oh, and we also do mobile with tablets, smartphones, and then there was some HTML5 mentioned in many authoring tool products and some of the LMS vendors and a few e-learning tools
  • We are not like other LMSs or we are not like LMSs – basically we are anti-LMS, but look we have features just like them – but we remediate better

Blame  it on the LMS

There seems to be a lot of vendors at DevLearn (and I saw it at ICE too) whose product is the anti-LMS. Or the reason you have poor A or B, is because of the LMS. Not the courses, the LMS.

The strange thing about this at DevLearn is the blame game.  You are not retaining information – it is the LMS.  You (learner) are not allowed to pick your own courses – it is the LMS.

LMSs are more about compliance and regulatory and not about remediation.  LMSs focus more on having the managers select the courses for learners.

One of my personal favorites, came from a guy next to me while I was talking to a vendor whose product increases retention more so than other LMSs due to retention, often tied to the course.

I explained that this isn’t necessarily true because the whole power of WBT is that it is non-linear, so if the learner forgets something in one month, they can go back to wherever as many times as they want, and as often as they want.

Which resulted in this quote from the guy standing next to me (not the vendor) who retorted, “They never come back after completing the course.”  What this tells me right away, is that whatever course or courses he is referring to (and whoever created them) created a poor course – actually a bad course.

Because if your learners have zero desire to come back after they complete it, this points to a couple of areas:

a. Poor course design

b. Higher probability that the course was required or mandatory and had to completed by set date

c.  Good chance it was linear in style

You can have (b) and still have a course people will go back to numerous times, but you won’t achieve any success regardless if it is linear or non-linear if the design is horrible, especially static.

Which by the way is your fault and has nothing to do with any LMS on the market.

So when a vendor says it is because of the LMS that remediation fails, no good fellow – it is not.  Sure, there are things that can be done to boost retention – but first and foremost it lies in course design, and approach to creating the course – i.e. mini modules max 5 minutes, non-linear, etc.

As for the point that LMSs are focused on compliance and regulatory – that is 100% not true.  Lots of systems in the market and plenty that do not focus on that.

Some LMSs have compliance features, but no one is telling the client they have to use them.  Because here is the thing – the client and specifically their administrator decides if they want to use those features or whatever features are in the system.

Regarding the “managers” pushing compliance courses or courses in general to learners – which is the fault of the LMS – another sadly misunderstood statement.  The client who bought the system decides if they want to have their managers do this or not. They may not even use the “manager” feature, heck many systems do not have a “manager” feature.

Believe it or not (and for some vendors who pitch anti-LMS out there, might be shocking news) there are plenty of clients/customers who allow their end users to pick whatever courses they want – that are in their catalog.  They do not have mandatory.  Plus there are those who do mandatory but also allow end users to pick other courses in their course catalog.

And I’m not just talking to the customer’s courses they created themselves.  I’m talking about 3rd party content.  You might be stunned to know that some buyers/clients offer their LMS to their employees for personal and professional development. Geez, what a concept!


A few vendors showed up pitching their LRS – two as standalone products.  One was Watershed – which is from Rustici, the other is Saltbox.

Watershed right now is a co-customized product which means that Rustici works with the client to create what Watershed looks like.  It truly is at its early stages.  The UI, well it is not good especially compared to Saltbox.

Remember that “where do I store my data, if I the learner leaves a LMS or even a standalone LRS and go somewhere else that doesn’t have a LRS?”, well just as I discussed in previous blog articles on LRSs – no one has figured that out.  Sure you could stick it in learning locker – free open source for your LRS data – but that is not giving me the “feel good”.

What I heard was the “work in progress”, “we still have to work that out” and a few other items.  One source told me, that they try to sidestep if the question comes up, but so far no one has asked me.

Now, is the time you should – not only to standalone LRSs but also within a LMS.  Also find out if they are certified with Safe Harbor. Watershed is, Saltbox is working on getting certified.  (uh, Safe Harbor only applies if you are in Europe).

Let them eat cake

Okay, I will after I discuss a few products that hit my radar screen as cool.

  • Saltbox – It is a LRS – learning record store – which shows activity streams, enables you to achieve badges and a few other items, including stats.  Nice design.
  • Geenio –

The product is not yet available. Target launch sometime in Dec.  Sounds intriguing. I will be doing a product review in late Dec.

Not sure why they pitch themselves as a Social LMS, because I didn’t see that. Nevertheless it includes such components as an activity stream, reviews, ratings and comments with the courses. Plus sharing too, among a few other things.

While you can add your own courses to the “packs” as they call it, the system will display MOOCs from Coursera and a few other players in that space.   You can even search by typing a keyword and it brings up courses – whether it is MOOCs or your own courses.

I’m still not sold on MOOCs – as many of you are aware –  but the product itself – had me thinking “hmmm.”

What I Heard

So much to say, but sorry, some have to stay within the brain cells, for the time being.   BUT

a. Lectora is coming out with a new mobile next week – but showing tomorrow

b. Rapid Intake is now called Litmos Author

c. A LMS vendor who always seemed to me,  more focused on their mobile platform versus their standard LMS, is moving more towards creating apps and “gamification”.  They are also starting to do more services in terms of custom development than in the past.

Speaking of app creation, saw a few vendors who did only that.  I’ll post an update tomorrow night on one such vendor – and what I thought of their product.

The Expo in General – Quick Hits

The ol’ eat my lunch in my booth, while people are walking around was in full swing.  In fact, I snapped an action shot of two salespeople sitting across one another in their booth eating salads.  Let me guess – business is good?

Swag lame this year.  There wasn’t one vendor whose swag was a must go and grab.  Heck, some didn’t even have candy – I’m not going to mention names, but come on – Go! Animate – buy a bag of candy.  Oh, there were others too.

Vendors were finding that their Wi-Fi was slow – surprise, surprise.  Glad to see they have to pay for that speed.  Do they get a refund – DevLearn?

Overall, a good first day, and smoothly run.  Maybe ASTD can learn a few things here – cause they never seem to solve the same issues, year after year.

That’s it for now.

Until tomorrow night.

E-Learning 24/7

One comment

  1. Interesting summary. I think there’s another way to look at the current state of reporting outcomes based on whether the data is passively stored or evaluated by the system and reccomendation engines are used to push useful information and advice to teachers and trainers in time to intervene and improve the experience and the outcome for the learner. Totally agree re the relevance of the course design / approach. Oh and we’ve been giving away hd webcams which I think are pretty keen. Come find me today and we can chat and maybe I can hear more of your perceptions about the state of the industry. The above was a nice summary.

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