E-Learning Q&A November Issue

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Back from Australia and boy are my arms tired (Yes, the worst joke ever!).  Seriously it was a great conference and glad to see so many people who attended as well as readers who stopped by to say “greetings”.

This week, another installment of Q&A from readers. It is a short week for me as I am heading off to London to speak at the Unicorn Training Conference before zinging over to Berlin to speak at Online Educa Berlin.

In this riveting issue we will be covering the international e-learning scene, my State of the Industry LMS Report – specifically the Top 50, LMS ROI, e-learning costs and web conferencing.

Let’s jump right in.

Q: Hi. I’m curious to know what you are seeing in other countries regarding e-learning?

A:  Well, quite a bit actually. The United States as you know is quite fragmented and highly competitive.  But, I think your inquiry deals more with countries/areas beyond the states (I say this because he mentioned his location and it was in the U.S.).

Most people tend to focus on the Asia Pacific region and yes it is true that it is growing rapidly, but my eyeballs have been focusing more on Africa. In just the past several months, numerous countries are really embracing not just e-learning but also mobile.  Granted the mobile is tied to smartphones, but it is a start.

When people think of Africa, they typically focus on South Africa, which while it does have growth, it is not by any means the only country that is experiencing the boom, if you will.

Rather, what I am seeing are three countries beyond just South Africa that are moving strong (I should mention there are plenty of others):

  • Kenya
  • Nigeria – Especially with partners/resellers
  • Uganda

The interesting thing about Africa is the deep commitment from the various governments as it relates to e-learning. The second driver is the education market.

As previously noted, Virtual Africa, which is an online university is really doing quite well, much more so than many other “country online universities”.  Perhaps the U.S. could learn something from VA or even the online university in the U.K.

Speaking of the U.K., it seems to be sitting on the fence. On one hand, their are some really nice learning management systems coming out of there and the embrace of e-learning exists, especially in education.

On the other hand, while Corporate is solid, it is not as high as it should be and for the life of me, I can’t understand why COPs (Communities of Practice) are still popular. They hit the high notes in the U.S. around 2006, although some companies still use them today.

I have some ideas on why the U.K. is not as strong as some other countries – but you will have to attend the UK conference to find out why (I know I’m a stinker aren’t I)?

Other countries that are still on speed mode are Australia, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.  I am also seeing some nice growth – better than in the past two years in Costa Rica and Panama.  But, I wouldn’t stay they are mega hot, because they are not. What I would say is that they are surprisingly doing solid than say a couple of countries in Europe.

A couple of other markets I like are Germany, the Netherlands region and Russia.

Q. Before we can purchase a LMS, my boss wants to know what is the ROI? Can you help out?

A:  Rule #1 There is no such thing as ROI when it comes to training (despite our best efforts).  Rule #2: Re-read rule number one.

I know you are saying to yourselves, but she is asking about the ROI on a learning management system. Quite true, but if training itself doesn’t have a quantitative number you can point to to validate its usage, then e-learning and as to this question, a LMS follows suit.

As training/L&D professionals we can point to all the benefits of training our employees, customers, etc., and tie it often to increased productivity, greater sales and other, but when it comes to showing the numbers to back it as such, it really doesn’t exist. 

Rather, what I would do is present the following as validation on e-learning and thus a LMS:

  • Cost – The cost of face to face training, attending seminars off-site and repeation of said seminars if needed versus the cost of e-learning courses – will provide a specific set of data.

You can toss in web conferencing too – webinars – and as I noted in my presentation in Australia, if you do it right, webinars and more importantly the cost of that web conferencing product could pay for itself in just one month (as in offsetting the cost of the product over the course of a year). As such, webinars offer the highest profit margin and an awesome opportunity for mark-up that will exceed anything you can imagine.

  • Sales numbers – If sales learner completes X courses and as a result of completion or even taking the courses (and thus focusing on areas that are new to the salesperson or they need to learn (first time) or refresh) – increases their sales over a period of X months, you can show that this is a correlation to the content they completed or are moving around to learn. 

If you have new salespeople who are unfamiliar with your product and are new to up-selling and they take some courses on the product, as well as cross-promotion, which result in any increase – that can be shown in a quantitative number. 

As an executive, showing me that over a period of say six months, each quarter the salesperson who are taking X sales courses are constantly increasing their sales, is only a plus and any executive who can’t see that, shouldn’t be in business. 

I’d rather have someone whose sales are up even 25% over the previous quarter as a result of the courses, than showing me that you are saving me 10% in your budget – which is also a positive.  Sales drive business.

Additionally, if you have a high rate of safety issues and as a result of people taking/completing some safety courses, you see a drop in incidents by whatever percentage – that again, shows ROI in a quantitative number. It validates the cost savings and potential issues due to the courses.

Sure someone can argue that it is due to multiple variables, but if the main variable is due to online courses and the usage of a LMS for tracking, learning paths and those courses within it, nobody can argue that it has no impact.

My favorite usage of ROI was focusing on something called the “Impact of Learning”, because you can show actual numbers – real data – rather than arbitrarily the costs angle versus some funky formula you developed.   Plus you can tie that data to the objectives/goals of the company for that year.

Lastly, e-learning is not inexpensive. Anyone who tells you that, clearly has never implemented any form of e-learning.

Yes, you can get a solid LMS for under 10K (depending on the number of users), but you also need to factor in the initial setup fee (if applicable), an authoring tool, maybe a web conferencing solution, perhaps a few other e-learning tools (if so desired) and the understanding that this is all about progression.

I’d hope you would expect more users in the coming years, which increases the cost of said system. That is why I always recommend a three year forecast.

Q:  We are looking at various web conferencing products and can’t decide on which one to purchase.  Do you have one that you really like?

A: Yes, I’m a huge fan of Fuzebox. It downloads fast for end users, offers a real nice set of features, works on tablets – and does it well and offers as options a toll free number as well as international numbers. VOIP is free. 

Q: I am hearing a lot of about your upcoming State of the Industry 2014 report which covers the LMS industry. Can you provide me some details?

A:  Sure. The report will be published to the masses on January 15th. The date has been pushed out due to numerous conversations I had with consumers like yourself, who felt that publishing it January 5th (its initial date) would be too soon after the holidays. 

The report will contain the following

  • State of the LMS Industry for 2014 including trends, forecasts, emerging markets, etc. 
  • 35 LMS Product Reviews – Why 35? Why not!
  • Top 50 LMSs – rankings here they come!
  • Top 3 rankings for the verticals of education, association, SMB, under 500 employees and plus 10,000 employees
  • Video demos – You read right. LMS vendors had the option to create a video demo of their product without any sales pitch whatsoever. At last count, 25 vendors created such videos. The videos are posted on my video platform and buyers of the report will be able to click a link and go right to each demo (if applicable).
  • 42 LMS Profiles – I know, you are saying wait he said 50 vendors but only 42 profiles. Yes, isn’t life wonderful when you do things that do not follow the status quo?
  • The Profiles are not what you might expect – so be ready!
  • Report is done in a visualization style and comes in two parts. You get both parts. Part one are the product reviews (inc. video demos), state of the industry, rankings.  Part two are the profiles.
  • Offered as a PDF and as an e-book using the .epub format.  I am working on the mobi format which will work with the Kindle, and I am hopeful it will be ready for delivery on the 15th of January. Actually more than hopeful.
  • A video executive summary.  You also can read the summary too, but the video contains a tad more information. 
  • Graphs, diagrams, Kano analysis and a bit more. Ties back into the state of the industry report.
  • Price – The pre-orders will begin on Dec. 9th-27th where you can buy the report for $899 USD – using the coupon EL247.  After that, and going forward the cost will be $1,199.  Pre-orders just means that pre-orders – you will not receive the report package until January 15th.
  • How to order – You will be able to purchase via my biz web site, which is still in development – actually the store part is in the works.  The url and more details about the report, including the criteria, blah blah will be in a blog post on Dec. 9th, from which you can click a link to order. 

The blog post on Dec. 9th will include the executive summary, a product review sample (actually a real one) and an example of one LMS vendor profile.

Top 50 LMSs

Here they are in all their glory.  There are not links under them, rather this is just a listing. I won’t say their actual rankings – because it is part of the report. But on that blog post, I will mention my top newcomer LMS for 2013, and list  a couple of other LMS for 2013 awards. But trust me, the report will go way beyond that. 

If your LMS is not on the list, it does not mean that I do not recommend it or anything such as that. With 580+ LMSs, you can’t include everyone.  Oh, a new LMS directory will be available for download on Dec. 16th., along with my new updated LMS RFP for you to use and share.

Now the list (feel free to gripe in the comments. You won’t hurt my feelings. Maybe my dogs’ feelings but not mine.)

Again, they are in no particular order.

  • Aduro
  • Docebo
  • eLogic Learning
  • ExpertusOne
  • Blackboard
  • Michaels and Associates
  • Instructure
  • Desire2Learn
  • Administrate
  • Accessplanit
  • Travitor
  • Panopto – VLP (Video Learning Platform)
  • Mediacore – VLP
  • Accord
  • SuccessFactors
  • Vklass
  • WBT Systems
  • IMC-Clix
  • Meridan KSI
  • LearnUpon
  • Litmos
  • Upside Learning
  • BizLibrary
  • iSpring Online
  • BlueVolt
  • Blatant Media – Absorb LMS
  • CM Group
  • ShareKnowledge
  • Edvance 360
  • eLearning Force
  • emTrain
  • Web Courseworks
  • Ethos CE
  • Totara
  • Growth Engineering
  • Rainmaker
  • SumTotal
  • Cornerstone OnDemand
  • Net Dimensions
  • Prometheus – Torch LMS
  • ICS Learning Group
  • Interactyx – Topyx
  • Moodle
  • Unicorn Training
  • Haiku Learning Systems
  • Kallidus LMS
  • MindFlash
  • FrogTrade
  • Saba
  • AnewSpring

Countries represented

  • United States
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • England
  • Ireland
  • Russia
  • Italy
  • India
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • And one whose HQ is technically in Hong Kong, but most people think it is the U.S.

Bottom Line

Another wonderful installment of Q&A from readers. A couple of additional notes to pass along this wonderful week.

The rankings are 100% independent. There is no quid pro quo in any such way or manner. If you are a vendor and you are not on the list, I’m sorry but that is the way it is. Some times it rains, some times it is sunny. We all must go on. Cheer up, things could be worse – you could be out of business. 

Regarding that Kano Analysis, if you could take a brief moment – okay about 10 minutes and complete my “LMS Features” I’d like to see survey, that would be grand.  Part of the results will appear in an upcoming blog and best of all this survey is good for the environment. No carbon footprint!

Because I will be traveling and attending various conferences over the next few weeks, here is a listing of upcoming blogs:

a. LMS Secrets – An insider’s guide on what some vendors don’t want you to know, plus a couple of concerns regarding some items I’m starting to see in the LMS space – which make zero sense. Seriously, zero.  – This is next week’s blog: 11-27th

b. Live – Online Educa Berlin – A nightly expo review, plus my final – That was Cool and that Wasn’t blog post.  Posts to be on Dec. 4th, 5th. 

Until next time, which uh, is next week.


E-Learning 24/7


  1. Craig, thanks for the ROI explanation, best one I have seen in the 15 years in this industry and one that makes sense.

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