Four Features UR LMS Must HAVE

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Everyone loves new features.  They tend to add an additional level of “coolness” to any platform.  If they are totally out of the box and work, guess what happens next?  Everyone jumps on the bandwagon (at some point).

I mean someone had to come up first with “gamification” for a LMS, a first “output to HTML5” for an authoring tool, a first for “high retention rates”. (which on a side note, is worthless – I mean come on, how is it possible that every LMS vendor’s retention rates are in the upper 90 percentile?)

Before jumping into the must have features you need, let’s take a look back at yesteryear on some features that were ahead of their time

a. Ability to bookmark and track video in a pure video course.  A vendor created this capability back in 2002.  One year later they were gone.  Bought out by another vendor and this capability was lost for the ages – okay, until two years ago.  An added bonus?  It would work with a 56K modem without any freezes.  How I miss thee!

b.  Canned reports exceeded 150.  I know how many do you really need?  But, this probably answered the question. 

This was before the ad-hoc report came into play.  I know of a few vendors whose “canned reports” shoot into the 120 range, but over 150?  The zinger of this whole thing, is that most people – admins – tend to use the same 10 or so reports over and over again. 

c. Adaptive Learning.  Yes, pure learning mastery the way it is supposed to be done – and can be done in course builds still to this day. But, there were LMSs back in 2000-2002 that offered some AL capabilities. 

If you want that today, as a pure adaptive learning mode – it does exist and within the platform, not just via your authoring tool or course developer.  But not at the level that it once was, a shame really.

d. Psuedo 3D front end.  Yep, back in 2002, I had such a system. It was skinned with our logo, had cool text and a 3D like front end with avatars and other stuff. Users loved it.  Then at some point the vendor changed strategy, and that cool 3D was gone.  I really haven’t seen anything like that today, unless you pay $$$$ for customization.  

e. Fun.  Egads a LMS that is fun to use?  How dare thee think that way.

But, it was there back in 2000-2002 with a few vendors – which considering that the overall number were geared towards bad shareware designs and engagement – it was a huge plus.  Then, the industry said – “fun” and “learning” is unacceptable and it was gone. 

Thankfully in 2014, it is slowly returning and for those that do it – Thank you!

f. One stop shop.  Again, my LMS back in the early days met that requirement head on, and offered an advertising component along with some social learning functions (that some vendors are adding now).   And guess what happened?  The masses ignored and when about it their way, which in retrospect meant “bad” way.

Time Machine returns to the present

Hey, You still here? Wow, my time machine works fantastic.

Anyway, the good ol days had some awesome ol’ features. 

4 LMS Features to ADD Now


A big upswing in demand for Salesforce is coming from not only B2B but also companies with internal training only (i.e. employees).  The big winners are those vendors whose “learning, etc.” is already within Salesforce via a tab, so that the SF users do not have to leave Salesforce at all.  Basically, the enter Salesforce for their learning and exit Salesforce – they NEVER go into the LMS. 

Some vendors who offer “Salesforce” do not offer this capability. Rather, you go into the LMS, then click a tab or link to Salesforce and enter that way. 


No excuses – you have to include it.  I could go into a big rant on why that is, but if you haven’t figured it out by now on why it is a must, then you may want to consider “weather forecasting” as a new career choice.

However, having gamification soon won’t cut it.  You will need to push it with new capabilities and tied across the entire system (the majority does not tie everything into gamification – for those who offer it – rather it is just a few).  

App Store

People love apps. Apps are fun, except when you have to pay for them – then the fun ends.  Anyway, there are a couple of vendors who already offer an app store for their clients to select from and several vendors in the works for adding an app store. 

Those going app wild tend to pick apps via API and not a true “this is my design” app.  I’d be happy with the API select app and I surmise most others will as well.  Please note this is not the same as the vendor’s native app.

One of the coolest web sites I have seen tied to apps (but not related to e-learning) is Zapier.  I use the product and really like it, because it shows what is possible/doable with apps.  If a vendor enabled such a capability within their own LMS, it could be a really awesome capability. 

Comes with Course Content

Everyone loves “free”. I mean everyone, including your favorite dog or cat – they just can’t tell you that. 

If you could include some courses at no additional charge as part of someone’s LMS that definitely would be a huge win.  The vendors who are offering it (and yes, they are out there) see it only as a plus. 

The client may never use the courses and I will admit that the ones I tend to see are either borderline yucky/or brutal boredom from a learner perspective – but hey, at least they are offering it at no additional charge.

And I give them a “Kudos” for that.  Oh, and a cookie – especially if they have a dog.

Two Features that LMSs are missing

Whenever a vendor adds a new feature, I say to myself, “Sweet”.  And yet, there are a couple of features, I rarely see – even in the authoring tool market – which you would think would have at least one of them.

Spell Checker

Logical, I would think for a platform to contain this, especially when people are changing labels, adding their own text to the pages via a course description, catalog description and so on.  Nothing worse than having a catalog listing with the name misspelled.  At a minimum you look like you did a poor Q/A job and the maximum, it looks like you have no idea on how to spell.

Sure a grammar component would be an additional nice, but a spell checker seems to me as a necessity that would be beneficial to any client.

Video course will full tracking and bookmarking

I’m not talking about adding this within your authoring tool, rather I am talking about uploading a video and have full tracking and bookmarking capabilities.  Right now, you have limited options as related to systems that offer it:

a. Via an API Wrapper – most often used by those systems that offer it (and there are not that many)

b.  Via a Video Learning Platform

Speaking of video, what is taking so long with the ability to upload video from a mobile device? 

Then again, the capability to add video from a web cam seems to still be in the “theory” mode with many vendors (not just LMSs in this case, but also authoring tools).

Bottom Line

Tracking what features are the next big thing or more specifically, “must haves” always rocks in my book. 

It offers buyers/consumers a glimpse into what other systems are doing (and theirs is not in some cases) AND what could be the next “big ticket item”.

Which I think is the way to go.

Because those who take that leap into the “unknown” will never have to worry that they will be all alone.

Someone will follow,

They always do.

E-Learning 24/7

Next week: State of the Authoring Tool Industry – The Latest including Trends


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