Best of the Best – NextGen LMSs

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One of the latest hip words to use in the industry is “next gen”.  Next gen can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people.  Heck, some folks think next gen can align with open source platforms such as Moodle.

I’m not seeing that in all honesty.  For me, next gen systems are next generation, the future of the learning management system market, but there is a caveat to all that.

Next generation systems are just like any other LMS whereas they can slip and fall. They can go from next gen to has been in a blink of an eye.  They can forget what they did right and instead define themselves with what they did wrong.  They can turn their mentality from focused and determined to hubris and indifferent.

In other words, they can become what many systems in the market have become, a waste of possibilities.

How is a Next Gen LMS defined?

For me, a next generation LMS must contain (or have) a specific set of criteria to be placed within this designation.

  • Very modern UI – After all it is next generation and modern is where it is at – this goes for learner and admin
  • Simple yet Robust –  Simple in terms of ease of use, nav friendly, logical in its processes; robust – as in features and capabilities; not only right now, but where they are heading on their roadmap
  • They Get “IT” –  Depending on their vertical or verticals, they get it.  They understand their audience – who it is, they understand what they must do to be different and it works
  • Adaptable – Everyone says they are, but really how many truly are?  Adaptable means they can adopt quickly and once they see the possibilities, adoption occurs
  • Value for the $$ –  I’m sorry but if your system costs 100K for 2,000 users, you are not next gen, rather you are expensive gen
  • Admin UX – This is admin user experience; some systems are next gen but their administration is overwhelming and/or confusing, the user experience is the same as going to the dentist and having your teeth pulled without anesthesia
  • Support and Service –  They go the extra mile.  It’s funny, okay not really, that such an important component is often left out when it comes to listing and/or ranking platforms. 

Considering that support and service are the number one reasons people leave LMSs, you would think it should carry more weight.  Well, not only in my Top 50 rankings does, but next gen too.   They literally go that “Extra mile” that so many say they do.  They really care.  They just don’t land you and move on, they stay with you.  Bottom line – they care and it shows.

  • Hi, How can I help you? –  Different than support and service.  Should be a standard in the industry. It’s not.

Part of the whole next gen experience includes having the latest features or at least enough of them that it makes sense.  It also means having features that may – actually often are – rare or rare in terms of their design and capabilities.

The Top 10

Interestingly enough, there are quite a few systems that I would place under next generation.  So if your system is not under my Top 10 next generation systems, don’t worry, you can still use the moniker – I won’t tell.

10.  Shift IQ –  While they pitch themselves as “not a LMS” in all honesty they are a LMS.  Their whole angle is competencies tied to skills and in their platform it works.  The system includes the standard common features but also adds the ability of CEUs, compliance, training records management and much more.  Mobile friendly, but no on/off synch. 

A Top 50 system (LMS mid rankings).

9. LearnUpon  – Hits all the criteria and then some.  Best of all, it continues to get better and better.  All the standard features exist and pricing is extremely affordable.  A Top 50 system (LMS mid rankings).

8.  KMI  –  A very good “next gen” platform that meets the criteria.  The UI is slick and different, some will love it, others will be like “what the heck?”, but it works.  I see a lot of possibilities with this platform as it continues to evolve.  SCORM, Tin Can, HTML5 support.  Nice.

7.  Administrate –  Definitely not for everyone, but if you want a built in CRM, built-in invoicing, P&L, marketing with a very slick UI and feature set, then look no further.  I see them as a system to consider for the B2B space.  Standard features exist.  I wish they had gamification and on/off synch, but then again, I also wish I drove a Maserati.  A Top 15 system (LMS mid rankings).

6.  Frog –  A K-12 platform that simply is fun.  Criteria hits the mark, and their “Frog Store” is such a wonderful idea (think apps), you wonder why others in the education space haven’t figured it out (exception Canvas).  Simply speaking, one of my favorite education platforms in the space.  A top 20 system (LMS mid rankings).  Click and Jump on over to check them out (I couldn’t help myself) – ribbet, ribbet.

5. Coloni Glo –  First off you want the latest version, which I think is 4.0; otherwise you will be thinking, this is weak.  Hits the criteria and hits it hard.  Again, not for everyone, but for those that want a different experience, explore (no glo stick needed) – har har,  Oh, a Top 30 LMS (LMS Mid Rankings).

4.  Docebo –  Here comes the company, all dressed in snazzy design.  Criteria is met, especially with the one click apps into the system, and one click content/courses into the system, even if you buy 3rd party.  Docebo also includes some courses into the platform that they created at no additional charge.  Simple and easy to use, especially on the admin side.  Affordable system.  Top 10 LMS (mid-rankings).  

3.  My Big Campus –  Another system that hits the criteria button, and focuses on the K-12 market.  This is a very slick UI with standard features in the edu space along with some out of the norm features.

  If I was a kid, I’d want to use this system, especially at the secondary level.  Still needs a few items such as on/off synch, but honestly on/off synch is still not universal in the market as a whole. 

This system has hit full steam so much, that they are in my Top 10 LMS (mid-rankings)  I’d go with My Big Campus over Blackboard any day of the week in the K-12 space.

2. Expertus –   An elite system that hits all of the criteria and then some.  The UI is super slick for learners and admins.  They offer on/off synch self-contained app with an extensive set of capabilities within the app, including geolocation – which for someone doing ILT is quite cool.   

Also a multi-tenant system (aka extended enterprise).  This system is really suited for mid size and up, as such I would consider them at a minimum of 1,000 learners and ideally at a minimum of 2,000 users.  Top 5 LMS (mid-rankings)

1.  Growth Engineering –  Let me get this out of the way quickly here –  this is not your same ol same system.  It is built around gamification and when I say that, I mean the entire system is built around gamification.

This is one platform that crushes the criteria and what really amazes me, okay touches my heart – no crying please – is the constant updates to the system as in new features and capabilities.  Unlike some platforms that bring out updates once a quarter, Growth Engineering pushes them out typically monthly or every other month.   

I have seen a lot of systems and I would say that if I was a learner, I would want to use this system and I would actually stay in it a lot longer than many other LMSs on the market.

Hip – yes.  Ultra cool – yes.  Honestly, even if you are not into gamification, you should take a look at how their UI on admin and learner is done.  Top 5 LMS (mid-rankings).

Bottom Line

There you have it. The top 1o next generation LMSs.  A lot of companies may say their system is a next gen learning platform, but when you consider the criteria, and review the LMS, ask yourself, whether they really are or not.

I will say this, next gen systems are here to stay and more are coming your way.  Some exist as your typical LMS and are making massive changes as we speak, others are showing up and hitting the go button. 

And that my fellow reader,

Is what matters most.

E-Learning 24/7

Update:  The LMS Mid-rankings report has been pushed back to June 30th as a whole set of new features are being added to the report.  Features include an extensive LMS directory (containing more vendors than the one that will be public to anyone) and  video commentary (by me) for each of the top 50 LMSs, rather than text.    

If you would like to be notified when the report is available for purchase, please complete the following form


  1. Very informative post as usual Craig. I’m a big fan of Administrate and LearnUpon, great teams behind both of those. Another one to consider is Tessello which is very interesting. +1 on the Maserati…

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