2014 LMS Trends

Latest Eight #LMS #Trends

Nine is a magical number. Nine of the latest LMS trends in the market. Along the way, I'll toss in a few travel trends that I am seeing to and guess what? No need to pay that service fee.

With the amount of travel that I do, I’ve come to identify some trends.  Having the hotel’s frequent awards program card gets you free internet. Even not having the card prior to arrival, but signing up online, gets you free internet.  

Free iced water mixed with cucumber slices or lemon or strawberries seems popular.  Especially with mini dixie like cups forcing you to stand there and look like a slob guzzling the ice water.

Buying extras like sodas, chips, etc. from their “market” is outrageous. And for some reason, there is often a convenience store nearby, which you don’t find until the night before you depart.

Lastly, wondering how cities allow taxis to not accept credit cards is shocking and those that do, what is with the default 20% tip?  I would think 3% would suffice, especially if they are taking you on a joy ride instead of taking you via the best route to get to your final location.

Those are the trends I am finding in my travel.  Perhaps you are finding similar ones.

They are like a nice glass of strawberry and apple slices ice water. They are like fresh cookies right out of the oven from yesterday and re-heated in the microwave.

They are your new BTF – “best trend forever”.

Trend 1 – Learning Mastery

It is in the latest buzz, but the buzz is not alone. Systems are starting to use the term to stipulate that their system provides a higher quality of mastery (learning) than anyone else.

While that sounds all nice and impressive, the way some of these systems are doing it, can make any training professional’s skin crawl.

You want learning mastery? Okay, just follow these steps

  1. Create a to do list with items that need to be completed each day, the learner enters the system
  2. This to do list is on the learner’s homepage – easy to be seen
  3. Each item in the list must be completed and in many cases numerous times – this builds up retention
  4. Once all the items are completed, a new list is developed
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 5 and rinse (okay, don’t rinse)

The problem with this trend is that it forces learners to do a checklist each day in the guise of boosting retention.  I don’t know about you, but having someone give you a to do list is not going to make me happy.  I have those every weekend, so why as an adult learner do I want it as a benefit to learning?

Anyway it is a trend and may the force of lists be with you.

Trend 2 Responsive mobile design

Another one on the rise for LMS vendors and honestly, e-learning vendors as a whole.  Basically it means that regardless of the mobile device, the screen will automatically change to reflect that device. 

So rather than have the LMS look squished on a smartphone it now looks similar to the way it does online except smaller.   Personally, I am a big fan of responsive mobile design.

Speaking of which,

Trend 3 Online/Offline synch

Joy to the world, all the learners and administrators, la la la.  You should be thrilled to know that my singing voice is really poor, so writing the song sounds so much better.

Anyway, this trend is gaining some steam and it is clear that vendors as a whole have finally realized three important items

  • More people are accessing systems via a mobile device, mostly tablets
  • People from a variety of industries are using tablets and are often not in Wi-Fi areas
  • People want to access their content, take courses, do assessments, and use their mobile app for a wide variety of items beyond the course capability BUT also want the ability to go offline and then when possible, go online

As a result, vendors who were anti- on/off synch are now working on it to become a reality.  Most are targeting Q4 of this year or Q1 of next year, but there are plenty who are in build mode as we speak with live dates by Sept/Oct. or earlier.

This is great stuff.  The big question now becomes with type of app do they use?  In other words:

  • Native app (which has to be built for each type of OS, so one for iOS, one for Android and so on)
  • HTML5 app (one app to rule them all, actually it is universal so it works on all OSs)

Right now, native app is leading the charge.  I’d love to see some HTML5 apps, but having vendors at least realize the importance of on/off synch and a self-contained app is a big win in my book.

Trends 4, 5 and 6

Zoom, Zoom, here they are:

  • I’ll take nine points Craig – “How many vendors are adding gamification?” – Good news, a lot.  It is on hyper overdrive. Expect it to hit warp drive by Q4 of this year and into Q1 next year. But already many vendors have added “game” to the system (snark, snark) or are launching within the next few months.
  • Video didn’t kill the radio star, rather it made them look more sharper and clearer.  Anyway, video courses both by consumers (clients of LMS vendors) and 3rd party content providers are showing up more and more.  But what those folks are facing are two big hurdles.
  1. The majority of systems cannot track the video to the extent of say a learner in a course.  The typical capabilities are how many times Juliette went into the video, how long was she in the video and the date of when she was in the video.  There is no bookmarking per se, not like a course, and you cannot extract a lot of details as you could with a course (depending on a system).
  2. Many vendors say they can accept a video course or video, but want it within an authoring tool wrapper.  Under this arrangement, the video can have a lot more tracking data, but that is because it is in an authoring tool course wrapper.

Fear not, there are vendors whose systems can do a lot more tracking and thus extract a lot more information than the typical bits out there right now.  There are more vendors in this category than there was at the start of the year, but it still has a long way to go.  On the bright side, video courses as noted above and videos in general are on the rise.

  •  Modern UI – This one is kicking into high gear with many more vendors finally seeing the light and changing their UI to a more modern and crisp look. That said, it is not universal. In other words, while they are making the learner side more modern, they often forget the admin side.  As a result it looks like a mish-mash.  One vendor I know has it the opposite, very modern admin side, just average learner side.

Despite seeing the light there are still a lot of vendors out there who feel that 1996 was a good year for design and want to keep their system looking that way.

 Trends 7 and 8

  •  (Trend 7) Increase in the number of vendors focusing on two really hot markets: a) Healthcare including medical care (which is actually slightly different), b) content providers – (this is often tossed into the B2B arena, so in that case you could say B2B market in general too – which would then make it three hot markets
  • (Trend 8) I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog or Linkedin E-Learning 24/7 group posting, but customer service and support is getting worse, so this is a really bad trend that has been this way for years. What makes it different now?  It is actually getting worse. I still don’t understand how this issue continues to be alive and well, especially when data shows that the number one reason people leave their LMS to go to another one is SUPPORT AND SERVICE.

This might explain why I heard this comment while in Austin (speaking at an event) last week.  The comment, actually comments were in regards to people’s LMSs. It seemed to be universal in the room, that folks hated their current LMS, which led to one person stating that every LMS stinks.

As one who has had numerous LMSs, I can state that if you think your system stinks or isn’t doing everything it is supposed to be doing, time to find another system.  And yeah, it takes time, but what is worse – some time to find a new one OR gripe, have your learners hate it and stop using it and your admins despise it?

Oh and that bogeyman scare tactic regarding data migration and issues of moving data is alive once again.  Some vendors seem to think that by saying this, people will just stick it out and guess what, they are right.  Here is the think though – it is not true.  It is just a scare tactic. 

If you want to be scared, then check out this trend (number 9)

People who still think open source LMSs are the best route to go rather than a commercial system 

Part of this frightening attitude is the believe that open source systems and in most cases they are using Moodle is free and easy to use. 

The trend within this trend is an increase of Moodle and other open source platforms on the corporate side. 

While you can have unlimited users versus say the vast majority of LMSs (not all), you also get a lot of extra headaches and suffering with that open source platform. 

And yes, you could say to me, “Well, I get that now with my LMS,” I would retort “then you should find a new LMS.”

Bottom Line

Nine magical trends.  I could add a few more, but nine is a fine number.

Best of all, these trends just reminded me of one more dealing with travel.

 It can be quite expensive.

It’s a good thing then, that my trends are free.

Otherwise, I might have to charge you a 22% service fee.

Gratuity is extra.

E-Learning 24/7

 

10 comments

  1. Thanks for that Craig. A great overview of industry needs.

    The offline syncing is key. We have created a number of apps for corporations with BYOD policies. The majority of in-app interaction (notes, highlighting etc) occurs when the app user is offline, and without syching capabilities this would not work. In the future when there is fully accessible wifi everywhere we won’t be needing this, clearly. But in the meantime it’s key.

    As for video. We can achieve what you describe; and videos are trackable within our app software. If any training teams or LMS providers are keen to run some of their videos through the software as a trial, we’ll be happy to accomodate this: http://www.yudu.com/what-we-do/industries/training

    Thanks again,
    Laura

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  2. I find the niche LMS really annoying (trend 7). I was denied a trial of an LMS because they didn’t think it would work for us. What???!! You’re turning down an opportunity to convert a sale? Since then, I have no desire to revisit their site or acknowledge them. Aren’t I the one who should make that decision?

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    1. Absolutely. However, there are exceptions. I mean if you are not in Healthcare and you find a system whose vertical is only Healthcare it is resoanble for them to say that this is not the system for you. I know of specific niche systems such as one for the tennis industry, one for baristas, one for massage therapists and so on. So, even if you like the system it is fair for them to state that this system is not for you (if you are not in their verticals).

      So it depends on the verticals in my opinion. For many vendors they list the specific verticals but if someone from outside that vertical wants to take a dive, they will do it – because in the end it is all about the $$. Without knowing your circumstance and assuming that the system of interest had multiple verticals (Rather than say one, which you were not part of) it could be that the vendor did not see you as a worthwhile customer – i.e. in terms of number of users and revenue generation, so they declined.

      What I always find weird are vendors who focus on X size of users and nothing below that. One vendor I know and whose system I like, told me that if the customer has less than 2,000 users they are not interested.

      I know plenty of companies who have huge budgets for e-learning that are under 2,000 users, heck even 1,500. In fact, I know of a company whose budget was close to 800K a year for e-learning including a LMS and had around 1,200 employees. I also know companies who have 5,000, 10,000 or more users and whose budget was less than 50,000 a year.

      Equally, I know vendors whose pricing targets those folks that are small business which is great, but then lists “enterprise” as the last option which they identify as 2,000 or more customers.

      So out of five price points (for example), four are in the 500 or less users, and even 200 or less, and then the fifth is for enterprise. This always bothers me, because I wonder if the vendor has the infrastructure to be able to handle this size of usage.

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    1. Sure. Here are just a few:

      a. Failing to respond in a reasonable time to the client; if the client contacts you with an issue and leaves a voicemail, it should be responded to within a few hours especially if it is truly a high issue. If not, high, still a few hours. I mean the mailbox – phone wise is often a general so that anyone can listen in support. If your support mailbox goes to one person only, then have a back-up in case that person is not there.

      b. Failing to follow-up with the client, as in failing to respond at all. This is a major issue that is getting worse and has been for some time. The client contacts via e-mail, vendor does not respond. Client calls vendor and leaves message. Vendor does not respond. Client sends another e-mail, vendor does not respond. Vendors who do this, have real problems in support and rather than tackling it and solving it, they do nothing. One reader told me that they contacted support of a big name vendor multiple times and never heard back from the vendor. Since the issue was that the system was done, you would think that the vendor would respond. Eventually the reader got a hold of support and support said to them, “yeah it is a high priority”, then went on and said they hadn’t even investigated it yet – uh, it went on for two days like that.

      Other readers tell me that they have run into the lack of response from vendors, and just give up. Another reader told me that their vendor had a regional office, so they contacted them, after never hearing back from said vendor’s support. What happened? The regional office salesperson didn’t even follow up.

      c. Pushing the blame to the customer. Look some issues are technical related or whatever and yeah, there are times it is due to the customer. But if it isn’t, then the vendor should do whatever to solve it. There are vendors who find it easier to push it off and play the blame game.

      d. System is down due to issues on the vendor side and they never contact their customers to let them know which is the appropriate thing to do. So, the admin has zero idea until people start griping.

      e. Wine you, dine you, land you and then forget about you. This is increasing – and ties into customer service.

      And finally, I think I would be remiss to tell you about a story a reader passed on to me. One morning they went into their LMS and found out the course content from Skillsoft was not working. So they called their LMS vendor. The LMS vendor told them they couldn’t do anything and that the customer had to call Skillsoft to find out more and get it resolved.

      The customer called Skillsoft who told them that they needed to call the LMS vendor. And, no surprise, the customer just gave up, because it would have been the “you call them, we know nothing game”.

      I ended up talking to a VP at Skilsoft and brought up this issue. They were shocked to learn that the LMS vendor did this, since the vendor should have taken care of the problem, by simply saying that they (LMS vendor) would investigate it (and pick up the phone and call Skillsoft), rather than pushing it off and having the customer do it.

      Since I am mentioning Skillsoft, I think it is only fair to mention who the vendor was in this fiasco, it was Cornerstone.

      Skillsoft was correct in saying that Cornerstone who sold the courses to the customer and loaded them into the system, should have taken charge and handled the issue, via calling Skillsoft, seeing what was going on and then letting the customer know. What they did instead was pass the buck (as we say). The reader was clearly upset, because their employees were contacting the admin and griping, and the admin couldn’t get it resolved because of the lack of taking charge by the vendor.

      To me, that is irresponsible on the part of the LMS vendor.

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  3. Excellent observations overall, even without a nice glass of ice water with slices of strawberry 🙂
    And yes, gamification has finally become recognized more widely and now is a hot trend in training, education & elearning… It has good potential but like all trends may be overapplied. The trick is moderation & very tightly focused placement.

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