Latest E-Learning News and Notes

Posted by

Well late fall is in the air, unless you are in the southern hemisphere which in that case, spring is in the air.  For those relatively new to the blog, every quarter I post the latest news and notes in the world of e-learning.

Where Will we be by 2020

If you plan on attending my latest London session will covers the future of e-learning in 2020 (and where I can say hi to you), here is some E-Learning 20-20 Stay ahead of the Game!

For those not attending (and even if you are), here is some additional insight on where I see e-learning going:

  • By 2020, 90% of all corporate training will be e-learning – everything points towards this and specifically with percentiles
  • Integrations, Apps will rule – I expect integrations to be huge in 2015 – call it the year of integrations, but don’t expect the huge fanfare that is constantly displayed when folks mention gamification or mobile
  • Ecosystems for authoring tools –  I’m not talking about it in the same scope of the LMS space (which I foresaw and which is occurring), rather think of it as a one stop shop for all your needs – I see this coming more by 2016, but there are already vendors doing it
  • The Gap – if there was ever a concern for the authoring tool industry this should be it, which means that the gap between good to average to poor is widening, and even in the good there is becoming more separation, while some people could see this as only a benefit, I do not.  Nothing ever comes out well when such a gap is appearing and continues
  • Tin Can Debate – I would even toss in LRS.  Reality is it is going to happen with Tin Can, but there are more than enough vendors out there who are putting on the brakes for it, and yet are eyeing LRS more so (which according to the Tin Can folks, you need Tin Can before you can do a LRS).  Tin Can is not going to be a mature level in 2015 and some vendors have even decided to do their own thing (similar to Tin Can) and go from there.  I am not yet confident to say Tin Can will be mature at 2016 at this point – something to keep an eye on.
  • LRS – Don’t be bought into the hype of a learning record store. They are in early stages and yeah they will appear (some vendors have them already), but if you are saying to yourself, “I must have it now”, expect a significant chunk of vendors to drop out of contention
  • Two LMS Business Models –  If I was a vendor I would have already this in play – one for internal, one for B2B/B2c. Truth of it though is that is rarely the case. To solve the issue, various vendors have gone the active/inactive route but do it, by you paying for seats up front.  It reminds me of the shell game – find the ball in these three shells. Seems easy, never is.  Anyway, this leads to
  • External Business Model – I see this coming into real play by 2016.  Vendors that have already done this or in the process of – are one major step ahead of the game.  When you are targeting B2B or retail (which has part time folks, seasonal for some places), an internal model won’t work.   What I am truly waiting for are vendors who say, look we are only focusing on external customers, not those seeking internal training.  There are a few out there and I see more coming to the table by late 2015, but I expect more to do the internal/external biz model – which has always been in play.

Bring the Noise

In the last six months, there is more hype regarding traditional vs non-traditional systems.  To me, it is all about semantics.  Yeah I do agree that there is a discernible difference between new systems coming out versus those already here – but it is not tied to feature sets or target markets. Rather it is just UI.  Many of the newer platforms have a cool, modern UI.  It doesn’t mean it has all the features you need or want down the road, nor heavy mobile, etc.

Pricing in general has been lower with many of the newer platforms as it appears they are heavily going after SMB.  But here is the thing.  I find many vendors who target say small business, who will also offer a price (to call) for more than 1,000 (which hits mid size). As such, they are now focusing on SMB.

There are two reasons behind this:

  • Perceived revenue –  Vendors often fall into the trap of believing that a customer who has 1,000 learners (internal) will have a higher budget than say 300 OR if they are targeting mid size, see a customer with 10,000 users have a higher budget than say someone with 1,500 users.  In reality that is not always the case – more so than not, actually.  I’ve worked at companies with less than 1,000 employees and had a bigger budget than one company I had with over 5,000 employees.
  • Twins.  I see a lot of new vendors who arrive and automatically see themselves as competitors to the Big Five (in terms of age and name recognition). Here is an announcement – You aren’t and why would you even want to be?   I see this with vendors who have been around for awhile too.  I never understand, why would you want to emulate or see yourselves in the same window as these guys?  Look at the consumer marketplace of cool products that took off – and see how many of them emulated the establishment?

Other Buzz terms to be on the look out:

  • Anti-LMS.  This one still drives me up the wall, because if you truly believe that – then remove the most common standard features you see in any LMS, eliminate the ability to upload 3rd party content or another 3rd party authoring tool, pull out most tracking and then you can say your an anti-LMS.  If you are totally brand new – make sure to tell your investors -VC or angels, that you are not a LMS – and then see how much cash flows in after that.  Thus, what you are saying is you are not trying to get sales in the 16B plus LMS market – because if not, you should switch to another non market.

This ties back into the traditional term.  Vendors who push this out and thus consumers pick it up (understandable)really are focusing on the Big Five who offer modules such as performance, compensation and so on.   I run into vendors all the time, smart folks who really don’t understand their own industry.  They think that the majority of vendors are targeting HR and have PM components, which in reality is far from true.

What is Being Seen

  • Ecosystems.  Big.  I am not stating that an ecosystem includes TM, because to me that is not what makes an ecosystem.  Rather it has everything you need and for the vast majority of people, TM is not part of that package.
  • TM/PM features are not the focus.  The last two years there was a lot of hype and mentioning that LMSs were going out and TM either was the driver or would be in more LMSs since TM was the lead.  What happens?  Well, in 2014, I didn’t see it.  Yeah there were vendors who added some TM features, but based on what some other firms saw, did not occur.   Rather, I would put a very small number of 1% to 1.5% out of 640 plus vendors who have at least three TM features and skill gap analysis being the most often listed.
  • Competency management.  Bigger increases overall, especially when intertwined will skill development.  It has been there for quite a while, but now many vendors are pushing it out more – in terms of marketing play than prior to. Often seen with an emphasis on regulatory requirements or along those lines.
  • Built-in authoring tools.  Nearly on the dustbin in the late 2000’s, the resurgence is here.  Across the board more vendors are adding it as a standard feature.
  • Missing Mobile –  Still too many vendors out there who think people don’t need a self-contained let alone native app, because they can access via a web browser.  Equaling concerning the number of vendors who do not have responsive.  One vendor I talked to, didn’t even know what it meant.  That was the CEO no less.  I also run into with sales people.  If a salesperson has to ask you what you mean by that (this means they do not know).
  • Marketing Blues.  Still by far one of the worst things in the LMS let alone e-learning industry.  I see a lot of great products, but unless I or someone else mentions them repeatedly, you won’t hear about them.  They assume a web site or attending a trade show is all they need.  I remember one guy telling me he talked to 20 people at a trade show who loved his product. He followed up with them. 17 never called back.   Another CEO told me they first focused on the product and then will do marketing.  I think that says a lot – and not in a good way IMO.
  • Social Communities.  Seeing more of it, but it has been around for a while.  Overall, social is just so-so.  I mean why not have some analytics tied to social, if you no longer have the brain power to come up with anything original?

Support and Service

Still awful.  And I say that with all sincerity.  Sure there are folks who do an awesome job, but there are more who stink.  Worse, many vendors are back into the “we charge” you for better support. 

One of the biggest offenders of this is Instructure, a system I like – but I mean come on.  A favorite come back line for charging for support – which BTW is for administrators (and it should be the case, so it is not for every learner) is that they (the vendor) has a cost tied to their support center.

I get that, but if you can’t figure out how to put those numbers into that imaginary seat price you set, then you should go on the web and read more about how to do a mark-up or increase profit margin. 

As for vendors who tell you they leave it out and show you so they are not hiding everything – that is another line of bogus.  That seat number is not created with some mathematical formula using ANOVAs.   And that setup fee?  Uh, if you are charging me 20K to setup my system, than that support and training should be part of it.

Want to reduce your support calls?  Here are some basics:

  • Create self-contained training courses on the platform and then each area
  • Setup a weekly chat option with technical folks (not the way Cornerstone does it – I think it is called office hours and people I know who have used it says that it is more of like your client rep than someone who can answer technical)
  • Offer monthly webinars on one topic and people can ask questions.  Make sure the webinars are on a schedule and set a minimum number of folks
  • Create a training department and hire I don’t know, how about someone with training experience or teaching experience?  I am still shocked at the number of vendors who have no such department and the person training you is a tech rep, sales rep or customer service.  No offense, but the best people to train people who are in a T&D environment are trainers.   As for the number of vendors who have an actual training department with a person overseeing the training and having such a background – well, let me just say in my 16 plus years, I have encountered less than 50.

These basics will cut down those calls and e-mails.  I mean you love putting together trade show brochures, how about create a Quick Ref Card to put on monitors – oh wait, that would require you to have a training department, never mind.

Web Conferencing

Overall, still lame.   I stopped tracking and reporting on it, because there are plenty of freebies out there – especially just for audio who do a great job, including recording, saving transcripts, etc.   

As for the true webinar, you can still find freebies out there and for the priced ones, well let’s just say cutting edge or even consumer edge is there.  Fuze does a nice job, but they only allow so many participants which hurts them.  Google Hangouts, you hit drops all the time, same with Skype. As for the bigger names – WebEx, GotoMeeting and so on?  Still mixed bag.

Authoring Tools

Listed in my Authoring Tool Presentation , which includes top 10 authoring tools for 2014 and five forecasts for 2015. For info on some of the cool features of those tools, that will be posted in my E-Learning 24/7 Linkedin group.

I also have a comparison template you can use to compare authoring tools.  It includes examples under each category.

Latest Files

I will be posting this week, some new and updated files including an updated LMS directory, updated RFP template. 

Bottom Line

Here we are – November 2014.  Just another month to go until we rumble into 2015.

What can we expect to see?

Something wonderful, something new

And as usual, something dated.

But I’ll take it, because here is the thing

It isn’t going away.

It isn’t leaving.

It is only going to get bigger and better

And that is something worthwhile.

For all of us.

E-Learning 24/7




  1. Hi Craig,

    Great post! I think your point on Tin Can is interesting. For a few start-up LMSs, using Tin Can is the gateway to:

    1) Having a great and engaging learner experience. SCORM content is not easily mobile ready.
    2) EXTREMELY useful to enable 3rd party courses to be brought into a system. (Articulate, Adobe, DominKnow’s authoring tools all let you publish to Tin Can 1.0). If you use those tools, you can simply “re-publish” to Tin Can.

Comments are closed.