Everyone loves to win awards. In fact, I can’t recall someone not being happy to win an award. Okay, Marlon Brando and George C. Scott are two exceptions, but when it comes to e-learning, winning an award brings excitement across the board.

With that in mind, I’d like to present my e-learning awards for 2014.

The requirements?  My brain.  Yep, totally unscientific here for the most part, except for the LMS awards and authoring tools based on a set of criteria (which was used in the 2014-15 LMS Top 50 report, available for purchase on Jan. 20th).

Nominees

When ever businesses are up for awards, many love to know who else was considered or nominated in a manner of speaking. I mean winning it one thing, being able to rub it in someone’s face is another, especially if they are a tried and true competitor, who deep down you despise (and you know you do).

Let’s Start it off

Top three nominees for E-Learning Conference of 2014

I went about looking at this from my attending the shows, which had to be part of the criteria.  Otherwise, it would be like me picking winners based on them submitting applications with responses specifically geared to the questions or just winging it, which is not something I am really into doing.

I considered two parts of the show.  First the sessions themselves.  If I was unable to attend any sessions, I based it on what I heard from another folks who did.  I mean, if you can’t trust the feedback from attendees, who can you trust?

Secondly, I looked at the expo/trade show itself.  Since, I walk around and look at the vendor booths, etc. that was an important factor.  Some shows, the expo ruled and the seminars did not, and vice versa.

  • DevLearn – Las Vegas – Good show, and IMO, this year’s was the best one yet. If you have an authoring tool this is a must show.
  • World of Learning Conference – Birmingham, UK – Lots of potential here. Well organized – a must show for e-learning vendors in 2015.  Lots of decision makers here. If I am a LMS vendor who is either exploring Europe, has clients in Europe or wants to have clients in Europe – you should be here. 
  • Online Educa Berlin, Berlin Germany.  Extremely well organized, lots of seminars, strong crowd.  A must if you are targeting HE, but was surprised to see more corporate here than before.

And the winner is…

DevLearn, Las Vegas.  Congrats.  – lots of traffic and booths, organized as stated, everything was in order and worked fine.  If I was to give one negative it would be that the expo was a tad hoof to get to from the casino, even with my foot scooter. (beep, beep)

Top three nominees for Web Conferencing Tool of 2014

Lots of choices out there including freebies.  The big issue with web conferencing is that generally speaking, they all have issues. I recall a call I was on with a web conferencing vendor and we were using their product and whalla, it stopped working, so we had to talk via phone. 

Anyway, let’s get this over quickly..

  • WebEx the new UI is fantastic and service continues to be hit or miss, but that UI
  • Fuze – UI is always good, but they cannot handle large number of humans on a call and that you only can get “recording” if the highest priced package. Mobile is slick.
  • iLinc – A solid platform that lands in here because of a uniqueness – which is the ability to save the recorded sessions as SCORM files.  Thus your learning is truly a learning component if you want.  Oh and it has Salesforce.com integration – Sweet.

Before announcing the winner – I think what is really surprising is how high the costs have shot up with many vendors. Click Meeting charges like $79 a month for 100 participants, which makes Fuze’s $40/m (annual pre-paid) for 250 users a bargain. Then you have anymeeting which charges $78 a month for 20o participants or join.me which I used to really like who goes with a price per seat option (paid yearly mind you), which shows low, but if you run the numbers and have all the feature sets, you pay $19 per user/m – thus for 200 participants you just dropped close to $400 a month. Yuck.

And the winner is

No one.  I honestly, couldn’t pick out one clear winner. I mean Fuze overall is very good, but recording only at premium? How dare you! WebEx – that UI is impressive, but I have had mixed experience good and bad with the product, just as I have had with Adobe for that matter.

Thus, I’d recommend trying out some of the sort of freebies – Google Hangout – which when doing video recording sometimes freezes, Skype – similar issue or the free version up to ten people of UberConference .

Top three nominees for Authoring Tool of 2014

I announced the winner back in October at DevLearn, so please excuse the repeat here.

  • dominKnow Claro – SaaS includes the ability to work on the same page with multiple people at the same time and different locations, feature set is extensive. Has an on/off synch mobile app.
  • Adobe Captivate 8- Desktop – why? Anyway, very good feature set. According to some Captivate users there was an issue when iOS went to 8.1, but apparently it has been resolved. 
  • CM-Group Create – A wonderful authoring tool for mobile whose only downer is that not that many folks have ever heard of it.  Feature rich offering.

And the winner is

Abobe Captivate.   Here is my presentation, listing the top 10 and forecasts (if you were an attendee you received specifics about each of the top 10 selections) DevLearn_Conf

Top three nominees for Free Digital Tool of 2014

As an added bonus for this part, I have included my presentation of the top 20 free Digital_Tools_ +1 for $2.99.

  • Microsoft Office-Mix add-in. Review.  Since the review, I happy to announce that as I surmised, Microsoft sees this solution as a stand alone authoring tool. In addition, they are planning to release for apps for it to work with and SCORM sometime in Q1 2015.  They are also working on the mobile side of the house (I assume xAPI).  I have been told by a source at Microsoft that the product will remain free.  Please remember to use the add-in, you need PowerPoint 2013. 
  • Amazon Storyteller.  Create your own storyboard. You can create up to 100 panels for free.  If you create courses and want to do what many experts do – then you will want a storyboard solution. Here is one for free.
  • ScoTube.  One of the biggest issues in today’s video course space is the inability to convert videos into SCORM. I mean yeah you can do it via a VLP (Video learning platform) or if the LMS vendor does it behind the scenes via an API wrapper (and some do), but for the day to day person finding a tool that converts it is no easy task.  Thank G-D for ScoTube.  It will convert your video into SCORM 1.2 and yeah it is free.  It is in the SCORM Cloud (which is fee based), but you do not have to buy SCORM Cloud to use it. 

And the winner is

Microsoft Office Mix.  I really like the product and it has so much potential. If I was Adobe with their presenter product, I would either give it away (yeah right) or punch it up quite a bit.  Additionally, depending how Microsoft goes about this they could eventually say in two years or so, create an offering that matches if not surpasses Articulate Studio.   Just something to think about.

Top three nominees for Learning Management System of 2014

A couple of notes:

a. The Jan 20 report will identify the top 50 LMSs for 2014-15. The report includes extensive details, including how they calculate price, unique value proposition and setup information, along with top three rankings in various verticals, niches and genres.

b. The rankings below and in the report are based on a fifteen point criteria – included in the report i.e. specifics. 

c. This is based on my own personal directory of 645 LMS vendors around the world. 

Since the report and the post aligned to it (appears the same day as the report), goes into some of the details for the rankings of those top 10 per se (just as last year), I am just going to present the final three for 2014 and identify the #1 for 2015 out of this list.

  • ExpertusOne – 2011, 2012, 2013-14 LMS of the year.  You cannot go wrong with this LMS. Fantastic for B2B/B2C and mid size up for internal employees. One of the first vendors with on/off synch native apps for iOS and Android, ability to take courses/assessments etc. within Salesforce.com without having to leave the LMS, very crisp UI, gamification, predictive analysis whereas the system can recommend courses based on previous courses taken/completed by end user and strong administration.
  • Growth Engineering – #2 for 2013-14. Outstanding hip UI for learner and administrator. Has just about every feature you can want – with two exceptions and that is changing quickly. One is mobile – which by early Jan. will include a native app for iOS and Android with on/off synch and features to boot, and e-commerce – they have basic, but will release by mid Q1 an extensive set of e-commerce functionality.

This is a gamification LMS and even if you are not into gamification, it is still a very worthwhile system.  Support is outstanding. One major win for me is their creation of an integration store – whereas you select the APIs you want and they plug them into your system at no charge. 

System is ideal for B2B/B2C, mid size and higher (internal employees).  That said if I was in SMB, I wouldn’t have a problem going with them.  Growth is also in the process of launching a HE version which will contain features not in their business platform and vice versa.

  • eLogic Learning – My biggest gripe with them in the past has been the UI, which while it is good has not been to me as outstanding as it could be. Well, that is changing.  By the end of Q1, the LMS will have a very modern metro like interface (think Windows 8 metro). 

This is a system perfect for B2B/B2c and mid size+ internal.   Two big wins for me, besides constant updated features and enhancements are:  includes 120 courses at no charge, they (eLogic Learning) will create a custom course for you at no charge and they will give you the dominKnow Claro authoring tool at no charge.  Support is outstanding.  Mobile too.

Both eLogic and Growth Engineering have separate pricing models for B2B. As for Expertus, please check directly with them – I believe they do, but could not confirm prior to this post.

And the winner is….

Stay Tuned.

Just kidding

Growth Engineering is 2014-15 LMS of the year.  I’ll give you a greater depth of information and insight in the report (fee based) and some overall details in the Top 10 blog post the week of Jan. 20th.

Credits Roll..

Curtain closes

Good night Folks! Have a safe and happy new year!

E-Learning24/7