Readers Q&A on E-Learning

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For those new to the E-Learning 24/7 blog, every quarter I offer readers the opportunity to ask any questions related to e-learning and post them along with a response.  This last quarter saw the most questions ever asked, which was quite cool, but made it difficult to select which ones would appear this quarter.

Topics covered in this quarter’s Q&A:

  • Assessment Tools in 2020
  • LMS Vendors to watch
  • Top 50 LMS Rankings
  • Cornerstone OnDemand

Drum roll.. uh, you imagine that to yourself..

Q:  I attended your session on the Future of E-Learning 2020 and was curious on your perspective of where assessment tools will be in 2020.

A:  I’m split on the fence with standalone assessment tools (example: Questionmark).  Most of them (not all), offer multiple capabilities beyond an assessment tool in say an authoring tool or a LMS.  However, as noted above, not all of them (i.e. universally) follow that angle.

I do not see the market gone by 2020, but I do see an opportunity for vendors who are not standalone assessment tool ones, to take a big chunk out of the solutions, by grabbing what works, improving upon it and sticking it in their own offerings (i.e. authoring tools, LMS/LP).

I will add this though, just because they will be around in 2020, doesn’t mean they can just sit upon their laurels.  Which gets back to sitting on the fence.  Will they become the LCMS of 2015 (slim pickings and fighting for survival) or will they adapt/adopt and deliver?  Because right now, they are sitting around, slowly tinkering around.  When you play that game, you will lose – and lose big.

Q: We use Cornerstone OnDemand for our LMS and have to ask – where do you see them today?

A:  I see them quite differently than many of my peers, because I have to look at them wearing two different hats:

  • Analyst
  • Buyer perspective (i.e. learner/admin angle)

And in the case of the analyst role, I usually place a sub-set of LMS knowledge exceeding 17 years in the e-learning market, and tracking of extensive number of systems (690 today).

When I add all those pieces up, to me it creates an entire different picture and thus perspective.

On the Analyst front:

I see them as a HCM (Human Capital Management) system, where learning is a component rather than a primary (IMO). However, the people I have spoken with at CoD tell me that Learning Cloud (the LMS) is their biggest seller in their product line.

Since that is the case, I would expect them to be doing way more (innovating faster for one), than exists today.

This is bothersome to me. If the financial numbers quarterly are so strong, then why is the product, Learning Cloud, lagging in some areas versus others (in comparison with the LMS space on average)?

For example, why did it take them so long to create a Modern UI – and why haven’t they yet completed the entire makeover (and please don’t say the “time” factor – it is not like you are brand new to the space)?

Why have they failed to innovate and adopt new tech capabilities for Learning Cloud? 

I mean they seem to be focused on only their top competitors (and even then I have to wonder if they truly know all their top competitors in actuality) and what they are doing than looking at the entire industry and seeing the trends along with the consumer market trends to create a powerhouse.

From a Buyer perspective, and subset LMS expert tied to that whole knowledge angle, I will highlight some quick pluses/minuses that I have seen this past year (from July 2014 to July 2015)


  • Massive improvement in Support – It is way better than before, but it still has a long way to go – frankly I have yet to see it as top tier, but it is clear they understand it is a problem for them
  • Mobile Plus –  They get it – BUT as I mentioned above they are slacking in the innovation factor – I mean they were slow to a few contemporaries such as ExpertusOne (who I do see as a competitor to them), whose mobile feature sets today are better – “voice”, “geolocation (first vendor to include it).
  • Going SaaS –  Learning Cloud is pure SaaS – I was worried they would be the last of the Big Dogs to go SaaS only (they weren’t)
  • Improved UI in many areas on the learner side and on the admin side – BUT, they still have a way to go (more on that in a sec)


  • Not the leaders on any of their new feature sets – this has always been an issue with CoD, they are slugs when it comes to adapting and adopting.  They have improved, but a slug moves faster on some of these items.  Example – Learner Centric Model (the one I discussed at ATD) – not even there yet – and they should be.
  • Pricing – it’s not cheap – you could argue “Well they are premium and premium is never cheap” and that is fine and dandy, but for a vendor who is willing to take 500 users for example, their pricing should reflect better along those lines of that small space, it doesn’t
  • People leaving – I know, I know they have high retention rates, but I talk to a lot of vendors in this space and I always hear how they have been landing CoD customers, not customer – but customers.

It is like a slow drip, drip, drip, drip – and you have to ask why.  Yes, people leave and yes it is for a variety of reasons, but when you listen to some folks who have the system (at trade shows) and they state they wish they didn’t have it OR their head office made them get it, isn’t what you want or expect to hear.

  • Uploading of multiple courses – You can’t on your own.  You can upload one course at a time.  If you want to upload many, you can – by having CoD do it for you.  This is troubling to me.  Troubling.
  • Too much on the administration side –  We know that administrators tend to use the same features over and over again and not all them – so too much isn’t always a good thing.  If you doubt me – look at your satellite or cable channels.  If you are like me, it exceeds 400 channels and I’ll be honest, I tend to watch the same 10 or so over and over again.
  • Slow for UI enhancements – it can be difficult for a learner to move around the system and the modern UI thing bothers me

One of the interesting tidbits I often hear is people picking them because of their name – which reminds of me of the tradition thing.  Well, they are well-known in the industry and been around a long time, so we must pick them.  Good reason – not.   If that is your attitude then you must still be using a VCR.  It is well known, been around a long time – you can still find VHS tapes – so stay with it.

Q:  Who do you see as LMS vendors to watch this coming year (2015-16) and secondly, will there be new vendors in your top 50 for 2016 report?

A:  Let me answer the second question first. – YES.   The rankings are fluid, so just because you were in the top 10 for 2015, doesn’t mean you will be there in 2016 and just because you were not in the rankings in 2015, doesn’t mean you won’t be there in 2016.

With more vendors comes more to explore and see who is going the right way and who isn’t.

If I look at the 2015 Top 10 for example, I still see five of them as ones to watch – but as with anything there are minuses.  I mean I have yet to find the perfect LMS out there, because perfection does not exist, you can always get better.

That said, from 2015 Top 10

  • Growth Engineering – Continues to move forward and the authoring tool Genie is slick.  Fast to push mobile out (inc. on/off synch), feature rich, sweet UI – admin is being updated (plus) and not just a gamification LMS anymore.  IT is a full blown LMS which has gamification wrapped around it. Big difference.  Oh – strong for Extended Enterprise, Enterprise and the B2B/B2C space.
  • ExpertusOne – Another forward thinking system.  They hit a slow streak there for a bit, but seems to hitting all cylinders as of late.  Mobile strong BTW, Extended Enterprise, Enterprise strong. B2B is very strong – power to e-commerce.
  • eLogic Learning –  One of the most robust feature platforms on the market, whose biggest minuses are their UI (which is being overhauled and the new look will go live in Sept) and mobile.

The mobile is responsive, but missing on/off synch and native apps.  Get those issues solved and it stays among the elites.  B2B/B2C, Extended Enterprise and Enterprise strong.  Oh, and the first vendor to use my Learner Centric model –  which is awesome – not because they are the first vendor to use my model, but learner centric is the way LMSs need to go (as mentioned in 2020 presentation).

  • Unicorn Training –  UK vendor slowly hitting the US and doing so with thunder and not sticks hitting a drum.  Strong in Enterprise and EE, but I wish they were better in B2B/B2C (good).

Still the leader in financial services – first vendor to have bookmarks for repeative features for learners (think favorites option), and front end UI is strong.  Continues to improve – like to see the admin side get a revamp for UI (in process).  Mobile needs to improve – again, responsive, but no on/off synch or native apps as of yet.

  • Docebo –  Strong in Enterprise, solid in Extended Enterprise.  B2B/B2C is solid, but would like to see it stronger – can’t go wrong with it though.  Mobile is responsive but again, no on/off synch and their native app right now – is horrible.  I’ve been told they are revamping it and will launch a new one either Q4 this year or Q1 next year. Lacks competency features – which is a surprise.

One area to note – unless you purchase the “Enterprise” edition, “gamification”, “classroom management”, “white labeling” and a few others are not included – separate cost.  It is hard to find on the site, but here it is for you.

Lots of apps – YEAH, and the ability to add new courses is fast – still love the one click and whalla in the LMS – EVERYONE SHOULD DO THIS – there, I said it.

Who to Watch

This is an upcoming blog post – next week – so let’s hold on that.  However, one vendor that really intrigues me is Degreed

I have an issue with their points thing – the system does it – and you can’t assign the point thing, I’m not doing it justice on the explanation – because well, it’s been a long morning already, but it is a very intriguing solution.  They have some cool things in the system, but also some weak things.

Adobe Captivate Prime – I’m going through the system as we speak, gearing up for my product review – after they launch the LMS, which is scheduled for sometime in August. 

It has some very nice items and like anything is missing some items and I have questions on some things, yet it is intriguing.  The final report – again, have to wait.  Snicker, Snicker – Oh, I still hate the name – Dump “Captivate” and just go Adobe Prime.

Netex Learning Cloud I see them best suited for SMB, and very slick UI. Features are solid.  But again, they need some items.  It’s not for everyone and it is still a work in progress, but potential is there.

Bottom Line

There you have it.  The latest edition of Q&A.

Oh, last question of the day:

Actually it is more of an answer

The first ever “town hall” topic discussed webinar featuring Moi is coming.

It’s free, it’s going to be cool

And it’s going to be fun – well at least for some.

E-Learning 24/7