Product Review – Adobe Captivate Prime LMS

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Adobe Captivate Prime brings forth a modern UI, along with a simple UX (user experience), but along the way misses the boat on several items that leaves one wondering why?

The solution which is captivating many in the industry offers something for many folks, a solution that focuses on the learner, yet offers caveats to those that it is trying to better.  On the administration side easy sometimes isn’t better and the solution faces some early challenges.

This isn’t to say the solution is in the minus rack, rather it is to say it is still a work in progress.

Let’s Go to the Tape


  • Mobile native apps for iOS and Android, on/off synch (Awesome)
  • Gamification comparison whereas learners can see where they rank against their peers or individual colleague
  • Modern User Interface relatively easy to use and understand; administration side similar albeit there are a couple of areas that are challenging
  • Built in authoring tool that is a simple add what you want in to it and whalla you are are off and running
  • Within the course player, ability to add notes – including notes to PDFs – within the player mind you, that the learner can refer back to
  • Tutorials on specific parts/features within the system
  • Create a learning plan in somewhat auto function with rules, whereas a person can add a new user based on a set of parameters, automatically into a course and thus learning plan, without having to do it manually each time
  • Can add skills tied to credits tied to badges if so desired
  • Skills map on home learner page
  • Map courses to skills
  • Streaming video backend – enabling you to upload your video and it automatically be encoded and stream back as a video module
  • FTP overnights for the HRIS system or HR database – Captivate Prime learns it on the first upload (I did not test this – this is according to Adobe)
  • Gamification – but at the same time it has a unique identifier, it also has the standards as in leaderboard, badges, points


  • E-mail templates and reminders
  • Classroom management
  • Virtual Classroom
  • Certificates
  • Learning Timeline next to course(s) on learner home dashboard; learner can select on their timeline a specific course or select the course next to it
  • Progress dates
  • Can upload your own logo, create a sub-domain
  • Most standard features
  • Profile – can also view your face on home learner page
  • Badges
  • Support is included – phone, chat, knowledge base, e-mail (but time specific availability, as in not all are 24/7)
  • SCORM, SCORM 1.2 and AICC (why is there AICC?  What’s next offering Egg Creams for purchasers?), xAPI will be arriving in Q4 2015


  • Under gamification to attain levels and thus acquire badges (on the admin side) cannot change the points to attain a specific level badge (example shortly on what I am referring to)
  • Cannot change the UI colors, you start off with grey/black, in another area it is putty like color with dry brown like color
  • Only skinning is the ability to upload your own logo
  • No e-commerce
  • Did you know that?  No and I don’t care
  • Pushes the “completion” or “must complete” courses, etc. – rather than what WBT was defined to do – select courses/content, jump around and focus on the page or whatever that you want to learn and increase knowledge – you know “non-linear”, in this approach – “completion” is not the requirement
  • Primarily need to upload your own badges, the ones that come with it are major lame
  • No social
  • No compliance features
  • Under the author (create your own course within the system), it can be a tad challenging due to the module and course structure – the only time I found it not to be as simple as you expect, yes easy to create etc., but the module angle with the course thing, well you have to read more about it down below
  • Supports English only at this time, no multilingual
  • Self-Service system in a sense, can buy and go live quickly (albeit at Enterprise I would not)
  • You have to complete courses in order to acquire points for gamification – huge YUCK;  there is one offering that allows you to just select any course BUT after you complete a course – defeats the purpose of WBT, whereas you can select any courses and focus on specific areas without having to complete it (right now these folks miss out)

Adobe asked me not to publish their pricing, since in some areas it can be negotiated.  I did agree not to publish the pricing (and please do not ask me for it, since I promised I would not provide it).

Adobe sees the system as a LMS with LCMS features.  I’m not sure about the LCMS angle. 

The only areas I saw was the ability for content versioning and RLOs, which are just a couple of pieces of a LCMS.  Yeah folks love to shove in built-in authoring tool too, and that is fine with me, but the whole LCMS statement, I just don’t see it (and yeah, I let Adobe know that).

It is a LMS, but hey if you want to pitch it equally as a LCMS go for it – since that market is drying up faster than a bunch of grapes sitting in the sun and turning into raisins.

Learner Side

Upon logging into the system you see the learner’s home dashboard.


The brand logo is on the left side, you can have your own logo there along with your name.  The top headers for learners are Home (what you are looking at), Learning and Catalog.   The bell looking icon is for messages.  Face icon – Profile Settings.  If you are an administrator – you will see

  • Administrator
  • Author
  • Manager
  • Learner

With button clicks next to each view.

Within in the page, you will see your beautiful face again or whatever image you want to place in there. Next your ratings for completion of content/courses/items (think progress bar) towards attaining a badge.

If you click the badge, you will go the “badge” screen whereas you can download the “badge”.  When I did it I got the badge image, zipped in a file.  I could say something about that, but best to leave it to your imagination.

The Skills Map shows the skills you need to attain/acquire thru (trainings their term) assigned to you or available in the catalog.

Personally, I hate the word trainings. I mean Adobe refers at one point to courses – self-paced (aka asynchronous based), webinar, etc.  – The proper term should be learning – I mean isn’t that the goal of taking courses (regardless if they are completed or not) – to LEARN and acquire knowledge.

Before jumping into the “Learning Timeline”, you can see “INTERNAL” – this refers to an internal certification. If you see a badge like icon it means you can acquire a badge with it. 

The name of the course that needs to be completed is listed (you have to complete it to get a certificate) and as you can see this course has not yet been started.

The “Did You Know” – is sort of a knowledge based wrapped within questions.  I’d rather have a different widget/block there – and give the administrator some options.  I mean you could add a social angle to it – “Twitter Feed”, “leaderboard top rankings”, “where you stand in the rankings”, “list of favorites” and so forth.

I did not have enough courses in the system to see the “Recommended Courses”, but the system will use machine learning (aka predictive analysis) to recommend courses – based on what you have completed. I state completed rather than currently taking (without mandatory completion) because the LMS as a whole is setup that way.

For example on the administration side, when you pick your module, the “self-paced” module states that “learners can begin and complete a course module based on their own pace or schedule”.  If you say “complete”, uh that means completing it – which as noted above is not what WBT was defined nor designed to do. 

Shouldn’t it be “begin or take courses in the course module based on blah blah” rather than the “has to complete”?  This for me is a big fail on the part of the Adobe platform and as mentioned earlier is seen throughout the system.

Learning Timeline

homedashviewlearningtimelineurcoursesdiduknowIn this example, you will see how the timeline works.  Depending on how many courses you have (or whatever).

Click the progress bar on learning timeline – enjoy the putty color.  Best to enjoy when it is freezing outside and you are miserable.  Nothing says fun than “putty”.

The date “Nov 4th, 15”, in this example indicates the deadline for completing my module “Whiskey”.   Under that, “Aug 3rd, 25 (which is basically go as long as you want) is “Gone with the bone”.

On the right side is the module.  Each module can have “tags”.  If you click on the timeline “Gone with the Bone”, the box next to it will show the course “Gone with the bone” and whatever tag is associated with it.  If it has yet to start it will state that.

If you want to go back to “Whiskey” you select the timeline “Deadline Whiskey”. If you do not click on that specific area and rather click the date, it won’t work.

I’d rather see a listing of the courses under that module with the option to start or continue.  If I want to view the details of the module and/or the course, I can ‘view details’ button.

The assumption of all this is that the module was assigned to me. 

I say that because if I purchased the courses under the module (at this point I can’t without the e-commerce), I would know the course(s) overview, so why be redundant.  On the other hand, being assigned to me with a “yet to start”, I more than likely haven’t seen it.

If I have and yet to start, the option to either see the courses I can pick from right there on the module or next to it (dumping that “Did you know’) would make more sense.  Why force folks to click more and more when you do not have to?

Anyway, when you click the right box of “Whiskey” in my example, you will go to the screen below:


gogoThis course includes a “certificate”/certification. 

Thus you must complete the course to attain it.  The title of the course is below, followed by an overview of the certification.  As you can see, I really went at it.

Under that is the course itself.  Thus “Whiskey” is the module.

My course is identified as “Diego and Cheyanne” (two of my three dogs). 

It shows that it is self-paced (asynchronous), who created it – and honestly most ID folks wouldn’t want their name on it.    Then the course overview which includes my third dog “Milo”.  And yes all that is true.

Okay, on the right of that is the deadline to complete the course, the type “recurring”, the validity which is one year and what badge you can attain “sales”.

If you click “start” you jump right into the course player, which Adobe calls “fluidic player”.  Nothing like adding another term to confuse people.

Since we are on that, I am going to start calling any course player, “Spartucusa Player”, since each is dedicated to independent content.  Let’s do it!

Quick Hits

Catalog shows the catalog of courses/content/items and so forth.  Learning when click defaults to “Programs”.  programsinlearning

  • All – listing of all
  • Yet to Start – what courses/content not yet started
  • Completed – self-explained
  • Skills – Need to attain/acquire
  • Sort By – Program name (a to z), Program name (z to a), or start date
  • Search – Pushes out stuff via metadata, i.e. you type in a letter and move forth

Click Courses and it shows you all the courses – again using the options listed above (bullet points).


  • All
  • Assigned
  • Completed
  • Sort by – Certification a to z, Certification z to a, start date

Within my “Certifications” screen, my module next to its tag, include “revisit”.  But when you try to click “revisit”, it won’t work, which is odd since most people I think would try to click “revisit”.  In order to move towards “revisit” you have to click within the module box.

Frustrating?  You bet.  Confusing? Yep.


Okay, here is how it is going to work. I am first going to show you the front end and explain, then jump over to the admin side for the gamification creation because this is where you can see the Badge Level things and point requirements to attain them.

Learner Side Gamification (sound the horns, err trumpets)

The gamification component of Captivate Prime provides the following

  • Badges
  • Points – The amount needed to acquire the badge, based upon a set of variables (listed as tasks) as defined by the administrator.  You can change the number of courses needed to complete to attain said points, but you cannot change the “points”.  I should note that not only includes the points for each variable, but also the total number of points to attain each level, “Bronze”, “Silver”, “Gold”, “Platinum”.

I’ll be frank, I’ve seen the block of points (the administrator cannot change the points, with another vendor’s system) and it is an absolute joke.  As the administrator and thus the client, I should have the control to decide the points, not the vendor.  I mean how can the vendor know what is needed.  If it is an algorithm (and I have no idea, the other vendor’s point thing was), then whoever created that, needs to go back to the drawing board and yank that “we as the vendor, decide on what points are needed for each level”. 

Most of the gamification is setup in the administration side, a few screens to wet your appetite

   badgesenableThis is the view listed under “instances”.  If you want to enable “gamification” you can do it on this screen too, plus some point options.












The leaderboard on the learner side offers a couple of cool items

  • Your face (assuming it is on your profile) and where you are in terms of the levels, it will also show whomever you are comparing yourself against
  • The rankings – by name
  • Lists on the right side the number of courses to attain the points (in this example you can see “for fast learner”
  • If you want to see how you compare to someone there is a search bar to do so











What I’d love to see is a “reward store” once they achieve whatever level of points.  Store the “currency” in a virtual wallet (the clients are the ones who put their money in the virtual wallet for their learners).


How to Accrue those Points, Levels and honestly my major concern



  • Levels – See the points inside them – you cannot change that total number, because you can’t change the points under each task.  What can you change? The number of courses to attain those points.
  • You do not have to build up the courses – i.e. start low for lower points and then go up the chain.  You can for example, require six courses for 100 points and only 5 for 400 points.
  • As aforementioned in each task, you have to complete a specific number of courses.  You can decide on the per time period – options are month, year and quarterly.

Fast Learner – Pushing someone to acquire those points – let’s say in a month.  What is the probability that they are actually going to learn that information, synthesize it and build upon it.  Uh about the same probability that tomorrow here in LA it is going to snow.

What is worse is that clients/customers who see high course completion actually believe that the learner is truly comprehending the information.

When you make it either mandatory or make learners go fast to go through a course or courses by set forth time – to get points, you are not really saying “we want you to acquire, comprehend and build upon what you learn (towards your skills, role, whatever). 

What you are saying is “you must get these done” and assume that the skill building will come from that.

Self driven learner –  Yeah, I get to go on my own pace, but have to complete the courses by a set time period.  How is that different than the fast learner? WBT is non-linear driven, built upon the idea to attain knowledge the adult learner should target those pages, lessons, scenarios, chapters that focus on what they need to do so.












Administration Side

Quite robust, and rather than go into the whole thing, I will show you some screens, such as the one for the home administrator dashboard, along with two sections that should change from “adding” to a drag and drop angle for better efficiency.



I’d prefer to see some graphical data on this home dashboard and remove the “manage skills” or the whole thing – except create courses, since the other items are on the left sidebar.

Adobe has said they will be creating more tutorials, but right now I saw only a couple.











Strange Screens

addcertifications Here is one of them, under “Add Certifications”.  Lots of white space here err putty grey.  I was hoping it was a drag and drop thing. Nope.

Another screen addingexternalusersdoes the same thing.  Drag and Drop works so much better and is easier than the route Adobe has chosen to go.

And what the heck are those pluses for?  Design is clear, but still.




Quick Screen of Reports

Home Dashboard




This is the “report dashboard”

  • View Sample Reports – what you are seeing are the ones that were provided to me
  • My Reports – Your Reports
  • Subscribed Reports – Reports you are subscribed to (ideal IMO for managers)

Using the sample report for “courses vs profiles”

  • Can measure how many courses were completed, started, started but not completed by department
  • If you click any of the bar graph(s) for each department, you will see the breakout by individual(s) in that department.
  • In the further breakdown, it will list “completed, started, started but not completed” by each individual.  This is in a “bar” graph.
  • Learning Time Spent – “Completed, Started, Time Spent” – by yearlearningtimespent, if you want to see by each quarter under that specific Manager (in our example – Cynthia G)









The Skills vs Managers report is interesting.

I loved the idea of it, but to view the manager (the bottom part) it is not easy to do.  You have to highlight the bar using your mouse and I admit, I found it only after a few minutes.

Once I did, I was underwhelmed.  The bar graphs were now short and stubby and the data was showing this rating of “skill achieved”, “skill assigned” by individual manager (I surmise).  Why they were listed when the other manager on the top Adam is there I just didn’t get.

It is as though Adam is competing with Manager blah blah in the bottom bar from a skill standpoint, but I cannot see the specific skill or skills. Plus I can’t see Adam’s skill rating.  If the Manager below are actually employees of Adam then seeing their individual skill ratings is fine, but again what is the value of the skill rating?

Maybe Adobe tells me in the training or I have to view a tutorial video or their help, but it would be way easier if they told me via a hover over the graph.

In the same “sample report” for Skills, on the top part I see it by “each Manager” I think that is what it is, and it lists “skill achieved, skill assigned”.  In a random selection, I picked “Alexander Dean”.  His rating was achieved 2.5, assigned 2.6.  When you click on him you see what I can only assume are his employees, with their skill achieved and assigned.

One other item of note, you can drag and move around the reports on the dashboard.

Quick Others

I did like the “skills” part of the Adobe solution – so kudos on that.  The Reports use an X and Y axis thing and the custom reports are not really ad-hoc, rather they are “select” one canned report vs another canned report.  As I recall, there were six canned reports.

The system does have an assessment/quiz area with L1 and L3 feedback.   Notifications, reminders for courses/content, etc. is through e-mail.  And the system offers activities.

I know I’m leaving out some items, but in you get the main pieces IMO. 

Adding users including them to groups is simple enough and the one section I really liked was the auto capability for the learning plan, whereas you can decide ahead of time certain variables tied to adding them to say a group, with a recurrence of doing so.  In my test, whenever I new user was added to the system, they automatically went into a group that was assigned a specific learning plan.

That was cool and could definitely speed up the process, but you would have to make sure everything is set to go, before you just zip forward.

Bottom Line

Adobe Captivate Prime LMS does offer a nice set of features, but it equally lacks some important features such as e-commerce, multilingual and that yucky and dull interface. Sure social is missing and there are changes that need to be made for the UX, plus a few other areas (some shown, some not), but I believe they are on the right track.

I will note though a couple of items that you should be aware of though:  the LMS does not come with the Captivate authoring tool – you will have to purchase that separately.  Nor does it come with Adobe Connect.  You can connect any web conferencing solution to Adobe Captivate Prime and it does accept APIs.

My gut says that Adobe is going Enterprise as a primary, with SMB as a secondary. 

As for verticals, I’m not sure they have specific ones to hit, rather they are going all market.  They can of course disagree with my take, but that is how I see it right now.   If they want to hit compliance, they need compliance features which are missing.

Will people buy this system?  Absolutely.  The name alone “Adobe” is a strong brand, highly recognized in the tech industry.  If you are a fan of Adobe products and love Captivate the authoring tool or Connect, then having the LMS wouldn’t be out of the question.

If you do not have those Adobe e-learning offerings, but have Adobe products, again, it is not out of the realm to see you purchasing the solution.

The system is strong in the skills approach, the gamification is a whirlwind with the “how I see me” versus others (reminds me of the profile rankings of Linkedin) and how I see me versus X (which for sales people would be more than enough to motivate) are big time pluses in my book.

My recommendation on Adobe Captivate Prime

I wouldn’t recommend it for B2B/B2C at this point until some items are added and areas modified. E-Commerce is one such area (as adding it), but there are other areas and features that need to be included, and enhanced.

However, this is a system that I see as a good fit for internal (employees) and if I was willing to forgo some of the missing features in hopes that they will be there by say Q2 2016 or by end of the year 2016, and are fine with the simplified (not robust) analytics then yeah, I would definitely consider the solution.

Are there better systems out there, yes, but we are not talking about them we are talking about Adobe Captivate Prime.

And I expect after this review, there will be lots of talk.

Good and Bad.

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