Lately there have been quite a few articles relating to where the LMS is heading, what is the future of the LMS market and so forth.

All interesting reads, but do they really get to the heart of the matter, which is how will it affect you the buyer and what advantages are available for the supplier (i.e. vendor)?

After spending quite a bit of time examining the market, tracking the data and following the industry – on a global scale – I’ve identified a series of forecasts, some of which are presented below.

Forecast #1

Curating Content

Everything points to a big year for the curation aspect of the LMS market.  Not just capturing links and content on the internet.  Rather, the inclusion of video – mainly from mobile devices and here is the super sweet spot – sharing it with other learners. So, P2P hits mainstream, okay, quite a few vendors.

One step further will be the build upon the video and content (i.e. files, images, etc.) from other folks in the system. 

Thus, it is not just uploading the video and sharing it with other learners, posting it within the system (most likely a social angle), but the ability for any learner to add more content to the initial content uploaded or added by the learner. 

Of course, the administrator can turn on or off these features. Oh, I should add that this capability from the learner side would include images, photos and files.

A spin to this whole piece is that a manager or an instructor can capture an employee doing a task or a process and upload the video too.

Then, the administrator could include the video as part of the training/learning in the course catalog or assigned courses to individual or multiple learners.  Another aspect would be adding this “training piece” to a file repository or sharing it with the learners as a whole.

I see some vendors including a note or comment capability to the content curation, especially with the mobile video.

One area though of concern, is the lack of filters or options on the back end for the administrator.  The ability to review and block various bits of content or use of filters checking for foul language, harassment, etc.

I’ve yet to see this extensive set of options, but I do believe that some vendor (at least a few) will offer some type of capabilities, although not as robust.

Forecast #2

Mobile Video

Uploading video from a mobile device is going to happen (it already has with many vendors). However, the ability to do things with that video once uploaded is another matter.  I would add that the ability to upload via a digital camera or camcorder is not universal.

Here are some items I see within the whole mobile video forecast

  • Auto conversion to the highest quality of HD;  don’t expect 4K here because I’m not seeing it happen for 2016.  Maybe a couple of vendors will try to push the envelope, but since so few folks have a 4K monitor at their workplace, let alone home, the value isn’t really there.  Conversion by the way is on the back end, when the video is uploaded.
  • Video tracking.  Simply means gathering more data once the video is uploaded and added to the LMS.  It will go beyond the ability to see how many times it has been viewed and by whom; how long each viewing, total running time that someone watched the video (as in not just per time).   Once individuals have the option of not just uploading the video, but within the system, option to create chapters and so forth, then tracking can be expanded.
  • Metadata added to the video – Includes search capability once video has been added.  I should note this isn’t just for mobile video uploads, but any video upload.  That said, the system will have a search function for each video; enabling a learner to search keywords or specific textual items within the video and have it extracted in the LMS, whether it is course screen or where the video is housed. Think of it as a panel.  The learner then clicks on the video text and goes right to where that person mentions that text, i.e. keyword or keywords.  Again, across the board on video (way it is uploaded), but geared I believe more to folks on the mobile side
  • Ability to zoom in/out, various functionality when recording video using a mobile device.  One vendor already has a record button as part of their LMS, for folks who have a mobile device and wish to record the video in real time right into the LMS.  A few VLPs (Video learning platforms) have had the ability for zooming in/out and quite a few feature sets; now it comes to the general LMS market.  Will everyone do it?  No.  I mean, let’s face it, the early adopters will dive in, I expect some big names too, and quite a few others, but as a whole – not going to happen, at least in 2016.
  • Mobile app with ability to record video, capture images, photos.  I see just a few vendors enabling this capability with on/off synch for the LMS.  Personally, everyone should do it – makes so much sense.  But, uh, let’s face it, the majority of the market still does not offer on/off synch, despite an expansion of requests from consumers.   Without on/off synch, you are going thru the native app right into the LMS in real time – assuming you have net connectivity.

Bonus:  Auto-transcripts of video.  I’m not talking closed captions here. Rather, the system pulls/extracts whatever you want to call it, the text and places it in a transcript format.  Which, BTW, that search function I mentioned, will enable the learner to find the keywords, metadata, etc. right in that wonderful transcript.

And for those folks wondering on the whole video in general, definitely expect to see a tie to social.  Funny though, Instagram video and Vine have been out for a long time and how many vendors have mimicked it? ZERO.

Minus:  Multilingual capability for auto transcripts. Not seeing it.  The folks who are including the auto transcript have it only in English.

Forecast #3

Big Data and Little Data

Big Data is I think a little bit confusing for some folks.  Right now, there is still only one system in the market that truly has the big data metrics.  That said, I do see a few others jumping into the waters.  Even if they do not know drill down to that level of metrics, I am seeing some systems expand their metric capabilities with even more variables then before and in a couple of cases reports.

On the flip side there is a continuation of systems going the little data route. This means more along the lines of some histograms, graphs and/or pie charts.  Within that, there are some systems where you can click for even more details, but we are not talking about uber metrics, let alone robust. The whole spin is the “it is enough for folks to be fine with” approach.  

This angle of little data is on the rise and will continue.  There are systems that go with the little data angle that have quite a bit of reporting, but in general, the usual bearer is not a lot of reports (canned that is).

Forecast #4

Personalized Learning Experience (PLE)

You  may know more of it as personalization or localization, but if you take a real deep dive you will see more vendors going PLE.  The PLE is all about the learners as it should be and achieving PLE includes the following:

  • Widgets – select as few or as many for each learner (BTW, expect more systems to offer widgets or something similar in 2016).  In the widget game, you as the learner has three widgets, me, I have six.  The administrator sets this up and in a few cases, each learner can select the widgets themselves (based upon what has been turned on)
  • Each learner has their own theme.  One vendor already has this capability and several others offer nearly it, but are not really there – since the learner can’t have it throughout the system (usually it is just the home page)
  • Each learner selects their own language (already appears in many systems)
  • Each learner creates their own learning experience which is tied in many ways to deep learning (hello – another feature on the rise in 2016).  While systems going back from the dawn of LMSs have provided the opportunity for a learner to select their own courses, the factor of course is the administrator has to allow that; with deep learning obviously that changes things.  But for PLE, it is goes to the next tier. Everything is designed around me (as the learner).   In other words, what I want to see and need to gain new insight, knowledge and to build upon that knowledge and it is achieved using two key components.

a. Deep learning. 

b. Allow the learner to select from a variety of options and choices to change the front end – the learner side, more to their learning side, rather than perceived learning side defined by the system and/or administrator. 

Think of it this way, to expand about a PLE.  The ideal online course is one setup as non-linear, where I as the learner gets to choose what area or chapter or whatever to focus on to learn more, gain, synthesize more. So, what if you could take that mechanism if you will and expand it across the LMS?   A PLE does that (in simpliest terms) and more.  

I do think you will see more systems hit the first three bullet points, but the fourth point is the big “tada” moment.  I know of a couple that are getting close to delivering a PLE – as defined here.   Am I expecting the masses? No.  But as noted above, everything is pointing to more widgets/blocks, personalized learning in nature and oh yeah, Deep Learning!

Forecast #5

Deep learning aka predictive analysis.  

The big “what is needed” to make it really work is a vetting process on the back end of the system by the administrator. And oh, multiple variables which can be added to the mix, a nice stew.    A couple of vendors include profiles as a variable.  Can’t see the benefit honestly of having that be a variable.  What my learning is better because I am on three social media channels?  Now, on the other hand, I’m in this department and…   

Clearly skills is relevant, but vetting is needed.  No offense to anyone out there, but most folks tend to rate themselves higher in this or that skill than they really are in that area of expertise.  I’m the first to admit that my mechanical skills is barely at 1. And that is assuming that the person in the garage is standing right next to me ready to work on my vehicle.  I should note this includes adding air to my tires – hello dealership?

Quick Hits

Here are some more, fast and furious

  • Continued increase in mobile learning.  It’s not going anywhere, so deal with it. Oh, and more folks finally adding the Android app, beyond iOS.  I do see vendors starting to include the latest Windows OS app. Don’t expect it as a wave of vendors doing it.
  • Social extravaganza –  What’s with the new “wall” for social?  As one vendor calls it a “stream”.  I think they need to tweak that word and add a couple more to truly assess what I think of that spin.  You guess on your own, what I am pondering and yeah, you are very likely right. Anyway more social.
  • Gamification.  It is no longer the hot item in the LMS world.  Expect to see reward stores, built-in badge libraries to appear in 2016.  Can gamification get to another tier – yes. Will there be vendors who do it? Yes.  While it continues to be hot in the corporate ILT environment or along those lines, it isn’t in the LMS space.  Don’t make the mistake though and ignore it – you need it and must have it in today’s market.

In order for gamification to get back to the hot level, game based learning has to become part of the system.  Whether that is via a gamification authoring tool (which exists) or through the ability to create game based learning (out there, but yuck for right now), game based learning is an important item in the learning environment.

And yeah, you will see game based learning hit the mobile device stage more in 2016.  This forecast is for online learning courses in general, not the LMS. 

Getting back to the LMS side, having a virtual wallet tied to gamification is a natural fit especially with reward stores or whatever the vendor pitches the term – I mean you have all those learners with points – now what?  A thank you card isn’t going to cut it.  Again, I already know of one system that has the “virtual wallet” capability.  And I know a few others that are in the process, i.e. it is on their roadmap for delivery in 2016.

  • Freemium LMSs.  This is where you are buying the courses (content) and the vendor tosses in their LMS at no additional charge.  Two vendors in my Top 50 follow these lines, albeit one of them offers the option to buy just their LMS and not any of the courses.   As we speak there are several vendors in the space that follow a freemium model. 

The key is the quality of courses not just quantity.  Remember – courses are the priority – the main reason for purchase and the LMS is an added benefit (that is the best way to think of this model).   The vendors who follow this route are course providers who have or include an LMS. 

I will add that I am not a fan of the freemium model, because it comes down to the courses and while these two vendors in my top 50 have star quality systems and continue to invest the funds into their systems to keep them strong, they are the rarity not the norm.

  • Improved marketing by all the vendors – ha, kidding!  No, seriously, I’m kidding. Let’s move on.
  • Workday Learning has mild impact.  Yes it will be a splash, it’s Workday after all, but their product IMO is targeting some certain folks i.e. Cornerstone, SuccessFactors, SumTotal by Skillsoft and to a lesser degree Saba. Of course this is an assumption based on Workday’s statement that the system is rolling out in 2016.  It’s best core of new customers will be those who have the Workday system.  That is who I expect them to pick off first. 

And along the way, add some of this and that from those other big systems.     However, I still think there will be plenty of LMSs out there that will have a better and stronger platform than what Workday rolls out.

Bottom Line

Santa Claus is chilling in the south as we speak catching a tan.  As he is doing this, he is unaware of my forecasts for 2016.

Thankfully though, you do not need to wait for him and his bribe request of cookies and milk for himself and carrots for the team, as an enticement to deliver the goods.

Nope, they are right here.

Unwrapped

and Free (no milk, cookies or carrots needed).

E-Learning 24/7

Please note there will not be a blog the 25th of November.  Next blog is Dec. 2nd from Online Educa Berlin, in Berlin Germany.  Plus real time tweets during the conference itself and the post review the following week.  If you will be in Berlin at the show, stop by and say hi. But no milk, however cookies are fine.