LMS Potluck

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With the days of August just ahead of us, or the dogs of August, I can never remember the saying, it is time to bring many of the readers of this blog with some interesting tidbits that I find of interest and that you may or may not be aware of.

Before we dive in, just a couple of updates.

a. Starting in September, my business name will become The Craig Weiss Group, which is a LLC. The blog will remain E-Learning 24/7 as will my Linkedin group.  

b.  My debut book, an LMS Guide if you will  – which provides very useufl information from how to select a committee (and who should be on it), selecting an LMS – what you need to know, RFI insight – to save you time;  pre-implementation and post-implementation and much more.  The book will be available for purchase on Amazon, iTunes, and other sites, including my business site.   The book goes on sale the first week of October and will be an ebook only.    As a bonus – buyers will receive my newest LMS RFP template (not available to others at this time), and access into a special site off the blog, with some very cool stuff.

Now on to the show, err facts of interest

Best Gamification Systems (The Top Two as we speak, err as I write – July 27)

I read a report a few weeks back which forecast high sales in Gamification in the next few years.  What many people failed to realize is that they were referring to companies, such as Badgeville, which are outside of the e-learning space.

Could you tie a gamification platform such as Badgeville to your LMS? Absolutely.  But why, when you can have an LMS who is all about gamification, along with an extensive set of other feature sets, that you come to expect in a robust LMS.  Then there are LMSs and learning platforms includling subsets that have gamification features.

But if you are looking at the best gamification system or systems out there, there are two that are standouts.

Growth Engineering

Still #1 in my book.  This system screams hip and fun to anyone, especially companies who have millennials or are expecting to have them.  Do you to fall into that age bracket to enjoy the system?  Absolutely not. 

This is a wonderful system regardless of your age bracket, but again, if you are saying, “jeez, we have lots of millennials and you know, they expect different things, then back in my day(really?),” then you should take a deep dive at Growth. 

Feature sets  are quite extensive, including a performance management component, for those who want it (its included in the solution anyway, but if you want to pass on it, just turn it off). 

The administration side, which has been overhauled is easy to use and graphically engaging.  Need to have multi-tenant?  They offer it.  What a reward center? In there. Built-in badge library? Yep.  Mobile including apps? Yep.  Need on/off synch? Yep. 

I note these, only because some people think that a gamification based system is only strong in gamification, a major misnomer.


They call themselves an employee knowledge plaform, but many of their features – are in an plenty of systems too (those call themselves an LMS).  That said, way back I placed solutions such as ekp/knowledge platforms as one of the subsets of an LMS. 

I know you are thinking why are they in your gamification area then – well, the system is rocking with gamification all over it.  

From opening up as you enter the platform with a bunch of basic games to play (hey at least there is something) to having a wealth of gamification capabilities within the solution.

The same solution which includes mobile apps (in Android too), rich feature set and outstanding track record of moving forward.   One cool piece is the pre-assessment capability built into the system.  

The system is easy to use, always a huge plus in my book.

However, one area that Axonify likes to hit upon is that they are a micro-learning system. This term can easily be seen as something magical as though if you are seeking the ability to do micro-learning you must need a special system to do it.

Here is where we get into

(please use Echo sounding voice) The Micro-Learning Spin (Echo voice again)

As micro-learning gains more attention and more people are starting to utilize the methods in creating such courses, vendors who are aware of this new opportunity are making sure that people know that their system supports micro-learning.

What makes this type of course design unique isn’t that it has been around for more than dozen of years, but that there are vendors who portray themselves whether intentionally or not, as “THE” micro-learning platform.

They push it in their marketing, their sales approach and even in communication with at least one analyst(moi).  Here though is where they are wrong.

They are not unique. Go to an LMS or any sub-set today and with maybe a couple of exceptions, every system can and does accept micro-learning courses.  For those around in 2000, they did. 

I know, because I created micro-learning courses back then and the LMS I used, which was in the cloud, accepted them and they worked fine.

The difference between a system of today, maybe yours, versus those systems who state that they are a micro-learning platform, is nothing more than publicly pushing the point.

Think back to the days of when you had those mobile learning systems.  Remember them?  It was all about having courses on a mobile device.  Well guess what? 

How many LMSs and their respective subsets offer the same ability?  Nearly everyone.   Sure, they may not have mobile apps and on/off synch, but you can take courses, see the LMS, etc. via your mobile browser.  Oh and nowadays, a significant chunk say they are responsive. 

Now, if you go to a site whereas they only offer you micro-learning courses (you pay for that) and they give you their LMS, that is one thing – they are a subset of the LMS industry – as a courseware LMS.    

But if you are allowed to upload your own courses, there isn’t a trigger that says, “Whoa, you can’t do that.”   Not even with a video course.

If an LMS or any of the other subsets want to pitch themselves as a micro-learning system (first and foremost), fine, but let’s remember that nearly every system out there,  allows you to create micro-learning courses (via a third party authoring tool, PPT, if they have an AT in their system, etc.), even if it is nothing more than five slides in PowerPoint.

Here are some novel ideas

It is that time of the year, where we admit to one another, that certain features or capabilities or terms, while once of use, should be booted into the great world of your trash can – if it was virtual that is.

  1. AICC –  It’s passed it usefulness.  I know of systems that no longer accept it – and I thank you. 

Yes, there are plenty of people out there, who see it as the course standard for their content/courses and thus what it offers as an output for analytical data and reports.   I don’t care.  I say, thank you for the memories.  We will miss you. Okay, I won’t but, someone will.

2. Social learning platforms – I get it you have a set of features for social.  What I don’t understand and perhaps you do not as well, is that there are many other systems/platforms and subsets that have the same if not more features of social then you do.

I know of a system that offers a bookmarklet. Yet, I haven’t seen a social learning platform (as they pitch themselves), offer that.  

I know of an LMS that has a Pinterest capability.  Where is yours?  Where is an Instagram like capability?  Or something like WhatsApp?

Oh right, nowhere. 

You want to call yourselves a social learning platform or social learning LMS, that show me something that is so different and unique that no one else is doing it OR it is so cutting edge, that you have the right to pitch yourselves as that.

If you can’t then, ditch the marketing and move on. And no, if you are including your social with an algorithm, I’m not seeing that as super unique.

That’s just adding a capability to your social. It is not expanding the experience – if anything, it might be hurting it. 

3. Sales people who qualify you ad naseum –  I often wonder if folks who repeatedly ask you similar questions in qualifying you are using one of those personality tests where the question is asked  on one page; and then several pages later, the same question pops in similar fashion.

Rather than qualifying, here is an idea – ask me about my use case and listen. 

Follow-up with questions based on upon that user case – that is how you interview people by the way. It is not by following some script.  And I should add, that people can tell when you are using a script or path.  

4. Not having a training department –  Totally befuddles me.  Let me get this straight.  Your target audiences are people in training, L&D and in some cases human resources.  In the first two, they always are training people. 

They have trainers or hire folks outside to come in and provide training/learning.  Some HR departments are in charge of employee training (although sticking a DVD and hitting play, while the new employee hits the sleep mode isn’t training).

So, please, please tell me why there are a lot of vendors in this LMS, heck in the entire e-learning (now digital learning) industry, who do not have a training department.

How many of you have attended a class for say an ERP offering?  Is the person providing that training a sales person? NO.  It is a trainer with that company.  

If you take your car to be repaired, would you feel more comfortable knowing that your mechanic learned how to fix your car based on a sales person who sold parts to the dealer or garage?

OR would you rather feel more comfortable knowing that said mechanic attended some session with someone from a training department with the parts company, who had the extensive knowledge and thus experience to provide it?

I don’t care how many years that salesperson has with the product.  They are still a salesperson.

They do not have the training knowledge or L&D knowledge to understand how adult learners learn, what works and doesn’t work when training individuals and frankly, the whole training or L&D background. 

There are plenty of folks who came from education/academia and now work in a training department.  Thus they know how to educate, thus train people.

Here is an idea.

Rather than spending some additional bucks on some doo-dah in your office or hiring an additional sales person, YOU actually hire a training or L&D director and at least, let them provide the training on your product. 

There are plenty of companies who do not have trainers, and thus the person running the whole show provides the training and even the training materials, but guess what?  They know how to train.

Bottom Line

Yesterday I read an article in the Washington Post, where it was mentioned that Cockroach Milk might be the new super food.

I can’t speak for everyone out there, but the notion that a disgusting bug that is perfect for shoe smashing or calling the pest person and telling them to get out here now and rid this bugger, doesn’t seem to me to be an ideal super food.

It reminds me of a potluck. 

How many times do you go to a potluck and immediately identify food you would never touch, because either it looks disgusting or Steve from HR made it? 

Some dishes are tasty to look at, and you can enjoy them knowing that Juliette made it.

Aaron on the other hand is touting that his dish is unique because it includes this new type of cheese, and yet, when you glance around the table, you notice a few other dishes that offer this same type of cheese. 

Lastly, you glance at a dish made by your wonderful CEO (which you say loud enough so she hears you, but deep down you hope people get indigestion from it).  Your CEO lets everyone know, that she is an expert in this type of cuisine and wants everyone to try it.

Knowing that is the case, you wonder privately to yourself, is she qualified to make such a statement?  Is she a chef on the side, or someone who is selling you on a dish that deep down you know will make you miss work?

I ask only because potlucks in the nature are open to interpretation.  Some people will select everything on the table, go back and gouge without thinking of the consequences.

Others pick and choose. And yes, there are folks who will grab only the CEO’s dish, taste it in front of her, say how much they enjoy it, when in reality they hate it.

I mean, sure it is a chocolate cake, but who knew it was made with cockroach milk?

Proving that looks can be deceiving.

Even in the LMS space.

E-Learning 24/7

Happy birthday Carolyn!