The E-Learning Slug Awards

Posted by

It’s going to be a slugfest. Slugging it out? Slugfantastic! Yes, I made up that word, but go with it.

I don’t know about you, but while I love giving out awards to systems, authoring tools and e-learning tools that deserve it, rarely do you hear about platforms that are slugs. 

Equally, where the industry loves jargon, buzz words and the latest whatever, some deserve to be in the slug folder.  Maybe they need a squish or perhaps just a little push with a stick to go faster.

Sheesh, these slugs are slow.

Well, you will no longer have to wonder who is a slug, why are they a slug, how come this term or that term is really just a slug dressed up in fancy slug pants, and why the industry as a whole, especially in the LMS and its subsets slugs when it comes to certain feature sets, etc.

To aid in the listings (as any good training and/or L&D person would do with a helpful guide) here are the slug worth.

15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro =   Worst Slug – The Winner!! Terms/Features wise/Solution – A slug storm if ever I saw or watched one move across cement.

15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macroSlug Runner-Up or Sorry you or terms are slugs, maybe you won’t admit it to yourselves, that is why I am here for you

15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro Quasi-Slug, yeah it is a slug, but there is still hope, albeit small, there is hope

15406209 - snail close-up, macro Borderline slug,  We can make you better oh great Slug – or you can make yourself worse.

Go Slug Go – The LMS industry as a whole when it comes to certain feature sets 15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro

For years I’ve been talking about the industry as a whole being lemmings.  Whereas one or two will jump ahead and do something new, cool, interesting or feature WOW and then the rest will watch and wait..and wait..and wait some more. 

You may have a few more jump in after the initial ones, but the masses are in wait mode.   If it takes off, part of the mass moves on it – but it may take time; the others will still wait.

While many people are aware of the slowness as a whole, there is now this misunderstanding tied around that whole “Traditional” term that is really just a marketing term to make your system look new and wonderful and one that is been around longer as old and stale. 

The traditional label is affixed never so quickly when it comes to the latest features, with the presumption being that a newer system or learning platform or knowledge platform, courseware LMS or micro learning platform and so forth, has the latest features, more and better features than an LMS, regardless if the LMS has been around for more than 15 years (Blackboard for example) or been around a few years (large number of vendors – avg age is 4.5 yrs).

Now, first and foremost not every vendor is a slug NOR is every vendor in the slug list or slug category. 

Secondly, because Vendor A has Awesome 10 features, but not the 11th or 12th feature, does that make them a slug NOR if someone has only two AWESOME features.  A slug in the feature sense is one vendor who moves slllllloow to features that systems as a whole should already have in the market.

Some “Standard Features” that are “new in one sense of the word” that are in the industry today (if your system doesn’t have it, really – what are you waiting for? A slug to pass you by? Yuck..Yuck)

  • Classroom management – this is for ILT (face to face)
  • Gamification – A leaderboard and points are the minimums, but many have badges too
  • E-Commerce – The only exception if your system is only dedicated to employees, but even then, some companies charge their other departments/biz units and thus want e-commerce
  • Under e-commerce, accept Visa/MC.  PayPal is quite common too, but not as common as say Visa/MC. 
  • Instructor features – Standard city
  • Ability to send email notifications for courses, content, seminars, webinars, reminders – even scheduled email notifications
  • Certificates – including templates, ability to upload your own template if you want to
  • Social profiles
  • Leaving comments under a course or a piece of content (at least a course, some systems it is across the board, regardless admin has to have ability to turn on/off)
  • Social communities tied to a group, a course; ideally it should also be the system, but in this case the former two are standards nowadays
  • Ability to batch upload learners, ability to batch upload courses – you might be shocked to learn that there are vendors who do not have this batch courses piece, including two well known ones – oh they can do it for you, for a fee
  • Ad-hoc reporting.  I had a system in 2001 that had ad-hoc and was in the cloud BTW, but anyway, if it was around in at least 2001, you should have it. 

My Mobile, Your Mobile 15406209 - snail close-up, macro

When it comes to mobile, it can be one to four slugs for quite a few vendors.  I mean, everyone will say they are mobile responsive, so if you are worried, don’t be – now whether it looks great on your mobile device is another story – but hey it is responsive!

For native apps though your system should have it no later than mid 2017, actually ideally by end of 2016. 

As for any vendor who says no one needs it – let me tell you, there is a reason that there are over two Million apps (June 2016) in the iTunes app store.  And isn’t because no one needs them. 

On/Off synch – By end of 2017, but again, ideally by the end of this year.  Consumers want it. Just because your clients aren’t asking for it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add it.  BTW, you need a native app first before you go on/off synch which then makes it self-contained.

Oh, for those who say no one is asking for it or needs a native app you get 15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro

SMS Slugs – Not yet at least, too early

SMS notifications – this is a feature that is a perfect example for new versus old in the sense systems; many new systems do not offer this feature and yet, many systems more than two years do.  Not everyone of course, it has been a slow growth, but honestly, when you think about it – how to you respond to people? Text or E-mail first? 

If your a deep believer in the whole millennials scene – they are going Text first.  Many are not using email.  Heck, they are using Snapchat too.

And if you want to start preparing for the folks coming after them, I have been told the term is called “Edge” or “The Edge.” 

Neuroscience, Repetition and the Forgotten 15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro

A wonderful proof piece is the new “neuroscience” spin I and I’m sure many of you as well, have seen in the LMS space.   The “neuro” angle is often mentioned in the same breath/area with repetition which increases retention.  I’ve seen ones tie the repetition of tasks, which thus increases retention and thus their is a neuroscience behind it – as if this is something so new and earth shattering.

Anyone. Anyone who has been involved or currently works in Training, L&D will already know about repetition and retention.  

But, there is a twist to all of this.

The whole “daily task or task to do list” as a way to build up repetition is not the way to go about it.  Nor just showing the same thing over and over and over again, will work either – short term sure, long term – factors come into play – with learning.

  • A daily task list, where have to repeat the same “tasks” over and over again, will not work for everyone, regardless of the neuroscience angle
  • To make it really work, the tasks have to be the same or quite similar on an on-going basis
  • If you are being forced into a daily to do list, you will not be focused enough or have focus sustained to retain any information, so repetition isn’t going to be the saving grace to it
  • Some people really hate daily to do lists, especially adult learners.
  • Repetition does not guarantee comprehension nor synthesis – two key components for learning.  I want someone who comprehends the info, retains it and then synthesizes it so they can increase their skill sets, create new skill sets and build upon those skill sets/knowledge

Thus, when you are in Training, L&D repetition is but one piece of the entire puzzle for making learning stick.   Unless of course, you are Palov’s dog, then yeah, repeating the same task over and over again will be ideal.


Can you think of an ad whose tagline or musical theme – you can recall immediately?  I know I have a few.  Why? Repetition.  But it is not learning or training. 

Let’s say your significant other tells you to take out the trash and then mow the lawn. The repeat it on a daily or every other day basis. “Don’t forget to take out the trash on Tuesday, Frank,” “And don’t forget to mow the lawn on Thursday.” 

The next thing you know, you are shutting them off, ignoring as we say, and even if that list is posted on your computer, on your fridge, repeated after dinner every night.  You following thru with it is another story.  

Now, it uses repetition – so yeah you should remember it, but you have other things going on in your life.  Not just taking out the trash and mowing the lawn.  Those little other items come into play.

The big elephant in the room is the adult learner.  What makes learning more effective? WIFM (What’s In It For Me). 

I can repeat, like a broken record (which when you think about it won’t repeat, I mean it is broken),  but retention is made up of multiple parts not just one, especially for long term retention.

Short term will work with repetition. But will that person recall everything in six months from now or a year from now?  Will they truly comprehend it? Be able to take it and synthesize it in nine months?   And synthesize it in a way where they are LEARNING it and not memorizing the task or knowledge at hand.

Oh and I should add, that everyone learns differently, but then your brain probably already knows that. The people who build some of these products, well…

And now the AWARDS

E-Learning Industry that are as a whole, still slugs getting into the whole “in the cloud” scene?  Shell please! 

And the winner err slugs are – Authoring Tools! 15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro

Congrats to all those vendors out there in this space who have yet to go into the cloud.  Yep, no need to – I mean, look at those mobile devices – who needs them anyway! And people creating courses out of the workplace? Sheesh, give me a break.

Runner-up?  Assessment Tools15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro

Better than ever before, but let’s move people.. time is not your friend, I mean if you are a slug, maybe, unless that dog which is just a few steps away…

LMS system that should be better, I mean they really should be better when it comes to UI AWARD

A lot of great nominees out there.. in fact, way way too many.  I always love it how any vendor will tell you they have a great UI, and then you look at it, and think to yourself, “Is there a candid camera somewhere? Am I being punked?”

To me it isn’t just about that front end UI anymore.  Yes, it should be top priority, but follow that up when the administrator UI too. 

I mean, they are in the system more often than your learners (as a whole).  Thus, I’ve seen some really nice systems with amazing front end UI, but whose back end is another story.

For me it is a tie between two vendors and I place them here because they have the financials to change the UI.

One has changed in some areas, but not everywhere. The irony is that the UI enhancements they have made, make the system better than in the past, so what is the hold-up for across the board (as in the whole system)

Another has changed a bit here, bit there, and even then it seems dated; but as a whole, change is not happening as quick as I expected.

  The shell, please –  15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro15406209 - snail close-up, macro, Congrats – SuccessFactors (they made such strong changes post Plateau, then the drop-off of late).

I really just don’t understand why the system does not have a 100% modern UI on the front and back end, that is user-friendly, and is richly designed with UX enhancements.

Bottom Line

That’s it for now.  I know we didn’t get to all the Slug categories, but until next time.

Have a Slug on me!

Butter though is extra.

E-Learning 24/7




One comment

Comments are closed.