Rants on Buzz Words, E-Learning Style

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A learning experience.   I’ve been hearing it quite a bit in the e-learning world. I’m sure you have too.


“We are learning experience platform”,  “learning experiences system”, “I want a learning experiences platform” – which perhaps I should let them know, that this one vendor says theirs is one, so perfect match.

In all seriousness though, every LMS, learning platform and various subsets since the days of them going online, include learning experiences.  It’s nothing new, rather it is the vernacular that is new to the space. 

A learning experience.   Towards the end of last week as I was in the middle of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Lidia in Cabo San Lucas, I had a lot of learning experiences.  Didn’t need a generator, place had back-up, that was a learning experience.  My new neighbor let us know that she never opens the door for anyone (she was outside at the time), thus if there is armageddon, I can eliminate knocking on her door for help.  That was a learning experience.

In fact, Life is a learning experience.  And each and every day you are experiencing, well learning.

Consumption wise – whether you read an article or series of articles, read web pages, magazine, newspaper or fantasy sports results, you are having a learning experience.

Go to YouTube, video viewing is a learning experience.  Some newspapers you can read, listen to audio, watch video, leave comments (social engagement), view on any mobile device, rank and so on.. all learning experiences, which in this case is on a newspaper web site.  A platform, so yeah,  let’s call it what it is –  a newspaper site, where you can acquire, attain, retain, comprehend (most papers gear towards a 3rd grading reading level, the NY Times is fifth grade) information.  

Yeah, I’m tired of hearing about “learning experience” platform.  It’s nothing new, just a new way spin what we do every day. 



If I hear one more vendor pitch their system as a micro-learning platform, I’m going to Six Flags Magic Mountain, where they have a roller coaster where you wear a VR Headset.  Yes, it is as awful as you might think, which equates to this spin of old and new called micro-learning systems.

In 1998, did you know you could create micro learning courses?  Yep.  You could.  Did you know that if you create your courses in PowerPoint (I don’t recommend it),  you could have built a micro course?  It’s true. 

And hold on to your hats folks,  your LMS back in the late 90’s would have worked with those courses.  YOWSA.   Where is the magic elixir that cures everything and tastes like caster oil? 

The idea that some salespeople think that micro-learning is a totally new concept is of extra concern.  This tells me, they have no idea on the history of WBT (as I often note) and do not care to know or learn.   Micro-learning isn’t new.  Nor is SBL – scenario based learning, which to be honest, is the most effective and successful way to achieve real learning results that we all want so bad.

And it can be done, regardless if the course is two minutes or seven minutes in length.  And yet, no one talks about SBL. 

Mobile First


If you an on/off synch app, whereas you can do more than take content, and/or assessments, have at a minimum an instructor view and ideally digital signature within the app, and auto detection for appropriate FPS (frames per second), then yeah, you are mobile first. 

If not, your not.  So stop calling yourself that.

It’s an irritant and misleading at minimum.  Trick or treat, with the trick on the unsuspecting customer, when the above early items aren’t there.  But hey, we are mobile responsive (uh so is everyone else).

Not an LMS


If there is anything that gets on my nerves more is when vendors toss this out and in the past year, it is being pushed more and more and more.

The irony to this whole thing is that when you check out the keywords for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), some of the terms such as “learning management system” and/or “LMS” appear in your search.

Good thing you are not an LMS, otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to find you.  On the flip side, vendors who are not an LMS but pitch themselves as an LMS – using keywords such as learning management system, shame on you. 

But hey whatever works right?

Which in turn hits the “we are an LMS” but in reality your not

Lessonly is one such vendor  (they appear in the keyword search under learning management system, ranked in top 10 according to Keyword Spy). 

I‘ve read press releases that pitch MOOC aggregators such as Coursera as an LMS (it’s not),  Google Classroom as an Learning Management System (it’s not), various sites where you can take courses on various topics, as LMSs – as noted in their press releases mind you, which get ready – are not.

It’s a bummer really.  And frustrating at multiple levels.  Look, I have zero issue with someone who has a learning platform which does not have my 16 standard features (based on 19 yrs in the online learning space), calling themselves a learning platform, or training management system or whatever they want to use.  

That’s fine and I’ve seen plenty of these systems, I like.  Sales enablement platforms, the newest subset of the LMS space, can be quite useful and beneficial for a very specific audience (specifically sales and customer service, but for whatever reason, never mention customer service in their product category).   Not sure I’d get one for say Accounts Payable or even B2C.  

But when a vendor spins in such a way, that my washing machine spins, then it is bothersome.

#1 in Customer Support

This is my personal favorite of gripes.  It is amazing on how many vendors out there are #1 in customer service/support.   I mean it reminds me of my Dad’s high school yearbook, where 30 people identified themselves as class president, including my Dad (who wasn’t).

Maybe I ask my imaginary friend, my dog, my significant other, “Are we number one in customer service?”  They say yes.  Guess, what?  We are number one in customer service.

The point to it all, is that there are systems/platforms who are really good at customer support and service, but as a whole (the entire industry), there are still a lot of problems.

A few vendors have told me privately, they are aware of customer service challenges, but funny, they never mention that in their pitch. 

When I talk to a vendor regarding their customer support,  I always want to know what is the ratio of support tickets to number of clients?  That data point alone tells me a lot. Especially when vendors refuse to provide such information, which they know full well, what it is.  

What is their reach out time?  This means, how long does it take for them to contact you to recognize they received the ticket – and specifically via human response and not “auto generate” e-mail response.  

How do they define their queue system?  What is considered minor,  moderate and severe?  They should be able to tell you.  If not, this should be a red flag to anyone looking for a system.

What is their follow-up process?  Again, if you can’t tell me, you can’t pitch your the best in customer service.

Bottom Line

I’m sitting down.

But I wish I had a box to stand up on.

I wish I had multiple cases of Mr. Pibb (Hi, Coke!)

I wish my view on what is creating consternation in the e-learning industry wasn’t so semantically questionable, that I have to stand up and let folks know what is taking place.

It’s shouldn’t be this way.

It shouldn’t still be the Wild West of the late 1800’s, which is how the space started in the late 90’s.

But it is.

And that deserves

A rant.

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