WORSTs E-Learning 2017 Awards

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Happy Holidays! Seriously, happy holidays to all.  Fun fact back in the 70’s I wrote to Santa and mailed me (mom did) and surprise, I received back a postcard with it stamped from the North Pole.  I have it still to this day.  What this has to do with this post you might ask? Nothing! 

Anyway,  the awards for online learning and systems, etc. have been making their rounds these past few months, mine included (authoring tools), but what about the worst? Sure we see it in films (eh Kingsmen Golden Circle), but e-learning? 

I say no more. 

Ok, I will say more because here is 2017’s edition for the WORST in e-learning.

Award Category, followed by nominees, then the “winner, err loser” – you choose the spin!

Award icon: worstaard

Award Category – Didn’t you get the memo?


SAP SuccessFactors Learning.  I am still trying to wrap my head around this system, whereas learning is a module and whereas folks use SF for learning.  For a powerhouse such as SAP to not really stun the world with an amazing learning product is hard to fathom, especially when you compare what Workday pushed out with their learning product (although you need Workday HCM as a requirement).  One competitor purchased a VLP as a key component, SAP purchased SuccessFactors, a recruiting system initially turned HCM, who had acquired Plateau, a strong but awful UI/UX LMS.   SuccessFactors constantly stated they would invest heavily into Plateau and initially, vast improvement was to be found.  But post SAP while the UI has been better, there is still way too much “what?” in it, to be appealing to the masses, unless you already have SAP at your company. 

Oracle Talent Management Cloud.  I still hear folks who mention they are considering Oracle for learning. The main angle, I surmise is that the company has Oracle and oh, well, it is will be easier to just keep it in the family.  Majority of learning systems out there, at least in LMS space, can integrate quite nicely with Oracle. If you want a TM system, which aligns more with an HCM, then sure look at Oracle, but if you are going towards this product for the LMS, learning angle – then pass. BTW, down in another category, you will see a new trend whereas TM systems are starting to add learning.  Oracle was an early adopter, so there’s that.

Grovo. Trademarking microlearning (r) and MICROLEARNING (r) (they did not get the tm, but rather the “r”), is wrong in so many ways.  Some people blame USPTO (trademark office), but they are not familiar or would be regarding the universal terminology used in the industry.  As such, this happens.  The one plus to the whole thing is that the term is actually micro-learning, albeit some say micro learning.  The big minus – is that Grovo, did this in such a snarky manner (IMO) and I wonder if they realized what the perception would be when people found out?  Because it was bad and continues to be, at least with vendors and I have seen it with everyday consumers too.  

The big unknown is how aggressive Grovo will be in enforcing the usage of microlearning (r).  A couple of weeks ago, a vendor in the micro-learning content space sent me a newsletter, where – wait for it.. they used microlearning(r), without the appropriate (r) mini letter next to it.   Clearly, they did not get the memo.

And the winner is

Grovo worstaard

I like the learning system, but what they did regarding a universally used term by people across the space, was ill-advised and one of the worst ideas in recent memory for online learning, again in my humble opinion.  

Sad to Happy fact:  Franklin Covey back in 2007, trademarked “micro-learning”, only to abandon it by the end of 2007.   On behalf of all in the online learning space, thank you for abandoning it. Without realizing it, you did good! 

Award Category  – Most overused term or statement in 2017

This was a tough one because there was so much out there in the blogosphere, the net pundits and others who are “experts” in the space.  And even in some posts on social media by everyday folks.  




Micro-learning.  Over hyped and overused would be the way to go here.  The spin that this was a new learning concept for successful content was erroneous. Anyone could have created and in fact did create micro-learning online courses since online learning started in the mid to late 90’s, even in the corporate market.  It is just about creating a short course of no more than 10 minutes (assuming the person goes linear), and that in of itself is ironic, since the whole value of e-learning is to learn at your own pace, thus even if you build a five minute course, or put out a five minute piece of content, it could take one person 45 minutes to go thru it, or bounce in for 30 seconds and leave.

Developing a short piece of content, posting short content or even creating a short course doesn’t mean it is of high quality for learning.  I stress the learning part here.  The number of micro-learning courses/content I saw using scenario-based learning (bringing real-world situations into the course) was low.  

LMS is dead or dying.  When will it end? No pun intended. Another swath of articles pushing this premise and once again, people jumping on the LMS death march bandwagon.  The data though just doesn’t back it up.

LMS as a whole still makes up the biggest segment of the learning system space.  More learning systems are coming into the market compared to leaving. Acquisition, consolidation and closing up are extremely low (globally speaking, less than one percent).

The number of companies, businesses, etc. looking for a learning system and who are new to the space is still quite high.  Loyalty to the LMS and learning system, in general, is low, but that is not because the market is dying, rather it is because people pick the wrong system out of the gate and some just stay with them – unhappily due to the inability to get out of the contract OR someone at their company doesn’t want to go thru the search again. 

Enough already.  If you want to talk about a market that is having serious issues, go LCMS – and I’ll agree.  OR talk about how talent management systems are adding learning as a component to compete with the LMS systems who either have a TM/PM component or LMS in general.   Thus, in a strange wrap of you would never have thought that the TM standalone isn’t the market it once was.

Mobile responsive.  Every SaaS product in the e-learning space is mobile responsive.  Well, at least in their marketing.  I mean, you can view it on your mobile device right?  In your browser?  And the screen is smaller.  Congrats, mobile responsive.   Now is it truly responsive, by using “no widths”?  No, but most folks are unaware of that bit and that is understandable. 

And the winner is

Micro-learning worstaard   The term has a good shot at winning in 2018 too. 

As with any award ceremony, the two biggest awards are always last.  Well, this ceremony is no different!

Award category –   Time to retire your tool, product, etc.



Questionmark.   Yes it is a top-notch SaaS assessment tool and it has a lot of functionality, but the UI is dated and needs major revamp.  On top of that, there are a few others out there, that could at least challenge them in the coming year and at least one offers a nice UI.  Lastly, are there assessment tools in learning systems that have hit the level whereas a standalone is no longer needed?  Not yet, but there are again, some systems trying to achieve that level.   Questionmark has a nice niche with the F500, and there are definitely CLO’s who love it, but is it sustainable over the next few years?  The jury is out.

Articulate Studio.  Battle stations!  Battle stations!  I’m mentioning an Articulate product and can only expect the blasting to start from lifelong fans of Articulate Studio.  Nothing wrong with the product and as mentioned before in my authoring tool post, the latest version and even previous incarnation of Storyline offers the key functionality found in Studio (and before I get slammed, way-way more functionality i.e. SL3, but this is about Studio here).   Anyone who has followed Articulate over the long haul knows their track record in terms of updates to their product line and time to market.  SL3 is fast and has been the last few years.  Studio? Slug. 

Adobe Presenter.   Why is this even still out there?  There are products that are superior to it.  The need of what it offers isn’t what it once was, especially with authoring tool suites, such as AC360 or dominKnow, whereas even in the case of dominKnow, they offer an entry product (it actually comes with the dominKnow platform) that does more than a fine job. 

With Microsoft jumping full speed ahead with e-learning in PowerPoint, the need of such a tool as Presenter seems to be in the past.   What sustains it, I think is the name – Adobe.

But just as with the days of Dreamweaver (remember them?), the time to move on has come.   Sail away, my friends.  Sail away.

And the winner is

Adobe Presenter worstaard  The guy from Lord of the Rings, Frodo is ready to set sail.  He has brought a lunch box for the long journey.

Worst learning system for 2017

Our final award on this fine day.   With over 1,280 systems on the global scale, there was a lot to choose from.  Sure it is easy to go the route of picking the cheapest or the one who has a UI from 1993, but that would be too easy.  Plus, those vendors while they do get “big name” customers – or at least a division of said name,  they are not necessarily on the radar for most consumers. And with the marketing of what it is in today’s global landscape, especially in online learning – which is awful – that had to be part of the consideration.



Linkedin Learning.  It is a learning engagement platform who pitches themselves as an e-learning system, but you cannot change the skinning/logo, you are stuck with seeing the likes from the entire community with your own learner base (you can see the actual data of only your business on the reporting side), your recommendations are based on the entire community (which sort of defeats the purpose of your own employee audience learning choices – a better training gap assessment, then the entire planet) and a host of other issues.    The Lynda.com content  – some of it is good, a lot is not and the approach to culling it according to Linkedin is based on whether the content is still popular, rather than whether or not it is strong quality content.  I should put on my battle station gear with this pick as well.  As seen in my reviews, there are a lot of fans of Linkedin Learning and the idea that someone provides insight that is not 100% positive or fawning as an amazing offering is considered sacrilegious.   Two reviews, by the way, one in Jan of 2017, follow up in Oct. 2017.

SAP SuccessFactors Learning –  Nothing more to add, then what was said earlier.  Yes, a two-time nominee.  Can they pull off a win? 

I was going to add another vendor here to the mix just for the sake of saying here is a third vendor for worst learning system of 2017, but all be honest, these two above are in the final two, so having a third and not even seeing them as a number one would ruin the anticipation of the potentials above. 

I will state that their name began with an “R” and they do have big name customers in their vertical, but the system’s user experience and the user interface is severely lacking.  Along with that comes a hubris that their system is wonderful and fantastic, even if its overall appearance and functionality is substandard.  Additionally, I was surprised when a recent client of mine in that vendor’s vertical and home state HQ, never heard of them, despite a vendor who does a fair share of marketing, more so than many of their contemporaries.   That is not a good sign.

And the winner is… 

(Where did I put that helmet?) (Need to find my protection suit and face guard) (I wonder if the flames will hurt when this post gets lit, by the LL fan base?)

Linkedin Learningworstaard.

You need to do better is what I am saying.  Even for a learning engagement platform, you are already behind with the approach you have taken.  But what do I know?  Besides the industry of course.

Bottom Line

Well, huge congrats and cheers to all the winners in this year’s worst awards for e-learning in 2017.

I’d buy you a cake, but I need the funds.

It is after all the holidays,

And I am running low

on VR apps.

Immersive learning anyone?

E-Learning 24/7

Next blog post: Jan. 4th.  We will cover the latest on immersive learning, where the market in terms of devices are heading (and why smartphone headsets are not delivering the numbers they should), and my mini-review of Google Daydream.