Top 10 Learning Systems for 2018

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I’m sitting here on my patio, with the sea of Cortez in my view. The sun is setting and the only thing on my mind right now, is the Top 10 learning systems for 2018.  That and the hawk that flew by and the stillness of the sea and… well, you get the picture.

Now without further adieu

#10 Cornerstone Learn –  Heyo!  Cornerstone breaks into the top ten for the first time, so congrats.  Big wins includes a course marketplace (some folks refer to it as a learning experience platform, but I’m not seeing that, since uh, a learning engagement platform requires several items, and the LEP for Cornerstone does not have that), next generation functionality including deep learning, content curation, ask an expert and video management.   The new learner UI homepage is fantastic.  Across the system though it is still a mixed bag, some nice, some improvements needed.  Admin side, IMO should next go to “revamping”.  Overall UI/UX is good with parts of great.  Mobile impressive.

#9  SumTotal Learn – UI/UX is strong.  Vast improvement in functionalilty across the board. System now comes with 80 courses (titles were unavailable to me during this post). Mixed report on next generation functionality – though they do have deep learning, content curation, ask an expert and video management (mixed results at the present time).  A big surprise to me, was that they are mobile responsive for tablets, but not for smartphones. On the reverse they have very good mobile apps with on/off synch.  One additional note of oddness – inability to e-mail certificates to learners.  Let’s get that fixed pronto!

#8 Learn Amp – Learning Engagement Platform that has the functionality you expect to see in other LEPs. Big wins – abillity to create a variety of playlists, learner tailored dashboards, upload your own content (most LEPs do not provide this feature), access to over 10,000 assets, which IMO is plenty.  The assets include books, content, videos.  Assessment tool included.   Mobile is a plus here.  A lot of potential for this learning engagement platform.  One to watch in 2018.

#7 Thought Industries – Yes I know the name sounds like a think tank; thankfully though it is not, rather it is an LMS.  First and foremost this is a system of untapped potential.  Next generation functionality including deep learning, content curation, ask an expert/coaching, video management is mixed.  Many items are on the roadmap for 2018, but they have an excellent record for meeting their roadmaps. I love the FPS detection (for video), strong e-commerce, multi-tenant and very good UI/UX.  Analytics and data visualization are good.  Am I saying that this could be the next “big thing”?  Well, not yet, but ask me again in 2020.  Another vendor to watch in 2018.  

#6 Docebo –  Very good UI/ good UX.  Their ask an expert/coaching/content share is one of the best I’ve seen on the market.  It is a standalone module (not a fan of that), but if you go Enterprise they include it in the quote.  Enterprise BTW is anyone above 300 users.  My recommendation – go Enterprise.  You get it all, but I digress.   Added a performance management mod (inc. in Enterprise), which is heavy into skill improvement, as it should be. The LMS itself, is strong in some nextgen functionality – ask an expert, and content curation being the top two.  But for deep learning they are below average and the video management is a mixed bag.  I love the social playlists they offer, and the ability for folks to build their own subscription package, but you cannot build such packages ahead of time to sell, so that is a fix needed.  One of the first vendors, to have a course marketplace and include free content.  The “one click” still rocks.   Mobile solid.

The Top Five….The Top Five…

#5 Cross Knowledge Learning Suite – For those folks wanting the Netflix like experience or the desire of having some LEP mixed with an LMS, but as the front learner UI matches the LEP approach, well, here it is.   As you would expect content curation is very good here, and in the learning engagement part, the “recommendations” come via the CK community (around 12M users) and not from your company.  This is a feature often found in most LEPs. Personally, not a fan of it, but for some folks it works.  Regardless of that, UI and UX is very good.  Admin side is strong with a lot of data visualization – give me more!!! Anyway, it’s excellent. 

NexGen functionality – deep learning is mixed, ask an expert is good with some items on the roadmap, video management has a lot but misses some basics.   You have auto-detection FPS which rocks, but not P2P video.  You have the ability to add a quiz/assessment to a video, video bookmarking (cool) and video streaming, but no built-in screen/web cam redorder.  Now includes something called “Coach Interface in the Front Office”, it is not an interface per se, just the wording of interface between the coach and the learners.  Anyway, without regurgiating all the functionality and it is robust (oh and mobile too), a cool feature is the ability to have multiple facilitators along a single training path.  So the learner can select a facilitator (coach) for this X and then another for Y on a learning path.  Sweet.    Big minus – no e-commerce, in the instructor view, an instructor cannot pass a survey or assessment, and no content/courses come with the system.  

#4 Unicorn LMS –  Number one in the financial services market for 2018 (learning systems that target FS that is). Strong in compliance and regulatory. In my compliance category, I have a listing of 14 functionality types, Unicorn scored 100%.  In my learning environment category, with 22 features listed, Unicorn was 21/22, only missing drag and drop for learner side.

Big wins include a digital signature capability within the system, and you can do it via mobile (albeit on the latter it is not a feature of the mobile app).   They also have a CPD app, so that’s nice. Functionaliy is quite strong here. Deep learning is in a “in progress” stage, content curation has some items, missing others, coach/ask an expert is solid, and video management faces the same challenge that CK does. 

On one had, video bookmarking, video streaming, auto-detection for FPS;  on the other hand – no ability to add a quiz/assessment over a video, no built-in screen/web cam recorder.  While they have a Netflix like experience in their LearningPath LMS app (on/off synch too),  I’d expect a bit more of the video management side of the house.   After all, this is the same company, who created IMO the best Knowledge Reinforcement Tool on the market, Minds-I (#1 KRT for 2018).   Built-in authoring tool could easily compete if it went standalone, it is that strong. 

Great UI and UX. 

The Final Three

2018_Bronze-LMS Growth Engineering

Yes, they are a gamification based system.  But a) they are robust  b) will soon allow you to choose whether to have the system with gamification wrapped around it or not, the same I believe applies to social at some level.  For me, it has to include the gamification components.  Constantly on the move, the admin side is being revamped – it has improved each year, they have a new front end UI, with some very cool functionality coming soon (it is in beta), their mobile app called KnowledgeCenter is quite good, with on/off synch, and soon you will be able to have learning quests within the app.  Drag and drop on the admin side is there, on the learner side it will be by end of Q2 2018.  For the Learning Environment – Growth scored 21/22 with a no on “Individualized learning plan, course catalog seen on same screen”, rather they are on separate screens.   Gamification is outstanding.  Growth Engineering is #1 gamification learning system for 2018.  I see a lot of systems, and this is still one of the few, that I as a learner would have fun in (assuming my admin was cool and not into “no” as their only option).  Classroom management is robust, including an interactive experience.  Sounds like a flipped classroom capability.    Deep Learning is on the roadmap for 2018, content curation, ask an expert/coach and video management are above average.  For video foks they do offer video bookmarking and video streaming. Multi-tenant included.  But for those who need e-commerce, it is a separate fee (they use Stripe).   Good assessement tool comes with the system.

Event management is quite good, same with notifications, but they like so many are missing SMS notifications.  The system does not come with any free content (a big minus), on the other hand with my administration section, whereas 22 features are listed, Growth Engineering scored 100%.  The same with my functionality items for a manager and instructor view, Growth again 100%.   Every time, I turn around, Growth is up to something new.  They do offer 24/7 support (contact them though for details, as it may cost extra).   Support track record is excellent. 

For those who want performance management they offer it as a separate cost.  It is not included with the learning system. System plays well with internal employees and internal B2B (where e-comm is a non-need).  Easily mid-size and higher for user base.


Despite their recent acquisition by SAP (bought Callidus Cloud, who owns Litmos) and the unknowingess of how that will play long term (you know with SAP, SuccessFactors, etc.), if you go Litmos – you will go enthralled.

UI and UX are elite.  NextGen functionality continues to be in the top tier (moving awfully close to number one),  with my Deep Learning area – identifies seven features, Litmos scored 100% (the only vendor to do so at this present time), content curation, ask an expert/coach are strong.  Learning Environment – Litmos landed another 100%.  Video management is very good.  Yes on video streaming for those curious.  And you can add an assessment/quiz to a video, think overlay if you will. In the event management section, you can change your calendar view, with looks including grids and lists.  Notifications – yowsa – super strong, with yes, SMS notifications.

Mobile includes on/off synch and in the mobile app you can save your videos as “favorite content” if you so choose. 

Multi-tenant and e-commerce both elite.  While Litmos supports 24 languages, I was surprised that they did not support Latin American Spanish, which is different than Spanish (from Spain).  Beyond that, in the administrator screen you cannot control profile settings by field, the system does not come with certificate templates, nor can you add multiple certificates to a course (but 90%+ systems can’t either),  and the system lacks good data visualization. 

On the other hand,  you can buy Litmos either with or without content.  The “content” is Litmos Heroes and soon to be other offerings (via acquired firms such as the folks who make some compliance training courses).   The system does include bookmarklets – a huge YES!! (ideal for content curation, and offers lots of potential and possibilities for other too).

Support record is excellent.   Ideal for either B2B/B2C or internal (employees and internal B2B).  Plays well in all audience sizes from 500 and up.  So yes on SMB, mid-size, 10,000 plus learners.

2018_Gold-LMSeLogic Learning

Two-time winner (uh, as #1 – #1 for 2017 and now, #1 for 2018)

#1 learning system for extended enterprise (unlimited tenants inc.) (i.e. multi-tenant).   I’ll put it this way, this system has ooomph.  Administration section – 100%. Learning Environment, Manager and Instructor view, classroom management all 100%. Compliance and Regulatory? 100% (out of 14 key features).  Yes, they have digital signature too.

Content curation? nearly 100%.  Ask an expert/coach? 100%.  I should note, that they are so far the only vendor to score a perfect 100. E-commerce is nearly 100%, only items missing are a virtual wallet (rare in the space) and VAT (coming in 2018).   Folks rave about personalization in the industry, but eLogic are the only ones whereas each learner can have their own theme.  This is more than you pick some widgets versus me or Carolyn, rather, it is widgets, language, and repeat  – look- as in theme.  No one else does it in the market.  True personalization.  UI and UX are elite.

Mobile sound. Reponsive, mobile apps with on/off synch.

The system comes with a free license to the dominKnow platform, the number one authoring tool in 2018, which has robust assessment capabilities and additional publishing pieces too.   So you get that.

Support is Outstanding – best in the industry, IMO.  Training matches – as elite.  They include a sandbox after the system goes live – for free – a great way to test, etc. – for those who like production environment sandboxes – and who doesn’t – when it is free to begin with?

99 enhancements for 2017.  Those are enhancements not fixes nor bugs.   Roadmap track record is excellent.   Internal employees/B2B  and B2B/B2C worthy.  SMB, mid-size, and 10,000+ too.    Best system for the retail and hospitality market for 2018.  NexGen strong!

Bottom Line

There they are – all of the ten.  10 is a magic number.  So the song goes.  What it doesn’t?

Well it should.

For this year at least.

E–Learning 24/7

A listing via a PDF of all 50 vendors will be available early next week.  The final listings of all 50 vendors on my Top 50 Learning Systems for 2018 will be viewable by Sunday morning, if not earlier.






  1. Hi Craig,

    curious, how do you compile this list? What are the requirements and elements you look at for an LMS to make this list? I’m especially interested how you integrate user feedback and if you survey the L&D community.


    1. Any type of learning system can be in the new platform. There are not min. requirements per se – actually they cannot be a custom one on one shop, where you hire them to build you an LMS. It must be commercial. Now commercial can be free or it can be fee-based. There are over 1,3000 learning systems in the global marketplace. LMS makes up the biggest segment, LEP (Learning Engagement Platforms) makes up the 2nd. We reach out to vendors – and as you recognize a large list, we are still in contact, and so forth.

      Now for the Top 50, I have written on the criteria – you can find it in older posts on this blog.

      As for showing user feedback – for vendors, I prefer talking directly, asking questions. What you see happening on Yelp or or other sites, where folks can “vote” is a concern. Anonymous might be someone who is totally honest or it can be someone who works at the company and is raving five stars, when in fact it stinks. This is why, when I go to shows, I talk to folks in the community of training, L&D and HR (who use learning systems), what they think of their vendor if they have one (and many do not), and drill-down. Some folks hate their systems, but when you drill-down, I’ve seen reasons tied to content (which has nothing to do with the LMS, as in the “content stinks”).

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