Learning System Forecasts 2019

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Can you believe it? We are just five months out to 2019. And with that comes my forecasts for said year.  

Who would have guessed that VR would be on wobbly ground in the corporate learning space for the majority of verticals? Who would have thought that too many folks still think xAPI is open for debate, but CMI-5 seems to make sense?  Who would have seen that Amazon is working on a commercial LMS, which based on the background of the person running Learning Products, doesn’t really point towards an LMS like you know the term actually means (I’ll get to that shortly)?  Who would have known that press agencies still have no idea on what an LMS is compared to say a content aggregator selling courses for B2C?  (and BTW for the last time, Google Classroom is not an LMS). 

Five Forecasts you can put in the bank, or under your mattress or…

F1 – Amazon comes to play 

The monsters of the marketplace are coming. I do not know if it will be by the end of 2018 or by Q2 of 2019, but when they launch, besides the big whoopla that comes with it, they will do damage.   Even if the product is crummy, they will do damage – the name carries.  Based on some exploration, it is clear to me they have a couple of routes to go in terms of the system.  CNBC reported back in March they were working on a commercial LMS, but for folks who are unaware of the term learning systems, and unaware that the biggest segment are LMSs, but that there are other types of learning systems, including segment Learning Engagement Platforms (#2 in size), would assume an LMS is LMS.  

I’m not seeing that.   I base it on a couple of observations notably that the person who runs learning products for Amazon comes from a learning system that is a content curator.  Next up, we have those folks in Prime which is a huge revenue maker for Amazon.  Then we have LMS vendors adding LEP functionality, LEP vendors adding LMS functionality (a mistake IMO) and LEP vendors doing more with what they have (right approach).  

Thus, I see only a couple of paths for Amazon as to its type of system

a. If you base the factors of Prime, the CEO’s previous company, and growth of LEP, I’d go first towards a LinkedIn Learning Model, with the difference being extensive number of assets, learning resources (articles, ebooks (big), templates, assets, videos, podcasts, etc.) and variance of course providers.  I note it as LL model because it includes a B2C approach, whereas LinkedIn customers get some content for free.     But the expansiveness model, would be Degreed and a few other LEPs and many more LMS vendors (either on target or already in its path).    

b.  The second option of course, is an LMS with extensive LEP (which if you strip it all down is content curation with learning resources and various content providers – free and fee-based).    

Because it would be a foolish error on Amazon’s part to ignore the Prime customers, the (a) approach to me would make the most sense.  You would just change the game by going with a stronger administration side, with more robust analytics (for those companies who want the system for employees).    

Knowing that the LEP space is attractive, on “fire” and that there are plenty of companies, in all types of sizes willing to move away from an LMS to an LEP, only builds up the case.

Lastly, let’s not forget that an LEP is ideally an add-on to any LMS, but there is growth in the market (LEP) for folks to just use it, and not an LMS.   With the former, Amazon would still gain new customers who are locked into an LMS for the forseeable future. 

Lastly, you have all those resources already with Amazon, all those ebooks, and who knows what else they have on board.   You can bet that machine learning, or the soon to be ad-naseum term of adaptive learning (usually tied to AI) will be in the offering too, and let’s not forget about Alexa. 

The end result is a system to be reckoned with, which will put some folks out of business.  But will they lead in market share?  No.  At least not by the end of 2019, let alone 2020.   

F2 – Learning Resources, Learning Resources, Learning Resources

In Tier1 NexGen, a learning system needs to have a course marketplace (often referred to as a content marketplace).  The content is made up of courses, videos, with courses being the biggest.  In NexGen Tier2 – vendors will need to add other e-learning tools, learning systems/platforms,  and expand upon their content marketplace by adding learning resources (workbooks, ebooks, articles, templates, and so forth). 

Expect to learning resources – with the amount always announced as extensive or some big number – to become part of the content marketplace of LMS providers and more LEPs.   

F3 –  CMI-5 

I will have an upcoming post on CMI-5, but it is (in a basic statement) – the newest standard and one whose ardent fans believe will kill SCORM off once and for all (I’m not a believer of that, I mean AICC is still around).    CMI-5 is far superior, but its biggest holdback is consumer knowledge and acceptance.  Not to mention that authoring tool providers haven’t exactly been adding it, let alone publishing info about it.  Yet, on the other hand LMS providers are already in the process of adding it.  Not the majority mind you, but enough to see a trend – that they realize this is of value.  The irony if you will, is that xAPI, a supposedly savior for mobile, still does not have mass adoption and yet, CMI-5 – at least from my talks with vendors – is in the works for many.   Is this going to be where everyone has CMI-5?  The answer is no, but there will be more than there was for the first two years of xAPI being out, and that should tell you something. 

F4 –  Skill Ratings, Skill Building – KPIs – It’s the Rage

Expect to see systems focused only on skill building to hit the market. Toss in an increase in LMS vendors pushing skill building, skill development, the usage of skills for content of interest and topics, skill ratings tied into performance in some form, or even to help you land a better gig at your own company (when you apply for one) to be in play.  KPIs will finally land its due on the employee side of the house – especially with heat maps for the administration side or similar ilk.  Skill ratings which can be assessed, by well, assessment and various touch points will rumble in too.  

Pre-assessment really is what is needed for skill gap analysis (which you can do right now in any learning system, even back in the late 90’s – i.e. I mean skill gap analysis that is).   There are some things most vendors will miss, because well..    But in general it is about skill building and ratings.   

F5 –  Machine Learning continues to explode

The term I have been using for years is deep learning, but because consumers are more aware of the term, machine learning, I’m replacing my deep learning for machine learning.  Anyway, it will continue to be hot.  Funny though, of the eight or nine functions I list under machine learning in my template, not everyone hits the entire thing.  The key to all this is the algorithm, and as a beat my dead squirrel here (a dog did it, I swear),  is it being open, for the admin to change weights. points, not have to have the course be completed, is the key.  Closed algorithms, Degreed uses one for example, skews the data, and actually goes against learner-centric model and approach.  

Forecasts where the Term is Over-used, over-hyped and please, let’s get it over with.

  1. Adaptive Learning – If you think you have seen too much of micro-learning, oh yeah, get ready to be lite up like a firecracker for adaptive learning.  The interesting item to note is that when folks add AI to the mix, it comes out so much better in your mind. This marketing at its finest.  I recently read an outstanding article which broke down AI with SaaS systems, specifically, as in the end being about analytical data.  I support that. 
  2. Micro-learning -When will it end?  Never.  As anyone who has ever built a course and was older than 21 in 1998 will know, you could have created micro – mini courses then – 1998.  Heck, you could have done it with CBT too.  The point is it is not new, every system can accept micro-learning because it just means shorter time wise courses (which if the value of WBT is to learn on your own pace, that short means what exactly?).   And for the record, a short course can be a bad course too.  Time means nothing, if bad is bad. 
  3. AI and Machine Learning –  Here they come walking down the street, it is not the Monkees but Machine and AI.  You can expect to see “Smart Machine Learning”, too, which is better than “dumb machine learning”.  
  4. Personalization –  A new upgrade is that folks – end users can change their looks via widgets (vendor may refer to it as blocks too).  Admin has to green/red light the choices.  Only a few have followed eLogic with the change the theme for each end user (via templates).  Too bad really, because the look/feel is the right way to go, not just a widget. 
  5. Mobile First – It stays. It goes. It’s back again.  Mobile first.  Of course, if they do not have an on/off synch app, and app that can do more than content and assessments then they are not mobile first.  They are mobile and you get to be the first to realize they can’t do that.  So, yeah, I guess mobile first does apply. 
  6. Content Curation – HUGE.   This one might lead the terms of 2019.  On the inside track to pull it off. Oh, for vendors who really support this, where is the bookmarklet for my browser?  Where is the ability for me to clip a part of the page on the web, rather than take the whole page?  Where can I leave my notes on that page so that others can view it, read my notes and leave their notes too?  Right now, content curation is not dual ways.  It should be and needs to be.  

Forecasts That 

Knowledge Reinforcement Tools – Expect to see an increase in them in 2019.  Mobile driven they are, as in your mobile device.  Includes folks picking topics of interest, using a learner-centric model.  Repetition for refresher training is the key, but it must be setup – thus the admin must have the option – in variance, and not a day to day, mastery regurgitation approach.  Which despite what many consumers (i.e. clients think) – doesn’t work.   You remember the skills thing?  Yeah, KRTs deliver that too.   I anticipate that LMS vendors will add their own KRT to their system – hence the growth, but there are plenty of products out there as standalones.   Two that hit the top of the mark, Minds-I from Unicorn Training and Knowledge Arcade by Growth Engineering.  

Systems targeting only customer education aka customer training.  That is their only market. Not employee.   And for vendors that to do that – YES!  It is biggest under-utilized market in the industry and has been for years.  An important piece is the pricing model.  

Systems targeting only employees.  They are already out there, but what you should look for and will see are systems who pitch both employee and B2B/B2C, yet when you take a deeper dive will see more on the employee angle instead.   This should tell you quickly – they are more oriented and thus more focused on that employee (i.e. internal) client. 

Find an LMS, sees solid growth.  Oh, uh, yeah, so Find an LMS is my consumer system for finding, comparing, scheduling and communicating with all types of learning systems in the market.  LMSs, LEPs, Sales Enablement, Training Management, Knowledge Reinforcement systems – you can find them there.   Find an LMS looks like an LMS, with a consumer view (your view, think learner dashboard) and an Admin dashboard.  You can use a wealth of filters, pulling from my template, price range scale, user scale, and communicate with the vendors, including scheduling demos – right in your own calendar.  It likes getting pie with your ice cream or sorbet (in my case).  And with a few other surprise features (special blog post on August 28th – the day the system launches), you will have a true all encompassing offering.   

Bottom Line

2018 is in its final legs.  A new doggie rescued from Mexico is doing quite well in her new home (mine).  

A new NexGen LMS Grid is on its way (October).  An upcoming post on Content Providers, what to ask them, what to look for, is next up (as in next week). 

That’s reality.

But this is a post about forecasts. 

And while 2018 is turning out to be slightly above 90%, in terms of accuracy, there is one final forecast you can expect to see more of in 2019. 

Impact of Learning.  

The only method where you can actually get that metric you always wanted (and had to spin to use when saying ROI). 

With IOL, no more spinning because it is based on the business goals for the year. 

And its impact can be measured

With online learning. 

E-Learning 24/7 





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    Mark A. Anderson
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