The other day as I was driving home from a sporting event, I headed home driving along the coast. It was here where I had a learning experience. Dozens of humans trying to get to the beach late in the day, and blocking traffic in doing so.
This, the learning experience, is why I feel the term is the wrong term, as noted previously for learning engagement platforms, and why I prefer and will use the term LEP instead. After all, your learners are engaging in some manner with the content, not as a learning experience – which you know my dogs do when they bark at anyone or anything near my house.
Yeah it is a peeve of mine, which is why, I decided that LEPs needed their own RFP template. I know what you are thinking – how does this relate to his above story? And the answer is simple – it doesn’t.
Anyway, after studying the market in-depth – the LEP market that is, I felt an RFP specifically for that market made sense.
The LEP space is now the 2nd largest segment in the learning system space (LMSs are still first).
One area I am seeing trend wise are learning environment and administrative features starting to mimic LMSs (not 100% in some cases, but pretty close).
This is why when you see the RFP, the LE and Admin functionality is nearly identical, but with some changes (more on that in a sec.)
I also included NexGen functionality for the LEP space, where I think based on markers it will head, so that is in there too.
LEP RFP Template
First off, here is the LEP RFP Template – everything you need in one document. Easy to use.
Break it all down –
In General it looks similar to the LMS RFP Template, but has a bit of new look. Still you open up with your information (Client info), then the next tab are your learner size, and the third tab are the functions and features of the LEP.
Nearly identical to what you will find my LMS RFP Template with the exception of this feature
- Learners can create or identify their skills with a skill rating/ranking
Additionally you will see this little ditty
- Course Player is not a Popup (thus requiring the learner to turn off a popup blocker)
What you want to say is “YES” – in that you do not want a popup in order to view the course or piece of content. I know you might be thinking, “well no one requires or has that,” – but surprise, surprise, some do.
Course Upload Types
Never assume that every LEP allows you to upload your own content. They are getting better at doing that, but still it is not universal. The new entrant to this section
- Accepts already purchased 3rd party content/courses via another provider (example: You already have purchased content from Widget, who is not in the LEP)
This means that you bought content from a 3rd party provider who is not available or in the LEP and you want to upload it into your LEP as part of the content. There are some systems that allow you to upload your own content, but not from 3rd party providers who are not in their platform. Thus, this function. Frankly, they should allow it.
Compliance and Regulatory is similar to the LMS, but reduced significantly down, and built-in authoring tool exists as well (although most LEPs do not have one or if they do, it is similar to LMSs in that, it is basic to use).
Course standards are course standards, and yes, you have the option to select CMI-5 and xAPI. What I am finding is that AICC is nearly gone in the LEP space (as it is with LMSs too), so if I was you, I’d seek SCORM, SCORM 1.2, xAPI as my top three. PENS is nearly non-existent in this segment and CMI-5 is extremely new and few vendors have it – expect more in 2019.
Machine Learning (AI)
- Recommends content based on learner’s personal interests or topics of interest (as defined by the learner)
- Ability to include other items to enhance recommendation of courses/content
- System able to push out higher level of content (learner interest or “recommended”) as learner expands their skill sets/knowledge
One of the big differences between an LMS and LEP is the “learner’s interest or topics of interest” option. I am a fan of this feature, as it opens up new learning opportunities tied to you know, the person’s actual interest in learning it. But to really maximize it, the AI must be able to recommend or suggested content based on those interests, and most systems do that.
It is extremely rare to find a system that is able to understand the level of that person’s knowledge tied to that interest and then push out “recommend/suggest” a higher tier or path of information to that same person with that interest. For example, you are interested in learning the basics of economics.
At some point, you will have learned it or enough to want to learn more complex or info on economics. Sure you can go and search and find said info, but what this functionality will do is say “ok, I see that Steve has read/viewed a dozen economic-related items, and based on that, he seems to be interested in macroeconomics and prospect theory.” Thus the system suggests those specific topics. Again, start at basic then expand as you would expect yourself to do too.
The unknown of course is when a person goes to a web site to read an article, whether the system can tell if they actually read the whole article or skimmed it, or was on the site for like five seconds.
Degreed for example, can only tell you that the person went to that site (to read that article). It cannot tell you though, that person actually read or skimmed it or how long they were on the site (an indicator of maybe reading more than one line). Don’t worry though, I have that feature in Reports/Analytics ( time tracking).
(Voodoo says hi)
This is a new section and one really geared towards LEPs. While there will be a small component in a soon to be updated LMS template, overall, the one for LEP is significantly larger.
The first three are standards that every LEP should have (so say YES on the template)
- System includes “Trending or Most Popular” Courses
- System includes “Recommended courses”
- System includes “Based on interest (from the learner) to show content on the learner main page (their home page)
The next ones will depend on your system, but I will give you insight if I was the person filling this out looking for an LEP
- System allows for multiple topics of interest that learners can select
You want this one, and most systems allow it. What I would love to see is where the admin can add “new topics” and not select only from a list that the vendor has in the system.
Some vendors have only a certain number of topics for learners to choose from – they should have plenty and then the admin selects which ones are available.
- System continues to add more topics of interest, whether based on AI or by other means
This goes back either having the AI figure out the topic of interest and add more topics that are related or similar to OR the admin does it. For me, “YES”.
- System uses crowdsourcing (i.e. from all other clients’ end users included) to identify most popular, recommended, etc.
Linkedin Learning does this and I hate it. I couldn’t care less what Aleen’s World of Dresses’s employees are reading, viewing, taking/completing. And yet, they are a factor with the crowdsource. Anyway, crowdsourcing is good for a lot of things, but not training or learning. A huge NO.
- System uses only our company’s employees and/or learners to identify most popular, recommended, etc.
Simply, YES. The only way to be successful in skill gap analysis is to base it on your employees and/or customers. Not Aleen’s WOD.
- System can use job roles and/or skills to identify and present recommended or suggested courses to the end user
- System uses ratings or voting from other end users to identify most popular or trending courses
Both big YES and most of the LEPs have both.
- System uses learner’s profile (skills, topics of interest, etc.) to identify most popular content or suggested content
I am a fan of this feature, but typically you will find job role, skills more on the most popular content or suggested content. I want that third variable of topics of interest. Then a forth variable of social or whatever comes next. In other words, offer only two variables and you are not a NexGen, go third or more – you are.
- Client can create their own courses and other types of content (via system or 3rd party) and sell them on vendor’s course marketplace – to other clients in the vendor’s system
This is something that is being seen with some LMS vendors actually, and it should be something with LEPs. I think folks will like it. I had it in an LMS over a decade ago, and revenue is revenue in my book, especially if it cost me to build in the first place (most authoring tools are not free) and 3rd party developers are definitely not. If it is non-proprietary then let folks buy it. Or give it to them for free.
Either way, recognize. Trust me, you will see some good stuff out there, better than some of the stuff you are buying from an actual 3rd party provider. I know. I’ve seen it.
- Content can include music or podcasts tied to audio sources show as Spotify, Apple Music, Audible, etc.
Total NexGen feature. Makes sense to me, hence my adding it. Don’t expect folks to have it. But I think some will in 2019-20.
- Content excluding courses can be listed in the trending/Most Popular and/or Recommended
A standard feature in the LEP space. Say YES and move on.
Curation and Video Management
Two different sections, nearly identical to the LMS template. Curation is the same and Video Management is reduced to just four options
- System auto detects speed and outputs video to the appropriate FPS (frames per second)
Most vendors in the LEP segment have this. You want it. YES – perfect for mobile BTW.
- Video bookmarking
Not seen across the board, so folks have it, Linkedin Learning does (see, I can say nice things), but overall most don’t. They should.
- Video streaming
Standard feature in LEPs. A YES
- Video sharing
Extremely rare in the space. This is where a learner can share a video with another learner, think P2P in a way. One to One or One to Many. NexGen feature
The standards and similar to the LMS space. Gamification is in stagnation mode in the entire learning system space.
A few different items than the LMS template.
- Ability to link to content on the web
- Ability to capture via a link everything on a web page, including any images or other media, so that when pulled into the system, it appears as not just a link, but the page itself, text, images, etc.
You want both. The first bullet is standard in the LEP space. The second one is not. No one though is able to have a “clipper” where someone can clip a section of the page and that appears – maybe a paragraph or two. Nor does anyone have the ability to clip to OneNote or already have their system integrated with OneNote – which would rock IMO – total NexGen feature and features.
Notifications are the standard fare.
Okay, so there is one here that is likely to confuse some folks so I tried to explain it as something you would see when you search an App store regardless if it is Google Play, Apple iTunes or Foggy’s DirtDeals.
You see the app, then right below it is the ratings of said app.
- Ratings on the content appears right under the content (i.e. similar to what you see in Apple or Google Play store when looking at an app)
This should be a standard but sadly it is not. As in not everyone has this. Some do. A YES.
However, a NexGen feature
- Learner comments (comment on content, etc.) – appear on the page, right under piece of content
Vendors will note that it clutters, but a click down can be added here to see them, rather than having me go to a different page. My time is precious. I cannot waste seconds clicking.
- Learner comments (comment on content, etc.) – appear on a separate page and not directly under content (i.e. you see most recommended and it has three stars. You have to click to see more about the content to see learner comments)
Standard. Again, I’d prefer the first NexGen, but for right now, the latter will have to do.
I do not know of one vendor who has this. So, totally NexGen
One last note, social playlists are showing up in the LEP space, but it is not universal. NexGen feature.
As mentioned earlier, most LEPs are mimicking for the most part what their LMS brethren offer, but I added these functions (which LMSs as a whole do not offer)
- Administrator can define criteria for skill ratings
- Administrator can change skill ratings that learners set themselves
The latter is not universal, so I made it a NexGen feature. The first is mixed in the space.
- Ability to move the “recommended”, “trending” etc. to different areas, i.e. your system has “my topics of interest” – last, but we want it to be first, and want “recommended” to be last.
Total NexGen feature. A lot of static when it comes to that personalized “home page” for learners and even when you can do things, this one above is hard to find. IT should be a standard. Let’s make it so.
- Manager can view skill ratings defined by learner, and modify (i.e. change to more accurate rating as established by manager)
This feature is not universal either. Again, it should be. Unless your manager is the equivalent of a rock, with a low IQ (or at least you think they are), then no, do not allow it. J/K. Although I surmise some folks are nodding their heads in agreement with this one.
Mobile responsive is a standard and everyone can do it. I didn’t include it in FindAnLMS (which has LEPs too), because all it means is that you can view their platform on your mobile device. Just as you can with any web site on the entire net. But vendors still love to push mobile responsive.
Native apps – I’m surprised (okay, not really) that many vendors in the LEP market do not have native apps for both iOS and Android. Some have no native apps, a couple only have either iOS or Android. For the vendor who is only iOS, uh Android makes up over 70% of the market share for OS mobile devices. And sorry Palm is not making a come back, you can toss that in the dumpster.
The usual fare and always check, because not every LEP can integrate with SAP, Workday, Oracle, let alone Salesforce. I have two new lines here because many people who buy an LEP, already have an LMS or some other type of learning technology, so
- LMS or another type of learning system integration
- Integration to other learning technologies
The latter – an example would be your SaaS authoring tool or your VR learning site, etc. Do not assume that they can integrate without an issue with your LMS. See if they have in the past, and if not, but have with others – ask to talk to folks who have had an integration with an LMS that is not Canvas or Blackboard or Moodle (for some reason, vendors of LEPs love to note these three, two of which are totally HE oriented and third is darn close – although they offer Corporate too).
There are sections covering assessment tool (pretty standard, but not all the functionality is with it – so be aware), certificates, skill and competency (lots to pick here, skills and skill building are essentials in the LEP space, and the options reflect that), reporting and analytical data (heat maps for comparison – an example), and Analytics include tracking to web sites (i.e. how many times and how long they were on the site to read an article or watch video, etc.) – not a standard, totally NexGen, but again, something I expect you will see by 2020.
LTI – it is in the template. LTI is totally HE and education K-12 and it has never taken hold in the corporate space. I am not a fan of it, some items should stay in education, but as with anything, like folks who think Johnny Depp is still a great actor, there are fans.
I hope you enjoy and use the LEP RFP template. New additions will be made throughout the year.
I’ll be keeping an eye out for you.
Note: For those wondering, the following LEP vendors are in FindAnLMS (findanlms.com)
- coorpacademy, Learn Amp, Percipio by Skillsoft, Looop, EdCast, MyQuest, Learning Tribes, Lumesse, Filtered, 360Learning, Springest Go, Toolwire