2021 Turkey Awards

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What is a turkey? Well, besides a bird, I think most of us think of a bad product or service or in our case, system or solution. And yes, you are totally correct. For me, I toss in some terms that need to go or be stopped in their tracks before confusion does more to hurt than help.

While the 2020 Awards did not occur, 2021 brings it all back. It started in 2018, then in 2019. It has been a reader favorite and yes, a few vendors have been, uh, extremely unhappy.

I get it. I eat a plant-based diet, and plant-based turkey is pretty fowl (ha, get it?). Tofurkey, isn’t much better, unless your taste buds enjoy, uh, tofurkey.

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The other day, I learned what is in a turkey hot dog, actually all types of hot dogs.  It’s called trimmings, and I will leave it at that. 

It has no correlation to the categories, rather, just something to ponder the next time you eat a grilled frank.  You are welcome! 

  • Worst Learning System – A lot of good ones err bad ones out there. This is totally based on the similar criteria I have for the top learning systems.  Okay, some differences.  Ever heard of Scrapple? Yep, like that.  For 2021, I’ve expanded this to include, well, you will find out. 
  • A term that has to go –  It has to be one that either has taken hold in 2021 or is still around, being pushed as a narrative by vendors, who in most cases, are either ignorant or unaware of what the term really means. 
  • Functionality that is out of date, and either vendor are removing it OR needs a serious update via UI and UX. 

Normally, you have to wait to find out the worst learning system – to the very end, but this year, one of the worst awards will be viewed shortly, and then the bigger of the two, will be at the end of the post, okay towards the end. 

Most Baffling Learning System

This is geared towards a learning system that while it has some of features and components that are doable for the system itself, is either going in the wrong direction OR seem stuck in neutral.   It totally baffles me.   And maybe you as well. 


HowNow  – I’ve seen this system up close and personal, and I’m baffled. There are features it lacks, but hey, many systems have this challenge, but the way they get their skills tied to job roles information creates this confusion. They rely heavily on job boards. This means the people who post jobs, which may or may not have applicable information – even if they (HN) scours and strip out nonsensical.  Other vendors who include job boards as part of their data for skills and job roles, do so, at less than 10% (in the majority of the cases). I have yet to find a vendor, besides HowNow, that uses it as a primary.   The system itself, well, there are far better ones out there.  

Workday LearningWorkday’s whole push from the beginning was leveraging learning around the Workday HCM for the whole push and pull data.  Okay, got it.  Then they started to notice Workday customers, not buying WL, because they – the customer wanted their learning for customer learning (aka education aka training).

Workday Learning said, okay, we can fix that.  We will create a separate instance that can be used for your customers.  Only problem?  The key narrative of why you want WL in the first place just went out the window.  Oh, and the option for going this route – it’s an additional cost.   On top of all that, WL still has an issue with pulling in data from learners who are on Linkedin Learning.  This should probably be on LL, but at the same time, WL equally should be heavily focused on resolving this.  Call it the blame game! I call it, nominee. 

Odilo First off, I want to say, I like this system – for the most part. The front end of the whole content, including audiobooks and ebooks and the publishers involved, and updates, etc – is fantastic. They have more assets than any vendor out there (uh, won’t say whom, but you need to change your marketing on that).  Oh, and the system is not an ecosystem, IMO. 

What baffles me is an area within the platform around learning experiences. It’s dated, not rich and luxurious and the information is just bleah.  I have to admit, I was stunned by what I saw. It is as though, two different people from two different times in history created this.   Once you see Odilo, you will see how amazing it is, seriously, but that other part – baffling.  Just as baffling as to why Willy Wonka never paid any taxes on his chocolate factory.  

And the Winner is 

Gobble..Gobble.. (think drum roll but in a turkey voice) 





The Term(s) that has/have to GO

Wow, there are so many out there. I looked at the terminology that does not either reflect what it really is, or is totally outdated (and as noted still used).  Terms are relevant because this is what people – buyers in L&D and Training and HR and wherever rely on to make an informed decision. Vendors have a bad habit of spinning – thru marketing various terms to mean something totally different than what it was defined to mean.  Then, the public just buys into it. 


Extended EnterpriseThe absolute worst.  It is hard to even fathom how outdated this term is, and how so many vendors are holding on and using this terminology as though, it is really a golden ticket that will allow them to meet Willy Wonka.  Come to think of it, it might be as old as Willy. 

Anyway.  I’ve written a lot on extended enterprise, which unless you are were into legacy (another old-school tech term) it won’t be a term that just rolls off the tongue.  

Extended Enterprise means a multi-tenant platform and is geared towards customer learning (a new term which means customer education which replaced another term, customer training).   This is in reference first and foremost to B2B, and for others B2C or a combo of B2B/B2C.  Partner training slides in here. And to me, associations tend to go customer learning, whereas the customer is the member.   

I rarely hear this term, unless it comes out of a vendor’s mouth, or the person mentioning it worked at a company back in the day (many moons ago) that had a system that espoused the EE term. 

I know, you are already thinking, this has to be the winner.  Perhaps or not.

Micro-Learning.  Vendors write it as micro learning, forgetting the hyphen.  Micro-Learning has been around since 2000.  That is right, since the year 2000. As in 21 years.  I had it in my learning system. Micro just means short. It doesn’t mean better courses or content. It doesn’t mean better quality. On top of all that, self-paced learning, is about learning at your own pace. So if micro is all about duration, what takes you five minutes, may take me an hour, because I am heavily focused on a specific page or pages or video screen.  I’ve never been a fan of duration, it defeats the purpose of WBT (aka online learning, which is now spun as elearning or eLearning, which is actually spelled e-learning).  

Mobile FirstCongrats it means absolutely nothing. It reminds me of mobile learning, which only meant that you could access the vendor’s system via your mobile browser. It never meant that the learning system had a mobile app, let alone on/off synch.  Oh, mobile responsive? Yeah, everyone can do that.  Remember that mobile browser thing? Some vendors have a completely different look for their mobile app, others squish. 

Mobile-first is just buzz. Vendors who push this term are saying that their system first and foremost is all about accessing via a mobile device.  And yet, I find vendors who do not have a mobile app.  Wait. I find a few that have a mobile app, but lack on/off synch, which you want.   Mobile responsive they say.  Mobile capabilities they say.  Yeah, so does everyone else.  If you are reading this blog or accessing it as a newsletter via your email, and are reading it on a mobile device, congrats – it’s mobile-first, responsive, and provides a mobile learning experience. 

And the Winner is 


Extended EnterpriseTell me, have you ever visited a processing plant? 




Functionality that is out of date and/or needs a serious update to reflect 2021 and soon 2022


Discussion boards –  EdTech (K-12, Higher Ed) love them.  I mean, they really love them. I’ve seen them in EdTech systems going back to 1999.  They have the same UI and UX design as they did in 1999. Actually, that’s not fully accurate. I had one on my website (teacher job site) in 1994. With the exact same look and design. 

Forums? Ditto.  Text Chat? Ditto.

I could easily add those two functions as separate nominees, but when it comes to discussion boards, it seems to be a trifecta – DB, Forums, and Chat – text chat.  I’m not referring to text chat you can do it via a virtual classroom or webinar or web meeting.  I’m referring to an actual chat room, with text.  You see these threebies in many corporate-focused systems.  I get that plenty of buyers love them, but you could do an update here. Add a voice capability, so rather than typing in the text, it is voice-audio files. Add some emojis or .GIF animation.  What about the video within the video?  There are a lot of ways to go here.  Yet, that seems like a challenge for so many vendors.  There are vendors who have totally removed forums or chat off their systems.   Let me repeat that – removed forums and/or chat.  Unheard of, i.e. removing some functionality. 

Built-in Authoring ToolsUpward trajectory in systems, a return to the old days, early learning systems that had them, then it fell out of favor, and now it is back and full throttle. I support and embrace a built-in authoring tool, due to a) the 20% market,  b) the end of corporate instructional designers, c)the push to push out content quickly (albeit not a fan of it), and d) savings.  Vendors should either build their own, or go third-party with a cloud-based commercial system, which will allow a deep integration AND offer both beginners and folks who have a background in ID or e-learning development to use the tool to take it to its full power of interactive and engaging. 

What is occurring nowadays as it relates to the vendor building their own authoring tool, is that they look the same, generally speaking. Either using “Slides” – yuck – when did you become PowerPoint? OR the WYSWYG approach (What you see is what you get).  Even the UX looks dated.  

There are few vendors spinning it as content lite or a content editor, which nobody with an instructional design background would think, “This rocks!”.  

The spin is just spin, it’s a built-in authoring tool.

Anyway, if I have a built-in authoring tool, I will make sure to include (at no additional charge)

  • Templates geared towards my target verticals/industries. If it is healthcare only – then healthcare only. If Life Sciences and Consumer goods, then LS and consumer goods.  If you focus on customer learning, then templates for products, and services, and so on.  Not, three templates. At least 10. 20 ideal. And add engagement capabilities.  
  • Digital Assets – Freebies here. I’ve seen a few vendors who use Shutterstock or similar royalty-free sites, which always produce higher images than say, someone taking a pic, that you can use for free.  One vendor has direct links to all the sites that offer 100% free images – which is really nice.  Add some engagement capabilities – as assets, perhaps some video or audio files. Strike a deal with this 3rd party vendor.  There are a lot of ways to help folks here, invest a bit to do it. 
  • How to build a course session – You, the vendor spend three hours – split over a period of time, and help someone build an effective online learning course. If you yourself are unsure, find someone – there are plenty out there, who knows effective instructional design – perhaps, you know, an actual ID person.  When people gripe about a system, support is #1 why they hate their system, but second is the content.  Think about that, the next time, the 20% audience is using your authoring tool to create a course. 

This category really is about these two above items. I could easily add two more, but why, when it will come down to these two.

And the Winner is 


Discussion Boards/Forums/Text ChatFeel free to use your discussion board to discuss whether this is a good idea or not.  Make sure to use Netscape Navigator as your browser, and stopover on WebCrawler, your official number one search engine.  


Worst Learning System for 2021

The Turkey Award of them all.  The biggest prize. Like finding out your turkey is pre-cooked, smoked even, and you bring it over to your in-laws or family, and are “Tada. King or Queen for the day”.  Yes, it is that level of impressiveness. 


Anyone who has read my previous turkey awards knows there is one system that has achieved immortal status, like a turkey. The weird thing is that they are owned by an entity that has the $$$$$$$ to upgrade it, to be so much better than it is – when it comes to learning, but for whatever reason, doesn’t.  This same entity has another system, which is light years ahead in terms of UI/UX and just overall learning and training-focused capabilities.  

I do know that in the past, they (the entity) have told people who have very large enterprises, that the other system isn’t designed for that audience (not true), and thus this system is. 

Who is this you might ask? 

SuccessFactorsOwned by SAP.  Fun fact – when you now are looking at either SF or SAP Litmos (the far better system), your call will include an SAP rep along with your system rep (i.e. SF or Litmos), even if you have zero interest in SAP.  Does this make any sense? Absolutely not. 

Workday Learning Not to build on to the previous, but how about a major upgrade here? Skills Cloud is available to any Workday customer, regardless of whether you have WL or not.  Where they get their skills data is not clear – WL told me it came from public and private sources.  When I tried to find out who exactly? Crickets. 

The initial system was built on MediaCore a vendor they acquired, and while there have been updates to that, the system still seems dated.  Again, the money is there, where if they really wanted to, they could turn WL into an elite system, with enough functionality and features to attract.  The challenge though, which I totally understand, is that you have to Workday HCM (at least a module).  Yet, the separate instance, they sell, tells me, that they could go totally separate here if they so choose to.   Oh and for the record, for those of you, who have Workday (but not WL), most learning systems will API connect or connect with Workday and will work just fine with it.   Thus the idea of having to stay in the family to be more effective and efficient with push and pull data no longer is applicable. 

Rise Pitched as a training system reminds me more of a cloud-based authoring tool that goes LMS lite (and I mean super lite) which I used to refer to as a hybrid. They are not the only vendor, it is from Articulate to do this, and no it is not the same as Rise 360, so confusion is included here.  The key to this system is authoring, either via built-in or via Articulate 360 (as the focus).  The metrics are super basic.  Add some learners. Send invites. Have them take your content.  Here is some data.  I ran some numbers on their pricing with the infamous “up to”.  Let’s see how this compares with a significantly better learning system, called KREDO. 

Rise (up to 1,000 people) – 1999 per month. Total Cost you pay for one year – $23,988 (for the Rise system). If you do not have 1,000 active total users, and say, you have 700 – congrats you still pay $23,988.  

KREDO (up to 1,000 people) – $1.95 per user/per month.  Which is $23.40.  The total cost you pay for year one? $23,400.   Let’s say you have only 700.  Total Cost – $16,380.

And yes, they accept SCORM and other course standards.   This means they accept courses that are built-in Articulate 360.

And the Winner is…


Workday Learning.  A stunning upset. Wow. This is like the time, The Artist won the Best Picture, whereas nobody saw it, and nobody could figure out the plotline.  It’s like when Heaven’s Gate (actually not a bad movie) totally failed at the box office and caused the implosion of a major movie studio – United Artists. The cost to make it, bankrupted the studio after it failed spectacularly. 

I’d ask Bert Parks to present this award, but sadly he passed away.

Back in 1992.

Just shortly, before 

Discussion Boards 

Was in 


There will be no blog next week.

However, the week after that –  BATTLE 2.0

Fuse vs. EdCast vs. Degreed. 

E-Learning 24/7

Without all the trimmings.