Three systems. One blog post. A repeat, in the sense, that a year ago, the debut battle between these vendors, occurred. It was and still is, one of the most popular posts, and since the systems have changed, it is only fitting to bring about a second battle to compare each vendor to one another.
Some Ground Rules
- 100% independent – No pay for play here
- The data that will be presented, the features, the comparison analysis – is relatively fresh. As of the end of November 2021.
- The screenshots are the latest.
- I have seen demos, in-depth, from each vendor multiple times in 2021. The latest viewing? November 2021. Each vendor has provided me additional information as they added items – for 2022, or have on their roadmap.
- One feature I would love to show you is Guidebooks, which I think is the breakout feature for 2021, which appears in Degreed Intelligence. Degreed requested that the Guidebooks not be shown, nor any screens from Degreed Intelligence, with the exception of Skills Coach. I have honored that request.
- On the other hand, the second big breakout feature which I see as truly human-centric will be discussed, but it is hard to show, because it taps into the “search” angle, plus in 2022, they are taking it another step, which I will note – and I believe will be a game-changer in the learning system industry. This capability is in the Fuse Platform
This comparison is system to system to system, based on capabilities, functionalities, system pros/cons (when applicable) – learner and administrator side, metrics too. Client size wasn’t relevant for this analysis, nor who they focus on in terms of verticals/industries. Two of the systems are really TXPs, although one pitches itself as an upskilling platform, the other as either an LXP or TXP. Both have certain functionality that you see in an LMS, which is very common these days, due to the ubiquity of the space between LXP and LMS. They are Degreed and EdCast TXP.
I will add that what an LXP actually is, and how vendors even within the LXP market are pushing it as, are two different items, that will not be discussed here, but just an FYI.
The third system is a learning ecosystem. Some folks call them a learning knowledge platform or system. In the end, it is part LMS, part LXP, part Skills Platform, part engagement, and part human-centric. This is Fuse.
Each one is a learning system at the end of the day. Each will be in the top three learning systems for 2022.
Let the Battle Begin
The best way to present the various learner side is to show it off.
Fuse first and foremost ties everything around communities, which is where a set of learners are placed, depending on what the client, wants. For example, by location, or job role or skills or a combination or by interest, and so forth. A learner can be in multiple communities.
The communities are essential. Content/Courses are tied into the communities, which you can even segment further down – so x learners in community Y see only these courses/content, while y learners in community Y see something else. The same applies to comments, knowledge sharing, etc.
This approach is not for everyone, and thus to try to compare them without fully understanding the approach and how it really works, to say Degreed or EdCast TXP, isn’t a fair representation.
Once you understand the methodology, the angle, and why it appears as it does, with higher engagement based on various factors, then it makes a tad more sense. Again, though, it isn’t a fit for everyone, because it doesn’t look like every system.
Fuse presents a number of views (the eyeball), which I really love. It is good to see how many people viewed it. Likes appear – that is common, but where are the dislikes? Comments -the number is shown, and then a click and on the same screen you see the comments. I’d like to see a rating score right there, next to the views, and likes.
You can view content, most recent, recommended, and other options, including the type of content – a nice plus.
Fuse uses a machine-learning algorithm (referred to as A.I.) throughout their system, which yes, EdCast TXP and Degreed do as well. But Fuse doesn’t make you complete the content/course to see what is recommended. Degreed does. This is a strength – i.e. Fuse, and EdCast TXP does the same. Think this way, recommended is only as good as what someone is doing, or seeing or viewing – which can be narrowed down. If I have to click “complete” – which is how Degreed’s system works, then honestly, how accurate will recommend really be?
Back to Fuse.
The UI is modern, with a lot of options, and can appear different for each client, as the client has a lot of choices for design and experience. That said, I believe it needs a refresh, which is on their roadmap for 2022.
The Fuse Catalog
The catalog follows a very familiar route using filters. I am a huge fan of filters. In the screen below, the new human-centric, human element to the Fuse platform is front and visible. I typed in “Popular videos on engagement by Steve Dineen” – and output appears. You can search by popularity and latest, just to name two.
The date is always visible, duration, number of views (the eye), likes, comments, and share. I’d love to see those ratings again (search by ratings is on their roadmap), and dislikes too.
I mention the human element aspect because Fuse is the only vendor in the space today, where you can type in phrases, similar to what you would do on a search engine and the content appears. As the screen below shows, a specific inquiry – something someone might type in a search engine generates the right information.
I wasn’t limited to a tag or keyword, which plenty of systems offers. In a test, I typed in bad smells from the kitchen – and content appeared showing, what would cause that. I was very impressed with that search capability, especially if I needed to solve a problem in my kitchen (oh, and taps into going beyond just business-focused or skill-focused only, another plus).
Coming in early 2022, they will launch the ability to search by a question, “What do I need to be a leader?” – for example, and any content that is free – whether by the end-user OR as the client, you purchased a 3rd party publisher or two, then that content/courses appear. This latter search capability, no one is doing yet, which is why I believe it will be a game-changer – we all want the human element to systems, which are lacking. Human-centric is a must, IMO, and systems as a whole, feel like I am walking into a museum – look here, look there, oh be personable and warm? Nope.
This is the home learner page for EdCast TXP. If you have purchased “Career Pathing aka Career Mapping”, then it will appear on the top of your home screen. If not, it will not appear. Ignore the word”Spark” it is their SMB solution, but the UI/UX for EdCast TXP is the same, hence the screen.
Personally, I am not a fan of “my assignments”, because of the system which pushes the whole courses/content tied around skills aspect (which does exist), why would assignments – which is means required to be an essential need there. It is true you can remove that section/area, but it is defaulted on. The UI/UX though is modern and fresh. Recommendations is based on what you are currently taking, or completed – that is nice because in the case of Degreed, completion is what recommendations are based on – not taking it, or looking at it – completion only.
That isn’t the case with EdCast TXP. The recommendations use the machine learning algorithm (which all vendors refer to as A.I.). I like that it shows whether the content is user-generated (another learner) or from a specific source. A cool option, which does not exist, but would be a nice win, is if the name of the person is mentioned, beyond user-generated. Perhaps I want to follow that person and tie skill coins to that. Then on the metrics side, an administrator could see how many people follow that end-user content, what topics, and so forth. Lots of segmentation there, which would help anyone in L&D or Training.
Getting back to what is in the system. I’m not sold on the “Free” statement under each piece of content that is found. I say this, because if the client doesn’t purchase any 3rd party off-the-shelf courses/content (all are fee-based), then what is the value of saying “free”?
The only angle for “free” is if you are selling your courses/content and the learner has that appear in their learner home page, but again, that seems odd. It is more likely that they would see the content/course fees in the catalog, then buy it, and then it appears on the learner’s home page.
I do like that the type of content is presented, but would love to see some type of icon of what it represents. If it is a PDF, it says PDF, it doesn’t show the universal icon of a PDF. There is a reason why people in L&D and Training, when writing training guides, work instructions, and so forth, always include an icon, that is recognizable and means X. Like a light bulb -means tip or information. A red stop sign? Stop.
They are not the only vendor who doesn’t do this, but to me, it is a missed opportunity. The thumbs-up is nice, but what about the thumbs-down? Again, EdCast TXP is not the only vendor who shows only thumbs-up, and not the other option. Likes again – good. Unlikes? You can leave comments, but they appear on another screen, and the share function, is slick. There isn’t any way to see the number of people who looked at it though, or rate it – would be a better word.
Discover is well, a way to discover next-generation skills, a variety of academies – which you can follow, different types of courses/content, which usually is premium (i.e. it is not free) and states “follows”, even SMEs/Influencers which you can follow too. On a separate note, I never understand why some Influencers/SMEs do not follow others. Sort of defeats the purpose of shared learning.
Anyway, the two issues I have with the discover screen is seen below
To actually go to the course/content, you have to click the green box, or if it has an image or whatever. If you click “Follow”, congrats you are following it, and that’s it.
When you click the box though, you could see “pathways”, “Smart Cards”, and/or “Courses” or may see only “Courses”. You do have a variety of options here, again a plus. It is when you click the courses, you will see either “free” or “paid” – which means it costs money. Paid is past tense, so I think showing the cost would make more sense. I have the GO1 license, so any publisher in the GO1 library, which is massive is listed as “free”. The same will apply if you have purchased Udemy or LinkedIn.
Again, the purchasing of content/courses is common with 3rd party publishers, and most nowadays including GO1, smaller publishers, and bigger ones such as Open Sesame, have an “all you can consume model”, which the majority of people/clients purchase.
Back to EdCast TXP
I love the Smart Cards, which can be content from someone you follow, or something out of one of those libraries you purchased, or again “Free”. Oh, and yes, you can see smart cards you have to pay for. That said, the likes, share, comments are doable, and the type including “interactive” is listed. A nice plus. Many systems, like LinkedIn Learning, lists video and courses – which are videos and is a peeve of mine. That isn’t the case with EdCast TXP. A video is a video. A course is a course, which may have a video in it or not.
Skill coins are sort of virtual credits, which you can use to purchase 3rd party content yourself or purchase other items or use for whatever. It’s a nice feature, but a reward store is a must for “credits”, and EdCast TXP lacks that.
Learner home page
Totally not a fan of assignments – sort of gets back on low usage, if all you are doing is having to do assigned work. Anyway, the resources area provides a quick way to get to the content/information. Monthly Activity is nice, but again, completions is driven hard here, yet the whole LXP angle has always been learner-centric, informal. Guess those days are gone, when learner-centric means required, and informal means, uh formal with a twist. Degreed isn’t the only vendor who went this route in the LXP space – they all did – i.e. all LXPs.
I like the “Connect with a Mentor”, but I wished I could actually see the person and talk in a video-to-video angle, which you can’t. Nevertheless, I found it interesting that they show the number of skills they have, although I wish I could hover over and see what those skills were, OR here are how they rate with “focus skills”. The analytics btw, do not have any mentor data around how good or awful these folks are – I think it would be a plus to know – allow your learners to rate them, and then have the rating below the skills. I mean, sure they may have the skills, but they have no personality and treat you like a sub-human. Five out of five!
- You can search for pathways, courses, articles, podcasts, and other content
- The catalog uses filters – the options include Type, Provider, Duration
- If you have purchased the add-on called I believe, career mapping – it is shown as opportunities, then the opportunities will appear next to the key tag word you are searching for. In opportunities, you will see the number of skills you need, and how many you have for that opportunity. To learn more about the opportunity, you just click.
- To see who the 3rd party publishers are, they are visible as icon badges – with their logo. This appears on the catalog page, along with pathways.
Here is a screenshot of content you have saved for future viewing/access. I like the type – but similar to many others in the industry it lacks an icon to match with it. Duration is always a misnomer, but every vendor does it. What takes you 15 minutes, may take me two hours. Plus, the whole purpose is to focus on what you want, when you want to know it. If the content is from a 3rd party publisher, you will see their name next to duration. The top of the screen shows “Assigned”, content that is assigned to you, shared, saved, pathways and plans.
Here is the plans screen
And finally, the pathways screen – think sort of a learning path if you will, with content under the said pathway.
How do Fuse, EdCast TXP, and Degreed stack up from learning environment functionality?
Based on my Learning Systems Template of 24 features within the learning environment
Degreed 20/24, with the two big misses (i.e. they do not have it), plus a half miss.
- A customizable home page that is a different look/appearance/theme based on the learner who logged into the system
- Search by ratings
- Repeatable creation of events based on a standard course template (e.g. number of days, min/max seats, title, description) – this is the half miss because Degreed does not have any event management features/functionality. Nor do they have classroom management or vILT functionality either.
EdCast TXP 21/24, however, the three missing items are all on their roadmap for 2022
Two stood out as missing:
- Search by ratings
- Learner progress bar or similar
Fuse 23/24, with the one item missing – on the roadmap for 2022
- Search by ratings
Who Scored High in other key areas and who didn’t?
- Fuse, 12/13 features, with digital signature on their mobile app coming in 2022 (this is the only one missing)
- EdCast TXP, 9/13, with the remaining items on the roadmap. This includes a digital signature on their mobile app, coming in 2022, and workflow features.
- Degreed 5/13, items that are missing include diagnostic tools to identify compliance and competence gaps and recommend or assign appropriate learning, workflow features, digital signature in the system, and yes on mobile.
I will add that the mobile digital signature is very new to the industry, so it isn’t a surprise that all of them are missing it.
Machine learning (aka AI in the industry), Playlists, and Content Curation – 31 features via my learning systems template
Let’s take a look at an apple to apple comparison for machine learning
|The system uses an algorithm||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|AI in the system can scan documents, courses, content, audio and video files and produce text results in a transcript or similar items||Yes||No||Yes|
|Learners are not penalized/nor weighted, for not completing a course, tied to the algorithm||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Recommends courses/content based on job role, skill, and/or additional variables||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Can create a learning path based upon recommendations using algorithm over a period of time||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Recommends courses based on previous courses in progress/completed||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Recommends content/documents/videos/etc. based on in progress/completed courses or content||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ability to include other items to enhance recommendation of courses/content||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|The administrator can change weights, points, and other items to assist in the deep learning process – more accurate info||Yes||No||Yes|
For Playlists and Content Curation, the total score is 21
- EdCast TXP 21/21 and Degreed 21/21
- Fuse 20/21
Digital Coaching is getting hot, let’s take a look at how Fuse vs EdCast TXP vs Degreed compare
Total possible Score – 13
- Fuse 10/13 and EdCast TXP 10/13
- Degreed 4/13 – Definitely a weakness
Are a must with any learning system, very few have SMS notifications, yet, in the group below, two offer it.
|Upon registration of courses, events (webinars/seminars, etc.)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Automatic and customizable email notifications||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Schedule notifications (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Auto notification when CEU/CPD needs to be completed, before the expiration||Yes||No||Yes|
|E-mail notifications when a required course/content is about to expire||Yes||Yes||On Roadmap|
|Auto reminders via e-mail||Yes||Yes||On Roadmap|
|Future Tech – Ability to send (SMS) – text messaging||Yes||No||Yes|
Mobile First – You hear it all the time, wait, I do… Possible Score – 14
- Fuse 13/14 – the only item missing is admin functionality in the mobile app (it is rare to have it, so no surprise here). They have a mobile app for iOS and Google Play, and have on/off synch – a definite must!
- Degreed 11/14 – Admin and instructor capabilities are missing, no surprise on either – since admin is rare, and Degreed doesn’t offer any functionality around instructors to begin with, let alone vILT, classroom management. The other miss, is rare to begin with, so not a problem there.
- EdCast TXP – 9/14 – All the missing items are on the roadmap, biggest surprise – lack of on/off synch. Bummer.
Skills Capabilities – This is based on my entire skills tab functionality
- EdCast TXP – 77%
- Degreed – 72%
- Fuse – 66%
Generally speaking, all good scores, because skill capabilities/functionality as a whole in the entire learning system industry is still at the infant stage. Fuse is going full throttle with skills capabilities in 2022. If they hit their targets, they will bounce into the 80s. For Degreed the big area that is “on the roadmap” with capabilities is under the Skills Development area, with five items. EdCast TXP, it is digital coaching and skills validation that is on the roadmap.
The majority of the learning system space has skills ratings. How do these three stack up against one another? I should note that Degreed was the very first vendor to have skill ratings with the explanation and 1-5 angle.
|The learner can self-validate themselves on a skill or skills||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Manager can provide a skill-rating validation of an employee (who has completed their own skill validation rating)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|The system identifies what each skill rating represents (1 to 5 scale)||Yes||Yes||On Roadmap|
|The administrator can edit/delete what each skill rating represents||No||Yes||On Roadmap|
|The system provides proficiency details for each skill rating identified 1-5, thus someone who is 1 means they are proficient at only this and so forth||Yes||Yes||On Roadmap|
|Administrator can edit/delete/modify proficiencies descriptions||No||Yes||Yes|
|An analytics section specifically around skill ratings validations. Includes a comparison total score by each learner, manager comparison for each learner, skills proficiencies, skill strengths, and areas to improve with score rating.||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Overall, very impressive.
A learning system, regardless of the type, is only as good as the administration side, yet so many folks, focus on learning first. Understandable, but uh, who is in the system the most?
Again, this is based on my Learning Systems Template, available for download (FREE)
Total Possible Score – 32, includes functionality side and skills capabilities on the administration side. You will see a split – first half – based on the functionality tab on my Learning Systems Template; 2nd half is based on the skills tab on my LST.
- Fuse 31/32 – 97% (the feature they are missing is on their roadmap for 2022 – and is rare in the industry to have it, in 2021 anyway).
- EdCast TXP 27/32 – 84%
- Degreed – 27/32 – 84%
If I remove the drag/drop on the admin side for UX – which I believe systems should offer, and some do – it is not universal though, Degreed would move up to 28/31, EdCast the same, 28/31. Fuse has drag and drop.
LXP/TXP will often note that they are not an LMS, which is okay, that’s fine, but when you start offering manager features, and instructor and go above 90% on the functionality admin side, then…
EdCast TXP is working on manager-specific functionality (again view my template), Degreed doesn’t have it, Fuse, of course, do – then again, they are not only LXP here.
In the early days of the LXP space, nearly every LXP was missing one feature, the one below:
Allow administrators to set multiple levels of approval (e.g., no approval needed, supervisor approval, instructor approval, etc.)
And, guess what? Degreed is missing it, and EdCast TXP has it on their “roadmap” – so, uh right now, they are missing it too.
For those playing along, and wondering – Fuse, yes, they have it.
Again, Degreed asked me to withhold their metrics, but I have written about Degreed Intelligence (add-on cost), and how the articles/books/viewing metrics still are bar graphs/pie charts (they appear in some of the Degreed Intelligence screens too), but then the other side, with top content (by provider) viewed, and top 10 topics – is a winner, and I wish every system has it. Plus the other side has a better data visualization. Degreed Intelligence includes Skills Coach, which makes no sense because it isn’t really metrics in the way the other two modules are geared for and are – that said, here are a couple of screens showing it off – what it presents is nice, but does it really need to be part of an add-on?
And the Analytics is presents – Which I like – big fan of spider webs unless they are on my chair, then, no..just no..
Best metrics in the industry, period. Oh, and it is included at no additional charge, Let’s check out some screens:
Wait, there’s more
There is even more, but I only wanted two screens. Trust me, it is the best in the industry. I cannot stress that enough. Better yet – as if it could be – they are going extra level with even more advanced analytics tapped into the skills and content intertwined in 2022.
Ever since they included EdGraph as part of their system, it is an additional cost, add-on), unfortunately. However, it has a lot of pop with very specific metrics, ideal for the segmentation of data.
Another new feature on the data side of the house is Skills Studio, pretty cool once you learn how to use it – a small learning curve is in order here. This is where an admin can do this themselves, without having to get someone from IT involved (yuck). What’s the old joke – wanna have your system ruined? Call IT. Snark. Snark.
The Battle has been fought, the results are in.
Depending on your take, you well may have your own take on which one won it all.
For me, I see a clear winner,
Maybe you see them as well.
Let’s find out together.
Actually, for 2022, tied at #2 is Degreed and EdCast TXP.
The number one learning system for 2022 is Fuse.