As a kid growing up, our house had a lot of pictures of clowns. Framed no less, some innocent enough, others downright weird. When the movie Poltergeist came out with the clown part in it, yeah, that was it for me. From that moment on, clowns were not my friends.
Nowadays, frightening clowns are everywhere. Hanging out in parks, chasing people, working in Congress (ZING) and maybe at your office (hey, boss, how are you? clown!).
What is also frightening though to me, and people who know me can attest, very few haunted or creepy stuff scares me, are the amount of bad systems, bad content, erroneous information being presented to folks, looking to find the right solutions for the learning and training needs in the exciting world of e-learning.
And yet, yet there is a glimmer of hope. A happy warm feeling that I sense, when I see something that makes me smile. Makes me thrilled to know that this system, tool, solution, content really does what it says it does, it works, it delivers, it provides people with the essentials, to make their learning and training exceptional.
This is why the Halloween edition includes Treats along with a trick or two. Treats that to offer that warm, fuzzy feeling, sort of hot apple cider on a cold day in Prague, eating at Hawksmoor Seven Dials in London, sipping on a coffee in Mexico City or even, getting the good candy when you were a kid.
Tricks on the other hand, are those cheap peanut butter crappies in the orange and black wrappers. The ones that say, “Yes, we could have paid a couple of dollars more for Sweet Tarts, but nope, Grandpa wanted to go home, so we grabbed for these, instead.”
With that mind, let us take one step into the nexus of Fear and Joy, welcome to the Tricks and Treats edition for 2019.
FindAnLMS – Version 2.0 is now live. A revamped UI and enhanced UX, to enable you (the end-user) to search, explore, view and contact the best learning systems in the world. My learning system search engine is designed to provide an optimum experience each and every time. 100% FREE.
- Filter by Industry
- Pricing Range
- Expanded feature options
- Number of Learners
- Top 50 Rankings – Top 50, Top 20, Top 10 (Right now it is for 2019, in 2020, it will switch to Top 50 for 2020)
On each Vendor listing – as you see in the above catalog example, if the vendor is in my Top 50 rankings for 2019, they will have an icon identifying them, Purple – Top 50, Dark Blue – Top 20, Green – Top 10.
You can now save any vendor listing as a “favorite”, by clicking on the star icon in their listing. By doing so, they will appear in your “My Systems” which is on your home dashboard. This is a great way to keep track of who you liked or want to know more information on, and can come back to, each and every time you log back into the system.
Premium – You will notice this on some of the listings. In the area of transparency, these are vendors who have purchased additional options. Premium vendors are listed up higher, as you would see in any search engine you use – i.e. some listings are higher. However, if the vendor does not have the feature or filter you select or selected, they will not appear in the listing results. This assures you, that the results you are receiving are accurate and not skewed towards any vendor, because they are premium.
Within the Vendor’s Listing
The new UI is in full view, from a “Contact Us” to a web site link, to a description of the system, course standards readily visible and features. Whitepapers and case studies (if the vendor adds them) are visible too. Vendors have the option to add videos as well.
In the upper right hand of every detail listing you will see
- Audience Type – Employees, B2B (Customer training/education, association, etc.), B2C (Direct to Consumer)
- Number of users – The minimum number of end-users the system will accept and the maximum number (if it is 100,000+ this means the system can handle over 100,000 learners, so if you have a million users, yeah this system can handle that size)
- Deployment type – SaaS, Client-Hosted; if SaaS this means in the cloud, if Client-Hosted it means the system can sit behind your firewall on your servers. Some vendors offer only one option, some offer two.
- Pricing – A price range. If you see the 500K, this means that at the high price point (based on number of users), the system will go above 500K per year. The pricing does not include any setup fees, professional services, support services or any additional fee items the vendor may charge. It does however, give you a ballpark idea at the min. cost (dependent on users) and a range. Please be aware that pricing is an estimate only, so always check with the vendor for your specific pricing based on your user base.
NEW – Craig’s Take
Starting in November, every vendor in the FindAnLMS Platform will have what I call “Craig’s Take” which is viewable in their listing details. Here is where you can see what I think of the system, at a high-level with pros and any cons (if applicable). It will be straight-forward, honest and independent. If you see a listing that does not have “Craig’s Take” fear not, it just means that I haven’t gotten to that listing yet for my write-up, but it is on the “list”. FindAnLMS is the only place you will find my take on every system in the platform.
Findanlms.com Web Site
A lot of very useful information can be found on the site too. From my monthly Podcast, to Latest Insights – covering the latest information across the web on topics of relevance to e-learning, to Reviews (including LMS, LXP) and Explore where you can view a variety of articles on various topics that I have written about. Articles include
- What is an LMS? What is an LXP?
- LMS by Committee
- LMS vendor calls
- To RFP or not RFP
- LMS Forecasts for 2019
- How to develop a game plan for buying an LMS
and much more on the way. Expert interviews is in the Explore section too.
Top 10 Learning Systems for Customer Training, B2B (including Association) for 2019, systems with an asterisk (*) means they can be found in FindAnLMS.
- Thought Industries * – Very strong system, lots to like here. Panoramas is interesting – think tenants (children) with capabilities within each one.
- SumTotal Learning Management* – Continues to get better and better with each update. Multi-tenant strong system. Includes a bundle of Skillsoft content, when you buy – a nice touch.
- D2L Brightspace* – Not just for HE any more. Plays well in the association, retail and hospitality markets to name a few. So good for associations, that they are in my top three for 2020 (hint, hint). Vendor to keep an eye on in the corporate landscape. Potential is there.
- Skilljar – A system that delivers a lot, much more than some might expect. If there was a minus, it is the lack of data visualization, despite the fact that you can capture a lot of data. They have only a screen or two for visualization, which is disheartening. And frankly, makes no sense in today’s training world, especially when they have the ability to connect with BI tools.
- CourseStage* – Strong system in the association market. Feature rich.
- Absorb LMS* – Top tier system for customer training, B2B. UI/UX is outstanding. A system to definitely consider if you are in the need for customer training. Needs a bit more on the rules options, for me, but this is a winner. Please note, their listing is being added, so if you see “blank” – think of it as coming soon – check back daily.
- SAP Litmos * – Another powerhouse system for customer training, B2B. Lots to like here, that said, I’m not a fan of systems that charge extra for tenants, which SAP Litmos does (beyond I think a couple of children). One weakness is e-commerce. It’s there, it’s better than before, but if you need strong e-comm it hasn’t reached that level, compared to some other customer training systems.
- LearnUpon* – Continues to impress. A personal favorite of mine for a long-time. They charge extra for the tenants, again, not a fan of that, but this is a system while streamlined can offer quite a bit. Plays well in the association market (on a side note).
- Fuse* – Top system that functionality wise is quite robust. NexGen T-Grid Top Tier system (post coming soon on this T-Grid). Data visualization exists.
- Brainier LMS* – Top 10 system in 2019, under the radar I think for many folks seeking a B2B – customer training/channel partner training system. Functionality is tight.
Top Two Content Providers for 2019 – Canned aka off-the shelf content
I can hear the creaks and screams now, because I surmise that some folks will be – “where, where where” regarding their provider. Let me put it to you this way, if you said, “Hey, Craig, I need some 3rd party content that you would buy if you had a system, whom should that be..” I’d say check them out.
- Skillpill – Wow is a far understatement. Can go into virtually any learning system out there. They will work with you and your vendor to have their content in your system and verify that it works. Excluding Digital Transformation bundle, the rest of the bundles can be mixed, so you do not have to buy the entire bundle per se. Content packs include Micro-MBA, Microsoft, Leadership and much more. All come with micro-learning style via videos, quizzes, templates, worksheets and quick knowledge nuggets. My number one 3rd party content provider on the market for 2019.
- OpenSesame – Another darling of mine when it comes to 3rd party content. Think an aggregator of content but with a twist, in that when you get a subscription it is for all the content from all the publishers under the Open Sesame banner. The American Management Association is one said publisher – which means, yes, you can find AMA content within OpenSesame. They will work with you to add it to your learning system, if your learning system does not have OpenSesame in their marketplace. And they bundle out if you so choose, i.e. if you want only sales content, then they will put together only a sales bundle. Most of the publishers are micro in design. Number two 3rd party content provider for 2019.
Top three authoring tools for 2019
A funny or frightful story from year’s past. A reader reached out to me after my review of Storyline, and informed me that a thread had been created on the Articulate forum board, about my review and what folks thought about me. It wasn’t good, but on the other front, I felt honored. Thank you again for such an honor. Are you a fan of orange wrapped candies?
- Knowbly – SaaS authoring tool that includes an RLO (reusable learning object) repository. If you are a beginner you can jump in and start building a quality course. If you are an instructional designer, you can push it to the limit and do quite a bit in the system. Some learning systems such as Learn Amp and Spoke already have integrations with Knowbly, so you can push out the moment you publish. That said, they have an API so if your system isn’t integrated it can be, which is a huge win. I have this tool as my darling tool, be aware the web site doesn’t show off the full power of the tool, thus ask for a trial and test yourself. Tell Albert I said, hi! (Albert is their mascot)
- gomo learning – SaaS authoring tool which comes with analytical data. Personally, I never understood why an authoring tool needs analytical data, and the folks at gomo, know my feelings on this. That said, this is a rich tool full of wonderful goodies. Just when I think it can’t get any better, it surprises me with more and more, in a plus positive way. Has the ability to push the content right into your system, every time you do an update, which is a big win.
- dominKnow – I have always believed in this authoring tool, one of the first SaaS ones on the market. If you are seeking a robust authoring tool that can do a lot from basics to e-learning development level, here it is. I am unaware if they have a mascot, but they do have a triathlon athlete on their work staff, so there’s that.
Top Custom Development Shop for VR Content
360Immersive – For those of you who want VR content for your learning system or even just to sit on your servers, there is finally a VR custom development shop that has peeked my Oculus Vision headset with enthusiasm.
One of the big wins is that they are the first VR custom development provider whose VR content comes with course standards – so it can play in any learning system that accepts either SCORM 1.2 or xAPI.
Even if you do not have VR right now, you can still leverage the content thru mobile – it appears 3D and still provides a truly interactive experience.
And if that wasn’t enough, coming in early 2020, they will be launching the first 3rd party canned (i.e. off-the shelf) VR content – with course standards that is affordable – so everyone can jump into VR eyes first!
A few months back I was chilling at a hotel in London and heard someone say to me, “Good morning sir”, I responded back “Good morning to you,” then realized it was 6.30 a.m., I was in my room, and no one else was in there. The TV was off. My phone was on silent, and a voice said hi. I did what anyone else would do in my situation, I finished reading my paper, with a hearty smile.
Learning Systems that Make Me wonder…
Sure they have a reputation. Yes, people like them, but people also like Pop music, and snails and flavored coffee with names like Hazelnut Banana Surprise.
You know there will be one name that is always on my list. But for this Halloween Edition, they shall not be named. Voldemort would be proud.
- Oracle – I get it. You have Oracle and you want their learning system, because they told you it will integrate better or maybe they will toss it in to close a deal. Maybe they said, that if you go elsewhere it won’t integrate well, you will have issues, blah blah blah. Well, it is just blah blah blah. Interoperability out of the gate isn’t always doable, but nowadays unless you have some major customization on the Oracle side taking place when it comes to integrations, then the connector shouldn’t be an issue. If this is the main reason you are holding back from going with another learning system with your Oracle system, well, it shouldn’t be.
I’ll make the same argument if you have Workday and think you must buy Workday Learning because it integrates the best with your Workday, and another learning system won’t or you buy SAP and think that who should not be named is the only fit, because SAP says it is so (exclusion: SAP Litmos, a system I like).
One other area of note, when it comes to this angle is the preferred LMS that an HRIS or ERP pushes as one that works best. I heard this from a reader who noted that the HRIS software they were looking to buy, recommended Infor because of the integration angle among other things. No offense to anyone here, but Infor isn’t the first system that comes to my mind as a buy. Actually, not the second, or 145th for that matter.
- Infor – If you are a customer and you are happy with them, well, by golly, I am happy for you. Truly. But for anyone else, there are just better systems out there. Nothing personal here, but this system has yet to do anything that makes me go – “yeah, it is a good one to consider.”
- Rehearsal VRP – They pitch it as a Video Role Play Training Platform, which while yes, that is what you are doing, you can do this in many learning systems today – with some having more functionality then them. I note this, because when they first debuted they were unique. They pushed a narrative of a coaching platform ideal for sales training. I had no problem with that, nor any issue on folks using it for role playing via video – but I’m sorry this is not you dressing up as a nasty customer and acting out ranting while another employee appears as well an employee – in a scene that plays out as a real-life scenario. What it is, is the employee or whomever looking into a web cam or recording device and recording themselves, then someone looking at that and responding. Is that role playing? I guess if my role is to be talking head, then yes.
Yes, this year’s Halloween edition was more TREATS than Tricks. And yes, I left out content providers such as Harvard Manager Mentor which I still do not understand why anyone would want that content, when there are so many other content providers out there (besides just the two posted earlier), that can surpass them.
But as with anything, if you like it, then that is okay with me.
And if you don’t,
Then there are other options.
After all, there is always something else out there,
it is not a