Recommended Learning Systems

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Recommended Learning Systems

This post covers a list of systems that I’d recommend on any given day, that based on nearly 20 years of experience in online learning, and witnessing the trends, the duds, the promises and disappoints.

What it isn’t – is a list of systems based on a 15 point criterion that I use for my Top 50 for 2020.

That said, I will say to you, that before you just buy the learning system, please, please do due diligence on the system.  Just as some people love Nutella, others will find it on the same level of peanut butter mixed with bananas, which should be forbidden and outlawed in the solar system.

If a learning system listed below is viewable in my learning system search engine, I strongly, strongly recommend contacting them thru the search engine, as it will enable you to do an even deeper dive then just this post with a comparison capability and filters too, including user and pricing ranges.

The Hub (Center)

Of course, any system can become the center of your Hub, but right of the top of my head here are some systems you should consider.

Absorb LMS –  Slick system that achieves a top tier status.  Functionality is solid, lots to like.  UI/UX is very good. Level of robustness is good, but there is some items I’d like to see improved.  NexGen is above average.   On the administration side, it continues to be well done, but some metric data needs to be improved.  Plays quite well in Multi-Tenant (aka Extended Enterprise), SMB is its strong suite and mid-market.  Good for Enterprise. 

Fuse Universal – This is a very good system with lots to offer. I don’t buy into the amazing social angle they love to pitch, because frankly, it isn’t so amazing, it is standard in so many ways.  That said, NexGen level is extremely good, and their goal to have 100 connectors only reinforces that.  Functionality-wise is exceptional.  Plays well in Enterprise, mid-market, SMB/SME on the employee side, and on B2B external including training consultants/trainers too.   I’d like to see more on the administration side, and while the system is top tier, to me it is still missing some data visualization tied to extensive metric data.   They are on FindAnLMS.com

SumTotal Learning Management –  They have come a long way. I readily admit for the longest time I was not a fan of SumTotal, but that was then, this is now. The front end UI is strong, the admin side is where there needs some fixes, especially the reporting – Jasper should be retired. And they need to offer more flexibility when it comes to certificate management.  That said, support has improved greatly – especially with an outstanding mobile support app, a big plus for me, and they – the folks at SumTotal seem to be moving in the right direction.  I’m not sold on it being a B2B external system, but Enterprise, mid-market for employees absolutely.  They are on FindAnLMS.com

CrossKnowledge Learning Suite –  I’m always surprised at the number of folks who never even consider CrossKnowledge, especially those who want a very good UI and UX.  The front-end (learner side) is quite good, the administration side is one of the best I’ve seen.  Metric wise, extremely well done. If you are a fan of data visualization, this system has it.  The mobile good be better, and they need a better content marketplace for their clients. As long as Wiley keeps away (they own CK), this system will continue to rock.  NexGen is above average.  Top tier for large Enterprise and mid-market.  Solid for multi-tenant/extended enterprise and B2B external.   They can be found on FindAnLMS.com.

Others to consider

  • Cornerstone Learning Suite   NexGen Top Tier, Front end UI is solid – better than ever before, but still needs some tweaks.  Admin side – UI/UX is average, needs on-going revamp. Data visualization should be better.  Solid for Large size Enterprise and mid-market Enterprise. Pushing themselves as a talent management system, first and foremost, even though learning plays a huge role for them. An additional odd part is they also push the content-first strategy. Since they focus on the TM side more so, they wouldn’t be my first choice for B2B External, multi-tenant/Extended Enterprise.  I’d consider them for employees (internal).   They can be found on FindAnLMS.com.
  • SAP Litmos –  Outstanding UI/UX, #1 learning system for 2019.  The learner side is quite good, and functionality-wise this is a very good system.  On the administration side, they could do a bit more on the metrics aspect, especially with data visualization.  NexGen is very good, top quadrant (in my T-Grid coming out in November).  Very good in Enterprise, mid-market and SMB.  B2B external is good, definitely needs improvement in some areas. Not a fan of extra charge for a sandbox after you go live, nor additional costs for tenants (after an initial free one). They can be found on FindAnLMS.com.

Systems That Will Do the Job for you if you want a system for your employees (internal)

This is not a section covering LXP/DLP, that is coming shortly, rather these are systems, that if you are going employee-internal only, regardless if it SMB/SME (used in Europe), mid-market or Enterprise you should examine. An important factor nowadays is “Skills management”, you want a very good SM in your system for employees. 

If a vendor heavily pushes talent management, be aware that is not the same thing as skills management, and to me, makes me question what is the end game, because it hard to say TM first, and then push you are customer training B2B too.  Sorry, charlie, it doesn’t work for me. 

D2L Brightspace– The UI/UX is good, plenty of skills management capabilities to like.  NexGen is average, they need improvement in that area.  But of the systems that are in EdTech and making a jump or already have into the Corporate market, this is by far the best of the bunch.  Definitely, a system to watch in 2020. Enterprise, mid-market. Verticals include Retail, Hospitality, and Association (so yes, they can play very well in B2B External, member training and customer training too).  They can be found on FindAnLMS.com.

Saba Cloud –  Saba is such a wild card here.  They have always been deep down a performance management system with a learning component.  Now they are openly stating talent management system, which again, doesn’t scream as a system for customer training.  TM is totally employee-driven angle, i.e. internal employees.   Skills management has vastly improved, UI/UX is above average.  Functionality is quite strong. Admin side needs improvement. Saba was once a kingpin in the industry, then dropped down, now, I think they are on the upswing again, so it is a system to keep on an eye on.  They can be found on FindAnLMS.com .

PeopleFluent Learning –  Take one part revamp of NetDimensions, another part of Gomo authoring tool, add Instilled LXP (which should be renamed as a Digital Learning Platform) and lastly Watershed LRS.  If you are seeking a system for life sciences, then definitely check them out.  Again, the push of TM is a concern, but PeopeFluent was always designed for such, so this isn’t out of norm, what is – that NetD is the base of PeopleFluent Learning.   NexGen is average here, Skills management is above average. I’d recommend they call themselves a learning suite to be quite honest, but that’s for another day.  Enterprise, mid-market are their right fit for them.  They can be found on FindAnLMS.com 

Others to consider

OnPoint Digital –  Okay, this is somewhat different, in that this is fully customized to the tilt.  And pricey.  I would like to make that clear up-front.  It is by far not for everyone, but what they can do is impressive.  We are talking about a system geared towards Very Large Enterprise (i.e. 50,000 plus employees), so if you like mid-market, or SMB, I’d pass. I placed them in here, because of the level of customization.  NexGen is average, UI/UX ranges from average to above average.  Folks often ask me, why do not I have fully customized systems (they are often thinking open source, but that’s besides the point), in any systems I recommend or rankings.  Okay, here is one and the best of the fully 100% customized systems out there.  The functionality is quite good. They can be found on FindAnLMS.com 

GyrusAim –  Strong in the UI/UX department.  A system made for SMB/SME and mid-market, although personally, I think they could do well in small business too. Enterprise is a definite.  Skills management is above average, Flies under the radar for a lot of folks.  Hopefully, this will change.  NexGen is average.  Metrics needs some upgrading.  Can be found on FindAnLMS.com

Ethos CE   If you are in the medical field, whether it is healthcare, hospitals, medical centers, senior centers, even associations that are in the medical side of the house, and you need a system for CEs, CEUs, this is the best system on the market.   Could they be used in other verticals for the CE angle, the answer is yes, but be aware of where their sweet spot is. UI/UX is solid, metrics is nice especially in wait for it..CEs, data visualization could be better. Very good for folks looking for a system for regulatory and compliance that wants something beyond stale and boresville.  Another flies under the radar.  Can be found on FindAnLMS.com.

Unicorn LMS –  Best system on the market for financial services and now expanding into other verticals. NexGen is average,  Metrics is okay, and data visualization is lacking.  CE/CEU/CPD is quite good. For those folks seeking a system strong on compliance and regulatory, here it is.  Top five system for 2018 and 2019 in my rankings. Has document management and workflow functionality too.   Comes with Minds-I which is the best mastery learning app on the market and with its video components adds a nice piece to the package. Quizdom is also included too – a very good assessment tool, and their built-in authoring tool could be sold as a standalone.  Has on/off synch mobile apps for CPD and their LMS.  Can be found on FindAnLMS.com

Spoke LMS –  Another strong system with a lot of functionality. Another system I have always liked.  A fun system for learners. Has a built-in Business Intelligence tool (rare in the space). Metrics and data visualization are outstanding.  Uses the Knowbly, SaaS authoring tool, which is quite good.  Can be found on FindAnLMS.com

Systems that I just say, “Yeah, I like them.”  (These are systems in the LMS, Learning Platform segment)

Wow, this could be a large list, but I’m only going to provide a few, so if your system isn’t on here, don’t fret, they could be in the Top 50 (assuming you received a Top 100 packet), again this is systems I recommend or stand out for whatever reason.  I debated about breaking this out as employee and customer training, customer training only (B2B), direct to consumer, etc., but then this post would be like a book, so here is just a quick highlight list, also be aware that some systems listed above, could easily slide into here too.

Instancy On-Demand –  This is a system I always have liked, that flies under the radar. NexGen is above average, UI/UX is quite good. Mobile is good.  Data visualization is solid, could be improved, ditto with metrics. Can be found on FindAnLMS.com.

Platcore –  A system with a lot of potential.  I just have a really good vibe with this system. They are in my Top 100 systems for 2020.  Could be become a Top 50?  Yeah, you could say that.  Wait, I will.  Very slick UI/UX. Functionality above avg.  Data visualization is solid. Metrics solid. 

Learnbrite VR LMS – They are the best of the VR-only LMSs on the market.  I should put an asterick by the VR-only because you could still buy them if you are not using VR headsets. The UI would just appear as 3D in your browser and mobile devices.  Has potential. I listed them here because of the VR angle. 

LearnUpon –  Always a personal favorite of mine. Ideal for small business and SMB, although they would work for mid-market. Enterprise yes.  Feature rich, UI/UX is quite good.  Affordable.  Can be found on FindAnLMS.com

Quick List of a few more

  • Axonify – Focused on employee-based.  Someone to check out.
  • Growth Engineering – I wish they wouldn’t charge for the mobile app, and their Knowledge Arcade app is quite good, fun, and lots to like, but also a separate fee and you need their authoring tool (a separate fee) to use it.  Their LMS is still quite good.  Employee-focused system.  Gamification plays a very important part.  UI/UX is slick.  NexGen is average.  Can be found on FindAnLMS.com
  • Skilljar – Ideal for customer training (B2B external).  UI/UX is good.  Metrics could be better, ditto for data visualization.  System to watch for 2020.
  • Eurekos –  Plays well in employee and customer training. Definitely a system under the radar. Robust functionality. Metrics is solid, data visualization could be better. Authoring tool built-in is quite good.  Can be found on FindAnLMS.com
  • MATRIX –  Affordable LMS with a lot of features to like.  More geared towards employees IMO. UI/UX is very good. Metrics needs to improve, same with data visualization.  I always liked this system, constantly evolving in a good way.  Can be found on FindAnLMS.com
  • Thought Industries – This is an ideal system for B2B/customer training.  UI/UX is quite good. NexGen is average, which is a bummer.  Metrics are good, could be better. Data visualization is very good. The system has a lot to like, but still needs a few tweaks. The functionality is above average, although I think for customer training, they are missing some data points on the metric side of the house.  But that said, if it was between them and Docebo – I’d buy Thought Industries. Can be found on FindAnLMS.com

LXP/DLP

As noted in another post, the term LXP is being co-opted by LMS vendors using the term learning experience to mean something else than what the LXPs were supposed to be about – beyond calling themselves learning experience too. 

Consumers still haven’t grabbed hold of the LXP term, after two years.  This is why, as my former post notes, the term should be digital learning platforms – okay there a few reasons why.

Anyway, a post in two weeks, will list my rankings for the LXP/DLP market, so I won’t dive in-depth here, rather a list of systems that I like – and if you are examining them.

  • EdCast –  Robust functionality for an LXP. NexGen is quite good. UI/UX slick. Metrics are avg., same with data visualization. Skills management is good, could be better.  Can be found in FindAnLMS.com
  • Linkedin Learning – I slide them in as a Digital Learning Platform in the entire sense of the word.  Here is my review of them (from August of this year).
  • Degreed – Continue to like them, and after seeing them just a week ago, nothing has changed my mind.  The Skills Rating I like, although it might be an additional cost (it is still in discussions internally) – my vibe is they will include it at no-charge, but please check with them.  Not sold on the Skills certification program they are looking at, so I hope they place that in the folder of “keep locked up until 2050”.  Bookmarklet is still outstanding. UI/UX is good.  Skills management very good. Can be found in FindAnLMS.
  • Instilled LXP Digital Learning Platform.  Has a lot of potential.  Here is my review.
  • Juno Journey – Extremely under the radar LXP. A lot of potential and a vendor to watch in 2020.
  • Coorpacademy –  Top 15 Learning System in 2019. Very good LXP. Metrics are solid, functionality strong.  Can be found in FindAnLMS.com
  • Learn Amp – #1 LXP in 2019. I’d call them a digital learning platform. One of the few that is ideal for small business and SMB/SME. Functionality is quite good. Skills management is good. This can be a stand alone system which is due to the functionality that includes event management (rare in the LXP space), classroom management (extremely rare in the LXP space), and an extensive list on the administration and learning environment side of the house.  Right now, no mobile app and needs to improve on metrics and data visualization. But still a favorite of mine. Can be found on FindAnLMS.com

Sales Enablement Platforms

A small niche in the learning system space. These systems focus heavily on sales training. While some are only about sales training, there are others who also push with call center training/customer service training too. Every SEP requires an extensive list of functionality tied to sales, including some type of CRM (not just as integration to Salesforce and alike).  Two systems stand out to me.

  • Hub360 – A new player in town, from the makers of Spoke, which is an outstanding LMS.  Hub360 is a very strong SEP with also includes the Spoke LMS, a top tier LMS as well.   A system to watch in 2020. 
  • Brainshark – Very good SEP, with strong metrics and data visualization.  There is a lot to like with this SEP, including a unique feature set around their coaching component using an algorithm which can tell you quite a bit about the person’s pitch (in terms of a verbal index – at what level i.e. grade, college or above), among other matrices.  Only a couple of systems have this capability, and they by far do the best job.  You can also record yourself as the coach/sales manager and send it back to the end-user. 

Bottom Line

There you go, the systems I recommend for a variety of reasons.  Again, the criteria for the Top 50 for 2020 are much more extensive and just because you didn’t see yourself in the above post, doesn’t mean you are not in the Top 50.

Think of it this way, plenty of people like smooth peanut butter.

Me?

Extra crunchy.

E-Learning 24/7

Blog next week- Exclusive – The Results of study on Gender in the Workplace.  This will be a long post as it explores female executives in the learning system space, gender ratios in leadership development programs (in the learning system space) and other findings.