September 30, 2023

Top 10 Learning Systems for 2019

Author: Craig Weiss
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When ever I travel on an airplane, my typical MO is to get to my seat, turn on my music connect my headphones and ignore the person next to me.  I readily admit this.  On my last flight over here to London, I couldn’t do it, because the person started to have a conversation right after I sat down.   The downside to this, is I wasn’t able to listen to Death Cab for Cutie (a band), but on the upside, I learned that this person was one of the first 100 employees ever to work at Microsoft.  He noted the things he created at the company, who was the guy behind Excel and that everyone was a genius back then. 

But one thing he said to me, okay, two things, really stood out.  First, when our discussion turned to machine learning,  he said, “People forget that computers are really dumb,” and in the end of everything, its all binary  – i.e. 1’s and 0s.  That comment really stuck with me, because in my Top 50 Learning Systems for 2019, the best of the best are listed, so let’s call them 1’s.   The Top 10, you could argue are the cream of the crop, and I wouldn’t disagree, and learning systems is more than just a set of programming components, they are and will forever be – an ecosystem whereas learning and training can co-exist along with various other functionality to deliver top tier learning/training to your employees, customers, members or all the above.  

The key to success though for each one of you isn’t just selecting the best system, but one that truly delivers what you want it to do.  I look at multiple variables and factors when identifying the top 10 systems, and thus, please, please do your due diligence.  Every one of these vendors can be found on my platform, Registration takes about a minute. Then you authenticate your e-mail address and then jump into the system.  In less than five minutes you could enagage with them, and for many, even schedule a demo.  Systems that have “demo” capability will be noted below. 

At the end of all this, I will give you a couple of tips that I strongly and I cannot stress this enough, strongly, recommend you do when it comes to your demo.  And if you find your computer not complying with you, as my fellow traveler once said, don’t blame your machine. They are after all, dumb.

Now on to the rankings.

#10 Brainier LMS

A robust system that contains everything from a perfect score in my learning environment functionaliy to administration (also a perfect score) to content curation, video management (with auto detection FPS) to the ability to accept course standards including xAPI and PENS. UI/UX is above average, implementation on average is about three months. 

The system lacks the ability to import skill dictionaries and job definitions and link definitions to competencies, doesn’t support a couple of languages including Russian and Dutch, and is missing mobile apps (i.e in iTunes and Google Play).  While they accept any size of customer (and the system does come with e-commerce – it does lack subscription bundling though), I see them best suited for mid-size on the employee front.  Their verticals are medical, manufacturing, financial services and professional services.

Support is above average. Implementation time frame (depending on complexities) is about three months.

#9 Coorpacademy (LXP) (DEMO in FindAnLMS)

A secret of a system, from the aspect, you may have never heard of them, since they are in my opinion, an LXP under the radar. A shame really, because this is one heck of an LXP.  Features on the LXP that stand out include

  • The system uses learner’s profile (skills, topics of interest, etc.) to identify most popular content or suggested content
  • The system able to push out higher level of content (learner interest or “recommended”) as learner expands their skill sets/knowledge
  • Can create a learning path based upon recommendations using algorithm over a period of time
  • Ability for development paths or curriculum/learning paths to have content placed in a specific order/hierarchy of learning
  • 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.

The system thankfully does not support “assignments” and I am so glad.  Many LXPs are accepting the capability or option to offer “Assignments i.e. requried training,” which sorts of defeats the purpose of learner-centric.

UI/UX is quite good and while their algorithim is tied to completed content, a minus in my book, Coorpacademy says it does not penalize or hurt the learner if they do not complete the content. 

Supports a wide swath of verticals, setup is very quick – usually no more than one month. Course standard support is only xAPI (thus no SCORM, etc.).   Support is above average.

#8 Docebo Learn (DEMO in FindAnLMS)

A constant top ten learning system, Docebo is a system that has a lot to offer. The first vendor in the industry to offer one-click content (i.e. you buy or select it – some are free) and click it goes right into the LMS.

UI/UX has always been quite good.  Marketplace is good too. I love their playlists capability and their coach/share module is wonderful (it is part of the Enterprise system version), but you can also purchase it as a standalone if you say, buy just the base version and not enterprise. For example in the module learners can view a list of mentors(tutors/coaches) profiles, and select one or as many as they want, to help them. They can web cam record themselves and share it with the coach too.

The perform, which should be IMO rebranded as Skills module, is very good too. It scored a perfect 100.  Machine learning is there too.  That said, while Docebo has added some very NexGen functionality its weaknesses is in data visualization and analyticals that comes from it.   The admin side is solid, but could use a tweak here and there.  

Setup timeframe for Enterprise is anywhere from one to six months depending on complexitites. They also offer a buy now, go live now option too (i.e. you buy the system with your credit card and zoom, you are live – it is for the base system).  Supports all course standards including xAPI and PENS, and yes, SCORM too.  Pretty much supports all verticals.  System can be employees, B2B and B2C.  Support is average.

#7 TIE – TIE

As noted a few weeks back I ended up with a tie, so rather than the tie covering 7-8 (listed though as seven), I went with both vendors listed as seventh.

#7 Growth Engineering  (DEMO in FindAnLMS)

Multiple winner in the Top 10 Learning Systems for 2019, including one for gamification.

An extremely robust LMS whose UI and UX is very good on the front-end. On the back-end (admin side) it is good, but does need an update, which is occuring as we speak (thus to launch sometime in 2019).  Administration and Learning Environment both scored 100%.  Mobile apps are available and include on/off synch. Compliance management is solid. Competency and Skills components overall, are above average.   Classroom and event management are quite good. 

While the system has a built-in LRS it is not activate (again, why?).  Analytical data tied to data visualization is a weak spot here and the lack of machine learning is a major downer.

They do plan to add a course/content marketplace in 2019. 

Knowledge Arcade (mobile) is very good especially with battles. The bummer factor is that in order to use it with “your content”, you have to buy Genie, their authoring tool, which is a separate price point.  

Implementation time frame on average is about a month.  Supports nearly all verticals, but strong spots tend to be software/hardware technology, retail, hospitality and manufacturing.  Employees, B2B and B2C is doable, although their e-commerce is tied thru Stripe. 

Support is good.

#7 Learn Amp (LXP) (DEMO in FindAnLMS)

Hello. Are you seeking the best LXP on the market today? Wish there was an LXP with a very good – game changer SaaS authoring tool with it?  Hope you had an LXP whose content marketplace continues to add content from vendors who are not the same as every single LXP out there?  Desire one with an outstanding UI/UX front and back-end?  Well, you are in for a treat – because Learn Amp scores 100% across the board in all those areas.

Content curation is outstanding. Scored a perfect 100% in my learning environment and administration functionality.  Offers classroom management not a usual feature you find in an LXP, so for those folks who want your MTV, err ILT, you can have it with this LXP.

Analytical data exists, could be better, and the system is missing an LRS (but it is on its roadmap for 2019).  Supports SCORM, SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004 3rd edition. At this time, does not support xAPI. Plans to push to the next tier of skill development and capabilities in 2019, that will really make it shine (expect by Q4). 

While they do have knowledge reinforcement via a m-learning, they are missing mobile apps for iOS and Android.

Implementation time frame is 1 to 3 months, depending on complexitieis, although for the most part, one month is very doable.  Support has been outstanding.

One of my “Systems to Watch in 2019”.

#6 Fuse

Frankly, a very good system.  Perfect score in learning environment, administration, classroom management, manager/instructor capabilities, video management including auto-detection frames per second, notifications – including ability to send text notifications and mobile.

Content curation is good, albeit not perfect. Machine learning exists in the system, as does compliance and skill management. On the skill management side, they scored high, but one of the items they are missing is the inability to import skill dictionaries and job definitions and link definitions to competencies. They have a built-in assessement tool, but are missing a quiz bank, which is really a feature many systems had even back in 2000.

In social, you can’t follow/unfollow folks (not a huge deal for me, but for those seeking that) and in event management they are missing auto waitlisting, which to me, is a necessity for anyone who is doing webinars/F2F seminars.  Analytical data is good. Data visualization is mixed. 

Support is good. System course standards acceptance include SCORM, AICC, xAPI, but no PENS.  Implementation time frame is anywhere from one month to 12 (depending on complexities, with on avg. about three months). 

For those folks who still want their LMS to sit on their own servers (Legacy Activated!) –  Fuse can be self-hosted. 

2019 #5LMS

SumTotal Learning Management (DEMO in FindAnLMS)

I know what you are thinking. How, Craig – how can you pick them to be so high in your rankings, when you repeatedly in the past, noted how they did this poor and that poor. 

My retort is to blame Shakespeare. Actually, I can’t stand his plays – I mean, who really gets the whole thing anyway?  That said, what I have seen with STLM in the past several months, has opened my eyes to really a very good LMS.  I can’t and won’t speak about the other mods that exist in the SumTotal world, but for the learning management piece, SumTotal has done a masterful job in the overall of the whole UI and UX. 

The system has always been quite robust and thus, it is all set on that front.  The Learner side is crisp and very intuitive. On the administration side it has gotten a lot better, but still needs a refresh to it, especially when it comes to the whole data visualization tied to analytical data thing.   I will concur that the data that exists within the system is good, but the view from above as I say, is in need of a new coat of paint err fresheness.

In my second tier level of learning environment features, SumTotal Learning Management scored 100%.

On the NexGen Tier 2 functionality, Big wins include

  • Digital/Electronic signature capability on mobile device (although right now this is only for instructors)
  • Administrator can change weights, points and other items to assist in the deep learning process – more accurate info (YEAH – plenty of systems do not allow administrators this capability in their machine learning, resulting in skewed data)
  • Standalone Support mobile app – YEAH.  Still needs some fixes to it, and too much tech jargon, but compared to other vendor support mobile apps, by far the best.
  • Browser extensions via a bookmarklet availble for Chrome, FireFox, Edge and I believe Safari (but ask on that one).  Ties into xAPI.

Video sharing by Learners is coming in the next upgrade, so another wonderful win.  For folks who want ADA 508, your all set – STLM support that (as do many other vendors, but here’s the kicker – there are way too many vendors who do not. I should note that in the UK they follow the ADA 508 guidelines, and I surmise that in your own country, they do as well.)

Implementation time frame ranges from one month to up to 24 months, but on average around three to six months.  I mean if it 24 months, build your own – ha I kid! All course standards except PENS are supported (so, yes on xAPI and SCORM). 

Support is still average, but has improved quite a bit in just the past six months (I base this on the metrics SumTotal provided me as well as a call with their VP who oversees support).  Oh, and they support nearly every vertical out there.

2019 #4LMS

Unicorn LMS (DEMO in FindAnLMS)

Best LMS for FS period.  (FS means financial services).   Minds-I now comes as part of the Unicorn LMS and is the best knowledge reinforcement tool I have seen on the market. Compliance and regulatory is fantastic on the platform.   Unicorn scored a perfect 100% on learning environment and administration. For fans of vendor built-in authoring tools, Unicorn’s could easily be sold as a standalone, it is that good.  Competency and skill management is very good.

UI and UX is quite good, although a few mini improvements needed on the workflow feature (but many vendors do not offer that feature, so there is that too).  Mobile learning is rock and roll hall of fame level, with apps for iTunes, Google Play and comes with on/off synch.  You can get an on/off synch mobile app for the system, for Minds-I and a mobile app for CPD with on/off synch too.   You also get Quizdom which is fun to play and as you can read from its title is an assessment tool in a game-based learning experience. 

Analytical data is quite good, albeit data visualization could be better. System lacks machine learning at the present time as well as coaching.

Supports all course standards including SCORM and xAPI, although it lacks PENS.  Implementation time frame is one to two months.  Has their own training department (not something you find with every LMS vendor).  Support is outstanding.

2019 #3LMS

eLogic Learning (DEMO in FindAnLMS)

Last year #1 LMS in the rankings, they slide just down from there not because they did anything bad or wrong, rather, the other final two, just did a little bit more.

Super Robust LMS.  They scored 100% in learning environment, administration, event management, classroom management, social, compliance management, competency and skill management, and Tier 1 NexGen functionality.

Reporting and analytical data is fantastic.  Mobile learning is another big win with apps in the iTunes and Google Play stores with on/off synch.

The system is launching this quarter (Feb-March) a brand new UI, which I have seen as was like “WOW”.  For fans of the Netflix UI – somewhat similar with the eLogic twist to it. Each end user can still select their own theme and look for the system – a monster win in my book.

On the Tier Two NexGen functionality, eLogic is well on their way with content curation, machine learning (it exists already in the system) and coming later in 2019 Tier 2 in skill building and development (majority of vendors are still in Tier 1).  

System comes with free content, and they offer a course marketplace.  They have a coaching component (needs some enhancements), and video management is tight.  Analytical data has always been quite good, but data visualization is a need – beyond what they have now.

Supports all course standards including SCORM, xAPI and PENS.  Has an LRS too.  Implementation time frame is one to three months, depending on complexitities. Support is #1 IMO – so let’s say beyond awesome.  Has a training department.  BTW, comes with a sandbox (for free) after you go-live.

2019 #2LMS

CrossKnowledge Learning Suite (DEMO in FindAnLMS)

Robust system that shocks the system – uh, your system, not the system itself, in a great way.  Scores perfect in nearly every category. Scores 100% in administration and learning environment.  The administration side of the house is fantastic. Best data visualization and analytical data capabilities I have seen so far out of the box, despite the fact they lack an LRS (so, just imagine when they add that to the mix, since an LRS pushes metrics to a whole new level). 

Building up their content marketplace, so I place it as average.  Mobile app is now FREE – so yeah on that.  It is available in iTunes and Google Play with on/off synch.  Front end UI is wonderful.  This is just a really, really good system.  Okay, better than good. 

Compliance mangement is strong. Competency and skill management is top tier too.  On NexGen Tier 1 nearly 100% (the lack of an LRS stops it from 100).  For Tier Two I place them at good.  Content curation is solid. Video management is good.  Machine Learning is solid, could be better.  

Implementation time frame is one to three months.  Course standards are SCORM, SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004 3rd edition, thus they need to add xAPI.   Support has been above average.

2019 #1LMS

SAP Litmos   (DEMO in FindAnLMS)

Even though the fine folks at SAP are telling customers at the large enterprise level they should go to SuccessFactors and not Litmos, I’m telling you that SAP is wrong!   Litmos can handle large enterprises, in fact they have one client with 1.5M users.  Normally, this isn’t an area I jump into when identifying a top system, but I’ve heard from folks who are told by SAP this exact scenario, so just be aware that if you have SAP and talk to them, they may pull this with you.   Ignore them.

Now on to the system. 

I often cite robust, but let’s be frank here (may my Dad, Frank, RIP), this is an awesome system.  I could go thru it all, but it would just be a lot of WOW, amazing, great, can I have a free piece of pie with that and so forth.

#1 NexGen Tier 2 Learning System in the industry.  #1 LMS for the mid-size market. You can choose to have the system come with content or not, but I strongly recommend you select “the content option”.  Has a content marketplace which includes additional assets such as workbooks.  Has an app store (think auto-connectors APIs).   UI/UX on front and back end is outstanding. 

Scored 100% on learning environment and administration both at Tier 1 and Tier 2 levels. 100% on classroom management, skill and competency management, event management, social, content curation and machine learning. 

If there was a weakness (and I will admit, no system is 100% perfect), they need to improve on a tiny bit of Tier 2 gamification (which only a couple of vendors have), they need a bit more on coaching/ask a mentor and data visuliation needs to get to the next level (it’s not there yet).  Analytical data is good, but I’d like it go to a bit up, and an LRS, which they have could really do that if it turned out to stream out all those amazing metrics.

Implementation time frame is one to three months. Supports SCORM, SCORM 1.2. and xAPI.  Support has been outstanding.  They do support a wide variety of verticals and employee, B2B/B2C – and now comes with e-commerce as well.

Bottom Line

There they are as Bert Price would say (70’s pagent host, who looked like he smoked about six packs a day). And I say back at him –

Yes, there they are.

The best of the best.

For those of you attending LTUK,  all vendors with the exceptions of Brainier, Growth Engineering and eLogic Learning are at the show.  Based on my unbiased opinion, the best booth is Unicorn – you can win a free unicorn playing Quizdom, but the booth itself it quite nice. SumTotal is nice too, lots of places to sit and people are smiling when you see them. 

Worst is Fuse. I walked around multiple salespeople looked at me, and did nothing, until I kept walking and finally found someone who would talk to me.  Nice booth, but what’s the point of having salespeople, who are not doing anything, except standing there like tree stumps.

E-Learning 24/7

I do want to give a quick shot out to Savannah G. from Udemy, who I saw at their booth last week at ATDTK. Smiling. Extremely nice, knew the product inside and out and listened to each question and was able to answer. If every vendor at a trade show, had someone like her, you would sell a lot.  Udemy needs to give her a raise.

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