Author: Craig Weiss
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Expectations. We all have them. We have them when we go out to eat. When we are on a blind date or using a dating app. We are about to see a movie that we have been waiting for to come out.
Who hasn’t experienced the anticipation of a trade show and conference, with abated excitement, only to be bummed out, because it failed to live up to our expectations?
But, and here is the kicker, what if you could know ahead of time, that yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus.
Expect the following
VR takes a hit. As with any new technology, the hype sometimes fails to materialize. Sure some folks are using VR and loving it with their training, and many of these entities have the budgets to pull it off. But for the masses out there, those amazing VR solutions haven’t been met. Cost is a key factor, and while authoring tool vendors are jumping into VR with new functionality, the truth of the whole matter is that VR headsets haven’t punched thru the L&D and/or training departments across the globe.
Perhaps this will change with more VR headsets (I’d hold off on Oculus Go, as a new version will be coming out in 2019). But the problem is more than just the headset, rather it getting buy-in from the C-level folks that this is a must for your budget, especially when you just received the green light to drop 50K on a new LMS.
So far, my expectations as a whole, have not been met with VR for training thru the use of SaaS authoring tools or e-learning VR tools. It is fine, but by no means something comparable to a robust 3rd party VR course designed by folks with backgrounds in digital learning and VR.
If there is any doubt in your minds on whether VR is still a hot commodity for 2019, take a look at other folks forecasts in the space. Or at an upcoming conference. What I see is something else..
This is going to be huge – high expectations. You can expect to see a lot of vendors in the learning system space to go full throttle into machine learning, which at a point down the road (2020), will become deep learning (term noted by AI experts, as the next evolution of machine learning).
I have noted in the past that the algorithm is a big factor here, and that vendors if they are smart, will have an open algorithm (does not mean you have access to the code).
One item though that most folks are unaware of, is how that algorithm is trained. And so, my hope, err expectation is that you as the consumer, ask the vendor who pitches machine learning or AI, how their system’s machine learning was trained. I surmise many salespeople will ask you what this means, and here is where you can show them that you know something they don’t know : ) .
The two big items to ask are
- How old is the data they used to train? How far back is it? i.e. one year’s worth of data? Five years? Six days?
- What data did they use for their training? Was it one set of data based on types of content? Multiple sets of data?
A vendor should be able to provide this information, it may take a few days for them to get back to you, but trust me when I say this, knowing how the machine learning was trained is huge. When I talk to vendors whose systems are using machine learning, I will often request an additional call to talk to the person who is the key individual on machine learning with that vendor.
If a vendor declines to provide this information to you, then move on. Let me say that again – move on, because if they are hiding this from you, what else are they hiding? I mean red flag alert here.
My expectations when I inquire about a vendor using an LRS in their system (if they have one) is often not met. I mean if a vendor has an LRS, you would think that it is being used in the system to generate an extensive set of analytics, beyond just what you saw prior to them having one or base level of analytical data that so many other systems possess.
And yet, I know of a lot of systems out there, who have an LRS built-into their platform or they use a 3rd party LRS, and do not leverage it, as part of their system for the analytical power it can provide. An LRS tracks everything, and you do not need xAPI to have an LRS (so a vendor who says, “Well we do not have xAPI,” doesn’t fly).
Vendors should offer folks two options when it comes to analytical data, either here is what comes with the system OR here is what we can turn on (at no cost to you) for even higher level and thus a better assessment for you, via robust set of analytical data.
What I find to my horror is how many vendors have ZERO clue on why an LRS was created in the first place – which was capturing everything you do (as a learner) into a data file, where if you then leave the company, you take your data file with you (which has all your training or learning) and can go into another LMS at your new company (assuming they have an LMS with an LRS) without any issues (aka interoperability).
Anyone who has experienced the SCORM claims of interoperability of course, new that wasn’t going to be smooth sailing and my biggest concern from day one was tied directly to security and privacy. I mean there are tech companies who won’t let you take anything with you, when you leave them, so the idea of going “here take this data record with you” seemed far-fetch.
On the LRS side as it relates to learning systems, I was surprised (and thus blew away my expectations) on how many vendors built their own LRS rather than going 3rd party, say with Watershed, especially since there were a lot of vendors who went with SCORM Engine for SCORM in their LMS (both products were made by Rustici, who was acquired by LTG, and just recently LTG acquired 100% of Watershed – where before they had 30%).
If a vendor pitches data visualization the best way to achieve that is via an LRS. Vendors will tell me, often, that folks are not asking about an LRS or even using it, but, as they tell them, that isn’t the responsibility of the consumer. If you have it in your system, you clearly invested funds to do so, so use it.
While identifying influencers (an LRS standard feature) is of interest in some cases, I can see it with an LEP/LXP for example or with mentoring, the bigger winner is tying it to those wonderful KPIs that many systems are starting to add.
Expect to see this capability showing up in more systems than before. Systems who offer KPIs should in my opinion, allow the client the opportunity to tie them into something like a heat map or the ability to tie it into some form of comparative data.
ROI or IOL (Impact of Learning) Data
Another function you can expect to see is an increase in vendors presenting (on the admin side), numbers of dollars saved or reduced costs and other sets of financial numbers that a person who is running training or L&D or even HR could show to someone to say, “hey, see this system is saving us this amount of money, and this and this.”
All in one system
Mixed expectations here to be quite honest. I am a believer and always have been that if a system can offer everything I need and has other items that I have yet to need or use, it is better than if it doesn’t have those extra items (that I am yet to use or have a use for right away).
I mean you have no idea, unless you are Nostradamus, what the future will be, so how can you know what you will need for your learning and/or training in say six months or a year from now? Isn’t it better to have a system that is forward thinking in its approach, rather than antiquated?
I mean, even folks who are cutting the cord on cable and jumping over to Amazon channels for example, are selecting channels they believe they will use, even if they are not watching the channel on a daily basis, let alone dozens of hours per month.
There is a reason that Wal-Mart Supercenter, Tesco and Costco are at the top level of their game. And why Amazon rules them all. You can find and get everything you need at one stop. I mean, I never thought I’d buy an Instant Pot, but then, one day (Black Friday), I did – and for the record, everyone should buy one (WOW).
Expect to see more vendors diving into the one stop shop approach. A vendor who includes a course/content marketplace and offers learning tech vendors (3rd party) in that marketplace is ahead of folks, who only offer a content marketplace.
Truth be told, my expectations nowadays when I talk to any learning system vendor is that they have a content marketplace that is visible to clients and where they client can just click and buy without having to talk to the vendor to do so.
Mimics what folks are seeing now on the net
Drag and Drop for files. Moving sections around with your mouse (drag and drop in essence). Fluidity. Agile in their approach. Modern UX (because everyone will tell you their system has a Modern UI). On/off synch apps. Android and iOS apps (and yes there are vendors who do not have Android). Web cam capability in the product. Browser extension(s) for their system (rare right now).
Back in the day, people wanted their LMS to look like a search engine. Then they wanted it to look like some amazing web page they saw. Nowadays everyone says Modern, because honestly, no one is going to say, “Hey, can we have it look like Web Crawler? Or maybe the look and feel of Windows ME?”
Quick Bonus Round
- Skill-building and skill development – Big – every vendor should offer this in their system
- Video management including video bookmarks, auto detection FPS and video streaming – Mixed expectations. Video bookmarking is the wild card here.
- Web cam real time viewing and recording for coaching/mentoring – Mixed expectations. Vendors have failed to leverage it to its full power for the learner and the coach/mentor.
- Mimicking what they see in social media. Mixed expectations. Let’s move on from Facebook already. Still waiting for something like Whatsapp or Instagram. For any K-12 or HE system, how about TikTok?
- Identifying what are the browsers the SaaS authoring tool, e-learning or system will work in (minimum requirements including mobile). Browser agnostic is a misnomer. Low expectations. Vendors tend not to share that info, unless it is in an RFP and even then, I’ve seen plenty who say, “All”, really? So, you will work with IE 7 and Maxthon?
- SaaS authoring tools focusing on building a more dynamic and better authoring tool leverging ID design capabilties. Low expectations. Seems more are interested in being hybrid learning systems (yes, it is rearing its ugly head again), then being uh, you know an authoring tool.
- Game based learning in your system, mobile app or as a standalone. Mixed expectations. Battles – Knowledge for example, seems to be the one that vendors who are adding this, are incorporating, beyond the usual stale stuff you see – Who is up for a game of breakout that looks exactly like tennis and hockey from the days of Pong? Tetris? Oh, how about glossary?
- Themes that administrators can select for their learners – Mixed expectations. I see more vendors offering themes (aka template themes) for their customers as an option, rather than learner by learner (which there a couple who do offer it, and yes, the admin can say turn off that function).
- Mobile Responsive – Everyone can do this – so stop asking if they can!
- Increase in number of LEP/LXP. High level of expectations. Another big ticket item. If I was entering the space, I’d ignore LMS build, and go LEP/LXP, that said…
- More LEP/LXP adding functionality that mimics an LMS. Solid expectations. They are doing it, rather than building an even better LEP/LXP. Which is a surprise since the LEP/LXPs are mostly used as a built-on or add-on for those who have an LMS, as well as folks in L&D who are using an LMS for only compliance and required training.
- Adding assignments to your LEP/LXP. Stop right now. Solid expectations. Defeats why an LEP/LXP pitches the learner-centric and focused approach. You can’t be both.
- Vendors who only provide great references. High expectations. Folks always want references from vendors. If you think they are going to give you someone who truly says this stinks or you know, I like this, but not that – well, that isn’t happening. Write down the name of the customers they show you, then go on Linkedin, find the person who runs training or L&D and contact them. That is the real sample you want. Not the person they give you directly.
- FindAnLMS.com expanding functionality and capabilities for 2019. High expectations. A lot is coming in 2019, expanding the power of my learning system search engine and comparison platform.
- One on One interviews, where I interview CEOs from various learning systems, and which can be found exclusively on Findanlms.com – will exceed your expectations – coming in early 2019.
Everyone has expectations. Some are good. Some are average and some are poor.
Berlin Station on EPIX is awesome and will meet your expectations. Any movie you find on Amazon Prime, Netflix or Hulu where it looks like a bad B-movie, will meet your low expectations.
Expansion capabilities in your LMS may meet your expectations or may not.
Support as always brings about mixed expectations.
And my vision of a Smart LMS,
I’m not seeing it
At least in 2019.
Note: I will be presenting on Feb. 8th at 8 a.m. at ATDTK. The topic – “So you wanna buy an LMS?”