There is certainly no shortage of elearning platforms on the market these days – here are the 8 popular choices to consider in 2020 and beyond. But remember, before you even start exploring the specific solutions to your elearning needs, make sure you are fully clued-in to the different types of platforms and what they can (and cannot) do for you. After all, you want to save time by comparing apples to apples, not apples to oranges.
Types of elearning platforms
Elearning platforms are divided into four types: Learning Management Systems (LMS’s), Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS’s), Authoring Tools and Elearning Portals. Companies often use a mix of elearning platforms to meet their needs, although there are tools, such as Elucidat, that offer benefits found across categories.
In this blog we look at each category and provide two examples of popular elearning tools you might want to review in each. Specifically, our pick of popular elearning platforms includes:
- Learning Launchpad
- Articulate Storyline 360
- Elucidat – Authoring tool and LCMS
Learning Management System
A Learning Management System, or LMS to its friends, allows you to host and deliver learning using a wide range of learning experiences. If you are looking for an option that could help you produce elearning as well as traditional forms of training such as face-to-face workshops, an LMS might be a good option.
There has been some controversy over the years around whether the LMS is dead. Is this form of learning delivery and production outdated and superfluous in the ever-evolving learning landscape? We believe there is still a place for the LMS, but managers need to fully understand their capabilities and make an informed decision.
Two LMS’s to review”
- Docebo – this top cloud-based LMS is AI-powered. It boasts an impressive analytics dashboards and is a great fit for those looking to drive their competitive advantage using data analytics. For example Docebo’s artificial intelligence powered LMS automatically tags your content to produce deeper search results and analyzes course content to understand who will benefit from it most. If you are looking for an innovative LMS Docebo is definitely one to check out.
- Totara -Totara is a flexible, open LMS that delivers training and performance appraisals. It’s an open source learning platform, which means it’s fully customizable. This is brilliant for organizations looking to make it their own and integrate it with existing tools.
Learning Content Management System
A Learning Content Management System, or LCMS, is very similar to an LMS. It allows you to host and deliver learning, but with three notable differences:
- The emphasis here is on digital learning,
- You can create and deliver your content in the same place, and
- You can more efficiently track your elearning for even better results
For those of you keen on exploring the differences further, you can find an in-depth analysis in our LMS vs. LCMS blog.
If you are looking for an LCMS the two tools to check out are:
- Elucidat – although our main focus is on authoring, adding features which enable collaboration, hosting and delivery has seen our tool grow into an LCMS in the last few years. To get the most value and all the benefits we still recommend having an LMS and integrating it with our award winning authoring tool. But as a starting point before you invest into an LMS, our tool provides you with all LCMS features you need to get going.
- Xyleme – if you are looking for a tool that brings your entire learning content management lifecycle together in one streamlined process, Xyleme could be a good option. Be warned though that the reviews here are mixed. Some users find the tool a game changer while others report it as being difficult to use and buggy.
As the name suggests, authoring tools allow you to create elearning, or digital learning, content. You will still need to host this content somewhere, and the more traditional authoring tools will be limited in terms of the analytics capability you have.
In theory, authoring tools should be able to allow you to create content easily since there is no need to have programming expertise. In practice, some authoring tools are easier to use than others, and the functionality varies widely. While some cater more toward the non-specialists who require rapid elearning development, others are geared toward instructional designers who are looking to develop more complex interactions such as custom gamification.
Suggesting two authoring tool contenders is easy for us – after all at Elucidat we live and breath authoring! Two tools to check out in this category are:
- Elucidat – The whole point of our award-winning tool is to make authoring easy and super fast and to help our customers drive down their cost to train. All our features are geared up towards helping large employees produce business-critical training quickly and easily without risking quality. Just check out our Learning Accelerator Add-on. With over 20 blueprints to choose from you can reach your goals and produce elearning 4x faster than before. Book a demo and we guarantee you’ll love it! And don’t just take our word for it – check out our Capterra reviews here.
- Adobe Captivate – this well-known authoring tool is a brilliant option for agencies and experienced learning designers looking to create complex, tailored online learning. It has a steeper learning curve but for those looking to use complex interactions it is a great option. It even provides authors with the ability to create virtual reality (VR) learning experiences. Captivate is one of the most popular authoring tools out there and certainly worth a review.
If you feel an authoring tool is your best option and you’d like more choices, you can check out our 12 Elearning Authoring Tools: Comparison and Review blog.
An elearning portal allows you to host and deliver your elearning to your audience. To put it very simply, this is a website that will let you store your content and share it with your learners. It’s a way of bringing your content to your learners. In order to produce the content or analyze its effectiveness, you will need to equip your learning portal with an authoring tool or an LCMS.
Now, you might be thinking that an elearning portal sounds a lot like an LMS. That is true, but where elearning portals differ is on learner management. While an LMS requires you to share your logins with all users for them to be able to access the course material, elearning portals allow you to simply share a URL.
It is very likely that your contractors, suppliers and temporary or seasonal staff won’t be given a business email address. This means that they won’t be able to access your learning if you host it on an LMS. A learning portal solves this issue, ensuring that no one is left behind in learning in your business.
To find out a bit more about the topic, check out our latest blog: Elearning portals: Wider learning reach, quicker business impact.
Here are two elearning portals you might want to check out:
- Learning Launchpad – At Elucidat, we launched our own version of an elearning portal: Learning Launchpad. It’s our way of empowering our customers to have wider learning reach and quicker business impact beyond a traditional LMS. And, paired with our award-winning Elucidat authoring tool, Learning Launchpad has all it needs to host, deliver and produce exceptional learning at scale.
- SharePoint – if tracking is not important to you SharePoint is a great tool to quickly curate elearning and other resources. It provides one easy to access location and if your organization has Microsoft Office 365 it’s already included in your package. The only drawback is that the courses won’t be accessible to people outside of your organization. Anyone who wishes to access the learning will need to have your organizational login.
Elearning platforms – differences at a glance
Here’s a quick overview of the main differences and intended purposes as well as two options to conder to help you make up your mind.
|LMS||Authoring tool||LCMS||Learning Portal|
|Manages a range of learning experiences, including traditional learning||Focused on digital learning||Specializes in digital learning, not ideal for blended learning||Digital learning only|
|Allows you to host and deliver, but not produce content||You may create and deliver content, but you cannot host it||Lets you deliver and produce content, but not host||Enables you to host and deliver your content, but on its own doesn’t allow you to produce|
|SCORM compatible, but only basic SCORM tracking available||SCORM compatible, but often basic analytics||SCORM compatible, and with detailed analytics||SCORM compatible, but no analytics|
In today’s learning market, it is quite common to use a mix of tools rather than settle with one. Many of our clients have gone this route, combining Elucidat (including Launchpad) with an LMS. Whatever you decide, make sure you are informed on what types of learning platforms you should be considering. This blog is hopefully a good starting point!
Want to learn more?
If you’re interested in how Elucidat’s authoring platform can help you reduce your cost to train and produce elearning quickly and super fast, book a personalized online demo with one of our team!