Time to balance Learning and Management in LMS using Open Learning

There are hundreds of Learning Management Systems in market and almost all focus more on Management than Learning. This is resulted from LMS vendors primarily selling their systems to HR or L&D managers who focus heavily on Management aspect of the LMS to simplify their job and showcase the ROI on L&D investment. Thus products get shaped according to the needs of Management more and learning / learner’s needs take a back seat in the whole LMS procurement discussions. If we look at any RFI or RFP for LMS, its full of requirements related to trainers and managers who are mainly concerned about access controls and analytics. In fact most LMS vendors rarely get chance to talk to end learners, who use their product 99% of the time.

Learning_ManagingDue to this limited or no interaction with end learners, vendors often participate in the industry events to get chance to meet with their available audience, i.e. e-learning / curriculum developers, trainers and managers who do share some of their learner’s experiences (that they know about) with the vendors, but its not highlighted enough in those conversations. Majority of sessions / discussions still revolve around need for more automation, notification, tracking and reporting; and vendors keep producing more and more features aligned to these requirements. Many LMS products can also be traced back to their founder’s background in e-learning industry, who used their e-learning design and/or training management experience to start a new LMS product.

Organizations have used M(anagement) centric Learning Management Systems for a long time without much difference in the outcome of learners and overall effect on the organizations in general. Trainers and managers like to measure everything from enrollment counts, completion counts, time spent, scores etc. They focus on finding the best LMS that can be used to micromanage the entire training operations effectively and put necessary access controls to block the access to courses in many different ways. This style of micromanaged training operations works well in some use cases, like compliance and HR centric trainings, but LMSs aren’t supposed to be just the Training Management Systems only, isn’t?

In this decade, we observed many new LMSs coming up with “simplicity” and “ease of use” as their core pitch. But what was not very apparent is, “ease of use” for whom? Is it for 1% of the users (trainers and managers) or for 99% of the users (learners). Our analysis suggests, most of the time “simplicity” is exclusively targeted to attract content creators, trainers and managers who are the decision makers, or act as an influencer in LMS purchase decisions. If you talk to learners (or play that role yourself by taking online courses) you will realize how closed and boring today’s LMS systems are from their perspective. They are mostly used as a platform to deliver SCORM content and to enroll in Instructor led classes.

When we started EduBrite, we had no background in e-learning/training industry. We only knew one side of the LMS in our imagination, the Learner’s side. We took inspiration from open web and created the foundation of EduBrite to support “Open Learning” from day one. But we had to go thru validation by the customers and due to established definition of LMS where M is the most significant part for potential buyers; we realized we had missed to fully analyze the buyer’s persona. Every interaction we did with prospects and customers, made us realize what additional M(anagement) feature we didn’t have. We kept adding those features to support the complex training operations, that grew the platform to a level where we could not only match but also outperform many established M focussed LMSs. Although this proved successful in growing the business, but our passion was (is) still to develop a “Open Learning” system and not only a “Training Management” System, hence we kept building Learner centric features and put whatever we built to field test by using it for our own support site / user community (support.edubrite.com) that offers our platform education to our customers. It worked well and was a self-validation of our belief that open platforms are needed for online self-paced learning. It was surprising to see not many other LMS vendors use their own product to educate their customers.

We announced “Open Learning” sometime in mid 2016, as an add-on to EduBrite LMS, but still demand for it from traditional buyers was not there, as at the moment most internal employee centric education still revolves around HR/onboarding/compliance stuff, which limits the amount of time learners have to use the LMS. On the other hand, we found many different use cases (and buyer persona) that were a better fit for Open Learning, e.g. VMware’s customer education site – vmwarelearningzone.vmware.com which uses EduBrite Open Learning to a great extent similar to how we used it ourselves on support.edubrite.com .

Open Learning helps both marketing as well as customer success teams (besides trainers and managers) by offering engaging content to all users (even anonymous), and allowing learners to easily find the bite-size lessons and build their knowledge bit by bit. Once learners have more time, they can enroll in larger units like Courses and Programs (learning plans) or even instructor led classes that are related to their interest and needs. They get ability to engage in meaningful conversation with the community, self claim mastery points and create their own curated Playlists, rather than going thru pre-built courses which are laid out in a specific sequence. While learners get their share of tools, Trainers are also not left behind. They can use EduBrite’s powerful features to offer instructor led trainings and advanced certifications.

EduBrite’s Open Learning combines the power of traditional LMS, fun of Learner centric Microlearning, freedom of Community and wisdom of Knowledgebase to offer a full suite of tools needed for customer as well as employee education. This approach finally finds a balance between L and M in the LMS platform.


EduBrite 2016: A year in review

It was a great year for EduBrite. Many incredible things happened in 2016. Thanks for being part in this journey with us. 

We introduced Open Learning, a learner centric micro learning solution in 2016. EduBrite is one of the first one to offer this solution in the LMS industry. Open learning helps creating an engaging learning environment for your employees as well as external audience – customers, partners etc. You can setup a public facing Open Learning solution and leverage it to serve as a great tool for content marketing.

Users can create their own play list, follow, rate, comment. They can also social share the content with their peer group and claim mastery point in the subject area they are expert in. 

Open Learning is also a gateway for progressive learning. It directs users to register in course(s) to learn their topic of interest formally. So essentially you can offer an integrated experience to your learners.

In addition to Open Learning, we have added many new features, enhanced existing features, improved usability and added automation with key goals in mind to continue to improve the experience of our customers and their users. Here is a quick snapshot:

Gamification – You can create badges easily by uploading external images or use from the library. Enhanced leaderboard is available.
Instructor led training – New integration with Zoom.us. New functions e.g. download sign-in sheet, manually generate invoices, edit amount, add discount, take notes, easy options to mark attendance and awarding completion.
Collaboration – Forum now offers features such as forum priority, assigning, sub forums etc. to provide light weight task/issue tracking capabilities.
Custom properties – User defined custom properties now can be added at various places e.g.  Group, Course, Course Session, Program, Event, Course Member, Program Member and Event Participants. This allows you to extend the LMS objects in a very flexible ways to capture your business specific information. 
Authoring – Many enhancements are added in test and course throughout the year. 
New Role – A new role group coordinator is added to offer additional flexibility in decentralizing the access and management of training operations. 
Reporting – Enhanced many reports e.g. learners report, program report, question statistics report etc. Added a new transcript summary report.
Confluence Integration – In addition to many new macros e.g. customizing dashboard, reports, leaderboard etc. now you can auto sync users and groups.

We make it easy for you

We make your experience easy by offering our integration with Atlassian Confluence, Salesforce, Yammer, Google etc. This allows users to access EduBrite LMS right from the Apps where they spend most of their time. Additionally, we have integrated with many wonderful applications so that you use best of breed applications and provide a great experience to your learners.


We have a pretty exciting 2017 ahead of us! One of our primary focuses will be to offer an even more engaging learning experience, so we have planned for several enhancements in Open Learning and Gamification. We understand that you want to offer ubiquitous learning, so expect more developments in our native iOS App and our recently released Android App.


Thanks for an amazing 2016. Happy Learning in 2017!

Top Down & Bottom Up LMS implementation approaches for employee training

When it comes to LMS implementation in any organization for internal training, most common approach is top down. Top down approach is heavily based on maintaining controls at the top level and selectively giving some rights to lower levels in the training delivery hierarchy (which is generally same as org structure).


This approach requires lot of upfront planning, identifying stakeholders across the organization and resolving internal conflicts within different teams to create common ground for a centralized LMS. On many occasions, this whole process takes several months to a year before LMS can be fully rolled out to employees, thus resulting in huge upfront cost. Even after rollout, the top down control of rights creates an ongoing battle of control and sometime conflict of interest among different groups who needs to use the LMS. All these factors limit the adoption, and returns on the investment.

If we look deeper into why this happens so frequently, we find the biggest cause is a common issue with many LMS products; most of them are built with assumption of global role based controls. In most systems, only admin or instructor can do activities like course creation and setting up its delivery. These rights are not available for individual team or group level, resulting in big process bottlenecks. Course content has to be managed by a few selected people (L&D managers or Curriculum developers), for a very large number of teams. Team leads do not get the ability to quickly create their own training courses and deliver them to their teams. This also makes the job very tough for the L&D managers who typically are at the top of the Training Delivery hierarchy. They must find time to create & facilitate training courses and provision them for entire organization. This process takes too much time to plan and becomes difficult to execute. As a result, not all departments get equal attention and become indifferent to LMS or find their own (adhoc) solutions. A clear symptom of this effect we see is – existence of multiple LMS in the same organization, which is owned by different teams. Although this gives full control of the LMS these teams own, but as a whole the organization doesn’t get a clean & coordinated learning environment, and the cost becomes too high.

Top down approach has its merits in many kinds of training such as compliance, that requires full control, but there are several other kinds of training usage (especially informal) where it becomes a limiting factor.

EduBrite offers a clean solution to this problem by allowing possibility of a Bottom Up implementation strategy. We discussed this topic in our webinar last week, recording of which can be accessed here – http://bit.ly/1mSodHO


Bottom up approach works by allowing everyone to create training content (courses) and managing its delivery. LMS implementation can be done at rapid speed with just a potential announcement of its availability and may be a “getting started” video, and allowing different team leads to start using it for their teams. No setup of org hierarchy / departments / roles etc. is needed. The team, who need the LMS most, can be the first to adopt, and lead the way for other teams to follow. Leaders or experts can join hands and create community groups (super groups) as well by merging or sharing resources from their own group and evolve onto a organically grown Group structure for training/learning activities.


Regardless how large the overall organization is, team level implementation seems very simple and quick. L&D managers can still be overall admin for the system and can visualize the system usage, and other analytics about the adoption. They can even create a healthy competition among teams to make best use of the LMS. From the cost perspective also, you can get high return on investment by not buying a large number of seats for the LMS upfront; rather follow the scaling model based on the demand growth.

Since Bottom up approach is based on participation by teams, it becomes a more stable and likely more successful implementation, compared to top down model. If LMS permits (like EduBrite does) you can also have mixed implementation approach in the same system.


Key product features that allow implementation of bottom up strategy are –

  • Allows training content creation, ownership and provisioning rights to all users, so they can develop and deliver trainings for their teams
  • Allows Group level roles, sharing content across groups
  • Allows multiple group membership by the same user, so they can play different roles in different groups
  • Makes it easy to evolve the group hierarchy and allows possibility of multiple alternate hierarchies to co-exist in the same LMS
  • Allows re-use of training materials to create different variations or courses and programs by re-packaging it to make it suitable for different groups
  • Hierarchical group based permissions for administration, data visibility and reporting

Best implementation strategy heavily depends on the specific usage and may be different in each organization, but having familiarity with the options and availability of the right features in the LMS can give you full flexibility.



Mobile Learning – Bridging Generation Gaps

iPhone-iPad-EBHave you ever come across this generic question from the learning organizations or your business stakeholders, i.e. Can you support learning on mobile devices since that is the primary way we want the training to be delivered? What exactly is wrong with this question?

What is wrong here is not the desire to have learning available on mobile devices or focusing ‘just on the device’, but also the absence of the strategy on how to build and offer the training to blend multigenerational workforce. The learning needs to reconcile and shape up learning to meet various learning styles and taste.

Mobile learning needs to span and support multiple generations from digital immigrants (i.e. baby boomers) to digital natives (born in last 20-25 years). The effective way to bridge the gap and blend it effectively is to use mobile learning as supplementary training to meet just in time need and not as the primary training tool. Mobile programs need to be built to engage the workforce, to make it useful within the day to day work and effective in a way to create want for them instead of pushing it to the employees.

Using training as an ongoing support tool and accelerant helps pretty much all generations to meet their learning needs. For an employee who has gone through traditional training course can use it as post- training support to refer to concepts as they start applying the training in their work life. For the new generation, who is looking for just-in-time training content to either learn ‘How-to’ or ‘solve a specific problem’ can search and access the specific nugget of content on their mobile device accordingly. Sales organizations can build online games around competitive nature of the business and ask employees to solve a specific problem or excel in particular knowledge area for their success in the field and hence mastering those skills. This creates inherent want for the successful people to do better and the gaming aspect creates the engagement and interest.

The key for success is to keep the old concepts and fundamentals of L&D in the back burner and focus on new way of thinking about developing training programs. The content needs to be designed such that the training offered through mobile experience meets immediate needs, is of smaller size to make quick impact and integrates seamlessly in the workflow. When designing such training, focus on the design principles of keeping the user experience at the top, and building smaller bite size content and make it available ‘just-in-time’. This helps to meet needs of multiple generations and positions mobile learning as a tool which becomes necessary to get job done and hence automatically creates the motivation.

Author: Praveen Khurana

Praveen Khurana is a learning technology leader in learning management and human capital systems. He has 18+ years of experience in this industry and has consulted with and has implemented learning, talent and knowledge management systems for many fortune 500 companies.


Test Authoring and Delivery – EduBrite Education Webinar

In last week’s webinar, we discussed about test authoring and delivery. In this webinar covered various how quizzes/tests or surveys can be created using EduBrite’s WISYWIG test editor? Thanks to all participants who were able to join us. We discussed following items in detail:

  • Questions formats – Multiple choice, Fill in the blank, Yes/No, Essay, Grid Type etc.
  • Various Test properties including
    • Create question bank
    • Re-using questions from existing tests
    • Inserting images, audio, video
    • Inserting mathematical and Scientific symbols
    • Gradient scoring, negative marking
    • Adding passage, solution
    • Adding metadata at question or test level
    • Randomize questions, choices
    • Competency-based test, exams
    • Various UI options
    • Categorizing questions into sections
    • Limiting time based on sections
    • Essay evaluation
    • Random selection of questions from question bank
  • Test delivery : informal (Practice tests); Formal inside an exam, exam management. Quizzes inside the course were covered in previous course authoring and course delivery webinars.
  • Proctored Exam
  • Multi Source feedback (360 degree feedback)

Recording of the session is now available at Webinar Channel in EduBrite Support portal. We will announce next round of webinar soon. Stay tuned.


LMS Reporting – EduBrite Education Webinar

This week’s webinar covered LMS reporting topic. Thanks to all participants who were able to join us. We discussed following items:

  • Reporting menu
  • LMS usage reports – course sessions, usage metrics
  • Learners report
  • Assessment :  test attempts; test scores, question/survey stats
  • Lessons report
  • SCORM report
  • Statistical reports
  • Ecommerce : Payment transactions, coupon codes
  • E-mail notifications

Recording of the session is now available at Webinar Channel in EduBrite Support portal.

Our next webinar “Micro-site administration” is on Wednesday Sep 17 at 10 am pacific (UTC-7). In this webinar, we will cover:

  • Users Management : User Creation (individual, bulk), User roles, User assignment to group(s)
  • Groups Management : Group Creation, Type of Groups (open, by request, private, etc.), group roles, group settings, collaboration
  • Site administration : Configure features, security, user interface, metadata
  • Misc : E-mail settings, Coupon, Payment integration, UI high level

Register here for next webinar


Collaborative and Social Learning

2758777221_ddef7951cf_z In last few years the buzzwords like learning or training, e-Learning, collaboration, human capital management, talent management, etc. have become very popular when it comes to the new trends in learning industry. To the most part these terms are used interchangeably and may mean the same thing which various learning and development (L&D) vendors, corporate universities, private schools or educational institution have been using to attract their target audiences and to cash it on. This represents some form of structured formal learning which is in either classroom or virtual kind of setting or may be available online for self-learning. The objectives are same and that is to disseminate well-structured content to group of people which someone in higher authority (typically small group of intellectual elite; either by ranks or knowledge) decided that specific group of people should learn or master. In some cases the group of people may also have to go through some form of assessment to prove that they actually gained something from the experience. Well, did they really? How effective was that? May be they were able to memorize some portion of content, but do they know how to use or apply it in real world? Can the learners be productive and successful with new acquired knowledge? The fact is that the formal learning is the source of only 10-20% of learning of these days. The remaining 80-90% of learning today happens through informal or social and collaborative means.

As per Wikipedia, Collaborative learning is a situation in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something together. Unlike individual learning, people engaged in collaborative learning capitalize on one another’s resources and skills (asking one another for information, evaluating one another’s ideas, monitoring one another’s work, etc.).  More specifically, collaborative learning is based on the model that knowledge can be created within a population where members actively interact by sharing experiences and take on asymmetry roles. Put differently, collaborative learning refers methodologies and environments in which learners engage in a common task where each individual depends on and is accountable to each other. These include both face-to-face conversations and computer discussions (online forums, chat rooms, etc.).

What do you think? Does it make sense? It certainly does. Learning actually is social assisted with collaborative environment. Think about how we have been learning really most of what we know in life; be it how to speak, how to eat, how to socialize, good manners, what to do or not to do, how to play certain sports, etc. etc. Did we learn all that in school or formal setting?  The clear answer is No. Most of that we learned from other people we interacted or collaborated with in our social circle – our parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, friends, coaches,  mentors, etc.  And similarly at work we learn in hallways, in break rooms, may be from our colleague in next cubicle, may be reaching out to help-desk when needed, through our mentors and basically working with people who know the stuff or can work with us to figure things out. That is the real effective way of learning and it helps us to learn, not only in fast manner but retain the knowledge for long as well, probably our lifetime. As part of collaborative learning process, we also learn how to apply the knowledge we have gained really effectively and be better individual. How cool is that? That is actually putting  social and collaborative learning in practice. And the best part is that it is personal, and self-driven.

Today’s generation is more aware of the need for collaborative and social learning than ever. If they do not get to learn things through formal means, they take matters in their own hands and go for self-directed learning. They Google stuff, go to social networking to ask questions, take help of discussion forums and other collaborative means to get what they need. They are more brand aware as well (i.e. Brand “You”) and constantly like to learn to improve their marketability. This encourages learners to reach out to others to share knowledge, to solve problems and get deeper understanding. It also teaches them how to look to others as a resource, collaborate as a team, test their theories and help out and contribute in social circle. That makes everyone today a learner, mentor, instructional designer and publisher (Well, I would say, this blog is one such example of that!).

If there is such a strong need for social and collaborative learning, how are the Learning Management System (LMS) or Talent Management System (TMS) vendor’s contributing in this space? We discussed about some of the key components of social and collaborative learning above. Let us translate that into what is needed from LMS vendors today to help support this initiative. Some of the key ingredients for successful collaboration and social learning would be content authoring features (ability to author content), content workflow for inception to publishing to storage and archiving (LCMS), social features for peer to peer networking, integration capabilities with other business applications in an organization, collaboration features (chat, discussion forums, Web Conferences, etc.), learner friendliness, application configurability to meet business environment and taste, customer and partner learning support with commerce, availability on mobile devices and also analytics features to be able to measure results against business objectives. Can vendors support all or most of it today?

Edubrite’s LMS platform provides host of services for successful collaborative and social learning experience.  It provides easy to use authoring capabilities within its LMS platform, discussion forums allow learners to discuss topics at group or specific course level, learners can collect feedback and opinions using polls feature, event management functionality allows for setting up meetings, exams or training sessions as needed, peer to peer networking and update capabilities helps in exchange of ideas, resource/document sharing amongst groups, Web Conferences integration for blended learning experience, etc. Additional details on Edubrite’s offering can be found by contacting team EduBrite.

Image by Gay Biddlecombe

Author: Praveen Khurana Praveen Khurana is a learning technology leader in learning management and human capital systems. He has 18+ years of experience in this industry and has consulted with and has implemented learning, talent and knowledge management systems for many fortune 500 companies.

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