Good or Bad Experiences with an LMS

Hi LX Community Members,

        I'm guessing most of us here have used some type of LMS at some point in our professional life or in a life long learning experience. I'll begin with naming the top three I have had experience with.

Blackboard, Canvas and Thinkific. Two have been at an educational institution within the last six years. My first comment is about Canvas, which had been the most interactive, and engaging allowing for customization without much administration oversight. Also, it has been free for almost anyone to create a course- that was a few years ago. Thinkific was another platform I designed a course on and it was free and also had many upgrades since I had explored learning platforms. At this time I am using a podcasting platform called PodBean which has a plugin for an LMS. Extra note- Podbean’s API makes it simple to get all the data you need directly sent to your LMS. This allows you to use that data in whatever way you need to in your system. (Noted: They have clients who do training podcasts and are therefore able to credit employees when they complete listening to those training modules.)

This brief post invites you to comment on your experience in just one or more LMS or similar platform that you have found outstanding, or on the opposite end, one that might need retirement or a complete revision. Include at least three reasons for your choice.

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In my time, I have been either an Admin or Super User on internally-hosted or cloud-based versions of Pathware, Docent, D2L, Pathlore, SumTotal,, SCORMCloud, Moodle, Captivate Prime, VenU, Absorb, and now Saba (plus one enterprise LCMS I built before the term existed :thinking:). All have had their plusses and minuses, but the single-biggest mistake (IMHO) an organization can make is NOT thoroughly identifying and ranking its needs before settling on an LMS. The second-biggest mistake an organization can make is taking the LMS vendor at their word. Salespeople have a single goal: sell product. I saw that every day when I was a VAR for Apple, Macromedia, Adobe, Radius, Supermac, MicroNet, FWB, Agfa, Howtek, Sun, SGI, and others. Will they bend the truth? You better believe they will.

My issue with Saba has been it looks like it was cobbled together from several LMS, but they never went back in and standardized the user interface. When I sat down to SumTotal 8, I could see elements of Docent’s LMS (which Asymetrix/Click2Learn had absorbed along with Aimtech, Pathlore, and others, before being acquired by SkillSoft) still present. By version 18, SumTotal’s user interface was standardized and you could no longer detect the LMS platforms it had been built from. Not so with Saba. In more than one location, differently-titled UI elements link to the same content; similarly, links with the same title in different parts of the UI link to content which does not look nor function the same. There’s no rhyme or reason why some elements are links, some are buttons, or why some buttons, which are presented in the UI as the “default” buttons, respond to a carriage-return where others do not.

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Hi Joseph @MilwJoe,
Thanks for your rich, detailed comments! From your exquisite expressions, my first impression is the importance of understanding how varied LMS experiences are and often do indeed bring out the best and worst in user and admin experiences. Thinking about the LMS vendor experiences, has me tuning into paying attention to the important high priority checkboxes.

            While I'm familiar with many you mention, the theme of how the UI is presented in it's appearance as well as function is extremely important to note.  Your thoughts and comments bring about so many concerns and sometimes huge challenges that I think many if not all of us have as learning/instructional designers!

Thank you so kindly for your time to comment! I hope everyone reads soon and comments! :slight_smile: @WJRyan + LX Community.

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Just came back from an in-person conference (still a bit of a surprise to me in terms of nerves I admit!) and I was surprised at how many presentations I was unable to view with my limited color viewing palette, dark text on dark screens, light text on light screens - UI 101 I thought so I support @MilwJoe point that “appearance as well as function is extremely important”!