Purchasing an online learning platform? This is what you should keep in mind
Online and blended learning becomes more and more established in organisation-land. We mainly see this in companies and organisations that chose to make the transition from a periodic development system to a learning culture in which you’re continuously learning. A big advantage is that knowledge development, cooperation and innovation are always ‘turned on’ and not only a few weeks per year in order to obtain a ‘certificate’. To manage this online and continuous learning an online learning platform or online academy is indispensable. There are plenty, but how do you know which platform suits your organisation?
Make didactic and technical choices beforehand
It’s advisable to focus on what your organisation wants to achieve with an online platform during your search. Put differently, which design learning outcome do you have in mind and in which manner do you want to create content? Technics is also important. Perhaps not the most fun part to think about, but it has to be done. Experience learns that making a good pre-selection saves changing between providers later on.
What should you keep in mind? The following 13 contradictions help you to make didactic and technical choices. Put a (imaginary) dash on the line (or give it a number) to get an image of your wish list. Afterwards you can start comparing.
Learning individually or together
Do you want users to learn from each other or do you think it’s important they learn independent and autonomous?
Selective learning or adaptive learning
Must the content be set beforehand and do all users learn on the same level, or do you want the learning to be adaptive and thus constantly adjusted to the level of a specific user?
Guidance or ownership
Do you find it important that the user has much responsibility for performing tasks and submitting things on time, or is more guidance needed and may the user be completely spoiled by for example automatic notifications ‘you haven’t done x’ or by extrinsic motivations by means of obtaining badges and points on the platform.
Summative or formative
Do you mainly want to test summative, so performance orientated and bound to a norm? Or should the tests mainly be supportive to the learning process and thus formative?
Open source or protected content
May the content be (partly) visible for everyone? And do you want users to be able to see each other’s contribution? Or are you bound to privacy rules and are many files confidential?
Unique content or re-using content
Do you want to be able to re-use content quick and easy or is every (learning)situation unique and do you discern thus from the standardised content?
Scalable or personal attention
Do you want to be able to expand quickly to more users on your platform, have many cases automatised and thus give the control to the system? Or do you rather keep control, give personal attention to your users in the platform and keep updated on their personal development?
Basic settings or advanced settings
Do you find it important that you can adjust everything of all created content? Think of font, house-style, discussion possibilities, uploading documents, amount of supervisors, lay-out of groups, sharing current affairs etc. Or do all these extra settings make it unnecessarily difficult, and is it more about it functioning?
Equality or hierarchy in roles
Do you want everyone who creates content on the platform to be able to do the same and having access to all settings in the platform, or are there different roles and rights and do you want to set a hierarchy?
Technician or non tech-savvy mom
How much technical knowledge do you have? Are you a quick and intuitive learner of new programmes and aren’t you afraid of a bit of coding, or are you already happy when you’ve been able to put your text in the right font?
Everything intern or combined with extern
Do you already use many external tools and do you want to integrate them into your platform? Please check whether integrations are possible. This differs per platform. Most offer various ways for knowledge take in and testing, and work with integrations for video such as Youtube/Vimeo. You perhaps want to use webinar tools, SCORM or other LMS systems as well.
Smart data (AI) or Quantified Self
Smart data gives the user (and you as an admin) not only insight in various data, but it also suggest subsequent steps. Very convenient, but opponents think one can take this too far. They warn that you must keep thinking for yourself and they find that users should be able to interpret their results and the consequences for their development themselves.
DIY or full support
How much do you value good support? Different kinds of supports are possible. From searching everything yourself in a databank with articles to chat or telephonic consults with permanent support employees. Of course, you’ll pay for your choice.
5 learning platforms pointed out
Taking these contradictions in mind, why do the following 5 learning platforms stand out?
- Our own design room reminds many people of the publication tool in LinkedIn. It’s very clear and certainly tech-savvy proof, according to our customers. We grow fast and often have new releases in which we present new possibilities and features. We find continuous learning important and our learning activities in our learning platform are focused on this. By means of learning playlists you can easily create a learning path. You can find information and tips on all features in our elaborate Knowledge Base.
- Would you prefer to adjust everything and aren’t you afraid to learn some more on the technical side, then ANewSpring is an option. The platform has a vertical learning journey and makes it easy to scale-up. If you can’t figure it out technically, they have an elaborate and professional support that takes your ideas and wishes seriously.
- Moodle exist for over a while now and has the most design- and learning possibilities of all platforms discussed here. Moodle is then again the most complex one of the list. You can easily copy course parts or save a template in the other platforms, but in Moodle you can only set this at the backend or you must let support do it. At the same time Moodle works with various plugins, which makes you dependent of various separate providers and their updates.
- Its Learning is a platform that stands out in the course plans and learning activities that you can create and they mostly focus on educational institutions. Its Learning has everything integrated, so you don’t need extra plugins. The system often has maintenance updates so it does happen sometimes that bugs aren’t easily solved. You can as a user participate in thinking about future releases of the platform.
Of course there are many more platforms to add to this list. After a first selection were certainly a few platforms will drop out, you can request a demo or test account from the ones remaining. This often gives a rather complete image of what’s possible. Of course we do this as well. You can choose between a test account or a demo. We wish you much luck and wisdom in your choice!