Denis Grankin Head of Sales Department

Comparison of E-learning Software types [Comprehensive guide 2020]

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e-learning software types

The rise in the adoption of technology-enabled learning and training techniques is driving the e-learning market growth. Emerging technologies in the e-learning industry include AR & VR devices, AI-powered platforms, Big Data, machine learning, and wearable devices. These technologies allow businesses in any industry to share and deliver education-based content through digital channels using innovative and interactive learning methods. That means that academic institutions and businesses can achieve more benefits by utilizing e-learning software solutions. According to recent research, e-learning will reach a staggering total market value of 325 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.

As you see, the e-learning industry continues to expand, offering an ever-increasing number of e-learning software solutions to companies, government organizations, and individuals. What’s more, e-learning software solutions can help to close the education gap by developing a specific skill. In addition to that, the e-learning technologies market is fast-growing and full of innovative and sophisticated products. With so many options and acronyms such as LCMS, LMS, TMS, it can be difficult to work out exactly what you need and which products can deliver it. Having that in mind, we have provided a comparative analysis of e-learning software types that helps you choose the right solution for your needs and requirements.

What’s exactly e-learning software?

E-learning, or electronic learning software enables you to deliver training, learning or educational courses or programs using any digital device such as computers, tablets, or phones connected to the Internet. Whether you are attending an educational course or reading an interesting article online — all that can be done with e-learning software that is always available as long as you have your digital device with you, and thus, it’s more convenient.

Comprehensive analysis of e-learning software types

There are as many types of e-learning software available as there is a diversity of e-learning needs. Having conducted thorough research, we have found out a great number of e-learning software and divided it into four major types:

  • content creation software,
  • learning delivery and completion tracking software,
  • administration and management software,
  • reporting and analytics software,

Let’s take a closer look below:

Content creation software

Content creation software

This type of software enables businesses and governmental bodies to create or curate content for their learning initiatives. Moreover, content creation products can offer features that help in planning and managing learning activities by both internal and external parties involved in the content creation, or they can enable teams to curate content. Generally, content creation software includes authoring tools and learning content management systems (LCMS). Let’s delve into details below:

Authoring Tools

An authoring tool is a software that allows users to create and arrange content into a standardized course structure. Then this structure can be exported in several different multimedia types. Also, they can add interactive elements such as quizzes, video, or drag and drop tasks. With authoring tools not only can content creators seamlessly create content on the web, smartphones, and tablets, but also they can offer students of all ages the best possible learning experience. Authoring tools are the best fit for:

  • e-learning developers who work with multiple customers and need to create different types of learning content or need to deliver original customized items from scratch.
  • large e-learning departments with complex tasks (different types of courses, various mechanics, etc.);
  • small companies that don’t have dedicated specialists for developing and designing e-courses.
  • situations when you need to create a certain training format or using it as an additional tool to make the authoring process easier.

Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS)

This type of e-learning software used to create, manage, host and track digital learning content. It’s a great one-stop-shop solution if you need a system from creation to delivery. Learning content management systems are the best fit in the following situations:

  • you create your digital learning in-house and don’t want to pay for additional tools to create and deliver your e-learning solution;
  • you want efficient workflows to decrease the amount of time spent authoring e-learning;
  • you are interested in detailed analytics on how users interact with your modules and want to track it using xAPI rather than SCORM.

Important features of E-learning content creation software

Below we have identified some important features of e-learning content creation software you should know about:

  • Content creation: this feature allows you to quickly build content, add interactive elements, then preview and publish your content.
  • Templates for course creation: this feature helps you to quickly organize your ideas into the desired blocks and components and form a course content in a completely different way.
  • Learning objects repository (LOR): online library used to store, manage, and share your learning resources or learning objects - quizzes, presentations, images, videos, or any other documents or files that are essential for creating course content and learning materials.
  • Grading system/assessment: used to evaluate and measure each user's performance and learning.
  • Training tracking: utilized to make sure that everyone is on track, in compliance, and keeping up with all of their training.
  • Course management: allows you to manage all the content within the e-learning course.
  • Built-in motivation tools: used to grab user’s attention in the e-learning course and get your learners interested and motivated.

Top 5 content creation software

Below you can find the top 5 examples of e-learning content creation software that you should know about in today’s digital environment:

  • Elucidat: built to help businesses and freelancers in delivering responsive e-learning courses incredibly fast and easy for both beginners and tech-savvy experts.
  • Articulate Storyline: an e-learning-authoring program that provides an improved user interface and interactive learning elements and helps authors to create their own interactive content.
  • Captivate: allows you to create good quality systems demos and build sandpit-style screens for users’ practice. Complex interactions, mobile gestures and geo-location features can contribute to a high-quality experience and deliver personalized learning.
  • Gomo: a cloud-based authoring tool that allows you to create web-style content for your courses that can be hosted online via the web, or offline using the app that avoids a lot of the headaches coming with desktop-based tools.
  • iSpring Suite: a PowerPoint-based authoring toolkit that allows users to create slide-based courses, quizzes, dialog simulations, screencasts, video lectures, and other interactive learning materials that will be published in HTML5.

Learning delivery and completion tracking software

Learning delivery and completion tracking software

This type of software is used to deliver, track, and manage e-learning materials of the course or program through this software. Not only does it help to manage course activities and send reminders and notifications,but also the software allows users to access their assignments and grades from anywhere.

Learning Management System (LMS)

This software is designed to help an individual to develop, manage and provide online courses and programs to learn. Moreover, it allows students/instructors/mentors to learn and highlight their skills wherever and whenever they want. Also, it can be used as a standalone learning platform in a company to monitor, track, report on how employees perform learning activities. LMS is the best fit:

  • if you deliver a lot of traditional and offline learning;
  • if you provide blended learning paths that need to be tracked;
  • if you already have a separate authoring tool for your e-learning, or you outsource e-learning creation to agencies;
  • basic SCORM tracking;
  • you are interested in users’ profiles for access to their learning.

Online course platform

It is a type of learning management systems (LMS) that provides users with access to digital classes and includes a dedicated fully-responsive website experience, easy content uploads, the ability to edit the look and feel of the class, marketing features, course completion certificates, a sales funnel, etc.

E-learning portal

It’s a type of LMS software that provides a learner-centred approach and often organized around the current and future capability needs of the organisation. It’s also considered as a perfect place for curated content.

Learning Experience Platforms (LXP)

It’s a content delivery system designed to create more personalized learning experiences and help users discover new learning opportunities. By combining learning contents from different sources, recommending and delivering them with the support of Artificial Intelligence technology across the digital touchpoints, e.g. desktop application, mobile learning app and others. LXPs can be roughly divided into the following:

  • those that concentrate on personalized content delivery with AI-based recommendation engines;
  • those that focus on facilitating social learning and collaboration;
  • hybrid platforms that combine content delivery capabilities with social features.

Important features of learning delivery and completion tracking software

Below we have highlighted some important features of learning delivery and completion tracking software:

  • Discussion Forums: allows users (students/curators/instructors) to originate topics, communicate and collaborate in them by posting replies.
  • Student self-assessment: with that feature, users can evaluate their own work and learning progress that helps them to stay involved and motivated and encourages responsibility for their learning.
  • Chat: this feature provides users with users the ability to read and send messages directly from the e-learning platform.
  • Video conferencing: provides users with a visual connection between two or more people and allows them to talk face-to-face via a screen.
  • Student profiles: helps the teacher/instructor/mentor to understand their users (students) individually and to address their individual requirements to come up to the expectations of the e-learning course.
  • Grading system/assessment: provides the qualitative assessment of users’ performance in the subjects attended at the course.
  • Training tracking: allows you to make sure that each user is on track and keeps up with all of their learning and training materials.
  • Course management: helps to create and manage learning and training courses for their users.
  • Learning paths: a selection of courses tied together for users to progress through, mastering a particular subject or program. It allows you to enroll multiple users in multiple courses at once saving you valuable time.
  • Gamification: a set of game-design elements and game principles used to make content more interesting and get users more engaged in solving problems.
  • Certification Management: with that feature, you can provide a certificate of course completion that validates your expertise. Manage users, roles, instructors, facilities: allows you to manage users, roles, instructors, facilities within an e-learning environment.
  • Financial Integrations: provides a ready-made financial integration solutions with PayPal/Stripe that can be activated in minutes for quick and easy online payments.
  • Feedback Gathering: allows you to ask for feedback from students on the online course and help you to improve your courses.
  • Social media integrations: drives instant interaction between the users from social media channels and the e-learning environment.
  • System Integrations: enables connection to a much-varied set of ecosystems through which learning can be furthered.

Top 6 learning delivery and completion tracking software

Below you can find the top 6 examples of learning delivery and completion tracking software that you should know about in today’s fast-paced e-learning environment:

  • Docebo: helps you facilitate informal learning, automate learning management, and produce measurable learning results that meet companies’ goals and objectives.
  • Cornerstone: used to help companies strategically manage and continuously develop their talents throughout the entire employee lifecycle.
  • Administrate: allows you to organize your training resources, deliver exceptional training and automate training management.
  • TalentLMS: designed specifically to deliver continuing education for employees and helps to reinforce their career growth by simplifying how they facilitate online courses, training programs, etc.
  • Thinkific: built specifically for users with the aim of educating their customers, selling courses or simply growing your brand and engaging your audience.
  • Udemy: e-learning resource that includes up to 60 thousand paid and free courses in different fields that you can enroll and get certificate.

Administration & Management Software

Administration and Management E-learning Software

This type of software helps companies and organizations to manage an unlimited number of administrative processes in a more efficient way.

Student Management System (SMS)

This software helps to manage all the day-to-day operations of a training organization such as data, communications, and scheduling. Moreover, the system generates and uses a large amount of data that must be delivered and communicated to users in an appropriate way. It can be used for the following:

  • if you need to track time table, library, biometric attendance and manage admissions;
  • if you need to display time table for classes;
  • if you need to manage the students’ along with unlimited courses and the staff across departments;
  • if you need to deliver gradebooks.

Training Management System (TMS)

This software allows you to schedule, track and report client/student training, licensing, and certifications. This system is useful for businesses that provide in-house training, but also for those that need to automate a large number of tasks which an SMS might struggle with. In addition to that, it helps training organizations or businesses to streamline and optimize the back-office training processes for instructor-led-training. TMS can be used of you need:

  • to schedule courses and provide a self-service portal for registrants and a company portal for team managers;
  • handle administration burdens by sending registration confirmations, reminder emails and surveys;
  • monitor financials by capturing orders, accepting payments online and issue invoices;
  • create reports and business intelligence.

Important features of E-learning administration and management software

Below you can read about some important features of e-learning administration and management software:

  • Training tracking: allows you to keep each user up to date and prevent misunderstandings between supervisors/instructors and users.
  • Reporting: gives you a complete picture of each user’s progress, performance, and completion rates within the e-learning environment.
  • Course management: allows managing and tracking e-learning courses and content with a clear overview of the results.
  • Learning paths: provides a selection of courses tied together that allows users to follow to advance their skills.
  • Events scheduling: allows users to come with scheduling training events to make sure the users attend the right event.
  • Certification Management: designed to validate competency and skills that users need to rise to the next level in their organization or field.
  • Manage users, roles, instructors, facilities: allows you to choose the users, roles, instructors, facilities and add to the e-learning courses while managing them.
  • Financial Integrations: allows you to integrate third-party financial solutions if there is a need to organize the payment process.
  • Admission Management: allows you to automate and streamline the admission process for your e-learning software.
  • Attendance Management: helps you to organize the e-learning process and manage attendance by tracking and managing the time users spent on learning.
  • Examination Management: allows you to create and conduct various types of exams, including qualifying exams, mid-terms, periodic tests, etc.
  • Interaction with HR system/Staff Management: provides the interaction between users (employees) and HR Managers who can create schedules based on staff availability, assign them to activities and keep them updated in real-time.
  • System integrations: allows you to integrate existing software solutions and exchange data among them in real-time.

Top 6 Administration & Management Software

Below you can find the top 6 examples of e-learning administration and management software you should take into account:

  • Infinite Campus: provides you with a student information system (SIS) that boasts onboarding support, parent and student portal, delivers gradebooks and academic planners, and access to the platform's inbuilt LMS Campus Learning.
  • Blackbaud Student Information System: with that solution you can manage, connect and share information with students, parents and the whole community. moreover, this software meets the needs of a modern private school.
  • Hero: offers student oriented learning approach that delivered by a digital learning environment, enables individualized learning, provides extensive learning community support.
  • PowerSchool SIS: an innovative solution that allows users to view, manipulate, store, and retrieve data, tracks student records and progress, run reports, etc.
  • Arlo: a cloud-based training management system used to manage, market and deliver physical and online training. Not only does it provide streamlined event scheduling, online registrations, invoicing and receipting, but also it runs marketing activities and manages client records and relationships seamlessly.
  • SkyPrep: fully customizable and intuitive training software used to help organizations in delivering, tracking, and optimizing training to their staff, customers, and partners fast and easily. Moreover, everything is tracked in real-time, and your users are self-guided with the automated emails and reminder system.

Reporting and Analytics software

E-learning Reporting and Analytics software

This software type can be integrated into your existing platforms or systems to provide top-notch reporting and analytical capabilities for your software. Let’s find out more details below:

Learning Record System (LRS)

Learning record system used to store records about learning and brings data together from all your learning platforms, systems, applications, and content. Moreover, it enables you to aggregate data from existing business channels and measure, visualize and provide reports against hard business performance data. All LRS platforms must support certain core functionality required by the Experience API or xAPI.

With xAPI, you can get a more complete picture of the whole learning experience by evaluating user (learner/student) task performance. In addition to that, you can get valuable insight into the effectiveness of the performance improvement programs and tailor learning activities to the unique each user needs.

Learning Analytics Platform (LAP)

Thanks to these platforms, you can optimize the learning environments by focusing on how students learn and how teachers/advisors/instructors/mentors teach or curate. Moreover, it can identify student behaviors that can lead to assumptions which impact student success. At the same time, learning analytics can recognize the students at risk, based on student activity, demographics, and outcomes.

Typically, LAPs use xAPI to seamlessly capture learning activity data from any learning system or platform. A key component of any learning analytics platform is an LRS that implements xAPI protocols to capture and store data about any learning activity or event, including:

  • informal learning;
  • social learning;
  • mobile learning;
  • game-based learning;
  • simulation-based learning;
  • e-learning courses;
  • classroom sessions;
  • conference attendance.

Important features of E-learning reporting and analytics software

Below we have outlined some essential features of e-learning reporting and analytics software:

  • Training tracking: allows you to track learning-related activity across multiple tools and spaces of the e-learning environment.
  • Reporting: allows you to create visually appealing data visualizations and insightful dashboards based on gathered information.
  • Competency mapping/Skill gap analysis: helps to identify the exact skill requirements of each job position in your organization and use the competency map as a benchmark to identify workforce skills gaps.
  • Receiving, storing, and returning xAPI statements: allows you to receive, store and return data about learning to be used then for better reporting and personalizing a learning experience.
  • System integrations: provides integration solutions aiming to connect various systems, hardware and software from multiple vendors into one system.

Top 4 reporting and analytics software

Below we have provided 4 examples of e-learning reporting and analytics software you should take into account:

  • GrassBlade Cloud: a learning record store used to store learners’ data from xAPI learning activities such as content, quizzes, videos, games, simulations and present reports in a visual dashboard.
  • Watershed: a customizable learning analytics platform that enables organizations to collect and study learning experiences, measures training effectiveness, and identifies how your programs and resources, learners and groups are performing
  • Storepoints: designed on an xAPI-based learning record store (LRS), it allows corporate training and learning departments to explore all their learning and performance data in one place.
  • Clever Goals: helps instructors to identify each learner’s objectives such as activities to do, resources to utilize, etc. and keep a track of their personal engagement with the learning resources.

Comparative analysis of all e-learning software type

Below we have provided a table that helps you to understand what features are important, good to have, optional or not required for each type of e-learning software:

e-learning software types

Benefits of e-learning software for your business

It’s a fact that e-learning software brings substantial benefits to non-traditional online training and learning. While the most obvious benefits are the flexibility and the cost savings from not having to travel or spend time away from work, there are also other benefits that you should know about. Let’s delve into details below:

Benefits of e-learning software

  • Boosts performance and productivity: with e-learning software, users can participate in their online courses or training programs at any time — at home or at work that means the learning process doesn’t have to conflict with other important or time-sensitive job tasks.
  • Personalized learning process: allows each user to control the learning pace of the course or program based on his/her unique learning style.
  • Timely feedback: with an e-learning software that provides grading and evaluation automatically, you can get immediate feedback on how well you are performing learning tasks and other activities.
  • Easy access to information: e-learning software solutions provide hassle-free access to the learning materials users need.
  • Convenience and flexibility: e-learning opens up golden opportunities for users to participate in online courses and programs from anywhere with the Internet connection.
  • Improves retention: if successfully developed and implemented, e-learning software present plenty of opportunities for users such as fun and engaging training courses or programs through the use of videos, interactive slides, quizzes and even games that leads to better results and helps users retain more of the information learned.

How to choose e-learning software for your business?

With so many different e-learning software available, it can be difficult for someone new to the industry to determine which software will work best for them. Moreover, many companies make the mistake of crafting feature lists and then comparing the different e-learning software based on the features. That’s why we have provided a step-by-step plan that helps you to find out how to choose e-learning software that matches your business needs. Let’s dive into details below:

choose e-learning software

1. Determine the learning goals, objectives, and audience demographics for your software solution.

2. Create a complete list of requirements for the e-learning software solution.

3. Explore the e-learning software market and identify a list of solutions that meet your business needs and budget.

4. Create a “short-list” of 3-5 vendors and pay attention to how long they’ve been on the market.

5. Choose the e-learning software and prioritize the features according to your needs — for example, important, good to have, optional or not required; test it.

6. Select the one solution whose price and terms suit you best.

Moreover, you can find a reliable tech partner who can develop and implement a custom e-learning software solution based on your unique needs and requirements.

Bottom line: Is your company equipped with a robust e-learning solution?

In today’s digital environment, advancement and efficiency are extremely vital to businesses of all sizes. For companies that are going to incorporate a new training or learning program, the advantages of e-learning greatly outweigh face-to-face or classroom learning. That’s why they are turning to e-learning software solutions to save money, time, and resources. However, with the rise of different e-learning software, it is difficult to understand which one will work best for your company. If you’re making the move to e-learning and creating your own courses, we, at DDI Development, can help you to develop and implement sophisticated e-learning software solutions based on your unique learning and training needs and business requirements that will cater the modern workforce demand and retain valuable knowledge within your company.

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