Reflections on trying to map the l(earning)ms landscape

A couple of webinars, that I have attended recently, have included some commentary on approaches to tackling learning technology, including via quadrant based approaches to analyzing the Learning Management System marketplace:

1. – Ten Secrets For Selecting the Right Technology

2.     Understanding the European Learning Technologies market with the Elearnity 9-Grid™

I think mapping/quadrant approaches are a useful one for the debate and, as Elearnity pointed out, helps direct procurement decisions rather than directly making any.  Of course, as always, context is the key piece which such generic guides cannot cover.  Whilst this guide is more UK/EMA friendly than the often US-dominated landscape there still lacks a certain amount of objectivity here.  For example, an LMS to launch bits of learning is very different to one which houses full curricula and the associated social tools.  However, it’s perfectly justifiable for an organization to want different things depending on what else they have in place to support users in terms of HR systems, portals, etc. etc.  It is also difficult to fully support the idea that big corporate vendors necessarily hold potential/performance than open source solutions.  For example Moodle’s extensive plugin library means you can add in support, for example, for Tin Can or you can choose not to.  Here context comes in again, in that a corporate customer may prefer a corporate relationship whereas many Higher Education LMS users prefer an Open Source mentality.

So how might you bracket Learning Management Systems?  Well, here’s a very basic mockup of an alternative from me with ‘Potential’ (which would partly be based on track record but also future gazing where, for example, there is a big VC financial backing) vs. a ‘Course > Collaboration’ judgment on the basis of a system’s cope from launching SCORM and resources as opposed to something which could actually act as your social enterprise hub.  I would argue this offers a different paradigm to ‘performance’ which would help identify what type of system you are looking at.

Quadrant approach to LMS options, performance vs collaboration tools

Acting as such a hub might not be that ‘bleeding edge’ for many orgs but I still like to think that most people would, ideally, be looking to push the barriers of what’s possible so that’s a reasonable title to assign to it.  It might just be that their ‘bleeding edge’ learning tech is scaled back by what is already in place internally as appropriate.

I might revisit this if I go through an RFP or other process at some point…

Author: iangardnergb

My name is Ian Gardner and I am interested in various topics that can be seen as related to learning, technology and information. To see what I am reading elsewhere, follow me on The Old Reader ( and/or Twitter (@iangardnergb).

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