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Online Course Platforms


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Litmos logo
 
Litmos by CallidusCloud is an online learning management solution that helps HR professionals apply a consistent and measurable learning path to their workforce. The solution is cloud-based and allows employees to access courses and... Read More
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Litmos by CallidusCloud is an online learning management solution that helps HR professionals apply a consistent and measurable learning path to their workforce. The solution is cloud-based and allows employees to access courses and... Read More
 
PiiQ by Cornerstone logo
 
PiiQ by Cornerstone, formerly Cornerstone Growth Edition, is a cloud-based employee performance and learning management system that helps businesses to streamline their employee performance review process and prioritize learning for... Read More
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PiiQ by Cornerstone, formerly Cornerstone Growth Edition, is a cloud-based employee performance and learning management system that helps businesses to streamline their employee performance review process and prioritize learning for... Read More
 
Saba logo
 
Saba provides companies across the globe with a cloud-based learning and talent management application designed to drive employee engagement, elevate skills and improve business productivity. Saba provides traditional talent management... Read More
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Saba provides companies across the globe with a cloud-based learning and talent management application designed to drive employee engagement, elevate skills and improve business productivity. Saba provides traditional talent management... Read More
 
Bridge logo
 
Bridge is a web-based Learning Management Solution and Employee Engagement Platform that can meet the needs of companies in any vertical. It grants learners and course creators accessibility to content from mobile devices through... Read More
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Bridge is a web-based Learning Management Solution and Employee Engagement Platform that can meet the needs of companies in any vertical. It grants learners and course creators accessibility to content from mobile devices through... Read More
 
Docebo LMS logo
 
Docebo has provided LMS software to power training programs for employees, partners, and customers since 2005.  Docebo serves over 1100 companies worldwide in various industries including software, technology, retail, consulting,... Read More
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Docebo has provided LMS software to power training programs for employees, partners, and customers since 2005.  Docebo serves over 1100 companies worldwide in various industries including software, technology, retail, consulting,... Read More

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Prosperity LMS logo
 
Ziiva's suite of Prosperity software systems is designed to help businesses exceed their employee training goals. Since 1998, Ziiva has worked with companies both large and small to achieve exceptional learning management. Prosperity... Read More
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Ziiva's suite of Prosperity software systems is designed to help businesses exceed their employee training goals. Since 1998, Ziiva has worked with companies both large and small to achieve exceptional learning management. Prosperity... Read More
 
Thought Industries logo
 
Thought Industries offers a cloud-based Learning Business Platform designed to suit the needs of varying business sizes across multiple industries. All of the frontend learning experiences are customizable to be adapted for businesses... Read More
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Thought Industries offers a cloud-based Learning Business Platform designed to suit the needs of varying business sizes across multiple industries. All of the frontend learning experiences are customizable to be adapted for businesses... Read More
 
SkyPrep logo
 
SkyPrep is a Web-based learning management system that offers training administrators a platform for creating, managing and selling training courses. Through features like custom branding, automated learner enrollment and flexible... Read More
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SkyPrep is a Web-based learning management system that offers training administrators a platform for creating, managing and selling training courses. Through features like custom branding, automated learner enrollment and flexible... Read More
 
eSSential LMS logo
 
eSSential LMS is a learning management system designed for large and midsize businesses. The system can be deployed on-premise and through a cloud-based software-as-a-service platform. Both deployment methods include access to eSSential... Read More
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eSSential LMS is a learning management system designed for large and midsize businesses. The system can be deployed on-premise and through a cloud-based software-as-a-service platform. Both deployment methods include access to eSSential... Read More
 
Elan by Brainier logo
 
Elan, by Brainier, is a learning management system developed for companies of all sizes. Businesses in hospitality, insurance, banking, consulting, training, property management, real estate, telecommunications and various other industries... Read More
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Elan, by Brainier, is a learning management system developed for companies of all sizes. Businesses in hospitality, insurance, banking, consulting, training, property management, real estate, telecommunications and various other industries... Read More

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ComplianceWire logo
 
ComplianceWire is an integrated, cloud-based Learning Management System (LMS) that currently serves over 400 companies worldwide. The software was designed as a workforce training solution that meets both the compliance and performance... Read More
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ComplianceWire is an integrated, cloud-based Learning Management System (LMS) that currently serves over 400 companies worldwide. The software was designed as a workforce training solution that meets both the compliance and performance... Read More
 
SyberWorks Training Center logo
 
Syberworks is a complete Learning Management System that provides an intuitive and feature-rich solution for small to mid-size businesses, especially those involved in medical products, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals. With Syberworks,... Read More
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Syberworks is a complete Learning Management System that provides an intuitive and feature-rich solution for small to mid-size businesses, especially those involved in medical products, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals. With Syberworks,... Read More
 
BlueVolt logo
 
BlueVolt is a cloud-based learning management solution that’s designed for channel-driven businesses like manufacturing and distribution in the electrical, plumbing, HVAC and construction industries. Companies are able deliver,... Read More
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BlueVolt is a cloud-based learning management solution that’s designed for channel-driven businesses like manufacturing and distribution in the electrical, plumbing, HVAC and construction industries. Companies are able deliver,... Read More
 
Wisetail LMS logo
 
Wisetail LMS is a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) that helps users prepare training materials, course content and demo videos for employees and other students. The solution provides a built-in course-authoring tool for... Read More
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Wisetail LMS is a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) that helps users prepare training materials, course content and demo videos for employees and other students. The solution provides a built-in course-authoring tool for... Read More
 
eFrontPro logo
 
eFrontPro is a strong Learning and Talent Development Platform that helps you supercharge your training and make your talent thrive! Along with certification management, content authoring functionality and social learning capabilities,... Read More
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eFrontPro is a strong Learning and Talent Development Platform that helps you supercharge your training and make your talent thrive! Along with certification management, content authoring functionality and social learning capabilities,... Read More

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Torch LMS logo
 
Torch LMS is a cloud-based, best-of-breed learning management system (LMS). It's best suited for businesses and nonprofit organizations with over 500 employees that are looking to manage, track and deliver training to employees or... Read More
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Torch LMS is a cloud-based, best-of-breed learning management system (LMS). It's best suited for businesses and nonprofit organizations with over 500 employees that are looking to manage, track and deliver training to employees or... Read More
 
LearningZen logo
 
LearningZen is a cloud-based online training system for businesses in any industry. Admin users can track employee progress, pending courses and certifications, system usage and exceptions. Employees can register for classes, send... Read More
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LearningZen is a cloud-based online training system for businesses in any industry. Admin users can track employee progress, pending courses and certifications, system usage and exceptions. Employees can register for classes, send... Read More
 
Asentia logo
 
Asentia is a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) that is designed specifically with the needs of a modern blended learning program in mind. Midsize businesses and large enterprises that need to balance e-learning with traditional... Read More
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Asentia is a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) that is designed specifically with the needs of a modern blended learning program in mind. Midsize businesses and large enterprises that need to balance e-learning with traditional... Read More
 
UpAbility logo
 
UpAbility is a learning management system (LMS) specializing in live-event streaming and recording. Other key features include content management and member engagement, as well as e-commerce. The solution is best suited for associations... Read More
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UpAbility is a learning management system (LMS) specializing in live-event streaming and recording. Other key features include content management and member engagement, as well as e-commerce. The solution is best suited for associations... Read More
 
LatitudeLearning logo
 
LatitudeLearning is a cloud-based learning management system (LMS). It is suitable for businesses of all sizes, across a variety of industries. LatitudeLearning includes modules for message editing, competency management, assessment... Read More
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LatitudeLearning is a cloud-based learning management system (LMS). It is suitable for businesses of all sizes, across a variety of industries. LatitudeLearning includes modules for message editing, competency management, assessment... Read More

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Buyer's Guide

by Brian Westfall,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: November 9, 2017


Let's be honest—a lot of us hated going to class when we were young. But now that we're out of the traditional school system, we recognize just how much we still have to learn. We may want to develop our career skills, take up a hobby or even delve deep into a scientific topic we've become interested in thanks to a late-night Wikipedia binge.

While it might be nice to take time off from work and go back to college or graduate school for a first or second degree, this isn't always feasible, and it's certainly not easy financially speaking. That's where online course platforms come in.

Like other learning management systems (LMSs), online course platforms facilitate learning, teaching and training programs for large groups of people. They automate the administration, testing, tracking and reporting of student progress through online courses.

LMS software is commonly used by educational institutions for academic purposes, and by businesses for training and compliance purposes. But, online course platforms can serve larger audiences, and they are frequently open to anybody who is interested in taking the course.

This buyer's guide will discuss the unique properties of online course platforms and explain how they may best be utilized by you and your business.

Here's our syllabus:

What Are Online Course Platforms?
Common Features of Online Course Platforms
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Key Considerations

What Are Online Course Platforms?

Online course platforms are a specific form of LMSs that provide access to massive open online courses, commonly known as "MOOCs." A variety of institutions, from universities to foundations to even the Smithsonian, provide MOOCs through online course platforms. They provide courses in science, engineering, mathematics, writing, business, project management and so on.

These courses are similar to traditional classes in many ways—a teacher provides a syllabus, complete with readings and assignments, posts weekly material for discussion (which may include a live-feed of a lecture, a pre-recorded lecture and/or a discussion board) and makes sure that assignments receive some form of grading or feedback, whether that grade is assigned by a person or a computer algorithm.

Some of these courses offer specific types of certification upon satisfactory completion of materials, while others will open up access to more advanced courses. Many of these classes are provided for free, while others charge a fee. This fee may be charged per class, as a monthly subscription with access to all the classes on a particular platform or as a specific charge in order to receive certification for a class.

Common Features of Online Course Platforms

Learning management The core function of course platforms, manages creating, storing, organizing and administering learning materials.
Certification/compliance management Tracks student progress in order to manage and monitor certification and compliance training and provide certification upon completion of the course.
Virtual classrooms Facilitates live, remote training sessions, typically led via video.
Proficiency reporting/testing Administers tests to gauge users' learning of the course material. Allows for reporting of test scores to identify proficiencies or gaps in learning.
Discussion board Provides a space for students and teachers to interact, whether via text or through the uploading and sharing of video or audio responses.
Dynamic calendar Allows teachers to release materials at specified times during the life of a course, as well as track the submission of assignments by students.

An example of a course calendar in online learning platform Canvas

An example of a course calendar in Canvas

What Type of Buyer Are You?

A wide variety of different types of people and organizations may find online course platforms useful. As a software buyer, you're likely to fall into one of the following categories:

  • Individual. If you are an expert in a particular subject that you wish to teach, you may want to create and self-publish your own online course(s). If this is the case, rather than purchasing software yourself, you should find an online course platform that will allow you to host a class. You may have to pay a fee for this, which you can recoup by charging tuition. The platform may also offer a per-student tuition profit-sharing plan.
  •   
  • Educational institution. Colleges, universities and even high schools are going to be the primary users of online course platforms, since they are institutions that are naturally structured around the provision of educational courses. Online course platforms are especially useful for schools providing distance learning, whether it's for a particular program or for every course offered, in the case of online universities. Systems that mimic tried-and-true educational methods through online recreation of classes, assignments and teacher/student interaction will likely prove the most effective for these institutions.
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  • Nonprofit organization. Charities, foundations, hospitals, religious organizations and other nonprofits may also have a need for online courses. Some nonprofits, such as the United Way, offer classes on topics such as financial management, parenting and other life skills.
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  • For-profit business. Larger businesses may use online course platforms for purposes of employee training, but general LMS software is usually more suited for this task. Online course platforms may be more useful for ongoing career development programs that are structured more like a traditional class.

Key Considerations

Other factors to take into consideration when picking the best online course platform for you or your organization may include:

  • Integration with other systems. If you are going to be hosting classes that pulls a great deal of information from elsewhere—perhaps from a digital media library, or from a business' policy documents—you'll want to be sure that the platform you choose is able to integrate with those other systems. A poor technical experience for students will reflect poorly on you, so you want to make sure they can smoothly access all course materials and can upload their assignments in a variety of different acceptable formats.
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  • Cloud-based software vs. on-premise software. When researching and consulting with potential vendors, make sure you check how their software is hosted. On-premise software will, as the name suggests, be hosted on the premises of your business. This will require space for the hardware as well as an IT department (or consultant) to help you get the software set up and running, as well as to maintain it over time. It is more common today, however, to find cloud-based software, which is hosted by the vendor and delivered to your business online. This will cost less up front and require fewer IT resources, making it a favorable option for most smaller businesses. For online course platforms, it is extremely rare that you will have any need to host your own hardware, since the entire industry is structured around cloud-based access.
 

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