Learning Has Changed. Has Your LMS Kept Up?

Four decades ago, employees slogged through printed training manuals accompanied by the occasional slide carousel show. Today, cutting-edge training is conducted via high-quality video content on mobile devices. We’ve come a long way from those dog-eared three-ring binders!

As training advanced, the learning management system (LMS) emerged in the 1990s as a tool to manage organizational learning programs. But now that training is accelerating into a more mobile, social, and connected experience, do you see your LMS as an innovative tool that simplifies training and makes it more engaging, or a clunky obstacle employees must overcome to find what they need?

Your learning platform should engage and inform. If your LMS can’t do that, you have a training problem. And it won’t be long before that becomes a business problem.


LMS Satisfaction: Lukewarm at Best

According to Brandon Hall Group’s 2015 Learning Technology Trends survey, 85% of companies surveyed use an LMS, but “LMS satisfaction” seems to be an oxymoron:

  • 38% of companies are actively looking to replace their LMS
  • 31% of companies said they would not at all recommend their solution to colleagues
  • 20% said they would not renew

That adds up to an astonishing 89% of companies seeking a new training platform.

The oft-heard complaints about your LMS: it’s too clunky, too expensive, employees hate it. And the clincher: “It’s too complicated! I can’t find what I need when I need it. Why can’t training be easy to access?”

Brandon Hall sums it up:

“A system that is difficult to navigate causes frustration and can even impact the completion and effectiveness of the learning it’s supposed to be delivering.”

Ranking dead last in Brandon Hall’s satisfaction survey was whether respondents thought their LMS has the ability to meet future needs. The score: a dismal 2.57 out of 5.

Organizations are unsure of their LMS’s ability to satisfy future training needs. Let’s gaze into our Training Crystal Ball to determine if your organization’s LMS can handle them.

What Modern Training Looks Like

In our modern world, learners consume high-quality content and videos daily. Bland training courses can cause an eye-rolling epidemic. To help knowledge stick, today’s learners need high-quality, modern training content that keeps them engaged.

So, what does modern training look like? Take a look at ATD’s Learning Trends for the Next 5 Years for a good starting point. Learning should be adaptive, social, delivered in short bursts, immersive, and include gamification to make it – dare we say – fun.

And here are the training trends our readers are watching in 2017, which compare favorably with ATD’s 5-year-outlook (we typically move a little faster than average).

This is where learning is going. Stop for a minute and think about these two questions:

  1. Does your training content stack up?
  2. Can your current LMS support these trends?

Should an LMS Handle More than Just Training?

Traditional LMSs only house training. Users log in, complete their training, and log out. Admins log in, analyze who’s completed their training, nag those who haven’t, and log out. Lather, rinse, repeat.

If that’s all your LMS accomplishes, it’s outdated and ineffective. Today’s learners expect – and deserve – more.

To step into the modern era of training, organizations need more than just a way to deliver training and track completion. They need:

All training materials in one place. A single platform to host all the content employees need to be effective in their roles ‒ training; job aids; product information, updates, promotions; etc. Put everything at their fingertips and make it easy to access.

Collaboration tools. Allow your learners to connect with one another to keep the learning going. Social learning doesn’t just make learning fun. ATD points out that social learning enables rock star employees who engage and inspire those around them to significantly widen their circle of influence – with no travel expenses.

Simplified communication. Training is not a one-sided conversation. Your learning platform should make it easy to communicate targeted, visual, and engaging updates to the frontline without sending yet another email.

Motivation and rewards. Modern employees, especially sales professionals, love a little friendly competition and being rewarded for performance. Use gamification to keep employees engaged throughout their learning journey.

Imagine what would happen if people were actually engaged in their training. Imagine if everything your employees needed related to their training and job performance was in one location. Imagine if all of the above tools existed in one platform. Imagine!

We Knew There Had to Be a Better Way

So that’s why we built Spoke. With Spoke, easy access to all of these tools in one simplified, compatible platform isn’t just a figment of our collective imaginations anymore. It’s real.

Folksinger and social activist Pete Seeger said it best:

“Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.”

Sure, Spoke was named a top LMS in eLearning 24/7’s annual Top 50 LMS report in 2015, 2016, and again in 2017. But companies using Spoke are the ones seeing real results.

“Improved performance for every employee…”

“It’s intuitive. Nothing is buried.”

“It makes my job a lot easier.”

Oh, not to mention it gets used up to 4X more than traditional learning management systems.

Let’s Connect

Is your organization ready to change as learning evolves to the next level? Can your learning platform keep up?

When you’re ready to discuss modern training and a high-performance platform that does more than just deliver that training, contact us or give us a call: (888) 723-9770.

Spoke® Updates: Spotlight Widget, Resource Page Redesign, & New Badges

Spoke® differentiates itself with a beautiful user interface (UI) other learning management systems can’t touch. With the latest Spoke release, the UI gets even better (wait ’til you see the Spotlight Widget!) and drives increased engagement. Plus, learners can earn new badges.

Spotlight Widget

If you’re on a platform like Facebook or Instagram, you’re used to a highly visual experience that constantly delivers new content. The Spoke Spotlight Widget drives learner excitement with a similar mindset–that people love imagery, and they appreciate highlights and reminders relevant to them.

Spotlight features event-based training such as webinars to break up the monotony of compliance-driven coursework. Spoke admins and sales leaders can also use it to focus attention on time-bound resources such pricing sheets for sale events and competitive specials.


The Spotlight Widget is fully configurable by Spoke admins. If the admin doesn’t populate the widget, it simply doesn’t appear. (But based on user testing, admins will love having this in their engagement arsenal!) Additionally, learners will only see the featured courses and resources that apply to them.

Resource Page Redesign

The Spoke Resources page is extremely popular with learners and admins–so popular that over time it became difficult to find the right resource amongst all the categories that had been added to the left-hand navigation.

We didn’t want our users to have to scroll so much! So, Resources categories (and subcategories) are now across the top, and just like courses, learners only see featured resources that apply to them.


But wait, there’s more. The Admin Portal now generates an auto-thumbnail for uploaded documents, making it easier for Spoke admins to deliver that highly visual experience learners love.

An enhanced Resources home page makes it easier to navigate large amounts of content, and a Resources widget appears on the user dashboard for easy access.


New Badges

The Spoke team is dedicated to making sure the learning experience always feels fresh and exciting for users. In an effort to up the engagement and reward performance, we’ve introduced a few new badges.

Leaners can now earn badges for completing courses, viewing resources or logging in for five consecutive days (here’s the Perfect Attendance badge).


Be Heard

We prioritize Spoke enhancements based on your user feedback. Do you have something you’d love to see? Tell us what’s on your wish list!

If you’re not currently using Spoke and want to learn more, we’d love to give you the grand tour.

Spoke® Updates: Course Ratings & Reviews & More

With the latest Spoke® release, learners get three new enhancements that give them a more personalized, effective, and interactive experience. Are you ready? Here they are!

Course Ratings & Reviews

The Course Ratings & Reviews feature allows learners to—you got it—rate a course after they’ve completed it. And, because we know learners are busy, we kept the user interface simple. Learners can give the course a star rating from 1 to 5, and then briefly say why they chose that rating.

Only course administrators can see course ratings and reviews, and they can (and should!) use the data to identify gaps and improve the learning experience on an ongoing basis.


Custom Certificate Image

Some of our Spoke admins wanted to go above and beyond and further personalize their training certificates. We said, “Sounds good!” so now Spoke offers a Custom Certificate Image option. This allows course administrators to replace the default certificate background image with a custom image.

For course admins who want to keep it simple, who say, “Default is just alright with me!”, the custom certificate image feature will only be enabled upon request. Don’t worry. We’ve got you.


“Follow A Person” Hover State

Spoke’s core principles are simple, social, and engaging—and our clients have shown us some amazing discussions happening in their Spoke communities. One of the best ways users can learn best practices being shared on Spoke is by following colleagues and leaders who share great ideas, resources, and feedback.

That said, we didn’t want the decision to follow a colleague to mean a series of disruptive new screens and clicks. Because, we all hate it when that happens, right? Instead, we wanted learners to be able to stay engaged in the Spoke discussion.

So, we introduced the “Follow a Person” Hover State, which allows learners to follow colleagues by simply hovering over a person’s name with their mouse or trackpad. Learners can choose to “follow” multiple people without ever leaving a community discussion or dashboard page. The hover state is available any time a learner’s avatar and user name is displayed.


Learners can always keep track of who they’re following via their account settings page.

Be Heard

We prioritize Spoke enhancements based on user feedback. Do you have something you’d love to see? Tell us what’s on your wish list!

If you’re not currently using Spoke and want to take a closer look, we’d love to give you the grand tour.

Spoke® Updates: Reporting API and More Simplicity

You asked. We delivered. The latest Spoke® release includes 6 new enhancements that all align with the core principles of the platform – simple, social, and engaging.

Here is the list of enhancements, and below you’ll find an overview of each one:

Reporting APIs

Many organizations use a mix of tools, either installed or SaaS, to run their business and manage their people. Knowing this, we wanted to make it easy to get training-related data out of Spoke and into other systems. The latest additions to our growing list of APIs allow you to get reports on Training Status by User and Course Status. Here’s an explanation and example for each.

Training Status by User – Get a report showing how each user is progressing on assigned training. For example, see how your newest sales rep is progressing through his onboarding training.

Course Status – Get a report showing learner completion by course. For example, measure how many of your sales reps have completed Overcoming Objections 101.

With these two new APIs, you now have the ability to use Spoke’s built-in, interactive report or pull the data into another system for analysis.

Link Resources to Courses

Training courses often cross-reference supporting materials such as operations manuals and company handbooks. To make it easier for users to find this additional content, you now have the option to link Resources to Courses.


When users launch a course from the Spoke Training page, they’ll see the course details, related community discussions, and a list of additional Resources to explore. These Resources can include things like PDFs, Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, PPT), audio and video files, external links, etc. This enhancement makes it easy for users to find everything related to a course in one place. #keepitsimple

Resources Search

We organize Resources in Spoke by category. And even though users only see Resource categories that are relevant to them, we heard that users wanted the ability to quickly search and find the content they needed.

So, meet the new Resources search bar.


Now, if you know what Resource you’re looking for, you can get it in seconds. Well, that was easy.

Following Tab

The Spoke Community exists to allow users to connect with, learn from, and share best practices with one another. It’s technology-enabled social learning at its finest. A few releases ago, we made it possible for users to follow one another. In this release, users can now see the list of people they’re following, as well as the people who are following them.


user experience enhancements

It’s always been important to us that the Spoke user experience be ridiculously pain-free for both users and admins.

If your teams access their training from a mobile device on the go, you’re not alone. To keep Spoke simple from any device, we’ve enhanced the mobile experience when launching a training course.

We’ve also polished our step-by-step admin wizard to make it even easier to manage your Spoke environment.

If you’d like to see these, or any of the enhancements from this release, give us a shout to schedule a demo.

Be Heard

By now you should be sensing the theme that we prioritize enhancements based on user feedback. Do you have something you’d love to see in Spoke? Speak up!

If you’re not currently using Spoke and want to take a closer look, give us a shout.

Spoke Updates: Course Deadlines & Compliance Testing

Getting people up to speed quickly is always one of the goals of a good training program. If you’ve ever managed a team, you’re probably thinking, #truth!

The Spoke team wants to make it as easy as possible to manage course deadlines and compliance settings. So, we’ve released two feature enhancements. We hope you love ‘em!

Setting Course Deadlines

Okay, this is as simple as it sounds. You can set course deadlines:

  • based on a specific date
  • based on a timespan

Let’s go over each one.

Specific date: Let’s say the go-live date for a new point of sale system is July 13. As part of the transition plan, you want to make sure all of your managers and frontline reps complete the training by July 11. Learners will easily see callouts letting them know if a deadline is approaching or overdue.

Timespan: Your company invested in a great manager training program this year—kudos! Now, any time an employee receives a promotion to manager, he or she has three months to complete Leadership 101. This is the perfect scenario to set course deadlines based on a timespan.

And don’t worry, your learners will receive email notifications letting them know a course deadline is approaching. Not bad, huh?

Setting Compliance

Continuing with the simplicity theme, you now get to choose how long a learner remains compliant after completing required training – either forever, or a custom time span of years, weeks, or days.

For example, say your employees are required to complete an annual course on information security. The compliance settings in Spoke allow you to create that recurring reminder to employees to retake the course and renew their certification.

In the screenshot below, you’ll see how course deadlines (courses marked Due Soon and Overdue) and compliance reminders (courses marked Expired and Retake Soon) appear to learners in a course pack.

Deadlines and Compliance Settings in Spoke

Speak Up

As always, we love getting user feedback and want to hear from you. If you’re a current Spoke user or admin, drop us a line or leave a comment below.

If you’re not using Spoke yet and want to see it in action, contact our Spokes-people to set up a demo.

Spoke® Updates: User API and Okta Integration

In today’s world of technology, integration can be a beautiful thing. And with the latest Spoke release, we’ve delivered just that – more integration options. With an enhanced user API and Okta integration, it’s now easier than ever to manage your learners in Spoke and save them from having to remember yet another username and password.

User API

Spoke now provides a REST—yep, that stands for Representative State Transfer—API for registered applications to create, read, update and delete users in Spoke. The REST API is super-helpful for organizations that already manage their personnel in a separate system other than Spoke, like an HRIS. Instead of managing users in two different systems (a recipe for redundancy and errors!) admins can now manage Spoke users from just one system.

Of course, admins still have the option to add, update, and delete users either one at a time, or via the bulk uploader.

API Documentation

In addition to our user API functionality, we’ve outlined all the documentation details here. That includes a fully-featured API explorer your IT department can experiment with before integrating.

Okta Integration

If your company uses Okta to manage different software apps, you can now use Okta as your Single-Sign-on provider. Once configured, users will see a Spoke icon on their Okta dashboard, which they can click to access Spoke. Or if they go to Spoke directly, they will see an Okta sign-in screen instead of the Spoke login screen. This can all be set up in just a few steps that don’t require an engineer.

Spoke is also listed in the “OAN” — Okta Application Network. This is a list of ready-to-go apps that can be used in Okta. Admins simply go their Application section, find Spoke in the list, and say they want to use it.

Speak Up

We love getting user feedback and want to hear from you. If you’re a current Spoke user, drop us a line or leave a comment below.

If you’re not using Spoke yet and want to see it in action, contact our Spokespeople to set up a demo.