Training Industry Names Spoke® to Its 2017 LMS Watch List


We’re proud to announce Training Industry has named Unboxed’s Spoke® to its 2017 Learning Portal Companies Watch List. Training Industry continuously monitors the training marketplace for the best providers and services, and we’re honored to be considered one of the best.

According to Training Industry, the 2017 Learning Portal Companies Watch List is intended to help buyers of training services evaluate learning portal providers, representing emerging or unique strengths or capabilities.

Spoke has also received numerous awards and recognition over the past few years for its modern, intuitive user interface and social, blended learning capabilities. They include:

  • 2017 Top 50 LMS, The Craig Weiss Group
  • 2016 Top 50 LMS, eLearning 24/7
    • #2, Gamification
    • #3, Social Learning
  • 2015 Top 50 LMS, eLearning 24/7
    • #5, Social Learning
    • #8, Next-Gen LMS

Recently, Spoke was also part of the blended learning strategy that won Spoke client Ultraceuticals a 2017 Platinum LearnX Award.

Spoke Account Manager Kiersten Hoffman said:

It’s so exciting to see Spoke recognized. Our learning strategists, software engineers, and UI/UX designers work so hard to push the envelope and innovate continuously. It’s nice to see that hard work pay off!

“The companies selected for this year’s 2017 Learning Portal/LMS Companies Watch List are up-and-coming organizations making great strides in support of learning technologies,” said Lea Johnson, market research manager at Training Industry, Inc. “Through their work, organizations are able to create customized portals and learning systems for their employees to drive engagement and information retention.”

We want to thank our clients, who provide user feedback that helps us continually improve our Spoke platform; and our hardworking Unboxed team members, who continue to raise the bar.


About Training Industry, INC.

Training Industry serves as an expert resource for learning professionals seeking information about best practices and innovative approaches and create an environment for trust and information sharing among learning professionals, including those in the learning and development function, and experts from companies serving the training industry.

About SPOKE®


Spoke is the modern social learning management system that connects training, communication, collaboration, and gamification to help you train, engage, and reward your teams. To learn more, visit our Spoke LMS page or request a demo.

Empower Social and Collaborative Learning With Spoke Community

If you’ve ever used social media to ask for advice, you know how powerful it is to get just-in-time feedback that helps you accomplish your goal. Whether you’re trying to find a great plumber or get restaurant recommendations, social, collaborative learning gets the job done.

In your professional career, it’s no different. You and your employees often rely on ad hoc, informal best practice sharing to excel in your work and delight your customers. That’s why ever since the earliest Spoke® designs, we wanted to create a safe place for learners to share and collaborate. Over the years, we’ve seen tens of thousands Spoke Community posts—each one a reflection of the power of collaborative learning.

Even still, we wanted to make Spoke’s Community even better. Watch this quick video to see how the redesigned UI inspires users to share what they know:

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of social learning.

Embrace collaborative learning, get A Return on Investment

Although some find the benefits of social learning to be self-evident, available research on the topic should interest even the most committed skeptics.

Here’s why: studies indicate social learning encourages employees to have a collaborative mindset, and social learning technology makes it easy for them to help each other. Over time, this leads to greater organizational success and delivers a return on investment.

The Association for Talent Development report Building a Culture of Learning says top companies are almost five times more likely than lower performers to have extensive learning cultures: “In high-performance organizations, employees share knowledge with their colleagues at a rate four times greater than that of workers in lower-performing firms.”

In a Bersin & Associates research bulletin, The Changing Social Learning Landscape: Why You Need a Social LMS, Karen O’Leonard writes, “Today’s workers still need formal training that is built around specific problems and talent needs; however, they also need a complete learning environment that provides support, as well as the ability to collaborate, network and share information to solve problems.”

“At the leading edge of this technology are social learning management system (LMS) solutions that not only embed social learning into the workflow, but also blend different types of social learning such that people are learning from peers and experts in more organic ways than we have seen in the past,” O’Leonard explains.

According to ATD, the type of collaboration made possible by social LMS solutions develops a company’s culture of learning and yields impressive financial benefits. When Rite-Solutions used its social platform to solicit product development ideas, it developed 15 new products that represent 20% of their total revenue.

That’s why the Spoke Community user interface (UI) inspires users to share knowledge, thought leadership, and encouragement in an engaging, respectful way.

collaborative learning with Spoke, by Unboxed Technology


Learners, admins, and managers can also share resources and job aids in formats such as Excel and PDF.

Share resources and collaborative learning

Drive continuous learning, promote recognition

To foster a culture of learning, companies must look for ways to drive continuous learning through a variety of formal and informal channels.

Spoke’s Community enables fast feedback and just-in-time training. Plus, the Spoke Community appeals to learners’ curiosity. They want to log in and see what’s new. Why? Spoke’s Community algorithm automatically curates trending content and critical conversations relevant to learners based on their team and permissions. Trending conversations move to the top of the feed so they’re easy to access.

Learners can also filter their feed a few different ways, such as by “My Activity,” “Posts I Follow,” and “People I Follow.” Or, they can go directly to a topic they’re interested in.

enable collaborative learning with Spoke from Unboxed Technology


They can also earn Spoke Coins for joining the conversation, completing training, and sharing best practices. Then, they can redeem their coins for tangible Spoke Rewards like company apparel, swag, or even paid time off.

According to ATD’s Building a Culture of Learning report, high-performing companies fuel their learning cultures by:

  • rewarding workers for learning
  • providing tools and resources for creating and sharing learning content
  • making knowledge sharing a performance expectation at all organizational levels

With Spoke Community’s social and collaborative learning and next-level gamification capabilities, companies can easily embrace these best practices.

Simplify administration and moderation

While the advantages of a social LMS outweigh the potential downsides, enabling Spoke’s Community is still optional. Your organization can turn the Community on, or keep it off. Excited about the benefits of social learning, but want to make sure there are safeguards in place? Here are some things you should know.

  1. If you’re an admin or moderator, it’s easy to restrict the ability to comment on a specific Topic or discussion if necessary:
    Don't be afraid of collaborative learning. Spoke let's you enable or disable commenting.
  2. How-to videos, shared in the Community, are a great way to demonstrate behaviors and techniques that drive favorable results. Albert Bandura, the social psychologist who coined the phrase “social learning,” observed that when we watch someone doing something, and then try it ourselves, we’re fairly successful. When admins, leaders, and peers can post how-to videos easily, companies can solve problems faster and be more productive.
  3. Spoke admins can curate Community Topic feeds and Featured Posts. If your company is launching a contest, wants to promote a training course, or needs to drive awareness about an initiative, Spoke admins can easily designate Community Topics and Featured Posts. Community Topics appear in a learner’s left navigation, and Featured Posts appear at the top of a learner’s feed.
Put collaborative learning topics front and center in Spoke using Featured Topics.

With the redesigned UI, it’s easier than ever to administer and moderate the Spoke Community for teams of learners.

Show me more

Want to see collaborative learning in action through the redesigned Spoke Community? Contact us. We’d love to show you Spoke can help you train, engage, and reward your teams.

Spoke® Updates: Enhanced Communication Tools

We believe to truly create a culture of learning in your organization, you must train well and communicate well. So, the latest version of Spoke includes enhancements that bridge the gap between training and communication, creating a one-stop-shop for everything employees need to do their job.

Here’s a quick video that highlights the new enhancements.

Want all the juicy details? Keep reading.

Redesigned News

With a completely redesigned News experience for both admins and learners, it’s easier than ever to quickly create and publish targeted, visual news posts to announce new training, share important company updates, and keep teams in the know. Think of it as a well-targeted company blog.

Admins can now:

  • create highly-visual News posts using images, videos, and rich text
  • organize posts using custom categories and tags
  • target posts to specific teams so learners only see content that’s relevant to them
  • prioritize the most important posts using the Spotlight widget on the learner Dashboard, or by marking posts as “Featured” on the News homepage

Learners can now:

  • see the most important updates first in the Spotlight widget on their dashboard and in the new ‘Featured’ section on the News homepage
  • experience highly-visual content on the new News Post page, just like they would with their favorite website or blog
  • mark posts as “Helpful”
  • filter and sort posts based on date, categories, tags, and “Most Helpful”

Here’s a screenshot of the enhanced Spoke News homepage.


Email Newsletters & Notifications

This release also brings two new email capabilities that increase training engagement by allowing admins to send compelling, action-oriented emails that encourage your team to return to Spoke to continue training and stay up to date.

Admins can configure a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly email newsletter that serves as a Spoke digest for all users and are designed to include content and metrics from across Spoke, including:

  • company announcements
  • latest News articles
  • recently added resources
  • a user’s recent activity, training progress, and upcoming training

Plus, users can now receive email notifications whenever admins publish new News posts. The enhanced email notifications for News posts are designed to fit the new look and feel of Spoke’s enhanced News section and ensure everyone gets the just-in-time info they need.

Here’s an example of an email notification from a recently created News post.

Spoke email notification

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Want to see the latest version of Spoke in action? Contact us. We’d love to show you Spoke can help you train, engage, and reward your teams.

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.