Obviously, you’ve not been fully absorbed by Absorb! Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here! Whether you’ve already tried it out and you’re ready for a change or you’re on the fence and wouldn’t mind peeking in a few other gardens before you hop off – this is the guide for you.
What’s the deal with Absorb LMS?
Head over to their LMS product page and you’ll get a fairly familiar feeling for Absorb. Out-the-box features, popular content libraries and the ability to tailor onboarding. It seems to be focused around the learner experience and engagement, giving people the option to find learning on their terms.
We’ve talked about the usual suspects already, so is there anything it does notably differently? Well, Absorb’s Pinpoint “uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and natural language processing to automatically transcribe and timestamp your video lessons” – meaning that those instantly become searchable pieces of microlearning.
And when it comes to reporting, you’ve got drag and drop dashboards and the ability to schedule reports, plus there are pre-built content libraries for you to dig into, department-level branding and an app for mobile learning. From a user perspective, tests and quizzes within the platform help them understand their development, which aids the ability for managers to report in real-time.
For some, reporting wasn’t exactly what they expected, while others struggled to share resources with learners at times. A common theme was around ease of use, whether that came in the form of backend setup or the more visible dashboards. Also, although we mentioned out of the box elements, some found that it wasn’t as easy to get up and running as they initially thought.
One thing it’s important to point out is that you’re more likely to find older reviews for Absorb than you are those published in the past two or three years. However, the most recent review at the time of writing shows that some of the issues we’ve mentioned are very much apparent today.
How this list works
If you’re here, we’re presuming you’ve got a fairly decent understanding of what learning platforms do – which means we’re not going to go over every single feature of each platform. Instead, we’ll try to highlight some pros and cons for each alternative, focus on anything that’s different and use reviews to guide what we’ve included here.
The 7 best alternatives to Absorb LMS
Ah the good old days of learning, eh? Or were they really that good – because a lot of what we used to love about a traditional LMS are basic requirements these days.
Rather than getting hung up on the past, we’re more concerned about giving you a platform based on what the modern learner needs in the present. From integrating with the tools people already use every day to empowering you to measure skills more than tick boxes, here’s what we’re all about.
1. Find the information you need, when you need it, everywhere you already work.
People just love drive-throughs, and you know why? Because they don’t have to get out of the car! There’s no need to completely break the flow of driving, they don’t lose as much time and it’s convenient. Those are the same reasons people love learning platforms that meet them where they are.
Resources that help us do our jobs better are most useful in the moments we need them, and that’s why we bring all your scattered resources into one place that people can access from the apps and tools they already use.
Learning in the flow of work is more than just integrations, it includes the idea of mirroring people’s natural learning habits. Case in point being our Browser Extension. There are billions of Google searches every single day, so wouldn’t it be great if people could find all your learning content each time they tapped away into the world’s biggest search engine? That’s just what our extensions does! It surfaces all your relevant resources from HowNow alongside Google’s search results.
Why does it all matter? Because a massive 49% of learners prefer to find information at their point of need! When you consider that we spend roughly a quarter of our working day looking for knowledge, that could save you a huge amount of time each week. In fact, research has shown that a central knowledge base can cut that time by as much as 35%, giving people back more time to be productive or build new skills.
2. Empower everyone to share knowledge.
70% of what we learn at work happens on the job and 20% socially, and when you look at those numbers you can understand why the top-down approach for learning’s time has been and gone. A few people at the top of the organisation deciding what others are learning is counter-intuitive to people learning from each other and on the job.
Everyone in your team is a subject matter expert on something, so they should have both the encouragement platform to impart wisdom with their colleagues. It’s why we created the Nugget in HowNow, a way for people to capture and share knowledge and resources in real-time. In the flow of work, you can save an article you’ve come across, note your experiences and share how you’ve overcome a hurdle in a Nugget that’s instantly available in your HowNow workspace. As you save it, you can also decide which channels it sits in and which groups or individuals you share it with.
3. Stop ticking training boxes, we’ll help you measure skills instead
Somebody could have completed 50 courses and not necessarily learnt anything that makes them better at their job. And it’s why we’re more interested in helping you build skills profiles for your people, understand the in-demand talents your talent needs and figure out the skill gaps you need to close to reach your goals.
Through self-assessment and peer reviews, we help you create a profile of each learner’s skills, measured on a five-level proficiency scale. Until you have that level of skill clarity, it’s difficult to tell what someone needs to focus on. Benchmarking against current job roles and descriptions helps too, which is why we measure more than 500,000 live roles to help you understand the in-demand traits.
Once you’ve got that ticked off, it’s time to tackle the skills gaps. In HowNow, you can create custom pathways for your learners, personalised for that employee’s goals, skill needs and interests. The beauty of having all your resources behind one front door is that they can take a self-directed approach alongside what you’re assigning to them. It’s the best of both worlds from a learner perspective, structure and a structured way to learn independently.
4. We recommend content based on your interests and behaviour
Imagine if every login to your learning platform meant being greeted by relevant recommended resources! We use AI to recommend content that’s based on your goals, role and behaviour, connecting you to more of the knowledge that makes you better at what you do.
Just like a good friend, the more you talk to us (metaphorically through the platform), the better we get to know you – which means we’ll refine and perfect what we serve. We also take into account what your colleagues and people doing similar roles or with similar interests found useful. In a nutshell, just expect the recommendations to keep getting better and better…
5. We’re driving performance and development across 10,000+ teams at forward-thinking companies.
What do Gymshark, Infinity Works, Investec, Telefonica, Telenor and Deutsche Bank have in common? They’re all using HowNow to onboard, upskill and enable their teams around the globe.
If you’ve ever been asked to name something negative about yourself in an interview and swerved that by expertly turning it into something positive, you hopefully won’t judge us for doing the same thing here.
So, we might be one of the fresh faces in the world of learning and we’ve not been around as long as some of the other names on this list, but is that a bad thing?
Sometimes, companies who’ve been around forever really seem to think they know it all, whereas newer companies are more receptive to feedback and ideas. We’re much more in the latter category, we prefer to listen to and learn from our users, taking their feedback on board to shape how the product looks today and tomorrow.
The ability to report on both single learners and groups, alongside insights on individual resources is part of why the level of reporting is so often praised in Lessonly reviews. So if that’s what the admins want, what do the learners like? Self-testing is one of the big ones, with elevator pitch practices scenarios and Flip and Reveal Cards named.
Source: Software Advice
If there were two key themes to highlight, it would be connectivity and customisation. For some, the inability to add your own branding was an issue and they highlighted limitations around course designs and fonts. Others found it tricky to search for content at times, possibly making it less useful as a knowledge base, while there were issues flaged around the ability to highlight content and return to it later… if only there was a way to do that.
You can’t underestimate the draw of a platform that just looks and feels right. Docebo reviewers enjoyed the ability to personalise learner pages and use drag and drop to build dashboards. And, as the platform automatically analyses and tags content using AI, connecting people and content is made simpler. A Q&A feature went down well with fans of social learning, shaping a culture where people ask and learn from internal experts.
Bugs, they’re an issue for a lot of platforms releasing new features frequently, but what some reviewers flagged was the problem of frequently having to bear with them while they’re fixed. Going back to that praise for drag and drop dashboards, the custom reporting capabilities that followed left some underwhelmed. A lack of integration was an issue for some, while customer service limits on certain plans was a pain for others.
Able to host vast numbers of users at once but still getting good feedback from small teams, LearnUpon is typically cited as being able to scale with your business. The ease of set up plays a part in that too! When it comes to creating courses and modules that fit your bill, the platform lets you mix and match content types and modules – incorporating survey, exams and certifications into that.
Giving people recognition is easy through leaderboards, points and badges, while the platform’s forum makes social learning possible. And when it comes to integration, you can do so with webinar platforms, HR software and more.
Some reviewers were quick to flag the limitations around reporting, part of which stemmed from accessibility at the manager level – which sits below Admin. Meanwhile, those on lower price tiers discussed limitations on customisations and editing for their brand.
The review above highlights that there might not be as much freedom for learning that people crave. Another review supports this idea: “It would be nice to have more layers of program curation that provide the ability to curate multiple learning paths into more complex programs.
When you start using Thrive, you’ll find more than 130 courses available to you – and their focus is on microlearning, to cut out information that’s not needed. However, as we’ll come to later, others felt that made some content feel limited. Despite having this many courses available, the feedback was that they look and feel different enough to stop any staleness. In terms of recommending content, AI plays its part, while there’s also a focus on social learning.
A theme in the reviews was that the micro-learning approach left people feeling like they needed more resources, to go beyond the basics and get further into the topics. Others felt that they couldn’t customise or build upon the existing courses, meaning they couldn’t add in tests or quizzes.
Almost every review points out that Looop‘s easy to use, with the ability to create and distribute quickly and efficiently playing a big part. So, there’s not much hand-holding needed to get up to speed with the platform. Finding the resources you need when you need them is far easier through integrations and the mobile app. Finally, their Campaigns feature allows you to automate communications and send handy reminders or resources in a timely and accurate fashion.
Drag and drop’s received a lot of praise in this list, so it’s a shame we’ll have to drop it down a level and drag Looop into a slightly negative place. There were a number of reviewers who disliked the inability to use this function when re-ordering and structuring their courses. For others, gamification was a limited feature in Looop.
A lot of the criticism was prefaced by praise for Looop, so it seemed people were reluctant to give too much negative feedback. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know about them! In short, they are greater user insights, a way to view all resources within a workspace, improved event features and a way to make the content feel sufficiently different.
Degreed‘s website paints a little bit of a mysterious picture. What we do know is that it allows you to measure skills, report on people’s progress and create tailored learning paths. That’s about it, so we do have to rely on reviews.
There’s a lot of content in Degreed reportedly, with more than 200,000 resources from over 1,000 providers. The platform allows social learners to communicate within the platform, while informal learning like videos and podcasts can be added. Navigating the library is supposedly very easy with intuitive search and filter functions.
You’ll probably be unsurprised to learn that such a volume of content was overwhelming for a good number of people. With others hinting that it’s not always shown to them in a user-friendly manner, making that worse. For many, that’s why they turn to AI-based learning platforms so that they receive recommendations based on their role, goals and behaviour.
We talked about a lot of content in the pros, but the other side of the coin is that it can be overwhelming for some. Others hinted that it wasn’t always displayed in a user-friendly way, not alleviating that first pain point either. Typically, that’s one of the biggest draws to other platforms and why AI’s role in recommending the right content continues to grow.
A common idea across reviews was that there were difficulties or limits for adding external content, while others found reporting hard to navigate at times. A lack of clarity on what had been shared, the need to be a collaborator for greater visibility and little guidance on using the tool were other issues raised.
Which alternative is right for you?
Honestly, we won’t know until we speak with you. Drop us a message and we can discuss your learning needs.