Innovation Index 2014

Welcome to our elearning technology update with the Innovation Index 2014 – the year in review.

2014 was another interesting year in the world of edtech and e-learning, and this Innovation Index is a list of developments the team at Learning Light have found particularly interesting and exciting. We have been lucky enough to have hands on time or detailed insight into these products:

We are looking back in order to understand the present and to predict the future, and these themes and products are what we see as being on-trend for 2015.
Innovation is a widely used and often abused term, and so in the context of innovation we are considering both new technical developments and disruptive business models.

Our listing is not ranked in any way, rather it is organised by theme. As we are looking back we have chosen reverse alphabetical order….but these are our Top Ten.

1. XML and Learning content creation and management from Nimble author

While this is an engaging and effective LMS (with a disruptive business model) Nimble Author really innovates in the way content is created and handled by using XML.
Courses can be easily created and maintained and published very effectively indeed. The trend toward content creation and organisation within the LMS appears to be growing strongly.
The simplicity of ease of use this product and its holistic approach to creating and delivering learning is very nice indeed, with a simple and elegant interface and an easy way to create content.
The business model is one of our favourites as well…. A true use before you buy model.

2. VOOCs (Vocational Open Online Courses) from Virtual College

The concept of VOOCs has been developed by one of the UK’s most successful e-learning pioneers Virtual College.
We took our first VOOC in November 2014 and were impressed with its model…VOOC town and in this case the way it delivers an honest appreciation of a specific career path. It is not linear but exploratory and engaging.
While MOOCs we learn from Educa are entering the “down slide” of the hype cycle, we see a huge potential with VOOCs.

3. Video …the next generation from thePeleton and Thinkzoom

Video has been hot in e-learning now for several years and is a great medium for learners, but it comes with limited learner interactions.
London based innovators thePeleton (a video content company) are in the process of changing that, with a very exciting development using both HTML5 and Flash to embed interactivity into videos.
In 2015 Peloton Media Co will be launching I-VDO. This interactive video platform is an HTML5 overlay that allows people to interact with the video content (choose the path, answer questions, make decisions) across a number of mobile and desktop devices. The trainer is than able to see in real time, or analyse after the event, the decisions the learner is choosing. This solves the problem that we believe video has in training – i.e. that you cannot measure the engagement of the user.

This is certainly one to watch and the tool should be appearing next year (brand to be finalised), but a very exciting product indeed.

From our close associates ej4* is a different take on managing video and making it available on-demand. Put simply ThinkZoom allows individuals in companies to simply record, capture, publish, (as well as assign and track) learning in a very simple manner through the desktop. Users can simply create materials using a camera or clip and edit resources from the World Wide Web. Short knowledge nuggets can easily be created by anyone to be curated and shared across the organisation.
We like this very simple tool as it offers curation and knowledge management in a simple and effective way. We see tools like this creating these in-company” learnscapes” so compelling articulated by Jay Cross some years ago or indeed that fantastic project from BT some years ago Dare-to-Share.
In addition ej4 offers a very large range of excellent e-learning videos that can be curated in ThinkZoom.

4. Serious games from Totem learning and e-learning studios

Totem learning (with its neighbouring company e-learning studios) are one of the most exciting serious games developers in the UK, with unrivalled expertise in this genre.
Serious games have waxed and waned for almost a decade, but with Oculus Rift and the deep understanding of gaming and learning now at Totem (you can see our conversation with Helen Routledge on we know this is going to go mainstream and offer more than just gamification.

5. Learning record stores from Learning Locker

The LRS (Learning Record Store) has proven a topic of great interest for over 2 years or more as project Tin Can (or the xAPI) has progressed forward.
Learning Locker is the UK’s e-learning industry response led by Ben Betts of HT2 and has some of the elite UK e-learning companies collaborating in this Open Source project including Webanywhere, Leo, Kineo and Brightwave.
While Tin Can deployments have been few and far between we are seeing LMS vendors such as Enterprise Study making Tin Can happen with blue chip clients, we expect to see Learning Locker emerge as a major player in the LRS market in the UK and beyond.

6. Disruptive LMS’s from LearnUpon and aNewspring

We published our favourite LMS list recently (for training organisations and departments to use), we still see considerable market potential for innovative LMS vendors employing differentiation or disruption.
Two of our favourite disrupters are:


A European business (based in Dublin) needing investment from the USA is all about pioneering the simple but very effective LMS solution for training businesses.
With a defined plan to put the LMS into the Native Apps market (Apple’s IoS) initially and its ease of use from an administrative process (cloning a client site takes about 2 minutes) this product will carve out a niche in converting face to face trainers to e-learning.


aNewspring, a Dutch LMS vendor offers one of the most interesting LMS’s we know for trainers as well. This LMS is feature rich and aimed at enhancing the learner experience by tightly embedding social and adaptive learning.
Its popularity with Dutch training organisations is exceptional, as it not only designs out training costs with its intuitive content management and content creation approach; it supports trainers in engaging with learners.
The disruptive element comes from firstly the provision of a very effective content creation environment and the tightly aligned and very useful Learning Content Management function to allow trainers to create and organise courses. This LCMS allows the use assets more than once and ensures that materials when updates are updates across all courses.
In addition the business model is quite disruptive in that aNewspring is offered on a pay per learner registered model.

7. Corporate MOOCs, learning beyond the LMS from Webanywhere

Webanywhere has taken learning beyond the LMS, using Drupal to create “action learning” platforms using user interfaces (UIs) similar to MOOCs and the Totara LMS is used to track learners. This solution creates a MOOC-style environment for users (in this case both clients and employees) to use while retaining the reporting capacity of the LMS. Read more about Webanywhere’s work in 2014 on their International blog.

8. Badging, Micro-credentials and next generation certification from Accredible (and of course Mozilla Open Badges)

Invested in by Silicon Valley, but led by some innovative Brits, Accredible is one of the new generations of badging , micro-credentialing and certification platforms, but with a number of additional innovations.
Accredible offers next generation of digital certification (with Mozilla Open Badges incorporated) and actual learning records from an LMS embedded into the digital certificate by a neat API or Integration from the LMS. But that’s not all, as Accredible allows the opportunity for learners to exhibit learning activities and achievements of their choice from the LMS in to the digital certificate as well which is very neat (though of course these records are treated as a different class of evidence).
LinkedIn is utilised to both verify references that can be displayed on the certificate and as a means of publishing and sharing achievements by the learner.
In addition Accredible offers identity management and proctoring services.

9. Authoring Tools from Jackdaw

We have long been fans of Jackdaw, one of the most intuitive authoring tools to use delivering one of the most engaging content sets by moving from flat e-learning to 3d e-learning. This cloud hosted solution supports great content creation and just gets better and better with the community model and a series of attractive (disruptive) prices.
This proves to be an interesting market with several other UK vendors (GoMo) and projects (Adapt) beginning to impact on the market leaders. Both GoMo and the open source Adapt tool have impressed us as well.

10. Adaptive learning from Tugaru: “Adapt”

Adaptive learning has been hot in education and we have noted a number of interesting developments from Knewton and Desire2learn (now known as Brightspace) as well as other interesting ventures such as Smartsparrow.
However, the one that we see as the real game changer will appear on the market early next year is from Tugaru, with Tugaru: Adapt.
This is not a new company (but a new brand) and one that is expert in applying marketing automation (with some stunning development) to learning and it works in an amazingly powerful way. Tugaru Adapt delivers levels of automation and interactions that are built up as work flow (learn flow) that produces fabulous granular data designed to enhance, support and deliver the adaptive learner journey. We could be just one very short step from predictive learning now….thanks to marketing automation.

*Learning Light have curated and evaluated a large number of e-learning courses that are marketed through www. including courses from ej4.

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