Open eLMS Review – the LMS Led by User Centred Design

I recently took some time to catch up on the Open eLMS LMS with Emil Reisser-Weston, the user-centred design guru behind so much that this innovative company does.

Open eLMS review

I have long been a fan of the authoring environment Jackdaw, now fully integrated into the Open eLMS suite as Open eLMS Creator. (It is now even better by the way for building elearning).

So, the Open eLMS suite contains an LMS, a catalogue of elearning built (and editable by users) in Creator, bespoke development services, and a tool to add existing elearning to the LMS.

This can come as a bundle or as individual components. Open eLMS is certainly an innovative full-service provider. Let’s take a look why.


User-Centred Design

Well, the core principle of this platform is around user centred design and this does provide for an excellent UI and UX. Instead of falling into the trap of being all things to everybody, the design approach is based around natural tasks undertaken by users (that’s learners, managers, administrators, quality assurance professionals and more).

To make this happen Open eLMS comes with a number of variants: Business, Apprenticeship delivery, School, College and University. OK, then the LMS is designed to provide interfaces for specific roles in the requisite organisation, meaning that the principles of user centric design are maintained. Accordingly we have an LMS that is a masterpiece in UI and UX, having in each case hit the Goldilocks spot… not too much and not too little.

The usability from a learner perspective is designed to be familiar and in this case a Netflix look has been designed in. It is important to note that this not just a superfluous or passing resemblance to Netflix, but an interface designed with absolute detail and care for learner engagement.

Learner engagement with a Netflix style UI


Real care is taken not to overwhelm learners, but the Open eLMS learning management system allows content to be provided as and when it is needed when sophisticated learning pathways are created. Open eLMS calls these ‘Programmes of learning’.

Programmes of learning can be pulled together quickly and easily in a very friendly and intuitive interface.

No doubt learning from Higher Education, it is now possible for organisations to create sophisticated programmes of learning for employees that cover several hundred days, with absolute precision.

Programmes of learning

Yet, as we noted earlier, the learner is not overwhelmed or daunted at the prospect, rather supported through the programme with calendaring, alerts and reminders, and the assignment of points to specific learning assets can be used to add a touch of gamification if so required.

This platform is not exclusively dedicated to delivering learning programmes – simple enrolments are possible as well, ILT can be organised and tracked, and the Creator tool has a nice complementary task management feature, which adds to the sophistication of learning engagement and is well suited to an organisational induction training programme.

There is a degree of social interaction. Skype is integrated, and the ability of the learner to profile themselves is a very nice feature. The learner dashboard is very good.

Where this LMS gets sophisticated is the reporting aligned to the learning programme, which is exceptionally granular and really focused on use by managers in an organisation. This allows the learning programme to be hugely supportive, while (because) it is hugely informative.

I am particularly taken with reporting export link to PowerBI, and live updates can be seen to learner performance through this integration… if you really want to that is. Nonetheless, this is increasingly how learning will be reported, so it is good to see.

Putting together the learning programme is the role of the Curriculum Manager. There is a super level of tagging available (courses and resources can be pulled in from Moodle or Vimeo for example) and Open eLMS has its own API to allow much of this curation to happen.

LTI is supported in case you wondered. Naturally, you can add courses developed in Creator (no longer called Jackdaw). It is still (actually more so) very capable of allowing very visual learning to be created quickly and easily. Since the authoring system and LMS are integrated, neat features like user feedback can be incorporated into your elearning, all within the same system.

LMS supporting knowledge acquisition

This learning assemblage process (my term!) is very good in how it pulls things together and really delivers on the mission to support learners building up knowledge, skills and behaviours.


Ease of Management

The manager or management is central to much of the thinking around Open eLMS and really does give him or her the ability to manage learning in their area of responsibility with lots and lots of workflows, email features (very powerful, but effectively templated – no messy HTML here), permissions and reporting that are truly intuitive to use. Yet another great example of user centric design, making data work for the manager not the other way around.

Organisationally, Open eLMS is smart. The options of how your organisation’s structure can be modelled at system set-up, thereby allowing the LMS to accurately reflect location or occupation. This is so well done, it is close to being my favourite feature. Too many LMS make this such hard work. Open eLMS presents the choices needed and gets it organised.

The same can be said about organisational roles and permissions.

LMS reporting with Open eLMS

Reporting is very powerful for managers and trainers, with a large library of standard reports to use, as well as the option to create custom reports.

Multi-tenancy for training businesses or extended enterprises can be provided.


Who is using this platform and what does it cost?

Well, Open eLMS has some serious fans in the corporate market, as it integrates with SalesForce and some of the very largest talent management platforms out there. Several household-name brands use the LMS, and they have clients in pretty much every sector. Users include the likes of Bauer Media, Coventry University, Civic Nuclear Constabulary and Oetker.

As for price, let’s say you get a lot of features, lots of excellent design, and consequently a lot of engagement from learners and managers (usually the really tough group to crack) for the price of a simple SaaS solution with half the feature sets and nowhere near the design excellence.


In Summary

How to sum up Open eLMS is quite a challenge. Led by user-centred design, without doubt, and that really sets this LMS apart.

A real focus on management involvement in learning, which I find very refreshing and tells me that Open eLMS is very on trend as more and more organisations seek to go beyond course completions and simple scores.

Open eLMS, in short, is really for the modern organisation that is into investing in its workforce, and as I see it, using the Open eLMS LMS is a very good way of getting great results from that investment.