There’s nothing more guaranteed to lighten the spirits on a damp, misty day in November than to visit The Oval, in south London. Since 1845, it’s been the home of Surrey County Cricket Club and the scene of some epic international cricket matches. It was also the venue for the first England versus Scotland football international (1870), the first FA Cup Final (1872) and, from 1872 to 1879, seven rugby internationals involving England.


This time, however, the reason for visiting The Oval was not to do with sport. The ground – or, to be more precise, the meeting rooms close to the players’ dressing rooms and the Ken Barrington indoor cricket centre – was hosting a two day event organised by E-Learning Age magazine, Growth Engineering and Unicorn Training, focusing on next generation learning management systems (LMSs) and gamification.


Key speakers on the first day were Craig Weiss, the US-based, internationally renowned LMS specialist and market analyst, and An Coppens, whose home is in Sweden but who works in London as a designer of gamification solutions which aim to encourage winning behaviours and business results.


Craig Weiss.

Explaining that there are currently some 642 LMSs on the market, Craig observed that 90% of all LMS features are common to all LMSs. Currently, there are only ten or so LMSs that allow users to upload video but by 2017, Craig predicted, all LMSs should include a video editor. In his view, the next generation LMS will have a modern user interface; it will offer a high degree of support for clients, and provide regular updates – not just ‘bug fixes’.


He provided a preview of the top eight LMSs in his list – which is published, each year, in January. They are: Growth Engineering; Expertus; FrogLearn (an education sector LMS); Docebo; Unicorn Training; eLogic Learning; Administrate, and KMI.


In Craig’s view the current trends in the LMS world include:

  • Gamification is growing fast but many systems limit its use
  • Modern user interfaces are growing in importance – notably with the move towards greater personalisation of the learning experience


His predictions for LMS development over the next few years are:

  • 2014: Gamification arrives
  • 2015: Personalisation of learning experiences
  • 2016: Mobile learning comes into its own; the Learning Record Store (LRS) becomes increasingly important
  • 2017: there will be over 800 LMSs on the market
  • 2020: E-learning is king – and instructor-led training is not


Craig Weiss in action at The Oval.

An Coppens explained that gamification is the application of game dynamics, game psychology and game mechanics to non-game situations and applications. Citing Gallup’s figures that 13% of the global workforce is ‘engaged’ in and by their jobs, 64% are ‘not engaged’ and some 24% are ‘actively disengaged’, she outlined four key questions which every worker has to answer – and the answers to which determine these figures:

  • What do I do – and does it contribute to the greater good of my organisation?
  • Do I know what’s required of me?
  • Am I praised for what I do?
  • Do I have the freedom to develop myself as I want?


An Coppens.


“On the basis that the customer who complains tells you the truth, you should spend time with those in your organization who are actively disengaged,” An said. “They’ll tell you what is wrong – and only then can you do something to make it right.


“This is the premise on which we work when we produce gamification in an organizational context,” she explained. “Basically, ‘show and tell’ doesn’t work anymore but ‘show and play’ does.”


Having explained that the key elements of a ‘training/ learning game’ are: interaction; contest; structure; outcomes, and subject information, An added: “According to Talent LMS, 72% of learners strongly prefer gamification in their LMS. So, Craig, how many LMSs currently include gamification?”


“About five per cent,” he replied.