Points of Differentiation in E-Learning Platforms

E-learning platforms
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E-learning is big business. The share of people in the UK taking online learning courses more than doubled between 2007 and 2016 (4% to 11%), and globally the edtech market is expected to reach $65bn by 2023. The advent of cloud-based infrastructure and a rise in competing e-learning platforms means there is more choice than ever for companies looking to boost employee skills through digital learning.

Between e-learning platforms like Docebo, Grovo and LearnUpon, there are many points of similarity. All are aiming to provide comprehensive learning tools at scale, and the majority are building out customised learning modules and courses that are tailored to consumer needs in an attempt to dominate the markets in which they operate. Many e-learning providers are also keen to promote their international efforts in line with the globalisation of the companies they market to: Learning Technologies Group (LTG) recently announced the launch of ‘Instilled,’ a new learning experience platform, with the explicit promise of aiding international companies, with the ability to “disperse content globally and translate it into more than 100 languages.”

In 2018, ten percent of UK respondents reported purchasing digital products in the e-learning category

But as more platforms build out similar solutions to common problems, the need for points of differentiation between competitor platforms is becoming ever more acute. From the gamification of e-learning to introducing more sophisticated points of contact between peers, here’s how the leading platforms are attempting to stand out and dominate the world of e-learning.


Docebo does a lot right when it comes to e-learning, but it terms of gamification it has several points in its favour that have either given it an early mover advantage or completely set it apart from its competitors. Its approach to gamification has much in common with the bragging-rights nature of achievements and trophies on gaming consoles, in that it allows platform users to effectively ‘show off’ their progress through courses with visible badges and trophies.

Its Gamification app offers a wide variety of options for the creation and presentation of rewards for completing tasks. Its website states gamification has been proven to be beneficial to encouraging users to complete more of the course; think of it like a primary school student earning gold stars that can be displayed against their name on the wall:

“Gamification is used in several areas, such as training processes, where it helps to make the experience more fun and interactive. Studies on this topic have shown positive results, as it leverages peoples’ innate desire for competition, self-expression and achievement.”

Competition to be teacher’s pet (or, more realistically, to demonstrate aptitude for promotion or rewards) has never been as fierce, and good Gamification is a real point of differentiation for e-learning platforms.

Web conferencing

Some people learn better in isolation; others learn better surrounded by their peers. While it’s not always possible to get everyone in a room together, technology has made it easier than ever to offer live conferences and seminars over the internet that offer many of the same benefits.

LearnUpon, for instance, offers webinars through integration with any number of popular webinar tools, rather than limiting its users to any one proprietary tool. WizIQ, too, has made it a central tenet of its messaging to potential customers. That cuts down on many of the headaches that come from live e-learning, since companies can manage everything from registration to checking attendance to scheduling future sessions. For the companies that prioritise live touch-points with learners, that integration is a major point of differentiation.

Focus on UX in course creation

It doesn’t matter how fun or easy it is to communicate with students if the courses being offered aren’t especially relevant. Consequently, commentators like PC Magazine’s Juan Martinez make the case that a robust course creation tool is the ultimate point of differentiation:

“That’s not only because creating courseware is different from a design perspective. It’s also because today’s business training platforms and academic learning management systems (LMS) use specific file formats and standards that aren’t available in more generic content creation tools.”

For larger businesses especially, where the creation of e-learning courses is likely to be split between a number of individuals, tools that allow for robust and consistent course creation could be the biggest USP for e-learning platforms.

As the e-learning market grows and technology allows for even more sophisticated methods of digital learning (with VR and AR learning poised to take off in a big way), it’s a buyer’s market when it comes to e-learning platforms. The space race between the platforms has led to each developing its own particular strengths, from Docebo’s strong Gamification tools to DigitalChalk’s focus on e-commerce integration. It’s up to the consumer to decide where their own focus lies, and pick the one that best suits them from the multitude of providers.


Chris Sutcliffe

[email protected]

Martin Tripp Associates is a London-based executive search consultancy. While we are best-known for our work across the media, information, technology, communications and entertainment sectors, we have also worked with some of the world’s biggest brands on challenging senior positions. Feel free to contact us to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog.

Images courtesy of Statista.com and InsideHigherEd.com / IStockPhoto.com/Z_Wei