Many of you have heard me talk about TikTok as a learning platform, and you probably thought I was talking about the entertaining videos. No, it’s much more. TikTok is not just entertainment, it’s a Creator Platform.
TikTok development tools are amazing. Today millions of young people (and old) are building interactive videos, extravaganzas of music, and all sorts of dance, entertainment, simulation, and promotion. And TikTok is addicting: it has one of the stickiest interfaces on the internet, which is exactly what we want our learning platforms to do.
The tech pundits are all frothy about the Creator Economy now. TikTok has set in place billions of dollars of investment in platforms like Spotify (podcasts), Snapchat, Clubhouse, Patreon, Substack, and hundreds more. These are not just development tools, they’re entire platforms. You can quickly create content, publish it in seconds, and almost immediately interact with your audience. For wannabe influencers and celebrities, it’s a gold mine. And the venture capitalists are piling in.
Why are these so good for investors? If you start building content in one of these platforms you’re “locked in,” so the platform vendor can start taking a piece of your revenue. So this market is going to explode, and we’re all going to have to decide which Creator Platforms we want to use. (Mark Zuckerberg, never to let a good idea get away from him, is putting $1 Billion to help draw creators to Facebook’s copycat products.)
In my case, I’ve been a Creator since the early 2000s, when we first started creating PDF reports and studies. Since then we’ve been experimenting with lots of these tools, and they are getting easier to use by the second. Platforms like Loom, Captivate, Castos and hundreds of others make you a producer in only a few minutes.
And now it’s coming to corporate learning.
Why Corporate Learning Needs A Creator Platform
Corporate learning desperately needs a creator platform. Why? Because at least 70% of all training in your company comes from your own people, not professional teachers or instructional designers. When you “unlock” these subject matter experts and various people to build content, your training experience is supercharged. And now that these tools are easier than ever, it’s time for you to jump in.
We are doing a lot of case studies in this area, so stay tuned for much more. But for now let me mention a few because these companies are redefining the market.
The first I want to point out is 360Learning, a company founded precisely for this purpose. 360Learning is perhaps the most compelling system for employees to build, launch, manage, and interact with their learners. The company was founded to go after this market, and its success has been stratospheric. The French Railroad SNCF, for example, uses 360Learning for hundreds of courses in operations, safety, and compliance – all built by employees. The IDEA Public Schools network, a 120+ school network all over Texas and the southeast, now uses 360Learning for its New Teacher Institute and all its professional development. And the results are outstanding.
360Learning, by the way, exemplifies what I call the next generation of Collaborative Learning. Read more about it here.
The second I want to mention is Fuse Universal, a company that started life as a video sharing system. Fuse customers like Hilti and Vodafone are building hundreds of instructional videos and sharing them instantly with employees. These companies barely set standards for employees and they create competitions for who can build the best video (just like TikTok). Fuse is also an explosively fast-growing company, and has defined “video learning at scale.” (Vendors like WiseTail also do this.)
The third is another firecracker company: Udemy. Udemy’s platform is designed to develop courses, and anyone can sit down and build a course in a few hours. As soon as you publish it many thousands of people can access it, so the results can be invigorating. Many Instructors on Udemy now make millions of dollars per year, and the Udemy course library is the most dynamic, up-to-date, and relevant one in the market. And since the Creator Platform of Udemy has voting by users, it, like TikTok, it always shows you the best content.
And Udemy, unlike any other provider in the market, is truly a marketplace. Just as Airbnb disrupted Marriott, Udemy has the potential to disrupt many traditional course publishers.
The fourth is a fast-growing company Docebo, which is now one of the biggest LMS companies in the market (valuation around $2B). Docebo’s new tool Shape lets you instantly build video content, publish it in Docebo, and get feedback from users. It uses AI to help you build highly compelling content, making authoring easy for anyone. Again it’s integrated into the platform, so for revenue-generating programs or custom academies, Docebo is an amazing solution.
The fifth, and perhaps the most disruptive, is Articulate – the pioneer of rapid e-learning tools who just receive over $1 billion in investment funding. Hang onto your hats as Articulate becomes a Creator platform too, and it may be the easiest to use yet.
Of course there are hundreds of development tools, from STRIVR and Mursion in VR to Lectora, Gomo, and others. But as I discuss below, they’re not “Creator Platforms,” and they’re not designed for end-users.
Is your LXP or LMS a Creator Platform? Not really. It’s more like a publishing system (like Sharepoint or Viva Learning). It lets you “publish” content you developed elsewhere, but it’s nowhere as integrated as these systems. (LXP vendors here’s an opportunity for you.)
What To Look For In Creator Platforms
In many ways, this market has been around for a long time. SumTotal, Click2Learn, and Saba launched integrated development tools in the 2000s, and products like Adobe Captivate, Brainshark, Lessonly, and others have been out for years. But many of these tools were built for instructional designers, not end-users, and they don’t have the same integrated platform. In today’s Creator Platform market, I”d look for the following:
- Does the platform immediately let authors interact with learners, build quizzes and interactivities, and serve their users at scale?
- How easy is it to build highly compelling content, and can you “walk up and learn” the tool without training?
- What kind of administration tools do authors have? Can they sort and filter through their audience, see how long people are spending on different chapters, and analyze their programs for improvement?
- Are there advanced features like Skills tagging, Credentials, Badges, Pre-Requisites, and Curricula? These systems fill up with content fast, so you have to organize it in some rational way.
- How is the product priced? Can we buy it for all our users and deploy it at scale? (The consumer Creator Platforms are terrible at this, by the way. They charge too much.)
- What kind of security and admin rights are available? Can an administrator quickly find inappropriate content or shut down content that’s no good?
- How advanced is video and content management? Does it transcribe video and code it for speed? Does the platform work on mobile? Can you quickly add new modules and version the content you have?
Should you worry about end-users publishing corporate content? My answer is no. Let the internal creator market thrive. Companies like Hilti, Vodafone, SNCF, IDEA Schools Network, and dozens of others we’re interviewing all told us that employees and subject matter experts love to publish what they’ve learned.
You have to set standards and help people avoid boring PowerPoint content, but once you get the ball rolling, the results take off. Hilti, for example, does all its sales and service training in this fashion. IDEA Public Schools created its New Teacher Institute for more than 1,500 teachers entirely through this approach. Instead of authoring content, you become the curator, organizer, and coach to others, showing people how to share what they know.
We are publishing case studies now, and the stories we’re finding are amazing. This next year is the year of the Creator Platform for Learning, and we’re excited to show you the way.