Today I’m reviewing iSpring Learn, a cloud-based learning management system by iSpring Solutions. It’s a product that should work really well for small to medium businesses thanks to its straightforward UI, ease of content and user management, and detailed reporting.
A great advantage of iSpring Learn is that, unlike other LMSs, it comes with a fully-featured authoring toolkit, iSpring Suite. It helps you create interactive courses, dialog simulations, quizzes, and video tutorials in record time. The seamless integration with iSpring Learn ensures your learning modules will work perfectly after uploading to the LMS.
Here’s an overview of the platform by the vendor:
I’ll provide a list of the LMS features first and then dig deeper into certain aspects of it in the Detailed Overview section.
- Detailed overview
a) Learning the ropes, ease of use
b) Managing users and user roles
c) Creating and adding content, and assigning it to users
e) Branding, integrations, and security
f) Learning experience and mobile device support
- Pros and Cons
- Business tasks that it that it handles
iSpring Learn Features
For this review, I’ve listed the LMSs features into five different categories: Administration, Content, User management, User experience, and Customization, as well as showing some features that it lacks.
|Administration – ease of getting started with and administering the platform|
|Product onboarding||No custom reports|
|Comprehensive canned reports that can be exported to XLS||No scheduled report export|
|Calendar of offline training events|
|Great technical support|
|Content – everything about content, authoring capabilities, supported formats, and possibilities of combining separate modules into learning paths|
|Seamless integration with the powerful authoring tool||No xAPI/LTI/PENS support|
|Built-in responsive longread editor|
|Courses can be combined into learning tracks (curriculums)|
|Courses can be combined into learning plans|
|Supports SCORM 1.2/2004, FLV, MP4, MP3, SWF, PDF, DOC, XLS, PPT|
|Maximum upload size 2GB|
|Assignments allow students to upload their responses to the LMS for evaluation|
|Automatic delayed enrollment and re-enrollment (recurrent training)|
|User management – adding and managing users, creating and assigning roles|
|Bulk user import|
|Hierarchical structure with an unlimited number of units|
|Custom user roles with adjustable access levels|
|Custom user profile fields|
|User experience and Social learning – using the platform to study on a desktop or mobile, notifications for due activities, discussion forums|
|Intuitive learner interface||No discussion forums|
|Mobile app with offline learning support||Direct messages can’t be sent from learners to other learners|
|Unique certificates for each course|
|Direct messaging from user to admin|
|Gamification with leaderboards and badges|
|Notifications (browser, push messages on mobile)|
|Learners can review content|
|Customization and Integrations – changing the design and integrating the platform with third-party applications.|
|Interface color can be changed||Limited API capabilities|
|Upload company logo||No ready integrations with CRMs or Zapier|
|Change account URL||No custom login page|
|Webinars: easy integration with ZOOM|
|Single sign-on: Azure AD, ADFS, SAML|
|API for custom integrations|
Now that you’ve looked at a boring spreadsheet, it’s time to move on to the real thing. I’ll analyze every aspect of iSpring Learn in detail.
Learning the ropes, ease of use
The admin interface is straightforward with a menu on the left from which all of the platform’s functionality can be accessed.
On the top right, there’s a notification bell and a profile button that lets you switch to User Interface and access video tutorials on the platform at any time:
When you start with the platform, a learning module about working in the LMS is automatically assigned to you:
This module is made with Learn’s built-in Longread authoring tool and several training videos give you step-by-step instructions to help you get started with the product.
After completing the “Getting Started” course, I added my test content to the LMS.
Managing users and user roles
It is possible to add users in iSpring Learn by admin two ways: via the UI or by importing an XLS template with a specific structure to add users in bulk. Users can also self-register to certain groups or departments using the Self-signup feature.
There are two delimiters that you can use to build an organization’s structure on the platform – departments and groups. Departments form a hierarchical structure that should reflect how your company is built from top to bottom.
A group is different. It’s a unit that can include users from many departments. Let’s say you’ve got a few offices across the country, but in every office, there are several salesmen. With groups, you can assign the same training to all sales managers with one click after combining these sales departments into one smart group.
Every new user that is added begins in the Learner role, which you can then change to one of the 3 other default roles:
If you want to customize the access level of any particular role, you can create your roles and set their permissions.
All users in your account can be found in the Enroll Users tab, where it’s possible to enroll them for a training.
This brings us to the next chapter of the review: content management.
Adding and managing content
In terms of authoring capabilities, the platform lets you build responsive courses in your browser. These are called “longreads” and they can be filled with text, media, and knowledge checks (but no graded quizzes). Also, you can create free-form assignments that allow learners to upload files of any format as responses so an admin can manually grade them.
If you have an authoring tool, you can upload your learning modules to the platform as SCORM 1.2 / 2004 packages. For those that use iSpring Suite, which is a desktop authoring tool by the same vendor, it’s possible to publish straight to iSpring Learn without having to export to SCORM first. It saves time and allows for more detailed reports.
In addition to SCORM and content made in iSpring Suite, the platform supports a few other formats, like DOC, PPT, XLS, and MP4 video.
To upload any content (except from iSpring Suite), you first need to create a course to import it to.
Then you create a structure for your course by adding chapters and fill these with content.
After you finish creating the course structure and have added content, you can enroll users to that course:
Or you can create a set of enrollment rules to automate the process:
Each course can also have its own relative due date that is counted from the day of enrollment.
Then, there are learning tracks for those who need to create long-term training programs. A learning track is a curriculum that can include multiple courses with their individual enrollment and due dates.
Now that we’ve looked at content, it’s time to move on to reporting.
Reporting in iSpring Learn covers the entire range of learning activities supported by the system and any of the reports can be exported to an Excel spreadsheet or a CSV file.
Some reports can be generated based on the activity of a single user, like quiz responses or slide views in a presentation. Others can be generated for a department or a group and look like matrices of names (rows) and statuses for selected materials (columns):
You can not only see stats like Complete/Incomplete but also delve deeper and check the actual responses given to say, questions in a quiz by a learner. In the GIF below, I’m looking at a report on a sample dialogue simulation that I took as a learner:
One noticeable drawback of the iSpring Learn reporting system for me is a lack of custom reports.
Branding, integrations, and security
The user portal branding options in iSpring Learn are not vast but it provides a sufficient amount. The color scheme can be edited, and a company logo uploaded.
Integration capabilities include hooking iSpring Learn up with Zoom, an online conference platform that will let you conduct webinars for learners. It’s important to note that you will need to get a subscription to Zoom first in order to use it.
It’s possible to connect iSpring Learn with Azure AD, ADFS or Google’s GSuite for a seamless experience when your employees sign in from the main work environment (also called Single Sign-On or SSO).
The security of this cloud-based platform meets today’s standards with mandatory SSL usage and CAPTCHA – to prevent password bruting – and enforced strong passwords. iSpring claims their data centers are protected from DDoS, and even if one of the servers is down, the same data will still be served to learners from a different part of the “cloud.”
Learning experience and mobile device support
Studying in iSpring Learn can be described as an enjoyable experience on both desktop and mobile. The desktop user interface is just as simple as admin and is not cluttered with too many buttons or menus.
There’s a Q&A section where learners post questions to admins if they got stuck somewhere. They are also able to DM experts that you can assign to any courses yourself. Finally, learners can post reviews to modules they completed and those can be seen by yourself and their fellow learners.
There are no discussion forums, so that’s one aspect missing in the social learning part.
Then there are Events and Achievements. The former serves as a calendar for any offline training events and webinars (via Zoom integration). The latter allows learners to compete to see who received more points for completing courses and who’s higher on the leaderboard.
Achievements also include badges that can be awarded based on certain customizable rules like completing a specific list of courses or earning a certain number of points.
Finally, a certificate of completion can be automatically awarded upon completion of any course or learning track on the platform. You can use a pre-installed template or upload your own pdf file that will be filled out automatically using the learner’s data.
Now it’s time to talk about the #1 selling point for any e-learning product these days: mobile learning. The iSpring Learn app is available for both iOS and Android and looks really impressive. It offers the same functionality as the desktop version but also delivers the ability to download any learning module and take it when offline. It even works for SCORM modules, which I find exciting as SCORM was never a standard that worked well with mobile devices.
Here’s how the app interface looks on Android:
Now it’s time to look at pros and cons.
iSpring Learn Pros and Cons
- Intuitive modern interface that can be mastered quickly
- Simple and effective user management
- Learning tracks allow automation of the learning process
- Has a built-in authoring tool that can create responsive longreads
- Customizable user roles
- Great technical support
- Nice-looking mobile app with the functionality of the desktop version + offline learning
- Gamification with leaderboards and badges
- Integration with iSpring Suite ensures you can build rich training content that will work as expected in the LMS
- Has an API that can be used to integrate it with other platforms
- Missing true discussion boards for social learning
- No xAPI, PENS or LTI support
- Limited integration possibilities – no integration with CRM or HR systems available
- Reporting feels a bit limited with no possibility to create custom reports
iSpring Learn Business Use Cases
Here are some business tasks that iSpring Learn will work well for:
- Employee onboarding: Say you’ve got offices around the country and you need to train newcomers. No need to spend your best workers’ talent and time traveling from office to office to share their skills. You can do that with a single instructional designer and iSpring Learn.
- Continuous employee training: With learning paths and learning tracks that can be used to create long-term training curriculums with automatic enrollment for the next chapter of an ongoing course, iSpring Learn is perfect for continuous training. Canned reports available on the platform will give you a thorough overview of your learners’ performance.
- Certification: Most companies conduct some sort of certification process annually to see if their employees are ready to advance to the next step on the career ladder. Online certification with iSpring Learn will save you money and provide honest results.
- Training remote employees: Not all your workers need an office. Some people like to choose a remote working environment that is better for them. With the platform, you will be able to train these employees and control their progress.
- Short-term training projects: This platform is easy to launch, so you won’t need to spend countless months preparing a quick training project.
- Academic: if you’re an institution looking for an online training platform for your students, iSpring Learn will be a valid choice.
Won’t work for:
- Entrepreneurs that want to sell their e-learning online: the platform doesn’t have an e-commerce function, so it won’t work for those who need to market their training on the web
iSpring Learn Pricing
Pricing plans vary depending on how many learners sign in to the platform per month. The prices shown here are valid for annual billing:
- $3.66 per learner for 100 learners/month
- $3.00 per learner for 300 learners/month
- $2.82 per learner for 500 learners/month
You will also receive an iSpring Suite (desktop authoring toolkit) license with your subscription for the iSpring Learn LMS.
Time to wrap up my review. I hope it gave you an in-depth look at iSpring Learn LMS. If you have any questions or suggestions for me, please jump in on the comment section and let me know.