In the crowded corporate learning management system (LMS) market, Absorb LMS breaks away from the pack by providing an extensive feature list (from gamification to integrated e-commerce), smart tag-based filtering, and a best-in-class contextual user interface (UI) with responsive web design. Sure, there are more affordable alternatives, such as SAP Litmos LMS, for smaller businesses. However, Absorb LMS is the most attractive and functional turnkey LMS we've tested, and it's a bargain—for larger offices and small businesses alike. Because of this, Absorb LMS earns our Editors' Choice distinction in our corporate online learning review roundup, along with Docebo.
Absorb LMS caters to small to midsize businesses (SMBs). Pricing falls somewhere between midmarket and enterprise. Small businesses can purchase an Absorb LMS licensing fee for $800 per month plus a 12-month user fee of $16 per active user. A setup fee that includes training and support is another $3,200. This plan gives users a custom website that's hosted by Absorb. There are other plans for companies that want to integrate Absorb LMS into their applications.You Can Trust Our ReviewsSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (Read our editorial mission.)
Hosted pricing starts at $1,350 per month or $14,500 per year for up to 500 users. It's $4,850 per month ($52,380 per year) for up to 5,000 users, and $8,850 per month ($95,580 per year) for up to 17,500. If you need more than that, then you can contact them for a custom plan.
Support plans are offered too: Premium (included), Elite ($5000), and Enterprise ($25,000). The company also offers an array of optional services such as Single Sign-On or SSO ($3,500), RESTful API ($4,000), data imports, and design work.4.5OutstandingCheck Price Read Our Docebo Review 4.0ExcellentSee DemoSee Itat AxonifyRead Our Axonify Review 4.0Excellent Visit SiteSee Itat Bridge LMSRead Our Instructure Bridge LMS Review 4.0Excellent Check Price Read Our LearnUpon Review 4.0ExcellentCheck Price Read Our SAP Litmos LMS Review 3.5Good Visit SiteSee Itat Axis LMSRead Our Axis LMS Review3.5GoodCheck Price Read Our DigitalChalk Corporate LMS Review 3.5GoodCheck Price Read Our Mindflash Review 3.0Average Visit SiteSee Itat Firmwater Read Our Firmwater Review 4.5OutstandingVisit StoreSee Itat Canvas LMSRead Our Instructure Canvas LMS Review 4.5OutstandingVisit SiteSee Itat MoodleRead Our Moodle LMS Review 4.5Outstanding Visit SiteSee Itat SchoologyRead Our Schoology LMS Review 4.0Excellent Visit SiteSee Itat Blackboard for BusinessRead Our Blackboard Learn LMS Review 4.0Excellent Compare PricesSee Itat Software AdviceRead Our D2L Brightspace LMS Review 4.0Excellent $0.00See Itat Software Advice Read Our Edmodo LMS Review 4.0Excellent $0.00Check Stockat AmazonRead Our Quizlet Review 3.5Good Visit SiteSee Itat Google ClassroomRead Our Google Classroom Review
Absorb LMS's add-on costs more than entry-level LMS subscriptions from Axis LMS, SmarterU LMS, and DigitalChalk Corporate LMS. That doesn't make Absorb a bad deal; it competes for a different slice of the market. Similar to Halogen TalentSpace, Absorb LMS license pools start at 500 users. (If you calculate the annual cost for an office of 500, then Absorb LMS costs about half as much Halogen TalentSpace LMS). Absorb LMS also takes a novel approach to e-commerce. Customers can monetize internal employee training for free, and if they want to sell courses for external employee training, then they pay $5 per learner.
Absorb is in a class of its own when it comes to UI design. Consider the approach to Dashboards. Absorb offers tabs for Overview, an aerial view of your recent activity, reports, and messages; Learners, which uses charts and graphs to visualize engagement, logins, learning time, and completions; and Courses, for which the system curates information about the top courses, completion rates, and links to the most recently created courses. Each Dashboard functions as a gateway to Absorb's most popular features. Plus rather than asking administrators to return home to access those dashboards, shortcuts are also nested from the left-aligned menu.
The Absorb menu is the primary mode of navigation, enriched via its interoperation with the contextual right-aligned sidebar. The sidebar will retain selections until you refresh it by clicking on a new menu item. For example, if I click on Courses in the menu bar, the sidebar reveals options related to adding a new course. (More on this shortly.) Click on Users, and the sidebar furnishes options to add or import users from a CSV file. Selecting Add User reveals tabs for general information (like name, email address, username, password, department), details (avatar, location, language localizations), and account status (learner, instructor, admin), while the sidebar enables selections to be saved or canceled.
Absorb's approach to users is also conceptually innovative. In addition to manually or bulk uploading users, administrators can share enrollment keys by department or course, and let learners create accounts. Once users are in the system, you can sort them via departments or custom groups. For example, you can assign John Doe to an Email Marketing course based on his role in that department. And you can also invite him to a Creative Design course because he likes to tinker in Adobe Photoshop ($9.99 Per Month at Adobe) on the weekends.
In addition to Dashboards, Courses, and Users, the Absorb LMS menu also includes options for e-commerce and the Mercury module add-on. The system offers a built-in shopping cart, or you can use the RESTful API to link the LMS to your company's existing human resources (HR) or customer relationship management (CRM) software. The Mercury module unlocks additional design options as well as communication and gamification features, including billboards, articles, surveys, polls, and points-based contests and rewards. Admins can distribute these globally or to particular groups or departments.
Perhaps most relevant to an administrator's day-to-day, reports come with smart filters. Absorb bundles a trove of standard ones, each of which administrators can tailor with filters. Consider the Learner Competencies report: In addition to re-ordering columns (drag and drop), re-sorting data (clicking on column headers), and selecting multiple items (Shift-click), you can filter the competencies column by clicking a magnifying glass. Perhaps I want to filter for names that contain "Adams." Then, maybe I want to filter for an expiration date equal to August 1. For each filter, an editable tag will pin to the top of the page.
If you anticipate rerunning a Competencies report, you can save the layout to preserve its filters. Then you can export it as a CSV, Microsoft Excel, or PDF file, schedule it for email delivery or share it with groups or departments using Absorb's integrated messenger. Sharing reports within the LMS is particularly smart. Because Absorb LMS shares the parameters rather than the content, you needn't worry about someone seeing something they shouldn't see. Absorb LMS pulls data based upon each recipient's role, and administrators can be excruciatingly precise in those roles without a cap on how many they can create.
Absorb divides the course assembly process into a series of generally well-defined tabs. Unlike other LMS alternatives, you needn't create the shell of a class before you post content. Instead, high-level course details, such as branding, are housed in one (General) of a handful of tabs. Alongside that general information, administrators can supply supplementary materials (Resources), manage logistics related to a course completion, failure, competencies, and certificates (Completion), and define how, when, to whom, and at what cost the course will be offered (Availability). All the tabs are intuitive enough, except More, where Absorb stashes random options, and we don't see why the contents couldn't be elsewhere. For example, they could roll the option to allow comments on a course into Messages, and rename that tab something like Communication.
In testing, I found that the most important tab was the Syllabus, through which you create and structure course materials. Absorb LMS divides courses into units (Chapters) that are made up of lessons (Learning Objects). In like manner, entire classes can be arranged in a collection (Bundle) or sequence (Curriculum) to build competencies. As with reports, the syllabus is malleable: You can reorder lessons and units via drag and drop or edit their contents at any time. You can swap between administrator and learner interfaces or use the Preview button to review changes. I found that swapping between profiles helped me to remember to click Save after I made changes.
Absorb is a savvy course assembler. The LMS is extremely generous in its support for videos (I uploaded a two-hour MP4 file) and file types, both of which you can save as Global or Private Course Files. When it comes to existing courses, Absorb LMS accepts all major standards, including Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM), Tin Can, and AICC files. Assessments are flexible, as well. Administrators can build multiple-choice question banks for Surveys and Assessments or create written assignments (Tasks).
Action-based survey answers are particularly useful. Educators can create a survey question that triggers a different action, depending upon the learner's response. Activities include pasting a specific value into a custom field on the learner profile, awarding the learner one or more competency badges, or enrolling them in one or more courses. Finally, alongside traditional online courses, Absorb accommodates Instructor-Led Course (ILC) training in the form of in-personal tutorials or webinars. Absorb even offers a mobile Instructor Toolbox app for marking attendance of ILC events.
Absorb LMS encourages users to keep training by focusing on course enrollment (My Courses), listings (Catalog) and materials (Resources). Thanks to the site's generous language support (23 and counting) and responsive HTML5 design, a variety of learners can work in a variety of ways. There's even a new feature (available as of Q3 2015) that allows learners to download courses, work offline, and sync their progress.
Absorb earns our Editors' Choice designation by doing everything you might expect of an LMS, and with panache. Given that it is a turnkey LMS for midsize to large businesses, it won't serve everyone's needs. Education customers might prefer our other top pick, the free, open-source Moodle LMS, our other Editor's Choice pick in our consumer-oriented learning management systems (LMS) review roundup. SAP Litmos LMS is another option given its affordability. However, if you have a midsize or large office, Absorb is an excellent LMS that promises to get even better. (The company maintains a weekly feature release schedule.)4.5Editors' ChoiceSee ItSee Demo at Absorb LMSMSRP $1,350.00View More
If you have a midsize to large business with employees to train, then Absorb LMS is the most attractive and functional turnkey learning management system we have tested.
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