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Buyer's Guide
Learning Management Systems
August 2022
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Ertan Aslan - PeerSpot reviewer
Head of Educational Technology and Innovation Department Experience at a educational organization with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 10
Integrates with a variety of Google applications, enables communication and collaboration, and is free for schools
Pros and Cons
  • "Company-wise, the most important feature is that it is a product of Google. It is a part of Google Suite. With Google Classroom, you can easily embed a Google Sheet, Google Doc, or Google Form. You can easily create a quiz in Google Form. It is integrated with Google Drive. So, everything is on Google Drive, and you can easily use it. With single sign-on, you can use it with Google Apps as well."
  • "There are some websites where you can create activities and guide students to do them in a sequence. You can guide them to do an activity first and then go to the next one. You can automatically link activities, and there is a flow, but in Google Classroom, you don't have that feature. All you can do is put the material and tell students what to do. For example, I have an assignment, but I want my students to read a particular text before that. They need to tick it, or they need to click next before they start doing the activity. After that, I want them to do comprehension questions or something else. In Moodle, there are activities such as assignments, quizzes, etc. There is a lesson module in which you can put all of the activities in a flow. So, you can decide what they need to do first. If students answer a question incorrectly, you can decide and design to which page do they need to go next, and which part do they need to review. This is currently missing in Google Classroom."

What is our primary use case?

I'm a Google-certified educator, as well as a data scientist. It is a learning platform, and we use it for classrooms and communication between teachers and students.

How has it helped my organization?

Google Classroom is not a traditional learning management system. It is different in many ways because Google Classroom is really for a classroom. Normally, when you have a traditional learning management system, you need it for the whole school. You need to install a lot of applications, and you need to use a hosting service. You need to have a third-party company, but in order to have Google Classroom, all you need is an account, and individually, any teacher who wants to use it can just create a classroom. That's it. You have total control over everything. In the classroom, you can do video teaching, and you can conduct classes and put assignments, grades, etc. You can add learning material.

Before Google Classroom, I had a lot of regular hard copy folders, and I had to keep a copy of all of the activities I used in the classroom so that I could use them in the future. It was almost impossible for me to find them when I needed them, but by using Google Classroom, everything is sorted, and I can easily access anything I need.

When I first started using it, I also had a lot of digital resources. I had to save them all the time in folders because I had a PC at home, and I had a PC at school. Whenever I needed a document, it was impossible to find. With Google Classroom, I can put everything in one place in a nice and organized way. I can put anything by topic, and there is one place for everything. The best thing that I like about Google Classroom is its integration with Google Drive. Everything you put there is saved in Google Drive, and you can access your files from any device and anywhere.

Another benefit is communication. Normally, Google Classroom isn't meant for communication, but, in fact, it is a wonderful tool for communication between teachers and students. That's because it's difficult for you to remember students' emails all the time. They might not even have an email address, but when you put something in the stream, they are notified. You can also add parents or guardians so that they can keep track of their child's activities. They can see whether they have submitted their assignments. They can follow everything, and they can also see teachers' messages.

Another good thing is that when you are teaching something in the classroom but you don't have time to finish or some of the students need more time, you can just put the assignment or task there. Students can then complete it later at their own pace without any stress. 

Previously, when you covered a topic in class, you were just limited to your books and other things in the classroom, but thanks to Google Classroom, you can expand your lessons. You can give a lot of extra resources. You can put links in Google Classroom where students can see videos and do interactive and fun activities.

It enables cooperation and collaboration among teachers. You can add co-teachers in Google Classroom, and you can share things.

What is most valuable?

Reusability is what I like the most about Google Classroom. For example, I'm a computer science teacher, and I'm currently teaching programming to year nine students, but next week, I'll start teaching year eight students. I can just reuse the same material. All I need to do is create learning material, such as videos, once, and then it's already there. I don't have to prepare everything again from scratch. I don't have to print anything. It is really economical. Since I started using Google Classroom, I rarely print anything.

Company-wise, the most important feature is that it is a product of Google. It is a part of Google Suite. With Google Classroom, you can easily embed a Google Sheet, Google Doc, or Google Form. You can easily create a quiz in Google Form. It is integrated with Google Drive. So, everything is on Google Drive, and you can easily use it. With single sign-on, you can use it with Google Apps as well. 

Another important feature of Google Classroom is that it is very easy to use. In the middle of March 2020, in Poland, the government suddenly decided that schools were going to be online. We were already in Google Suite, and I gave a single training to my staff members on how to create a classroom, and the next day, we just went live and started teaching online without any interaction. It wouldn't be possible with any other system available so far. 

For school administrators, Google is paying a lot of attention to data protection. There are a lot of tweaks, and you can set proper permissions. 

Google is adding new features all the time, which is very helpful. During the past two years, Google has added a lot of new features. For example, in the classroom, you didn't have Google Meet before. You had to create a Google Meet meeting first, and you had to put links there. They embedded this, which made life really easy. In addition, initially, students could enter the class and they could talk and do a lot of things. They have now limited it. Similarly, to make lessons interactive, Google introduced a new product called Jamboard, which is just like a whiteboard where you can write things down. They have embedded it into Google Meet. During the meeting, you can click Jamboard, and it is automatically shared with all people who are in the meeting. Everybody can write on the same board and collaborate. They're constantly adding new products. For example, about a month ago, I got an invitation from Google that they wanted to introduce a new product, but they didn't say anything about the product. They met senior Google-certified educators. I was one of them. They asked questions about the kind of problems we had with Google Classroom and their other educational products. They mentioned that they are going to introduce new products and new features based on the feedback they got from us. So, they're listening, which is a good thing.

What needs improvement?

They have recently embedded Google Meet with it, but Google Meet needs to be improved. It is not like Zoom, which has a lot more functionality. So, when it comes to video teaching, Google Meet still needs a lot of improvement.

There are some websites where you can create activities and guide students to do them in a sequence. You can guide them to do an activity first and then go to the next one. You can automatically link activities, and there is a flow, but in Google Classroom, you don't have that feature. All you can do is put the material and tell students what to do. For example, I have an assignment, but I want my students to read a particular text before that. They need to tick it, or they need to click next before they start doing the activity. After that, I want them to do comprehension questions or something else. In Moodle, there are activities such as assignments, quizzes, etc. There is a lesson module in which you can put all of the activities in a flow. So, you can decide what they need to do first. If students answer a question incorrectly, you can decide and design to which page do they need to go next, and which part do they need to review. This is currently missing in Google Classroom.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Google Classroom for about eight years. Google Classroom is a part of Google Suite, and I have been using Google Suite right from the beginning. Unofficially, I've been using Google Suite since 2004. That's because before Gmail officially became public, you could sign up through an invitation and test it and give feedback. Officially, Google Suite was launched in 2006, but Google Classroom wasn't there in the beginning. They added Google Classroom later, and I've been using it right from the beginning.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is my third international school since I started using Google products. In all these three schools, I brought, introduced, and implemented Google Suite. When I joined my current school three years ago, they were using Microsoft Office 360, and we just switched to Google. It has always been reliable because it is really a big company. Google is the biggest tech company. 

About two years ago, I conducted an online and nationwide math contest in which students from all over Poland took part. I was using a different cloud-based test system because it was created just for these purposes, but we had a lot of trouble. The server was down, and we couldn't reach out to people. One of the advantages of Google Classroom is that Google is behind it, and they almost never have downtime. It happened only once, but it was for a short time. All Google services were out of order for an hour or something like that. I don't remember any problem other than that.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

At the school where I'm working, we have six campuses. We have nearly 1,000 students. They were all in Google Classroom during the pandemic. We did not have any problems. We knew what functionalities were available, and we designed our activities based on this one. We did not have any problems. 

Anyone can create a classroom. Normally, a teacher creates the class for himself or herself. If you have your own Gmail account, you can just go to classroom.google.com and create a classroom. You can share it with other teachers. As a teacher, you can invite another teacher, and you can invite students. For each student, you can nominate a parent or a guardian. So, basically, there are three types of users available in Google Classroom.

Google Classroom became popular after COVID-19. Many people weren't even aware of it until then. Before COVID-19, I kept telling my colleagues that this is a wonderful tool, and they should give it a try. They might find it useful, but they said that they were really busy with other things, and they would take a look at it when they have some time. Now that COVID-19 is over, they are still using it and they are finding it useful. If you don't let them use it, you will be in trouble because things are different now. People will definitely keep using it because it is really useful, and people have realized that such solutions are really beneficial.

How are customer service and support?

They have a lot of forums and other resources, and you can find a solution for almost everything. I often get invitations from Google about a particular product of theirs. If they want to launch something new, they inform us and they exchange ideas with us. 

I'm just a regular user, and I'm pretty satisfied with Google's approach. They really listen and add new features. We had a lot of problems at the beginning with Google meetings. Students were kicking each other out of the meetings, and they even kicked a teacher out, and in a month or so, Google embedded Meet into Google Classroom, and they added some restrictions. They're closely observing, watching, and listening to our advice.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I'm a Moodle specialist as well. I wrote my graduation thesis on Moodle as a blended learning tool. I have two or three Moodle systems installed all the time. Moodle is an open-source system, which is free of charge. It has a lot of functionalities. 

The main feature of Google Classroom is that it is a part of Google Suite, and it is integrated with other Google products. If I had to use only Google Classroom itself, I wouldn't use it. I would go for Moodle. So, being a part of the Google environment is the biggest value add of Google Classroom. It is a part of their package, which makes Google Classroom stand out, even though it has fewer features than some of the other learning management systems.

Another feature of Google Classroom that I like is that it doesn't have a lot of functionalities. It has all the functionalities that teachers need, but there are no extra things to make things confusing for teachers, whereas Moodle has a lot of functionalities, which is something I like personally. I like to have a lot of functionalities myself, and that's what I like about Moodle, but when it comes to my teachers and my colleagues, Google is much easier because everything available there is easy to understand for them. It is easy to use.

Zoom is a perfect video call solution. I have a club for our high school students for which I'm using Zoom Pro. I'm still using Google Classroom because they are different things. Google Classroom is a platform where you can put all of your material, but instead of using Google Meet, I'm using Zoom for my video teaching. I have also tried Microsoft Teams, but I don't find it to be a good system. They seem to have created it for professional companies, and then suddenly, they seem to have changed it into an educational tool. It isn't as effective as Google Classroom.

How was the initial setup?

Google Classroom is in the cloud. Therefore, you don't have to do anything to host it. You only need to create a Google account. Google gives the service to educational institutions free of charge, so you only need to register with your school's domain, and they verify it. After that, just like Gmail, they're hosting the service on their own servers, and you use it. It's a 100% cloud-based solution. Google also allows some of the applications, such as Google Sheets and Google Docs, to work offline, but everything is totally cloud-based and on Google servers.

You don't need to download it. When you're signed in to your Gmail, all of the Google products are there, including Google Classroom. You just go to classroom.google.com, and that's it. When you log in with your ID, it recognizes which company you are joining from, and it shows you the classrooms that you've created as a teacher or assigned as a student. It is totally in the cloud.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We are an educational institution, and it is free of charge for us. Normally, if you are a private company, you have to pay a lot of money to get this service, but they are giving it for free to schools. 

What other advice do I have?

I would definitely recommend this product, especially for K12 schools. That's because when the students eventually go to the university, at some point, they will take online lessons. There are various types of learning management systems, and some of them are more complicated, and Google Classroom is a kind of exposition. As an online solution, it is very simple and very easy. A year three, four, or five students can manage to go there and log in without any problem. So, especially for K12 schools, I would highly recommend Google Suite over Microsoft. If you are already in Google Suite, I would definitely recommend Google Classroom.

I would rate Google Classroom an eight out of ten. It is the best, but there is always room for improvement.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Google
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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LMS Coordinator at University of Batangas
Real User
Easy to create personalized classes, responsive support, integrates well with third-party applications
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable feature is the ability for us to create personalized lessons. This is better suited to our students and learners than offering content or a subject that is already built into the system."
  • "The list of students needs to be organized according to gender. The list of students in the product contains both male and female students, whereas, in our grading system, we list the male students followed by the female students."

How has it helped my organization?

NEO LMS was especially helpful during the pandemic. All of the features were useful including creating and evaluating assignments, creating classes, creating child classes, badges, gamification, and more.

We are always doing training sessions, and whenever we think to use different features, such as the Portfolio, we include them in our training sessions. For instance, we do a training session for teachers before the school year starts. Then, if there are requests for retraining in the middle of the school year, we try to put those interested into the program.

We provide our users with content and basic tools through the NEO Help Center. There is an icon in the system that leads to their help desk, and this is what we ask our teachers to use, especially during the training sessions. If they have issues or concerns about using any of the features that NEO LMS offers, we try to emphasize the use of the help icon to resolve them.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the ability for us to create personalized lessons. This is better suited to our students and learners than offering content or a subject that is already built into the system. This is one of the main things that I am looking for in an LMS.

When we create personalized classes, the concept of a child class is important. This is because we have our basic education but each course has several sections. In NEO LMS, a good feature is that we can create a child class based on a parent class. We don't need to create a new class and then upload new lessons or assignments.

When we create assignments and give them to the students, the system checks the answers based on the input made by the teachers.

The user interface makes the platform easy to use and manage.

What needs improvement?

We recently had a conversation with their team to discuss some of the changes that we wanted to see in the product.

There are some analytics issues that need to be resolved, including the item analysis.

We have had problems with synching some of the lessons.

The grading system itself is something that we discussed with them because it's not well-adapted in our use case. The list of students needs to be organized according to gender. The list of students in the product contains both male and female students, whereas, in our grading system, we list the male students followed by the female students.

The grade book needs to be improved because that is one of the most valuable features. It's how we assess our students.

The assessment tools should also be improved. It would be helpful if it could be set up in such a way that the students will be able to take an online exam. This will help to develop their higher-order thinking skills.

Perhaps they can integrate the course evaluations.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using NEO LMS for more than two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

NEO LMS is a stable platform. They provide their system maintenance notice ahead of time and for us, it means that we are able to announce it to the organization or to the institution ahead of time.

NEO LMS is committed to the stability of the system.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We are deployed across multiple locations. This school year, we have basic education from kindergarten through grade 12. We also have two college campuses with different departments, and this is in two different cities.

We have a total of 719 faculty, which are composed of teachers and other employees. We have a total of 15,316 students that also use the solution.

In our organization, some of the faculty are also enrolled in postgraduate study. They are able to use an exemption in this case and use their teacher's account.

Another aspect of scalability is upgrading. Specifically, we are able to level up. We were originally just using the basic features but now we are upgrading our horizons. We are including features such as portfolio, assignment, and other assessment tools. We did not stop growing after the first year.

We were also able to integrate other applications, such as Google Meet. We would like to use Zoom but Google Meet is the most convenient for us.

We are working toward using the Most Essential Learning Competencies (MELCs) next. Essentially, we didn't stop with what we had learned during the first two years. We are leveling up. Whatever products or features are being proposed or posted in the product news, we are trying to use them.

How are customer service and support?

Their support is available 24/5 and they are excellent. They're very responsive.

They also have a support tracking system that shows the progress with respect to resolving an issue.

Overall, I would rate the support a nine out of ten.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We did a simple evaluation but otherwise, we did not use another LMS solution.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the initial setup, but the majority of it was handled by our IT department. For the first year after our implementation, things were good. We did not experience challenges during the initial setup or immediately afterward.

Our implementation was done in stages, and training began with the core group. As a part of the core group, my training session was conducted by the NEO LMS CYPHER LEARNING team in the Philippines. After that, training was done for teachers in select groups. Not all of them were completed during the first year.

We selected different groups such as basic education from grade five to senior high, as well as selected courses in the colleges or in the bachelor's degree. Then, we also had postgraduate study. All of the teachers for these groups were trained during the first year.

During the first year, we also leveled up our training. We went from basic training to level two training, or perhaps intermediate training. The following year, we added courses and grade levels.

The next groups to be added were grades three and four. For the college courses, we added all of them. In fact, all of the higher education was added during the second year of our implementation.

From that point, our teachers have a training session before the school year starts, and we regularly upgrade the faculty members on the use of the system.

For our students, we create tutorial videos. These are particularly helpful for new students and transfers. We want them to be able to easily use the system.

Finally, as part of this process, we conduct training sessions specifically for newly hired teacher personnel. This is done in coordination with the HR department and with the approval of our vice president of academic affairs.

What about the implementation team?

We have our IT specialist, who is also part of the team.

We have a team of five people that are responsible for maintenance, each of whom has their own role. We create accounts for teachers and students. We are also involved in creating training sessions, reactivation of archived accounts, and technical support.

If it is not a serious issue, we handle the technical support. However, if it is required at a higher level, then teachers are referred to consult the help icon.

The members of the team have their own regions. There is one for each of the two cities and three for higher education. Our IT technician is in addition to these five that maintain it. As we expand the use of our system, we expect this to increase as well. Also, as we continue to build, we are expanding our horizons.

For example, we are tapping the teachers and faculty members that we know are well-versed in the use of NEO LMS. For each of the five of us in the team, we are tapping perhaps two or three more per organization. In my case, with basic education, I have two from the elementary department and two from senior high. Then, from other colleges, I think there are two or more included in our team.

What was our ROI?

As an LMS coordinator, I cannot guarantee that we have seen ROI. However, my feeling from using the system is that we are getting a return on our investment.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We currently have a two-year contract with the vendor.

We have compared pricing with different vendors and found that NEO LMS was the most reasonable. It is not the most expensive platform of its type but it has a lot of good features, which is the most valuable thing for me. It gives us what is most useful for online teaching.

There are no additional costs for NEO LMS itself. However, we had an extra product that was built into the platform, and there was an additional charge for this.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Some of us worked with Moodle to assess it, although it was not used for a large number of students. In my case, I used Moodle for three sections just to do a dry run. However, I was not able to get value from it because I didn't find it to be a user-friendly platform. That's why we had to move to another LMS.

Our administration regularly looks into other learning platforms, although we are currently locked into a two-year contract so I don't expect that we will change solutions.

What other advice do I have?

The first year after we implemented this solution was good. Our faculty members and students were excited to use the system. However, as the years have gone by, there have been problems or challenges that have arisen.

My advice for anybody who is considering this product is that they have a good design layout, and they have features such as course export, wherein we are allowed to export into different formats. This is something that is needed by the teachers. The e-portfolio is also good. Generally speaking, I recommend NEO LMS because there are components that have proven to be useful in managing activities, especially nowadays that we are in an online teaching, flexible learning delivery model.

Compared to other platforms, it is easy to use, manage, and navigate the interface. You do not necessarily need a tutor or training to learn to use it. It is convenient for the purpose of conducting assessments and using other tools. It helps to convey lessons and give information for both students and teachers, whether the sessions are synchronous or asynchronous.

The biggest lesson that I have learned from using this solution is that you should never stop learning. Don't stop exploring NEO LMS because otherwise, you'll depend on what has been taught during the training. You won't explore their new products and you will be left behind. If there are new products or features released, you should try them for yourself. If you find that they are productive and useful, then include them in future training sessions.

Most of our staff are grateful to have NEO LMS as our learning management system. There are still some features that we haven't used, including the portfolio and the grade book. We may look into the portfolio, as they have already enlightened us on how to use it to empower our work.

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

Disclosure: PeerSpot contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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Dani Bates - PeerSpot reviewer
Executive Director STEM Initiatives at 21stCentEd
Real User
Top 20
You can edit all your courses at once by editing the master course
Pros and Cons
  • "One of the things that we are really excited about is being able to tie the state or national standards as competencies. Then, when students complete a course, they are awarded certain competencies or standards that we have aligned with the course. This shows schools evidence that students are meeting standards. Right now, we are not tying any of our courses with how schools are testing and assessing students. However, our company goals are to provide access to STEM for all students and help schools engage with communities to develop the STEM talent and workforce, which then impacts a community's economic development."
  • "I have one team member who is in charge of monitoring and checking students' progress. She is very tech savvy and has really dove into the reporting feature in MATRIX. If I had one complaint, it would be the reporting. It is so robust and detailed that it is hard to obtain some of the specific things that we want. That has been her response to me, and I have found the same thing. If I just want to know how many students have completed a course in a specific organization, then it is a little bit too daunting and difficult to obtain exactly what we use as our key indicators."

What is our primary use case?

When we are engaged in an agreement with a school district, we will create their organization on the platform and customize it. There is a portal that we can customize with their logo, images, and colors. These are our own clients, so I am using the platform as if I own the platform. There are a lot of different features and things that I can customize for our clients. So, we create their organization, then we copy our master courses into their organization. We then meet with their principals and devise an action plan for how the district will use the courses that we offer.

Some of the schools within the district will use the courses as online self-paced learning. Some of them will use it as an online textbook. Thus, the teachers use the courses and facilitate the learning from our courses on the platform with their students. Some students will create accounts where they will have accounts in the platform and access our courses as they go through the MATRIX platform.

How has it helped my organization?

One of the things that we are really excited about is being able to tie the state or national standards as competencies. Then, when students complete a course, they are awarded certain competencies or standards that we have aligned with the course. This shows schools evidence that students are meeting standards. Right now, we are not tying any of our courses with how schools are testing and assessing students. However, our company goals are to provide access to STEM for all students and help schools engage with communities to develop the STEM talent and workforce, which then impacts a community's economic development.

Our metrics will be students being exposed to STEM. I love that I can see how many students have completed courses as well as what that means on our end in terms of their exposure and experiences in STEM. It ties different metrics to our understanding of students' progress. We can understand, from the percentage of students in an entire school district, how many have been exposed or completed courses. This is really attractive to our clients. Therefore, this helps us develop our client base.

What is most valuable?

I love their help center. 

I just love the accessibility of being able to edit all the courses at once by editing the master course. 

I love the catalog feature. 

I love the support. 

They have gamification elements, and I love the gamification. We can add points to student assessments. We can also add badges, so students can earn badges. This makes them more motivated to continue learning. 

We can create certificates. There are student portfolios that schools love. Students can have a portfolio of all these credentials and badges that they have earned over their educational journey. 

We can see who has accessed the portal, if they are using it, and the student's progress. We schedule check-ins, where we can say, "Hey, we see you haven't been able to look at the courses yet or log in. Is there anything that is holding you back?" 

What needs improvement?

I have one team member who is in charge of monitoring and checking students' progress. She is very tech savvy and has really dove into the reporting feature in MATRIX. If I had one complaint, it would be the reporting. It is so robust and detailed that it is hard to obtain some of the specific things that we want. That has been her response to me, and I have found the same thing. If I just want to know how many students have completed a course in a specific organization, then it is a little bit too daunting and difficult to obtain exactly what we use as our key indicators.

For how long have I used the solution?

We transitioned over to MATRIX in 2020. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is deployed in the cloud. We have five to seven employees who actually go into the software, but we all access it remotely and it is all online in the cloud.

It can grow with us. We have gone from 150 users a month to 1,000 users every month in the matter of six months, and we are getting even bigger. We will probably have 10,000 users every month by the end of the year.  We currently have 6,500 instructors, administrators, and students using the solution. We are getting about 1,000 to 1,100 more students every month.

I am very confident that the solution can be scaled. It does scale very well.

There is someone from IT, implementation, and curriculum always engaged in the platform. So, we have an IT Manager and Implementation Manager as well as a Director of Curriculum who assists with walk-throughs.

It is used all day, every day, by various members of our team. It is used all day during the school hours across the country. We are also looking to expand into Jamaica and Puerto Rico, so we will be international soon. We are adding new districts every other month. So, we have plans to extend our usage.

How are customer service and support?

The support system on MATRIX is one of its best features. I love the program because they get back to you quickly, and they are knowledgeable.

They have taken my suggestions and changed elements of the LMS to make things easier. In a matter of a week, I make a suggestion and their engineers create the change. There are a lot of little things like that which attracted us to do a trial, remain their client, and use the solution. This really helps my workflow.

I speak very highly of their support system, i.e., the help center. Their documentation is great. The help center is easy to follow for finding answers to my questions. The support team answers 24/7, though only on critical items during the weekends. 

I love the idea of the suggestions. They are very transparent about their roadmap. All of that falls under the support system. I am very pleased with the support system and would rate it as 10 out of 10.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I had several complaints about the Moodle Workplace. With our previous LMS, I had to update every course individually with new changes. We serve hundreds of school districts across the country. Every school has multiple schools, every school has multiple teachers, and teachers have multiple copies of the course for their different sections of classes. Therefore, Moodle was not working out.

We serve schools and school districts, and we provide STEM-related STEM online courses to school districts and other community student serving organizations, i.e., anybody who serves students. We needed a way to translate the courses somewhat quickly, then update the courses across all our tenants or different clients.

Because of COVID, we really needed a new solution for our multi-tenant LMS. We were using Moodle Workplace previously, which just wasn't working out. The CEO found MATRIX somehow, and it has been amazing ever since.

We looked at the different features that MATRIX LMS offered. It had gamification, which is also something that we wanted to do and Moodle couldn't do. It had the syncing feature, where I could update one course and sync it across every course that I have ever made. Also, it works with language. It could translate into 40-plus languages. So, it seemed like this solution was a much better use case for us.

How was the initial setup?

The onboarding was quite complex since there is so much you can do. There are so many features that can be used. We were guided to do things that were essential, e.g., creating organizations, creating accounts, managing accounts, creating courses, and editing courses. That was all very straightforward. I could actually figure it out before we even got to the onboarding, so we were able to focus on more complex, different things than onboarding.

We spaced the deployment out over three weeks, working on it once a week, so we were able to have time in between the practice to learn different things. We may have even expanded that because we needed to have a client come in pretty quickly. 

What was our ROI?

MATRIX has helped reduce our administrative work and costs when delivering training material.

If we were still in Moodle, it would be a lot harder for companies to join us. I don't think that they would feel as confident. That has definitely been a return on investment from using MATRIX LMS. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We are on a plan where we pay for 1,000 users every month. The pricing structure is pretty straightforward. It just depends on what you need. We are currently going with a monthly model because sometimes there are still months during the year where we will have a lot less students on the system, and we took that into consideration. 

I would advise to ask about reseller options since they have reseller options for other organizations to use their LMS.

The more users you get a month, the more you will pay. If you go over your plan, there is an additional $6 per user. Sometimes it doesn't make sense to jump to the next plan because you wouldn't be using that number of users or overage. Other than more users than our plan costs, there are no other additional charges that I have found yet.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at a couple other options, but we didn't feel confident that they would be able to support our usage needs and potential growth. When we were looking at the list of the different features, comparing them, one MATRIX just blew TalentLMS out of the water. Therefore, we went for the potential to grow with MATRIX over the lack of features that other companies had.

What other advice do I have?

CYPHER LEARNING is very forward-looking in the fact that they don't want to be a typical LMS. They have taken into consideration AI, automation, rules, and gamification. These types of features are really transforming the way people learn. They are really using emerging technologies to be a learning management system that is intelligent and can adapt with the learner. This would be some of my best advice to consider as people are creating courses and training.

Keep an open mind in how students can best learn online. For example, I am learning about the different automation and gamification features and how they equate or relate to our company's goal. Besides learning how to become an expert in their platform and knowing how to use different features, I have observed how students can best learn on the platform.

The solution’s rules engine is on our radar. Now that our team is a bit bigger, we have some capacity to go into that. I am really looking forward to using its automation features and rules.

With facilitators, who know little to nothing about our content, we train them. So, it can be taught by anybody.

I would rate the solution as nine out of 10 due to the reporting.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: PeerSpot contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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James Phelps - PeerSpot reviewer
Adjunct Professor at Nova Southeastern University
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Intuitive, easy to learn, and easy to adapt to various teaching methodologies
Pros and Cons
  • "Its easy adaptability to whatever form or methodology you are using to teach is valuable. It tends to be seamless, and it is very much a self-intuitive product. It requires almost no instruction, and you can be fully up to speed and ready to run on it. You can bring someone in who has never worked with any online learning or LMS system, and in a week's timeframe, they would almost be fully functional because Canvas is so simple to use."
  • "The high-tech interactivity with other software, like ArcGIS or RSA Archer, can be better. It is not as easily compatible with them. You can put apps in it that the students can then access, but the routing of apps through the Canvas system slows down functionality on the other types of products."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for all on-campus and remote course deliveries, all assignment submissions, and all exams, except for medical school exams where you have to do practicals, but even there, you have to record the practical exam results in Canvas. So, it has got wide applicability from standard undergraduate school right up through medical college and hard sciences. We can do everything with it.

We are using its latest version. I don't know how the IT department has deployed it at the university. It is probably cloud-based because they have multiple campuses, but I have no way of knowing.

What is most valuable?

Its easy adaptability to whatever form or methodology you are using to teach is valuable. It tends to be seamless, and it is very much a self-intuitive product. It requires almost no instruction, and you can be fully up to speed and ready to run on it. You can bring someone in who has never worked with any online learning or LMS system, and in a week's timeframe, they would almost be fully functional because Canvas is so simple to use.

What needs improvement?

The high-tech interactivity with other software, like ArcGIS or RSA Archer, can be better. It is not as easily compatible with them. You can put apps in it that the students can then access, but the routing of apps through the Canvas system slows down functionality on the other types of products.

As much as I've used it, I don't need any additional features. For what it is used for as a learning management system, it really does work. I haven't seen anything that would indicate it was a problem.

For how long have I used the solution?

We migrated to it in 2015. So, it has been seven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. I see very few glitches with it, and updates don't have to be propagated halfway through. We don't have to propagate emergency fixes and patches during the semester. It is a stable system to use.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable. There must be 20,000 people using it on that campus. We run a medical college, a public health department, and the hard sciences department. We also have a lot of things that are spread out across the state of Florida through Canvas. So, it is pretty scalable.

In terms of our plans to increase its usage, I don't know what the university is going to do, but right now, the university is saturated with Canvas. Even if you're doing classes in a regular standard classroom, all of your exams, all of your quizzes, all of your practicals, and all of your teaching are recorded and loaded into the Canvas system for future review by accreditors. So, it is pretty well saturated on that particular campus.

How are customer service and support?

I've had to get technical support from the Canvas people themselves on occasion. When that happened, the campus IT people, who were the Canvas people, actually stayed with me while I was working with the software design people. They were very helpful, and they very much understood right away what was needed to fix the issue, but it was very rare that I needed help

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We switched from Blackboard to Canvas. I was around when we transitioned from Blackboard to Canvas, and everybody was like, "Oh no, we finally learned Blackboard." When we transitioned to Canvas, we never ever heard a complaint. Everybody suddenly said that this is nice. Unlike the constant grumbling about Blackboard, which everybody still grumbles about, when it came to Canvas, everyone found it easy.

How was the initial setup?

It was probably easy. 

What about the implementation team?

Initially, it was an in-house deployment. I have no idea if it was with assistance from the corporation. I also have no idea if it is hosted on local servers or on the cloud because I'm not a part of that process.

I have no idea about the people required for its maintenance, but I have had to have very few interactions with IT over trying to manage, manipulate, or make it do something different. There were very few instances where I had to pick the phone up and say to IT that I got a problem. In every one of those instances, it was because connections from certain countries back into the system were blocked. They had to make special exceptions or rules for my specific computer while I was traveling. Other than that, there were virtually no problems with it.

What was our ROI?

We have absolutely seen an ROI. It has made our accreditation reviews and our outside monitoring much more seamless than the last version of Blackboard that I have had experience using.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

When the decision was made to shift from Blackboard over to Canvas, they also concurrently looked at Moodle as a system that could be utilized. Moodle is open source, but it has some inherent issues with it. That's why they went with Canvas LMS instead of Moodle at that particular school.

What other advice do I have?

It functionally works, and it is intuitive and easy to learn, which makes it significantly more advantageous than the Blackboard LMS or Moodle LMS.

Canvas is definitely up there at level nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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James Phelps - PeerSpot reviewer
Adjunct Professor at Nova Southeastern University
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Expandable with good real-time live interactions but is very expensive
Pros and Cons
  • "It is scalable."
  • "The solution is not flexible."

What is our primary use case?

Blackboard really is over - which is why we shifted over to the Canvas model and the Moodle model. When Blackboard got bought out, it just became another mass delivery product. As with everything that pretty much Microsoft does, it's not great. There's a reason some of us use Apple all the time.

What is most valuable?

The real-time live interactions have been great.

It is scalable. 

What needs improvement?

Blackboard is expensive and requires regular updates. Like Microsoft products, you flip your computer on, and all of a sudden you realize that you're going to spend four hours sitting there updating.

That happens to Blackboard all the time. Not all IT departments or universities understand that their job is to teach, not to constantly upgrade software.

The solution is not flexible. 

It was not very stable and required a lot of updates in the past.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution since 2005. I've used many iterations of the product. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It was not a stable product, at least up until a couple of years ago. There was a reason you needed to do updates, including in the middle of semesters. You couldn't even maintain functionality through a 16-week semester.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The product is scalable. 

The number of users varies. The campus has 7,000 to 8,000 students plus all of the faculty and staff. That becomes around 10,000 or so.

How are customer service and support?

Technical support could handle all of the routine stuff, however, as soon as you asked the hard question or needed significant help, they had to contact the Blackboard representative directly.

They didn't have the necessary skills to actually change the software if you identified a problem. They always had to go back.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Neutral

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We did not previously use a different solution. We shifted over to both Canvas and Moodle.

How was the initial setup?

Initially, Blackboard had problems for faculty members who were forced to use it to try to get it set up and running. That said, over time, they improved that. Unfortunately, due to its licensing requirements on standalone systems, like at a university on our servers, we run into problems where we can only set it up in one way. The way you teach a biology class is not the way you teach a social science class, for example. It's not flexible. Often you are forced into compromising in such a manner that neither group would be happy.

If you need help, the help desk in-house will provide 24-hour help to both students and faculty. That means you have eight people, eight hours a day, supervisors, and an overall manager. It takes at least 12 people to handle maintenance for a 10,000-person campus for 24-hour coverage.

What about the implementation team?

We handled the deployment in-house. 

What was our ROI?

We haven't really seen any ROI. 

It's a functional system. However, the inherent problems are too much for us. 

It's one of the reasons we migrated from Blackboard to Canvas at one of the places that I use LMSs.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The solution is a bit expensive. However, I wasn't on the budgeting side of the business and can't speak to exact costs. On a scale from one to five, with five being the most expensive, I'd rate the solution at a six. 

Once they were bought out by the big company, you couldn't afford them anymore.

What other advice do I have?

I'm not using the most recent version. It's been a couple of years, so I don't know what versions are out now. I just know that Microsoft or Google bought them. Then after that, we shifted over to both Canvas and Moodle.

It has good points, and it has bad points. Fundamentally, all LMS systems are similar in their work and problems. They vary. It depends on the intensity you need for interacting with students and clients.

I would advise potential new users to be prepared to staff a large technical support unit.

I'd rate the solution seven out of ten. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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