SmarterU Review

Neovation
Product:
Vendor:
Founded:
Headquarters:
SmarterU
Neovation
2012
Winnipeg, Manitoba
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Free Trial:
Private
500+
Cloud
Yes
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SmarterU At A Glance

Good: Ability to create courses using multimedia content, gamification feature to increase learner engagement, customizable to an organization's requirements.
Bad: Public roadmap is not currently offered, not targeted to small businesses.
Bottom Line: Scalable LMS platform with robust features that help companies deliver engaging learning content to their employees.

Product Overview

SmarterU is a full-featured LMS platform that helps organizations administer engaging training programs more efficiently. Users can create courses, upload existing content or track instructor-led sessions. And because SmarterU has an intuitive interface, learners can easily see all of their courses, assignments and notes in one place.

The software allows administrators to set up their own branded portal. If there are multiple branded portals, SmarterU can link them with a single login. Organizations can also customize other aspects of the software to fit their requirements, and users can create and manage an unlimited number of courses and tasks. SmarterU can be accessed by learners on their desktop or laptop or on a mobile device via the SmarterU app, which is available for both Apple and Android devices.

SmarterU has additional benefits, such as:

  • Robust training features (e.g., multimedia content, testing options, reporting)
  • Improved learner engagement with gamification
  • Reduced training expenses
  • Accessibility from any device
  • Multilingual language support
  • Integration with eCommerce, human resource management systems (HRMS) and other third-party solutions
  • Supports single sign-on through many providers

Note that the vendor has a SmarterU Essentials library with over 7,000 video courses on a variety of topics, such as safety, project management and sales training. It costs $9/learner/month with discounts based on volume, and users can participate in a 14-day trial before purchase. In addition, SmarterU’s Flare Learning team can create bespoke courses or convert them into different formats at an organization’s request.

Features

SmarterU has many features. Here are several of its key ones.

Learning plans – Administrators can set up personalized learning plans based on an employee’s job using built-in templates or by creating their own. They can determine specific prerequisites or if the course should be mandatory or optional. Users can track the status of each course within a learning plan, and if the learner needs to renew their certification, the software sends them a reminder. The software supports an unlimited number of requirements, and users can track unlimited courses and actions within each requirement.

Course builder – SmarterU provides an intuitive course builder, meaning users don’t need coding knowledge. They can organize a course by chapters with a quiz or tasks within or at the end of each chapter. The software supports multimedia content, such as audio, video, images and links, and users can create digital flash-cards to boost learners’ memorization skills. In addition, users can import content from SCORM/AICC/xAPI compliant authoring tools, such as Articulate or Adobe Captivate. SmarterU also has an easy-to-use PowerPoint™ importer so users can convert their slides to online courses in minutes.

Testing/assessments – Administrators can set up tests and assessments by choosing from a range of question formats, such as short answer, long answer, multiple choice, yes/no and true/false. They can also randomize the order of the questions, denote specific questions as mandatory and set time limits for each test. Plus, administrators can choose from different grading options, such as percentage, letter or pass/fail.

Knowledge base – The knowledge base stores articles, forms and other documents that accompany the course content. Users can upload videos and other multimedia files and organize them. They can also create wiki-style articles that can be edited at any time. SmarterU provides stats for each article, such as the frequency of viewing or editing. The knowledge base is fully searchable – not just the metadata but document content as well.

Instructor-led training – SmarterU allows users to track an unlimited number of instructor-led training sessions. The instructor can manage attendance via a printable form or a dashboard, and the software can send a reminder to learners if they don’t show up. Other features include waiting list management, automatic certificate notification and integration to Cisco WebEx, GoTOWebinar, GoTOMeeting and GoTOTraining.

Gamification – The SmarterGames feature, which administrators can add after each course chapter, includes a game that learners can play before moving on to the next chapter. There’s no grades for completion, so it gives learners a fun opportunity to test what they’ve learned. In addition, learners can engage in friendly competition to earn points that can be redeemed for prizes, using leaderboards to measure and display the points and rewards functions that’s built into the platform.

Dashboards/reporting – SmarterU offers a variety of dashboards based on the user’s role (e.g., administrator, supervisor, learner). There’s also a “drag and drop” dashboard builder to allow for ultimate customization when viewing the data. The administrator dashboard has a high-level overview of the account, while supervisor dashboards give managers the opportunity to track their employees’ learning progress. Learners have their own dashboards where they can track their courses.

SmarterU provides reporting templates on a variety of metrics, including enrollment status, quiz analysis and user certification summary. Users can drill down into the report for more details, and they can create an unlimited number of custom reports with the drag-and-drop designer. The SmartGrids feature has an Excel-like interface that lets users sort, filter or drill down into the data. They can then export the report to either a CSV or XLS file for further analysis. Data can also be exported into business intelligence software like Power BI for deeper customized analysis.

Other features – SmarterU can send alerts and notifications to supervisors and learners. For example, supervisors can receive a weekly email on the status of their assigned learners, while learners get reminders about their training sessions or due dates of coursework. Users can also receive alerts when a learner enrolls in a course or fails to attend a session. Many of the modified email templates can be customized by the client to suit their specific communication needs.

In addition, the software has eCommerce functionality for companies that want to sell their courses. It integrates with Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce and 1ShoppingCart.com, where learners can pay for courses via PayPal. PayPal can also be used without any third-party eCommerce integration to sell courses to learners. Companies can choose to sell courses individually or by group, and they can track course credits, too.

Finally, learners can participate in discussion forums and provide course feedback via surveys.

Target Market

SmarterU works best for medium and enterprise companies that need to deliver long-form training to their learners. The vendor has clients in many industries, such as small franchises, manufacturing, health care, finance and government. We’ve listed 10 clients that use SmarterU below.

  • City of Philadelphia
  • Morneau Shepell
  • Sunwing Travel Group
  • Teladoc
  • Verisk Analytics
  • New Flyer (NFI Group)
  • Corus Entertainment
  • Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA)
  • MaidPro
  • Manulife Financial

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Implementation/Integration

All SmarterU clients go through the onboarding process with a dedicated account manager and receive additional certification for their account administrators through the SmarterU Academy. Neovation offers additional implementation services for clients with more complex needs, including the White Glove package and full Account Management, where a SmarterU LMS Expert becomes the client’s account administrator.

The timeline of the implementation process depends on the client’s needs and requirements, but it typically can range from a week for simpler deployment needs to up to 12 weeks for clients with complex requirements.

Neovation’s Special Projects team handles any historical data uploads or other necessary technical services, and its Flare Learning division can create bespoke courses. The vendor also specializes in complex software integrations with HRMS, eCommerce software, enterprise resource planning solutions (ERP) and other business systems.

Customer Service & Support

Neovation advertises that it provides exceptional response times and fast resolution times. Its clients have referred to the Client Success team as the most responsive in the business.

Users can contact customer support by phone, email or live chat. They can also access the in-app help system and view numerous video tutorials on the vendor’s YouTube channel.

Note that Neovation offers premium support that includes a two-hour nonurgent response time Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (CST) and a one-hour urgent response time 24/7.

Pricing

There are two SmarterU pricing plans.

  • Corporate – The Corporate plan costs $6,999 per year for up to 300 learners. It includes all SmarterU features except for learning plan automation. Onboarding and training services as well as an OttoLearn Agile Microlearning “Team” plan are included in the price.
  • Enterprise – The Enterprise plan costs $9,999 per year for up to 500 learners, $12,999 per year for up to 1,000 learners and $29,999 per year for up to 5,000 learners. It includes all SmarterU features, including learning plan automation. Onboarding and training services as well as an OttoLearn Agile Microlearning “Team” plan are included in the price.

As mentioned, Neovation provides additional implementation and support services.

Dedicated launch plan – With this plan, clients work with a dedicated implementation consultant throughout the implementation process. It starts at $5,000 for 12 weeks.

White Glove – The White Glove plan includes all the features of the dedicated launch plan, plus Neovation builds learning plans, uploads users and provides other custom features. It starts at $10,000 for 12 weeks.

LMS admin services – This plan gives clients access to their own dedicated SmarterU LMS Specialist who becomes their personal LMS administrator. It starts at $12,000 per year.

Premium support – The premium support plan, which is detailed in our Support section above, starts at $4,800 per year.

Additional services include course creation, data migration and custom integrations. Pricing for these services is not publicly available, so please contact Neovation directly for a quote.

Shortcomings

Neovation doesn’t currently have a public SmarterU roadmap, but it plans to add one in the future. The vendor is committed to making continual improvements based on client feedback and suggestions, so it typically releases new features and other upgrades every eight weeks.

Also, because SmarterU is mainly targeted to medium and larger companies, it may be too robust for small businesses.

Screenshots

Neovation Screenshot 1
Neovation Screenshot 2
Neovation Screenshot 3

About

Founded in 2012, Neovation Learning Solutions grew out of an existing online marketing business that built custom learning solutions for its clients. SmarterU was launched in 2009 under the original company as its cornerstone product, then OttoLearn was launched in 2018. Neovation’s Flare Learning division (custom course creation and conversion) was launched in 2013 to meet clients’ needs for bespoke eLearning content.

Neovation’s mission is to “make learning magical.” It runs by three core values: innovation, diversity and integrity. Its recent awards include the Craig Weiss Group’s 2020 Top 50 Learning Systems, eLearning Industry’s 2019 Top 20 Extended Enterprise LMS and 2019 Best LMS Free Demo and Brandon Hall’s 2018 Gold Award for Best Advance in Learning Technology.

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