Learning Management System vs. Learning Experience Platform

Technology has enabled a wide range of industries to make huge leaps forward. In finance, the ability to pay with our smartphones is reducing the need for cash. In healthcare, wearables allow for continuous patient monitoring. It’s hard to think of an industry that hasn’t been revolutionized— education included. 

Prior to learning with the support of IT, one would finish their degree, enter the workplace, and learning would be replaced by experience. The concept of continuous learning was rare. Then, in 1990, Soft Arc produced the first LMS platform, a new way to deliver education and training throughout organizations. Just over a decade later, we saw another shift in how we learn with the introduction of LXP.

There is no room for error when it comes to providing education for your employees. The half-life of skills has fallen greatly. A skill you learned in the past used to be valuable for 10 - 15 years; today, this is just 5 years. Learning and development are crucial for employee engagement, and 86% of employees feel that it’s important to provide learning opportunities. 

But what are these methodologies, and why are they both so significant? LMSs and LXPs have their individual advantages and potential disadvantages. Let’s begin by looking at what the two learning systems actually are. 

What Is An LMS?

Essentially, a Learning Management System is a technology that lets companies create, distribute and manage educational content. Let’s take the example of Moodle, one of the world’s largest LMSs. The Moodle platform has courses and training that moves learning into the online environment. Companies can create their own LMS either on a company server or cloud-based. Students have access to content at times that suit them, and admins can monitor the progress of the students. 

What Are the Types of LMSs?

  • Individual- generally for small companies or individual and often have subscription plans
  • Enterprise-grade- systems for companies with 500+ employees and will be scalable
  • Free- as with Moodle, educators can use these sites to create and share their content
  • Commercial- an LMS created for the use of companies or educational institutions, there will be frequent updates and 24/7 support
  • SaaS- Software as a Service, out of the box ready scalable with technical support but perhaps not customizable enough for all
  • Licensed- more costly but complete freedom with customization, can be cloud-based or server, generally takes longer to get up and running
  • Cloud-based- Google classroom is a cloud-based LMS
  • On site- a licensed product that is installed on an organization’s server. 
  • Integrated- having an LMS that can integrate with current company software and systems.

Regardless of the type of LMS, it should be able to make it easy for educators to correct work and provide feedback as well as for students to connect with their educators. 

What Is An LXP?

A Learning Experience Platform is a combination of innovative tools and technologies which provide a consumer-grade, personalized learning experience. The learning environment is far more robust and incorporates a wide range of learning resources to help engage learners. Experts feel that rather than a set of products, LXPs are a set of capabilities.

Learning experience platforms are replacing lms

Think of an LXP like Netflix or Amazon. There are so many options that consumers spend too much term search instead of watching or buying. Thanks to Artificial Intelligence and a data-driven approach, these companies are able to tailor the experience by providing suggestions and recommendations based on consumer habits and interactions. If you watch a particular genre of films, Netflix will compile a list of similar movies that interest you. An LXP works the same way.

AI and Data Analytics allow organization heads to uncover areas of learning that need to be improved and then provide content to meet those needs. This could be in the form of blogs, articles, podcasts, videos, and courses. 

Learners no longer have to sit through hours of content that is not relevant to them. Short bursts of information can be learned quickly and applied even faster, boosting efficiency and productivity in the organization.

What Are the Capabilities of an LXP?

  • An LXP should be capable of the 3 Cs, Curation, Contextualization, and Creation. Creation is the ability to identify and organize the appropriate content from multiple sources, including add-ons from third parties. Learners can set their own preferences based on level, skills, and content and be able to tag and share content. Contextualization is leveraging AI in order to deliver the correct content in the correct format for optimal L&D. Creation allows for the rapid production of new content. 
  • The integration of APIs. APIs integrated into an LXP lets workers learn while they are carrying out their tasks and from any type of device. You can also link to other business apps like your CRM, collect data from customers and streamline learning to improve the customer experience. 
  • Social interaction is essential for employee engagement. We have already seen have social media has helped industries. By offering the same solutions in an LXP, employees can collaborate to learn from each other and network to find new sources of learning.
  • Developing individual career paths. Career advancement is a motivator for many. Not being able to see where your career is going can lead to disengagement. LXPs should offer the ability to create personalized learning plans in line with an individual’s career path. 
  • User-friendly and intuitive interfaces. Content must be clearly visual on a range of devices, appealing to the reader, and the platform must be easy to navigate so users are motivated to get the most out of it. Playlists and channels can enhance the user experience. 
  • Adapt to all learner types. Some people can tuck into a 5-page PDF and extract all they need to; others gain more from a video. With today’s advanced technologies, we can include gamification in the LXP, basically the idea of a game to teach business content. Microlearning provides smaller learning units that are easier to digest than the extremely long units that you might find on an LMS. 

The Popularity of LSMs and LXPs?

It’s not that we are going to see an overnight conversion to Learning Experience Platforms. A report from Tech Barometer Research from 2019 showed that 60% of companies asked use an LMS. This is because they are suitable for compliance training. This type of training is standard for all of those within an organization and often mandatory for all employees. 

Because of the sheer capabilities of an LXP, there is no end to the potential uses. In particular, Millennials are digital learners, so LXPs will soon become what is expected rather than a job perk. We have yet to see the full impact of COVID-19 on the popularity of LXPs. In the first place, education around the world has made a giant leap to the online environment. Secondly, organizations have had to implement employee engagement strategies to support those who are working remotely. 

The market value of LXPs was estimated at approximately $300 million in 2019, again, prior to COVID-19. This doesn’t seem much compared with the $4 billion market value of LMSs. But, then you need to consider that only 13% of companies want to start with an LMS compared with the 50% annual growth of the LXP market. 

Learning & Development Trends for 2021

To get a better understanding of how important LXPs will become in the near future, we looked at 8 learning and development trends for 2021:

  1. Big data and Learning Analytics- more companies will start to gather data to create more effective training and development programs.
  2. AI-powered learning- AI will personalize learning and continue adapting the users learning path based on data gathered.
  3. Multi-device learning- the ability to pick up any device and access your learning content.
  4. Enhanced user-experience- social media has created a generation of tech users that expect a perfect digital experience, for L&D, UI, and UX can maximize learning.
  5. Integrations- more platforms will offer a wider selection of integrations so that L&D can be combined with job tasks and better collaboration.
  6. Social learning- Remote work has helped to break camera shyness for many, encouraging them to create and post their own content.
  7. Gamification- creates a fun learning environment and leads to a less formal learning environment. Learning becomes a pleasure rather than a chore. Instructors and system administrators are better able to see progress from game results.
  8. Video-assisted learning- more people will watch videos, but we will also see an increase in virtual training sessions due to the increase in remote work.

It’s not to say that LMSs won’t be able to keep up with some of these trends. However, as we have seen with the capabilities of LXPs, these trends will encourage more and more companies to switch to a Learning Experience Platform.

LMS vs. LXP— In Conclusion

There is still one other thing to consider in your choice between an LMS or an LXP— the costs. Both require an investment, and depending on the size of your organization; this cost could be rather hefty. What should help you with this decision is your return on investment. Do you really want disengaged staff who is wasting valuable time learning content that is not relevant? An LXP motivates employees to learn, leading to an organization that is continuously learning, updating their skills, and moving forward with the times. It reduces employee turnover and allows employees to integrate their personalized learning with their tasks, saving massive amounts of time and, overall, improving your bottom line.