LMS or LXP?
The world of work is changing fast, and the only thing that’s certain is that the skills of tomorrow are different to those of today. Evidently, we will all need to adapt and learn quickly if we are to survive and thrive in the digital era. The competitive advantage and business impact will be driven by people empowered to be self-directed learners with a growth mindset and thirst for life-long learning.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” Alvin Toffler
Staying relevant and future-fit coupled with high (and continually rising) end-user expectations make it likely you’re looking to trade up your enterprise learning platform, whether your end-users are your staff, partners, members or customers.
The challenge is with a plethora of learning platform vendors out there (each with impressively long lists of product features) and so much talk of the LXP vs the LMS, how do you choose?
This explores the key differences between a traditional Learning Management System (LMS) and a Learner Experience Platform (LXP), providing some guiding questions to help you differentiate which you might need. Or whether, in fact, you need both.
The traditional LMS
The traditional LMS has long been providing a multi-modal training management system, enabling administrators to track training and compliance. In the early days of the LMS it solved the problem of ad-hoc instructor-led training management being tracked on a multitude of cumbersome spreadsheets and facilitated the delivery of targeted SCORM courses at scale (replacing e-learning on CD-ROMS). In the 20-odd years since, the feature sets have evolved to include social learning and user generated content, certifications, the ability to design and route learners through learning pathways, e-commerce, mobile learning and more recently gamification.
But over the last couple of years, there’s been considerable disruption in the learning space with the arrival of the LXP. More traditional LMS vendors are inevitably following suit and the number of vendors offering an LXP product is rapidly growing. But what is it and how does it differ from the traditional LMS?
What problem does an LXP seek to solve?
In a nutshell an LXP addresses this need for us to learn, unlearn and relearn, to search for and surface the content we need quickly and at the point of need, and to engage us by delivering a consumer-grade personalised user experience akin to that of the apps we choose to use in our everyday lives (Netflix, Spotify, Facebook).
It is a paradigm shift from the compliance led delivery of learning to that of user-engagement led curation of self-directed learning.
What does an LXP do?
An LXP uses AI to personalise the learning experience to the user and the skills they need to develop. Some also integrate learning into the flow of work using chat bots to surface learning at the point of need. An LXP also enables people to log the informal learning they’ve been doing all along (that hasn’t been recorded on the LMS) – the videos watched, the articles read, the podcasts listened to etc. It acknowledges that our ability to learn at the point of need depends on access to bitesize content, such as YouTube, and it indexes this making it searchable and recommends it based on skills assessments and usage. An LXP scrapes and aggregates open content from the web using customised taxonomies to refine and constrain search results to ensure relevance and personalisation.
Most importantly an LXP has a consumer grade interface and is a place where people choose to go for self-directed learning.
At the heart of the LXP is the notion of skill assessments, self-directed learning, curation of content from an abundance of sources and the ability for people to record all the learning that they’re doing every day that doesn’t get recorded in the LMS.
The LXP vs the LMS
A traditional LMS (depicted on the right) is typically admin-driven, offering all the standard functionality you would expect such as the ability to manage users, manage learning assets, create and assign learning pathways comprised of different learning assets (e-learning, webinars, instructor-led training or ILT, videos etc), and report on interaction and usage. A traditional LMS has been built with a ‘training management first’ approach, prioritising multi-mode training management and reporting for administrators.
Conversely an LXP, or modern LMS incorporating LXP functionality (depicted on the left) is user-driven and ‘mobile first’, prioritising a consumer grade user experience through Netflix style carousels of content targeted, personalised and recommended to users based on previous learning choices and their skill development requirements, providing offline access to all content from a white labelled mobile app.
Importantly with an LXP, the tracking of learning activities outside of the platform (such as tracking books and articles read for example) is possible. These platforms are also built with open APIs on the premise that the platform will integrate not only with multiple content sources, but also with multiple third-party best-of-breed applications to create a learning ecosystem that can evolve with the needs of the learners as new products and services are provisioned.
Do you need an LMS, an LXP, or both?
Below are some considerations to help align your objectives with a suitable platform. (Check out this guide of 10 steps to help define your requirements to choose the right learning platform for a more structured approach to your platform search).
You should consider an LMS if your objectives are:
· Compliance driven.
· You want more control over defining user journeys.
· You want more control over the sources of curated content.
· To administrate ILT (both classroom and webinar).
· Your focus is on tracking CPD and accredited training.
· To create learning pathways of e-learning modules, materials, and ILT.
· To facilitate L&D professionals creating and publishing content via an LCMS (Learning Content Management System).
You should consider an LXP if your objectives are:
· To drive user engagement.
· To use AI to recommend content to users based on their skills assessments and/or based on usage.
· You want to facilitate content curation by different people or areas of the business.
· You want to drive self-directed learning and learner autonomy.
· You want to enable user-generated content.
· To push people to create and share content encouraging social learning.
· To create learning pathways comprised of a variety of content (videos, articles, podcasts etc) from multiple sources.
You might need both an LMS and LXP if….
· You want to implement an LXP to drive user engagement and learner autonomy, but you already have an LMS that hosts a lot of your content and the LMS is entrenched in your organisation.
o But you don’t need to migrate content from your LMS to your LXP. In fact, LXPs don’t host content, they just surface it to your end-users. In this context you might find that you just want to implement an LXP which pulls content from your LMS and acts as the user interaction layer. LMS administrators can continue to report on course completions from the LMS and through integrations with the LMS the user can see all the learning they’ve completed in one place.
· You have a high volume of ILT that is already managed via your LMS.
· If you already have an LMS you’re happy with you might want to consider implementing an LXP which integrates with it.
If you have an LMS and you’re looking to switch, then you might want to consider doing a full review on your requirements and look at vendors who can match them bearing in mind this might be multiple vendors to create your learning ecosystem.
On the other hand, if you don’t already have a learning platform, you might want to consider selecting an LXP which has its own ‘LMS-lite’ features if this satisfies your functional requirements. Also lots of vendors traditionally in the LMS market now offer integrated LXP products or don’t see themselves as an LMS at all but still retain some LMS-style functionality.
Finally, don’t forget to prioritise your content strategy
One of the main things that becomes apparent when considering whether you need an LMS, an LXP, or both is the importance of considering your content strategy from the outset. Without great, engaging and relevant content no one will come back to your platform, so having a clear content strategy will help inform the route you end up taking. Some questions to consider include:
· Where is your content coming from?
· Will it be produced internally?
· Will you commission bespoke content?
· Do you intend to decentralise curation of content across your organisation?
· Do you want to encourage users to create and share their own content?
· Will users be accessing content from their phones or mainly via a desktop?
For help and support with your learning platform requirements contact Learn Fox to discuss your project.