Whether LRS, LMS, LEP or LXP, the world of Digital Learning is populated by many acronyms. This article is the first in a series dedicated to becoming familiar with this plethora of acronyms.
It will deal with the differences and complementarities between a Learning Experience Platform (LXP) and a Learning Management System (LMS).
The next one will deal with the Learning Record Store (LRS) and the benefits of using it.
Differences between LXP and LMS
The first difference between a Learning Experience Platform (LXP) and a Learning Management System (LMS), which is usually misunderstood as the main difference, is the ergonomics or user experience (UX).
However, this is not the main difference.
The appearance of the Learning Experience Platform has forced LMS vendors to revise or accelerate their approach to redesigning the user interface. They did not want to see an intermediary come between them and the learners. However, the fundamental differences can be found in other areas.
The two main differences are the change in customer orientation to the benefit of the end user and the change in pedagogical modality.
A platform for the buyer or for the user?
LMSs, with their object model dating from the early 2000s, were created to distribute e-learning content. They are also used to administer the company’s internal training offer, all modalities combined (e-learning and face-to-face).
These systems were designed by software publishers as a solution to the problems of their HR customers. The architecture was therefore thought out in the form of sessions, registrations, validation workflows, sign-up sheets for face-to-face training, invitation e-mails, deadlines… a whole functional panel that is still critical today.
Therefore, a company can do without LXP, whereas it cannot do without LMS.
LXP, for its part, has been thought out with the end user or learner as the client.
The basic premise being simple, namely that if a platform has not been built with the codes of a B2C platform (Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, Spotify…) then end-users will be less likely to be engaged, to connect by themselves in order to learn.
LXP editors have a speech about ROI, pointing the finger at the purchase of SaaS licenses by companies for their end users, but only having a majority of connection and time spent on their LMS on mandatory modules (compliance).
In summary, most LMSs are almost only used for mandatory training. We are a long way from the initial promise of life-long learning and the creation of an advanced learning culture by LMS editors.
A change of pedagogical modality
The second difference is that of the pedagogical modality.
LMSs work well to develop skills over time on structured courses, with quizzes, reminders, blended or not, this is called macro-learning or formal learning.
LXP, on the other hand, does not focus on the structured or formal part of learning, LMSs do a good enough job in that area.
On the contrary, it tries to capture the informal (videos, articles, podcasts…).
LXP is a bit like Google, Netflix or Youtube, or all three at the same time, training. It is a response from the e-learning world to the B2C trend of “just in time” in a society of immediacy.
The LXP is there to aggregate and consolidate all the company’s training content, whether in the LMS or not, and to give a user the possibility, in just a few key words, of having an answer to his or her problem.
The content is shortened as much as possible (micro-learning), and well indexed via metadata to enable recommendation engines similar to those of Neflix or Amazon to be able to offer the user relevant content according to their use.
Above and beyond this essential functionality, LXP editors have integrated additional features into their product.
For example, a feature that perfectly exemplifies this positioning is the implementation of the xAPI standard.
The xAPI standard, the new digital learning standard after Scorm, was designed to help capture informal learning (i.e. outside the LMS). It is therefore not surprising to see very few LMS editors offering this standard whereas many Learning Experience Platform (LXP) editors do.
The complementarities between LXP and LMS
If you have come this far, you will have understood that an LXP and an LMS are also complementary. Several LMS editors are trying to catch up with the functional scope of LXP. Conversely, very few LXPs are redeveloping LMS functionalities.
They are complementary because the pedagogical approach must be complementary.
There is no longer any need to prove that it is good to mix face-to-face and digital in blended learning. In the same way, it is good to mix macro-learning and micro-learning, formal and informal for optimal results.
We need to develop skills over the long term in structured programs. We also need to have a Google-like tool at hand to have access to a tutorial video on Excel pivot table for example.
It is the debate between information and training that we touch on in the article The dematerialization of the web. The programmed obsolescence of the search model consisting of typing a keyword in a search bar.
The functionalities are just as complementary as the approaches. xAPI and Scorm, content based and program based learning, user generated content and compliance content, bottom-up and top-down, the ability to integrate an ecosystem and link with other Talent bricks… are examples of such complementarities.
You can therefore keep your LMS, and decide whether to equip yourself with an LXP.
As Josh Bersin says in his article The war for corporate learning platforms gets hotter, «I advise companies to use their LMS and negotiate the best possible price in order to be able to spend money on a more important end-user experience layer».
Finally, it is always wise to multiply the access points to your LMS, whether it is via an intranet, an LXP or other.
We can therefore see the LXP as a new lever on the use of your LMS to provide all the necessary means, mobile, contextual, informal … that promote the creation of a learning culture.