Design thinking has changed in the training industry over the last several years. When managing digital content for learners, most companies have stuck to the traditional Learning Management System (LMS). While there are companies that have thrived off LMS’s for over a decade, a newer, sleeker competitor has risen: the Learning Experience Platform (LXP), bringing with it a wave of innovation to the industry. Let’s explore the four key differences between these two platforms.
It’s in the name. The focus of a Learning Management System is, well, management. The key benefits of this platform are that it helps companies aggregate data on their learners as a whole and manage the way they receive content. According to eLearning Industry, this is how LMS’s “focus on broad outcomes, presuming a standard level of knowledge and preparedness, adopting a formal, sometimes inflexible approach to the delivery of training.”
Learning Experience Platforms focus on the experience of the individual learner and how a company’s training can best be delivered for that person. For example, the NovoEd platform offers the ability to complete a course with a minimum number of finished tasks without the need to complete every activity and session within the course. This means that learners can prioritize elements that are most relevant to their learning, curiosity and desired job prospects.
The amount of collaboration available to learners during their training is a major difference between the two platform types. The LMS allows for collaboration during synchronous sessions (meaning live facilitations, webinars or classes where all learners join at the same time). This provides time for the facilitator and learners to come together and share their thoughts, experiences and knowledge. However, besides synchronous sessions, LMS’s provide few other opportunities for learners to engage with and learn from each other.
LXPs not only utilize synchronous sessions, like the LMS, but also provide asynchronous content that learners can engage with on their own schedule and at their own pace. An example of asynchronous, collaborative content is forums. A user may leave comments, videos or other media that others may engage with at their own time, promoting discussion and leaving an archive of information that learners may review at any time. Facilitators may also join these discussions and leave feedback for learners on microlearning and sustainment activities as well.
Push vs. Pull Learning
Another important difference between the LMS and the LXP is the concept of push vs. pull learning. LMS’s are an example of push learning, which Training Industry defines as content delivered to learners in a fashion similar to school: they receive the content and complete the assignments, but they do not have any input on which assignments must be done, when to do them or how they get done. While this style of learning is everywhere, not all learners enjoy the inflexibility that comes with it.
LXPs are an example of pull learning, which is a delivery method that relies on attracting learners by providing them flexible schedules, a variety of media, attractive visuals and the promise of an open, social atmosphere. This delivery method also allows learners with different multimodal learning preferences to engage with content that fits their specific learning style because of the variety of content. Though this is a more appealing approach, training industry leaders should put clear expectations throughout their platform about what the most important content is and what content should be completed, at a minimum, so that learners have a clear path ahead and a sense of accountability.
The ease of onboarding employees is different with an LMS as opposed to an LXP. With an LMS, all employees receive the same content with an emphasis on completion. This does not leave room for the employee to continue honing their skills after they finish the course. Additionally, as eLearning Industry points out, not all employees who are onboarding are at the same place in their careers. While one employee may need more basic definitions and introductions to the content, another employee may have more experience and find the training to be elementary.
With an LXP, employees may curate their experience and choose content most appropriate for their level of knowledge or experience. This leads to faster growth, a quicker onboarding process and a flexible experience that meets employees where they are in their careers. The use of microlearning can also help a new employee onboard and work at the same time by introducing smaller lessons while giving them the time to complete paperwork, work tasks and meet with team members.
So, there you have it! Though there are plenty more differences to explore between LMS’s and LXPs, these four distinctions are the most impactful for learners. A question to ask is whether companies should be prioritizing their own management or the needs of the learners who are relying on them to provide top-quality content. While LMS’s are fully functional and acceptable as a delivery method, our stance at The Center for Leadership Studies is that the LXP is worth the investment for the benefit it brings our learners.