From Learning Management to Learning Experience: What You Need to Know
We previously covered the ABCs of eLearning and want to dive deeper into one of the driving forces in eLearning. This post will examine the difference between a Learning Management System (LMS) and a Learning Experience Platform (LXP) — and why it matters for instructional designers and anyone else who is passionate about the future of education.
What is an LXP?
Josh Bersin, an expert in the intersection of HR, technology, and education, conducted an extensive study of learning experience platforms and came up with the following parameters for what they are and how they differ from learning management systems:
They present content in a “Netflix-like” interface, with recommendations, panels, mobile interfaces, and AI-driven recommendations
They accommodate any form of content, including articles, podcasts, blogs, micro-learning, videos, and courses
They are social, and include social profiles which connect content to people to create authority
They have paths or learning track or trails so you can follow content to a logical learning outcome
They have some form of assessment and often badging or certification
They make it easy to publish your own content as an individual
They are mobile, fun to use, fast and easy to traverse and have great search and embedded learning features.
In essence, LXPs expand the boundaries of what it means to learn and how to deliver educational content. If you've used LinkedIn Learning, SkillShare, or a similar platform, you've already had a taste of what this approach can offer.
The LXP market currently has more than 20 vendors and is worth about $350 million. These numbers are expected to double year over year. Most LXPs currently cost less than an LMS; it remains to be seen how that will change moving forward.
A New Paradigm
These platforms are disrupting the learning management industry (and education more broadly) by re-imagining what it means to learn, what types of content can be used to support education, and how to deliver that content to users.
The way people want to learn and have the capacity to learn is changing. As LinkedIn and others demonstrate, these changes are already happening in the professional development space. The LXP framework may soon be on the way to higher education and even K-12.
An LMS is designed with the traditional student-to-teacher relationship in mind. There are structured assignments and evaluations that are tracked and tabulated within the system. The goal was to take the traditional classroom experience and make it available online.
No one would disagree that LMS vendors have done that and then some. As a result, students around the world have had access to educational resources they might not have had otherwise. The relationship between students and teachers is more robust than it's ever been. Faculty can focus more on teaching and less on grading and other administrative tasks.
The LXP model moves away from this structure. Rather than following a pre-defined curriculum, users can choose what they want to learn and when they want to consume information. Instead of a pre-planned course framework to follow, there are a variety of options that each person can mix and match according to their goals and interests.
Which to Choose... or Is There a Choice to be Made?
The LMS framework was a huge step forward and has served countless students and instructors well over the past few decades But, it's not necessarily the best fit for today's educational landscape — especially for professional development or lifelong learning.
If you are lucky enough to have the freedom of building a learning or training technology stack from the ground up, you need to consider which approach is the best fit for what you are trying to accomplish. By even considering LXP in the first place, you're already ahead of the curve regarding what's possible.
The LXP approach offers more flexibility because it's not tied to the traditional model of classroom instruction. Instructional designers have much more freedom to think outside the box and be flexible when designing a learning solution.
Rather than diving right into choosing a framework and delivery platform, start by considering your goals and your target audience. Who do you want to access your content, what do you want them to learn, and what's the best way for them to access the information?
The answers will help you make an informed decision about which path to choose and how to make the most of your decision, whether it's an LMS, LXP, or (most likely) some combination of both.
Mindspace can help you think through those questions; contact us to start the conversation.
Words by Joshua Schlag, Head of Marketing at Mindspace
Art by Andrew Sullivan at Mindspace