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LXP vs. LMS: Can You Tell the Difference?

This is a guest post by Libby Webb

A core part of the digital tools innovated thus far by HT2 Labs have typically been focused on facilitating the management of learning. This is done through features like permission setting, enrollment granting, scheduling, certification, reporting and so on.

Through these digital learning platforms, elearning organizations became the gatekeepers to learning within corporate organizations. And following the process of the management of learning, our traditional LMS’s were administrator-driven, where learners were told what they should learn, when they should learn it.

But when research demonstrated that learners were growing tired of administrator-driven, unengaging, content-heavy courses, and that organizations were frustrated with the LMS’s inadequate tracking and reporting features to help them determine their ROI, the L&D industry began to pay attention to what the learners actually wanted. And thus gave birth to the Learning Experience Platform (LXP).

An Elearning Evolution

According to leading industry analyst Josh Bersin, the LXP is what the LMS should have been and represents the new world of corporate learning. The LXP is often likened to popular streaming services like Netflix - the way it disrupted film distribution and impacted viewing habits, just as the LXP combined a learning platform with easy to consume, engaging and high-impact digital content, both the LXP and Netflix have no barriers to access.

Building upon the foundations laid by the LMS, the LXP looks to curate and aggregate content, create learning/career pathways, develop skills and produce personalized content for each individual user.

Social Learning has been a prominent part of the LMS for many years, and the LXP also facilitates collaboration and knowledge sharing among learners, as well as capturing the learning that happens outside of formal settings - i.e. on-the-job training.

Defining the Differences

On the surface, the LXP might look quite similar to the LMS and you might often wonder if there’s any real benefit in allowing the LXP to take the place of your traditional LMS within your business. But there are four fundamental differences that set the LXP apart from the LMS. Let’s take a look:

Directed Vs. Self-Directed

If our research has told us anything, it’s that your learners like to feel in control. Content in a Directed Learning environment is likely to be course-based. There will be objectives, a set sequence of information/activities to run through and outcomes will be assessed at the end.

The LMS is ideally suited to launching and tracking this type of content, but delivering these types of courses do have their drawbacks. Likely created by an Instructional Design team, gathering/authoring the content needed will be time-consuming, costly, and most importantly, might not fulfil the ‘on-the-job’ context learners are looking for.

The LXP, on the other hand, is better suited to organizations looking to develop their employees, to address the skills they lack and help them to enhance them. With shorter, more targeted content, for example, infographics, podcasts and short articles, alongside personalized recommendations based on the learners' individual goals, learners are able to feel in control of their own learner experiences.

Assessments Vs. Reflections

Most traditional online courses use the simple structure of multiple levels filled with content with then either an end of module or end of course test. LXP’s go nowhere near this style of assessment because they promote mico-content - stuff that is easily discoverable and refreshed frequently but therefore hard to test knowledge retention.

But when Self-Directed Learning comes into play, we see new forms of assessment come to the mix, particularly self-assessment and reflective practices.  When using the LXP, participants will be encouraged to think about the personal journey they have undertaken, how their thinking and behaviors have changed given their learning experiences.

Reflective practice can be a powerful means of self-discovery and represents great learning practice when well done, and perhaps more rewarding to the learner than an end of test module might be.

Facilitated Vs. Social/Peer-to-Peer

Interaction in most Directed Learning practices is overseen by facilitators, educators, tutors or some form of facilitator. Sometimes these expert leaders add a lot to the experience - the teacher at the front of the room, the facilitator in an online forum.

In fact, the role of the facilitator in promoting high quality online learning in a social environment is well-founded and deeply researched and there is no doubt that having a professional facilitator present within a course-like digital learning experience can add value to participants.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t scale as a practice and one facilitator can only cover so many students. Eventually, scale limits the effectiveness of facilitators and this is where we see organizations moving towards Self-Directed Learning methods of Social Learning.

Peer-to-peer interactions were implemented by the LXP, and the interactions comes as a result of communication between participants, rather than assigned administrators. Peer-to-peer interaction as part of a support network can help an individual to achieve goals, be held to account and receive feedback on their progress.

All of that can be a purposeful part of a Self-Directed Learning experience if the method is well executed and the organizational culture supportive of the approach.

Assigned VS. Search/Subscribe

For some organizations, Learning Management has become a full-time job. Ensuring the right people turn up to the right training, at the right time, with the right experience is part of the profession. But if we continue to move away from courses, then the need to administrate and assign such events to groups of individuals starts to recede.

We then start to see organizations adopting systems that help their users to define their goals and hone in on the areas that matter to their self-development. Over time LXP’s will come to rely on Search, Recommendation and Subscription to allow discovery to take place.

Whilst both the LMS and LXP may overlap in certain feature sets that allow all of the above, it is in the defaults and how the system comes together that constitutes the learner experience. Forcing a system that is built for directed learning experiences to serve as a self-directed portal will not work; the two approaches are worlds apart and the thread that runs through an LXP takes in all aspects of content, assessment, interaction and administration.

If you’d like to learn more about how the LXP can benefit your organization, arrange a demo or get in touch today.

About the Author

Libby is the content creator for HT2 Labs

Last updated: 10 Oct 2019

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