What is the difference between an LMS vs LXP?



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7 mins

Learning management systems (LMS) and learning experience platforms (LXP) are — contrary to widespread belief — not interchangeable terms. Functionality and aesthetic are two major differentiators between these two platform types, which will affect their suitability for your organisation. Learn more about the features and uses of an LXP, and how it’s different to an LMS

Decisions are difficult. Whether it’s a complex strategy you need to implement in your next project, or what you should have for lunch, it can be tricky to make the correct decision. But, thankfully, it’s easy to select the learning platform type for in your organisation.

Or is it? While you might think of implementing a learning management system, it may not be the only viable option available to your organisation. It could be that the functions available within an LXP could also be a good fit for your brand – and better suit the demands of your learners, depending on your business requirements and your industry.

Whether you’re considering an LMS, an LXP, or even a hybrid LMS/LXP, then you need to know what they are, what they do, and what’s different about them.

Here is a summary of the differences between a learning management system and a learning experience platform, to help you decide on the best learning management software for your organisation.

What is a learning management system (LMS)?

A learning management system is software that enables you to deliver eLearning materials, which can also include administering, documenting, reporting, and tracking these learning activities. The activities can be created either in-house or by a bespoke eLearning content creator.

An LMS enables organisations to manage their learners by grouping them to allow for the delivery of relevant employee training activities; enabling administrators and managers to track course completion rates; and monitoring learner progress.

It’s likely that you’ll have used an LMS at some point; according to one training industry report published in 2019, 82% of US organisations use them for training.

Discover all the terminology on LMS and LXP software in our LMS glossary >

LMS features

Start comparing learning management systems on the market and you will find that the best LMS solutions have similar features. For instance, an LMS will have a reporting suite to track your learners’ engagement with content and activities. You could use this reporting suite to monitor completion rates, for example, which will help you identify which modules are working best for learners, and which aren’t. This will, in turn, support you when making content creation decisions in future.

You can also tailor the learning experience for each of your learners. Users can have personalised and real-time guidance and can follow specific learning pathways and journeys that only have content that’s relevant to them.

There’s also the option to use gamified learning for engagement, by applying gaming mechanics in a non-gaming environment. Learners will be incentivised by using features such as leaderboards, scorecards, experience points and badges – which will not only boost engagement levels, but also have a positive effect on your users’ productivity.

An LMS puts L&D teams in the driving seat when it comes to sharing and distributing learning activities and content. So, you can send information to just one person, a select group of people, or even to everyone in the company. There are other features you could expect to use, too, such as applying certificates and training credits to content, and including due dates for mandatory activities. This level of control will suit those organisations that have compliance-based learning programmes, certification programmes, and L&D teams working in tightly regulated industries.

What is a learning experience platform (LXP)?

A learning experience platform has – as the name suggests – the learner’s experience at its heart; LXPs are usually designed to make it effortless for employees to interact with and access learning activities. Content curation, discovery and personalisation are other key attributes of an LXP. Many use ‘playlists,’ similar to those on platforms such as YouTube and Spotify, to recommend learning activities and next steps.

An LXP allows a learner to follow what they’re interested in and engage with what they want. Many LMS platforms, on the other hand, retain a somewhat ‘top down’ approach to learning, with users presented with specific pathways and journeys that are defined by the L&D team.

LXPs usually have large amounts of content, which may come from outside of the organisation, so the learner can make a relevant decision on their learning choices. Some major LXPs also use artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend content and learning activities based on employees’ interests and behaviour – just as Netflix, for example, suggests TVs and movies you might like to watch, based on your watch history.

LXP features

Some LXPs will use AI to recommend items such as articles, third-party blog posts, documents and videos for learners who are searching for content to meet their requirements.

LXPs can also be used within a blended e learning approach so, while instructors can assign content, learners can feel they are in control of their learning by researching further into the topics they find interesting. Students can also collaborate with their colleagues and experts through groups and forums. They might also have the opportunity to share their expertise by creating and sharing their own content – called user-generated content (UGC) – which fellow learners can rate and comment on, just as you would on big social media networks.

Since the user is at the forefront of LXPs, the self-directed learning features of these platforms means they can have more control over which skills they build, and when. Not only can they choose their learning content, but they can set their own objectives. And, as a learner-centric platform, users can also access it where and when they want.

LMS vs LXP – key differences

It’s impossible to say if an LMS or an LXP is ‘best,’ because each individual organisation’s circumstances are different, and each type of solution has its pros and cons. That’s why many businesses opt for a hybrid learning solution that combines the best of LMS and LXP functionality, resulting in an engaging learner experience backed by robust reporting and management capabilities.

Learning management systems tend to provide defined, linear experiences for their users: pathways, goals and expectations are clearly defined, and learners and trainers are clear on the outcomes of completing any learning activity.

However, with a learning experience platform, the learner is encouraged to explore their learning themselves – meaning each student will have a different learning journey. These content discovery platforms let users do just that: discover content. And with AI and machine learning algorithms on LXPs, they optimise content delivery for individual users as they suggest personalised content and provide third-party sources.

LXPs are content aggregators, meaning the platform acts as a comprehensive site of information that users want to access: whether that’s content created by your L&D team, a specialist learning designer, or by internal subject matter experts, or bought ‘off-the-shelf’ from an external provider.

With an LMS, though, administrators are in control. They may be from your L&D, HR, or management team. An admin can upload course information to the system and make it available to students and control the amount of material that’s added and ensure anything that’s not required isn’t available.

An LMS is best suited to mandatory training, because it enables you to specify and report on courses that learners must complete. An LXP, on the other hand, gives learners more freedom to explore their own interests and take control of their professional development.

Many organisations appreciate the benefits of both LMS and LXP systems, which is why they opt for a hybrid solution. So get in contact and request a demonstration of our learning software to find out more about how we can help build your organisation’s learning culture.

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This article was first published on Digits.co.uk – a Ciphr Company.