Learning experience platforms (LXPs) – creating a new thirst for learning?
It’s a whole new experience for employees. Standardized curricula and compulsory training no longer dictate what they learn – instead, it all comes down to their own personal needs and individual preferences. Personalized worlds of learning with content from a whole host of sources ranging from Google Podcasts to YouTube videos, not to mention recommendations from colleagues, are designed to encourage staff to browse and explore, and to increase enthusiasm for learning. This is the LXP promise. Compared to a conventional learning management system (LMS), it represents a paradigm shift – one which is badly needed. Why? According to Klaus Kräft, Head of Learning Consulting at tts, the reason is that “the learning content on offer in organizations is hardly used”. Given the ever-increasing need for continuous learning, this is a bitter pill to swallow – but it should have been anticipated.
Many LMSs still focus exclusively on administrative processes. Training is assigned and reports are compiled. Managers have the overview and KPIs at their fingertips. From the organization’s point of view, it’s the perfect solution. However, learners themselves and their experience of learning have been shamefully neglected. Learning experience platforms are now turning this system upside down. It is no longer a case of managers or training officers assigning training content in a top-down process. Instead, training is learner-driven – employees themselves can choose which learning path to take and which content they use to acquire knowledge.
What is a learning experience platform?
The aim of learner-centered systems is to encourage employees to take responsibility for their own skills development, by making their experience of learning a positive one. The systems offer personalized learning content from a variety of digital sources – e.g. from third-party suppliers and user-generated resources. In terms of the experience design, LXPs appeal to users, thanks to a look and feel that is already familiar from aspects of their everyday lives, such as streaming services. For example, intelligent recommendation systems quickly and conveniently guide learners to relevant content, which can be joined together to form personalized learning journeys. It is in this context that learning guru Josh Bersin even speaks about Netflix worlds of learning.
An overview of key features
To start with, an LXP supports learning formats that are already familiar from an LMS – online courses, eLearning and blended learning, for example. On top of this, it also expands the learning ecosystem. Unlike a conventional LMS, an LXP also uses new technologies such as artificial intelligence and features such as social learning, peer learning and mobile learning. The aim is to create a learning experience design that shapes the processes and experience of learning in such a way that learners gain first-hand experience of personal effectiveness and success – and this, in turn, inspires them to learn more.
The platforms feature the following three key elements:
- AI-based, personalized worlds of learning – Intelligent tools deliver customized worlds of learning, with contents that learners can use as they please. Customized learning aids, such as recommendations or links to content, exercises and tutorials, are compiled on the basis of user data (e.g. skills, interaction and preferences).
- Embedded external content – Digital content from a wide variety of sources, including third-party suppliers such as universities, LinkedIn Learning or YouTube, not to mention user-generated content, can be integrated into an LXP via technologies such as the xAPI interface.
- Interaction and social learning – Employees can share, recommend and comment on articles, podcasts, videos, etc. and create their own content for peer learning. Expert forums and learning groups can be set up and users connected with one another, since it is easy to see who has viewed and learned what.
The user-centered design of a learning experience platform makes it easy to access learning material. All it takes is a few clicks to access digital content. Mobile learning is also possible with an LXP, so learners have the freedom to do their learning anywhere they like.
Comparison – LMS vs LXP
The aim of both platforms is to help staff upskill and expand their know-how and knowledge in line with business requirements. However, there are key differences between the two. The table below provides a brief comparison of the digital systems:
|Learning management system||Learning experience platform|
|Geared toward management and compliance (learning management)||Learners and their experience of learning are firmly at the heart of the platform (learning experience design).|
|Push learning via compulsory programs – training and learning content are standardized and assigned.||Pull learning via personalized learning solutions – learning content is tailored to the needs, interests and skills of each individual. Learners decide for themselves which content they want to use.|
|Linear, pre-defined learning paths||Personalized, self-directed learning paths|
|Training-officer-led learning ecosystem||User-driven learning ecosystem|
|Learning content primarily based on internal sources||Cross-platform learning content from internal and external sources|
|Employees complete training because it is compulsory – and not necessarily because it will help them in their day-to-day work.||The learning effect is produced through intrinsic motivation, since learners can access the precise content that is useful to them on demand.|
|Promotes one-off learning||Promotes continuous learning|
Conclusion: An LMS helps organizations manage and organize their training programs and their staff’s learning needs. An LXP, on the other hand, is not about perfect learning management – instead, it is about creating positive experiences of learning (learning experience design). LXPs therefore constitute an effective tool for lifelong learning.
Competition or coexistence?
LXPs have shaken up the corporate learning world. “Rather than simply replacing one platform with the other, there’s a growing trend toward combining the capabilities and strengths of both,” Kräft explains. The two learning platforms are therefore frequently operated in parallel. In these cases, formal (compulsory) training is still offered in the LMS, while the LXP offers supplementary, freer training options. Other organizations integrate their entire learning portfolio into an LXP to make it available centrally via a cutting-edge, intuitive user interface.
How do I find the most suitable learning platform?
Many providers have now jumped onto their competitors’ bandwagon. Established LMS suppliers are snapping up LXP specialists or making functional upgrades so they can cover both LMS and LXP. By the same token, some LXP suppliers are claiming that their experience platform system also offers LMS features. “All this is further muddying the waters in a market that was a diverse one to begin with, especially since many LXPs vary greatly in terms of functional scope and focus. For many organizations, this makes the decision about choosing the appropriate learning experience platform more difficult,” Kräft points out.
In his experience, it’s best to start by asking various questions to clearly define the objective: What do we want to achieve? For example, are we looking to improve uptake of the training on offer, to impart knowledge more efficiently or to simplify content provision? The concrete requirements for the platform can then be derived from these goals. It helps to define personas here. These are sample people in the various roles – learners, administrators, managers and training officers. User stories are created for each persona to illustrate how the software should support each persona in their role. For example, instructors want the capability to compile blended learning programs with minimal input. End users, meanwhile, want to be able to share or recommend digital content as quickly and easily as they do on social media platforms. The user stories give rise to the functional requirements catalog for selecting the system.
How do I roll out an LXP?
An LXP does more than modify employees’ experience of learning. In the best-case scenario, it also transforms an organization’s learning culture into one of agile, adaptive learning. There is therefore a plethora of tasks that need to be accomplished by the learning organization in addition to the technical implementation:
- Editorial concept: Both the learning content and the corresponding metadata need to be defined by considering questions such as which skill levels the content is suitable for (beginner or expert) or which type of digital media is involved (video, document, podcast).
- Content sources: Clarification is required as to which internal and external content sources are to be embedded and which interfaces are needed for this.
- Roles concept: Rights and tasks need to be distributed.
- Communication and change management: This involves questions such as: How do we roll out the new platform? When is which learning content made available? How do we communicate what to which stakeholders?
Learning experience is more than just the technology
A new technology alone does not guarantee the transition to an agile, adaptive learning culture. Other things are needed, too. “We can see that organizations need support measures in place if they are to successfully change ingrained learning behavior,” Kräft explains. A key factor in this involves upskilling staff in terms of their self-learning capabilities and encouraging them to practice making knowledge available themselves. Formats such as competitive quizzes or rankings that show who is contributing the most content or expert tips, for example, can prove effective incentives. Users experience recognition and success, and this motivates them further. “To make an LXP take off and succeed in the long term, you need a change in mindset. For organizations, this means constant perseverance – even after the roll-out,” Kräft explains.