There is a wide range of digital tools available to help employees learn in the workplace. Two popular options webiare learning management systems and learning experience platforms. While closely linked, these two types of software promote very different ways of learning. So, which should your organization choose?
In this blog, we will cover:
A learning management system (LMS) refers to a system or software for creating, managing, tracking, and distributing educational content. An LMS aims to enhance an organization’s learning practice, making it easier and more cost-effective to deliver training courses.
A wide range of LMS solutions are available, offering a variety of features. Core functionality typically includes:
Think of an LMS as a digital repository or library containing all of an organization’s training content. Administrators search what is available and find the best material for their L&D aims. This level of control is particularly beneficial for organizations looking to implement a top-down learning model.
An LMS may be hosted on the organization’s server as a stand-alone product or deployed as a cloud-based platform hosted by the software vendor. A common way of accessing LMSs is behind a secure sign-in process using a web browser. This allows employees and administrators to access learning material from anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection.
A learning experience platform (LXP) provides the tools needed to build personalized learning experiences driven by employees. With an LXP, organizations can build unique learning pathways for each employee, offering greater autonomy. Learners can decide the content they want to consume or the skills they wish to develop.
How an LXP produces a bespoke learning experience for each employee varies depending on the features it provides and how the organization implements them. Features commonly offered by LXPs, include:
While there is some crossover between the two L&D tools, there are also significant differences. Below we have separated these differences into five key factors.
Drivers are the people who lead the learning experiences at an organization, setting goals and managing what employees learn.
LMSs put management in the driving seat. Whether it is the HR team, L&D staff, or someone in leadership, utilizing an LMS means the people in authority choose what employees should learn. They upload the courses, oversee the content available to learners, and approve user-generated posts.
Employees typically have little choice in what they learn. Once assigned, they must complete a course or training program. This makes LMSs effective for company-wide requirements such as mandatory compliance courses.
In contrast, when using an LXP, everyone shares and creates educational material. It doesn’t mean that HR and management are not involved. They can recommend content and post on the platform the same as anyone else in the organization.
Examples of learning with an LXP could include a sales manager wanting to develop a new course to improve the organization’s conversion rates. LXPs offer all the authoring tools they need to build a bespoke training program designed specifically with their goals in mind. They can also add links to a range of online content to supplement the course. This could include engaging blog posts, podcast episodes related to the topic, or even YouTube videos on the subject.
LXPs benefit from the collective curiosity and expertise of the entire workforce rather than creating a teacher/learner dynamic. You can think of the difference in terms of push vs. pull learning. An LMS works by pushing learning onto employees, whereas an LXP focuses on pulling learners into continuous learning through personalized content.
While LMSs help produces a consistent learning experience, critical for onboarding and compliance training, LXPs help employees generate engagement and enthusiasm for learning from within. Many organizations are looking for this engagement to help upskilling and reskilling programs and improve the company’s overall agility.
“An LXP is different from an LMS in that it is typically positioned as a self-paced product rather than a product that needs to be pushed to the end learner. Statistics show that learners only spend time in the LMS when learning is specifically prescribed.” – Alex Devers (Partner Manager, OpenSesame)
Content describes the material that is delivered to learners.
As we’ve described, LXPs and LMSs promote different learning styles and sometimes utilize different types of content. Generally speaking, an LMS is more likely to offer rigorous, longer-form training courses for learners to work their way through. The organization tracks employee progress and often incorporates some form of assessment at the end.
However, it is common for both systems to deliver the same content. What is different is the way content is curated. The organization’s L&D staff primarily creates LMS content.
LXP content can be curated from many sources, including third-party providers, to make a personalized learning experience for each employee.
With users able to post educational material on the platform, LXPs effectively act as content aggregators with a much more diverse set of resources. They can contain a vast array of externally sourced and user-generated material.
“LMS systems were never designed to be employee centric. They were developed as Management systems for learning, focused on business rules, compliance, and course catalog management.
The LXP, which looks more like YouTube or Netflix, is a true content delivery system, which makes modern content easy to find and consume.” – Josh Bersin (Founder and CEO of JoshBersin.com)
How the tools promote interactions between different learners and between the administrators and learners.
For the most part, LMSs offer little collaboration functionality. They act as a management system, with information flowing in a single direction, from management to the learners.
On the other hand, utilizing LXPs and allowing users to post their own educational content increases collaboration. Staff members become active participants looking to share and discuss ideas with their fellow employees rather than passive students being forced to follow a specific course.
Collaboration and social learning are great ways to boost engagement and improve knowledge retention. Getting involved in discussions and hearing multiple opinions on a topic helps employees think deeper about new concepts and get to the crux of a subject.
“An LXP provides learners with a robust learning experience by bringing together all types of learning activities in one central place and offering personalized recommendations and a social component to self-paced learning.
I see the LMS as a much more structured, somewhat limited environment. Although an LXP can still provide structured learning, it also provides flexibility. I think personalization is a key component that you don’t get with an LMS. The ability to enhance self-paced learning with a social component could increase learner engagement and retention.” – Rebecca Gonzalez (Head of Global Learning Design, Amadeus)
The outcome of learning, regardless of the platform used, is the skills employees learn that can become beneficial in their work.
With the widespread adoption of new technologies across virtually every industry, organizations have recently shown increasing focus on redeveloping their employee skill sets. Competing in the modern business world requires significant digital skills, and there is a growing gap between what organizations need from their workforce and what is available on the job market.
With that in mind, they are turning to L&D initiatives and finding ways to develop new skills in-house from their own workforce. Both LMSs and LXPs offer benefits when trying to build employee skill sets. An LMS platform provides in-depth, structured training programs that management can monitor to determine employee success.
LXPs allow management to hone in on specific skills training for each employee and offer personalized material to keep them engaged and motivated. With improved analytics and reporting, LXPs are better suited to determine the skill gaps holding back specific employees.
When implemented successfully, LXPs can oversee the process of formalizing upskilling and reskilling programs, recommending the educational material best suited for each employee. However, this often requires a thorough upload and tagging procedure to ensure employees can gain the in-depth knowledge needed to master a new skill.
“LXPs are single-point-of-access, consumer-grade systems composed of integrated technologies enabling learning.
They can do many tasks, such as curating and aggregating content, creating learning and career pathways, enabling networking, enhancing skill development, and tracking learning activities delivered via multiple channels and content partners.” – Janet Clarey (Lead Advisor, Technology & Analytics, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP)
The process of analyzing and interpreting employee data and determining patterns that can enhance their learning experience moving forward.
While LMSs allow leadership to manage and track training programs, LXPs typically have more in-depth analytics. An LMS may only track basic metrics such as the number of completed courses, assessment scores, or drop-out rates. While some LMS solutions offer additional analytics, this is not standard.
LMSs will provide a series of pre-built reports, including:
Unlike LMSs, LXPs utilize advanced analytics, including AI technology, to crunch the data and develop personalized recommendations or bespoke learning paths for each employee. This includes data on:
As employees spend time on the LXP, the platform can gather more information about how they like to learn, improving the recommendations on offer. Not only does this give employees more relevant material to train themselves it also increases engagement.
Lessons Activity Report. Insight into how learners rate lessons, which are most popular, and their success rate when completing lessons.
Learning Path Activity report. Discover which are the most engaging learning paths by looking at enrolments, completions, completion rate, and more.
Events Activity report. Real-time information on which events are most popular, overall participation, and progress on events.
User Activity report. Understand your learners’ journey by looking at completed content (or events or learning paths), their attempts, and progress.
Typical reports available in LXPs include:
“An LMS is more limited than an LXP in terms of the types of learning data and learning experiences it can capture. Using an LXP provides a broader picture of employee learning and collaboration.” – Pam Hogle
“LXPs use artificial intelligence (AI) to collect and analyze data on learners’ interactions and make content recommendations based on that data.” – Danielle Draewell (Market Research Analyst, Training Industry, Inc.)
Both LMSs and LXPs are great tools to enhance employee learning in the workplace. While an LMS can catalog formal educational content, LXPs enable sharing of user-generated material and the personalization of the learning journey.
An LMS helps ensure everyone receives a baseline level of knowledge, and an LXP differentiates each employee to find material that matches their existing skills.
Both tools have benefits in the modern workplace. If you’re unsure which is a better fit for your organization, it is a good idea to consult with learning technology specialists such as Valamis. By discussing your L&D needs and discovering what is available, you can make the best decision for your team.
The complete Valamis learning solution combines everything you need into a single platform. Store all your formal training material in a traditional LMS while incorporating the personalized learning paths, social learning, and content authoring of a modern LXP. Get in touch today and see how Valamis could transform your learning ecosystem.
Listed below are a series of resources related to learning management systems, learning experience platforms, and learning technology in general.
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Our checklist helps you determine whether your company is ready to invest in LMS or make a change to your current one. You’ll gain valuable insights into your organization’s strengths and weaknesses by assessing critical areas such as learning goals, employee engagement, and technology infrastructure.