Move over, LMS; it’s time to share space with a new member of the eLearning ecosystem: the learning experience platform, or LXP.

Digital learning occurs everywhere, all the time, so new solutions are needed. “If you want to see how technology is going to change how we learn, you don’t look at education and training. If you want to understand how technology is changing how we learn, you have to look at how technology is changing how we live,” said David Kelly, The eLearning Guild’s executive vice president, at an August Summit on using data.

The LMS, or learning management system, is generally a standalone platform for cataloguing and tracking employees’ eLearning activities. The LMS still occupies a critical place in the eLearning ecosystem, but it’s no longer the entire ecosystem, Kelly told Summit attendees. Most LMSs are built to organize and track learning that occurs in eLearning courses contained within the platform—but fall short when microlearning, podcasts, mobile performance support, chatbot-based learning, and other engaging and popular approaches to digital learning are added to the mix.

The shift from centralized, proprietary learning to a mix of proprietary eLearning and outside content, some generated by learners themselves, does not mean the LMS is going to disappear. As Steve Foreman found in a recent Guild Research report on learning technology, 86 percent of organizations use an LMS; in companies with more than 5,000 employees, that figure jumps to 98 percent. In most cases, the LXP is an enhancement, not a replacement: It works alongside the LMS and adds functionality.

Organizations might add an LXP for a number of reasons:

  1. The LXP extends learning opportunities. An LXP is all about adding capability. Many LMSs serve as online catalogs where learners can access eLearning courses—and managers can track completion and assess progress and performance. As much corporate learning and performance support moves beyond the scope of the LMS, adding an LXP can enable managers to see what other learning activities employees are engaging in and track their progress.
  2. Employees are digital learners. Training and reinforcement content consumed on mobile devices is likely to fly under the LMS’s radar. Social media increasingly offer opportunities for collaborative learning, curation and sharing of content, and other activities that enhance employee learning and performance; these too are outside the boundaries of the conventional LMS—but can be part of an LXP. In fact, Kelly described LXPs as “aggregation and curation platforms.”
  3. LXPs offer learners choices and control. An LXP is typically employee-driven, at least in part. That means that individual learners can add content, decide which content to consume—and how and when to consume it—and generally take control of their learning. They can also share content they’ve discovered with their colleagues and provide a few lines explaining how they found it useful. “These platforms enable us to surface information, add a little bit of context, and make it more usable. And to build learning experiences around that,” Kelly said. In contrast, LMSs generally are more closed, allowing only certain administrators or the L&D team to add content, and they vary in the amount of control learners have over which content they can access and when.
  4. An LXP can encourage collaboration and social learning. By making it easy for all employees to find, use, and share high-quality eLearning materials, whether courses, curated content, or discussions, managers can encourage learners to engage with more content—and with one another. With an LXP, it’s easy to “take existing content and make it actionable,” Kelly said. And sharing information can foster collaboration and improve team dynamics and performance.