This article is paired with selected sessions at Learning Solutions Digital Experience (LS-DX, May 3-14, 2021) to present the best information available about Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) and actual applications of the technology to real problems. Note: you will need to register for LS-DX in order to view the selected sessions—see the end of this article.

The foundation of the industrial-age model of instruction is the idea of a curriculum, a set of courses with set outcomes, written by an expert and delivered in a formal way, usually with criterion testing to confirm attainment of at least some of the outcomes. This idea of formal learning anchors one view of our practice in L&D. The content that is available to employees appears in a catalog usually known as a learning management system, or LMS.

The learning experience platform or “LXP” (sometimes abbreviated “LEP”) offers a different approach to content intended to support learning, one more attuned to the way modern learners engage with learning. The LMS and the LXP sound a lot alike: Both of them distribute learning programs, document progress, record completions and certifications, and support re-skilling and new skills. The LXP does not replace the LMS, instead, it expands the range of training content available to employees. (Open the link for a longer discussion of the differences.) Content and features in the LXP are organized to give users a more personalized learning experience than what the LMS provides. More on that in the next section of this article.

Most organizations that purchase an LMS as part of their human capital management (HCM) software will sooner or later also be selecting an LXP to meet learner experience expectations and needs (open the link for some tips on LXP selection). This means that a typical corporate learning technology suite will often include both an LXP and an LMS in order to catalog and manage the availability of learning materials available to employees. Between the LMS and the LXP, all training and learning—from courses taught in-house by training department instructors or by consultants to external public courses assigned to employees, to MOOC courses, to eLearning online, along with professional certifications required by government and professional bodies, and more—will be included, not necessarily by both parts of the suite and not in the same way.

How is an LXP different from an LMS?

As the name says, learning management systems were developed to manage learning, with a focus on tracking and documenting compliance with business rules and government regulations, and on course catalog management. An LMS “pushes” courses to users.

An LXP is a content delivery system that makes content of many kinds (not just courses) easy for users to find and curate, as well as to consume, in order to facilitate valued performance and knowledge. Ease of use is made possible because LXPs are web-based, optimized for use on mobile devices. This is enhanced by incorporation of social media-like features: Users can connect with and follow users with similar interests and they can leave comments and likes. LXPs support creating user-generated content that is learning experiences and making them available to other users. An LXP allows users to find courses and other content that they want and to “pull” that content to them.

Here are other features that appear in some LXPs

Personalized recommendations

Many LXP’s recommend learning content to learners, using regular algorithms as well as artificial intelligence (machine learning) algorithms, based on user profiles, past searches, and content chosen by other users with similar profiles. This works in a manner familiar to users from shopping and entertainment sites. In addition to AI and algorithms, some LXPs use skill assessments and advanced learner analytics to make optimized recommendations.

Learning paths

LXPs provide curated sets of courses and other learning activities that lead to specific learning goals. Some of these paths may be provided “off-the-shelf” in an LXP, and others may be added by LXP administrators or users.

Contextual learning

Some LXPs offer integration with other systems, such as Slack or CRM apps (customer relationship management). This makes it possible for an LXP to deliver learning content in the workflow where it would provide specific guidance. Sales and sales support are frequent uses of this type of integration. An LMS cannot do this.

Learn more at LS-DX

Remember that all sessions at LS-DX (May 3-15, 2021) are recorded and will be available for on-demand use following the conference. One pre-conference seminar (seven hours over two days) and four concurrent sessions (45 minutes each) address concepts and details of learning platforms, and you can add them to your agenda when you register for the conference. All times shown here are US Pacific. Register today for LS-DX to attend this event!

Session P4 - Cultivating a Strong Learning Culture

Monday, May 03, 2021, 10:00 AM - 1:30 PM and Tuesday, May 4, 2021, 10:00 AM - 1:30 PM

Catherine Lombardozzi, Learning Strategy Consultant/Founder — Learning 4 Learning Professionals

This is a two-day online workshop.

In this session, you will learn:

  • Key foundations of learning culture drawn from leading organizations and research
  • Ways to shape and foster a learning culture locally and organization-wide
  • Strategies for overcoming inhibitors of a strong learning culture
  • A learning culture planning framework (which you will complete so you have actionable takeaways)

Session T102 - Parsing the Latest Trends in Learning Platforms - Technology, UX, Interoperability and More

Monday, May 03, 2021, 11:00 AM - 11:45 AM

  • Chad Udell, Managing Partner, Strategy and New Product Development - Float
  • Evan Scronce, Director of Experience Design - Float

The myriad learning ecosystem solutions out there today (LMS, LCMS, LXP, performance support, adoption platforms, document asset management systems, and more) all have design heuristics and trends, technology buzzwords, and marketing tactics that can be confusing as you work through your buying decisions.

In this session, you will learn:

  • The top trends driving innovation in learning platforms today
  • How to make sense of the buzzwords currently making the rounds
  • What trends really can affect your learner’s experience and the overall effectiveness of your key initiatives

DEMOFEST—LXP & The Leadership Academy

Friday, May 07, 2021, 12:00 PM - 12:45 PM

  • Scot Durost, CDM Smith
  • Jason Beck, CDM Smith

How do we help all employees become better leaders for today and tomorrow? Our team of L&D professionals were tasked with this simple mission: To create a platform that ensured that all employees (not just senior staff) can sharpen their leadership skills. Welcome to the CDM Smith Leadership Academy! Join us to learn how our talented designers and development professionals leveraged our LXP to provide skill development opportunities to employees on demand and in real-time.

Session 222 - Building a Learning Platform on a Limited Budget

Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

Marco Madrazo, Head of Learning Experience Design - Holiday Inn Club Vacations

COVID-19 has forever changed our world. The social and economic impacts of the pandemic will be felt for many years to come. Many businesses no longer exist, while others are struggling to survive. Learning departments have experienced hefty reductions in budgets and personnel. As a result, many cannot currently afford their learning platforms. With new safety standards in place and increasing demand for compliance training, how are we supposed to offer these learning solutions to our people and track it all? Our company faced this dilemma and we worked tirelessly to solve it.

In this session, you will learn:

  • Why using Wordpress with the LearnDash plugin is an effective, low-cost solution for building a learning platform
  • How upskilling our existing talent saved us valuable time and made them stronger designers
  • How using an AGILE-based process allowed us to build and test faster, which resulted with an on-time implementation
  • How this initiative allowed us to build more trust and credibility with our executive team

Session 243 - On-Demand: Building Learning Ecosystems for Sales Teams with Media and Adaptive Tools

Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

  • Britt Olson, Training Systems Manager - Milwaukee Tool
  • Chad Udell, Managing Partner, Strategy and New Product Development - Float

LS-DX on-demand sessions are recorded videos you can access starting at this date and time, and watch at your own convenience.

With so many ways to deliver learning to teams of all types today, it can be difficult to visualize success as you create the ecosystem for your audience. What types of media should be used? How should advanced tools like adaptive paths and recommendation engines be used? How can I be sure my learners are getting value out of the content, and how can I plan for growth?

In this session, you will learn:

  • How content strategy is a vital part of the overall plan
  • How to create a plan for growth by partnering on a strategic roadmap
  • What to focus on when creating a next-gen learning ecosystem
  • How using video, podcasts, and short-form content helps mobile professional get more out of the systems they use