/Knowledge

Learning Management vs. Learning Platform - where exactly is the difference?

LMS, LXP — it’s hard to stay on top of those acronyms. What exactly is the difference?

Managing company and employee information in any kind of software application is nothing special − and everybody is doing it since the 1990s. It makes administrative processes more transparent, efficient and is less prone to mistakes. Especially when it comes to tracking KPIs, tracking key figures in regulatory affairs, and overlooking numbers of employees that have completed compliance training. We can all agree that administrative software makes our lives easier − but what is necessary, and what is common practice in most L&D departments?

In this post, we’ll shed some light on the newest trends in corporate learning technology.


Standard practices in L&D departments

An LMS (Learning Management System) generally is a commonly used administrative platform, that houses, delivers and tracks learning and training content. Traditionally, it is used as an organizational tool by the L&D department to manage company learning and development processes and may include a course catalog with in-person or online seminars, online tutorials, and trainers’ and coaches’ schedules.

The LXP (Learning Experience Platform; also LEP) is relatively new and describes a platform where content may be curated or personalized for learner experience.

The following part will dive deeper into use applications, functionalities, benefits, and limitations of both systems:

Learning Management System (LMS)

A learning management system (LMS) is a software created especially to create, distribute, and control the distribution of educational content. The LMS was developed to support the learning and teaching processes in e-learning and to manage user data. It builds the technological foundation for corporate learning. Additionally, L&D employees can organize training programs entirely within the system.

An LMS provides an essential infrastructure to organize learning and teaching processes as well as providing learning materials. Along with web-based training (formerly computer-based training; e.g., online tutorials, tests), an LMS offers the basis for corporate learning. Typically, an LMS is either used by organizations that promote education, or companies aiming towards automating their organizational learning processes.

Core Functionalities

The most basic LMS contains a core functional platform that enables administrators to upload learning content, deliver lessons to course participants, and share data with authorized users. The four main core features include:

  • Training Management: Event management and scheduling capabilities that direct users through specific learning plans
  • Performance Management: Automated test scoring and performance management systems based on user behaviors
  • Infrastructure for remote training: Live classroom and webinar environments for remote instructors, client presentations, and more
  • Content Management System: Allows authoring content and adding elements in learning materials

Benefits

There are generally several layers of LMS usage within businesses, including employee onboarding and job training, customer education, and professional leadership development. Many times, e.g., due to globalization or the recent Covid-19 pandemic, an LMS may be the only option when traditional Instructor-led training (ILT) does not reach all employees where they live and work.

Some of the benefits of LMS systems for businesses versus traditional learning formats like instructor-led office training can include the following:

  • Cost-effective: Cost savings over other forms of training due to less travel, no outside paid trainers, etc.
  • Equal training for all subsidiaries: Consistency of learning materials and concepts across multiple worksites and regions
  • Continuous employee development: Improved employee performance with regular access to learning and skill-building
  • Adaptability of learning materials: Ability to adapt and align training efforts to the organizational needs over time
  • Find the most effective learning activities: Employee progress through structured learning can be monitored and incentivized
  • Compliant to private information policies: Security of private user information and course progress within the LMS
  • Fast compliance training: Faster and more streamlined employee compliance training with proof of completion

Limitations

An LMS has been a game-changer for organizational training. However, like in many other industries, the field of corporate learning has put forward new standards and innovations in professional employee education, limiting an LMS more and more to solely an administrative software than a key driver of workforce education. The system can be used to deliver specific learning content. Best-suited are courses with a clearly defined goal and outcome (e.g., compliance and security courses or training about products and processes).

As our environment becomes increasingly complex, more organizations realize that an LMS is not sufficient in delivering learning impact. Usually, with an LMS, the admin controls all aspects of learning, including contents and pacing. The limited offers of fixed learning tracks that have to be followed, often make learning feel dull and repetitive. The system usually fails to offer a holistic learning experience and is solely able to track progress and performance based on simple scoring. Additionally, the system cannot be easily adapted and is tough to scale as per demand. It notably lacks adaptability and customization and does not fit the needs of younger employees (especially Gen Zlers) who are used to personalization from every other aspect of their lives and continue to demand it in every aspect of learning as well.

Learning Experience Platform (LXP)

In times of Social Media and Netflix, not only the digital landscape but also our user behavior has been shifting. Instead of heading out to find content, nowadays, the material typically finds the user. Generally speaking, everyone has understood “more is not always better.” Or in case of education: more content is not the answer to the problem of reskilling and upskilling the workforce. Employees are “drowning in content,” but do not get real benefit from the contents they are seeing - they are literally “starving for knowledge.” In times of information overload, profiles and artificial intelligence help matching content and user. The same is valid for education.

Every employee of a company holds a different set of preferences, skills, and knowledge. It’s not always that learners know about the exact level of expertise- or knowledge-building they’re currently at. And that’s where a Learning Experience Platform comes into play. LXP systems should provide a new infrastructure where the platform knows a person’s learning history, aspirations, learning goals, and even learning preferences in terms of style.

Core functionalities

In the age where anyone has access to any information and knowledge, the sole availability of those is no longer sufficient. Users necessitate assistance in finding relevant and high-quality learning materials. An advanced LXP is already utilizing AI-based personalization to make the most out of the outstanding content available.

LXP key features may be summarized as:

  • Diversification of mediums and teaching/learning styles
  • Learner engagement through social aspects or gamification (or both)
  • Analytics over the learning process and acquired skills for individuals and all teams
  • Possibility to add internal learning contents

Advanced Feature: AI-based Personalization

Similar to personalization algorithms from Spotify, Netflix, and YouTube, different methods are used to put together course packages for users and recommend the next courses to take. Based on tests and questionnaires, some LXPs learn about their user’s learning behavior, assess their skill level, and determine contents that are especially well-suited in the next step of their learning process. This is where an LXP unfolds its true power.

Main benefit: When done correctly, a highly efficient learning experience

An LXP employs different methods to engage its users, which ultimately leads to a more efficient and effective learning result. Educational researchers have been investigating the effects of productive learning environments, contributing to the modern approaches of the LXP. Personalization, diversification of contents, and gamification lead to a dramatic increase in learning effectiveness. A positive and engaging learning environment additionally encourages employees to translate their new skills into their day-to-day tasks, making employers see faster and more significant results of educational measures.

Summary: main differences between LMS and LXP

So let’s sum it up - shall we?

LMS vs LXP

An LMS provides the basic functionalities to manage education processes for administrators. However, Learning Experience Platforms lead the way into the future of corporate learning by utilizing state-of-the-art technologies to put learners and their learning success first. The extension of an LXP becomes indispensable for any organization that has understood the crucial importance of knowledge as a competitive advantage and source of long-term survival in the 21st century.


If you are interested in exploring options for AI-based learning personalization in your company, feel free to reach out to our team anytime.