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Differences between an LMS and LXP

Everything you need to know about the learning platform evolution.

Tracy Whitaker Customer Success Lead

Differences between an LMS and LXP

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Let’s be honest. Searching for a new learning platform is confusing. With the ongoing LXP vs LMS debate and endless other acronyms to consider, how do you know what you're looking at is exactly what your organisation needs? 

This article shares the lowdown on the key differences between an LMS and LXP and how learning platforms and their technology have evolved over time.

Let’s start with the definitions...

What’s an LMS? 

A learning management system (LMS) is for managing learning, it’s in the name, right? Tracking, administration and reporting are what an LMS does best and it’s all about making sure the right people have done the right training programs at the right time. 

So for this type of platform, the main value is for the admin or manager.

What’s an LXP? 

A learning experience platform (LXP) provides a space for learners to discover and share content from both internal and external sources through an adaptive and personalised learning experience. It couples social learning with communication and analytics to drive true employee engagement, enhance the learner's experience, increase professional development and positively impact business performance.

So, the real value is for the end user and organisation.

How learning platforms have evolved 

The world's first learning platform launched in 1990, can you imagine how different that was to what’s available now? So, like all innovation, the time has come to evolve the traditional LMS into something next-gen and future-proof. 

There’s still demand for the LMS, of course, tracking completions of mandatory compliance training and producing reports continue to be essential for corporate learning, but your tech needs to do more than just that.

Traditional systems need to be shaken up. No, that doesn’t mean giving your traditional LMS a new interface...

Modern-day LXPs, like THRIVE, have an intelligent discovery system built-in at their core which means instead of pushing what we think learners need, we give them the freedom to drive their own learning experience through machine learning and personalization. 

Change in learning cultures

The key difference for us is the shift in learning culture a modern-day platform can enable. We’re at a pivotal time of change where learning is evolving from something done to you to something that’s continuous and self-driven. LMSs complement the former, the more traditional way of learning. 

The table below shows how they support an approach that’s more course centric, facilitator-led and measured through assessments, attendance and completions. 

Whereas LXPs are much more user centric, serving up a more engaging user experience alongside functionality like machine learning which encourages a more self-directed learning journey. 

Additionally, LXPs tend to measure success through engagement and company performance evidencing the true value of L&D.

What are the differences between an LMS and LXP? 

Discovery and personalization 

Firstly, LXPs are all about content discovery. Yes, like LMSs they will allow admins and managers to push training content to learners too, but there is a huge focus on continuous learning. 

Unlike traditional LMSs, LXPs often use AI and algorithms to serve personalized content. They’re smart enough to learn from your habits and behaviours to make intelligent recommendations for content or people that you’d like to see more of. 

That’s how machine learning in THRIVE works too. Our home page feed components are designed to serve up content based on your skills, interests and behaviour. For example, a component collecting ‘what’s popular’ will be informed by who you follow or people whose content you’ve interacted with, just like a social media platform.

Learning in the flow of work  

Powerful search is another feature at the heart of an LXP. We often hear our clients describe their THRIVE as their own internal Google because it aligns with the way we innately find and source new information. 

An LXP forces you to rethink the concept of content entirely to optimise search results and ensure learners quickly get the answers they need. That’s why content in an LXP needs to be as discrete and as micro as possible. This opens up more opportunities for bitesized, more casual content, like articles, questions, videos and links to external content. 

This has the added benefit of making learning much easier within the flow of work. Think of task-oriented learning like how to create a pivot table on Excel, you don’t want to repeat an hour long elearning course to get the answer, a two-minute video focusing on the topic in hand does the trick.  

Collaboration and social learning 

You can see how a simple rethink of learning technology can change the experience not just for the learner, but for the admin too. An LXP actually makes you modernise your entire approach including how learning content is created, shared and consumed.

Another big difference is that LXPs tend to be more accessible to everyone, whereas LMSs tend to be locked down to job roles and functions. We believe everyone has something to teach others and something to learn and once you open that up the whole experience becomes collaborative.

LXPs take that philosophy and encourage people to share the knowledge that’s buried away in their heads with their colleagues, even those that aren’t in their team.

Think about it, social learning already happens in organisations every day from answering a question to an interesting conversation a new design blog. An LXP simply provides a platform to share and discuss in a transparent way. 

This empowers learners to become teachers and content creators which means the emphasis is taken away from L&D to create elearning and hunt down SME’s and it’s simply about facilitating. 

The role becomes more about empowering learning and development, engagement and UGC (user generated content) through campaigns and learning champions or finding fun ways to fill your platform up with relevant curated content and external resources.

Rich data 

Finally, one of the biggest benefits of making social learning more visible and transparent is that L&D teams can learn and adapt from it.

Where LMSs usually track course completions and assessment scores, LXPs allow managers to collect much richer data. Data that helps give you a much broader picture of what your learners are engaging within a visual and digestible way.

THRIVE’s analytics suite shares what time and day learners are most using your platform, their source of traffic, content engagement activity and much more. It’s all about learning habits and behaviours rather than ticking boxes. 

Why organisation’s like Sky TV made the leap from LMS to LXP? 

Find out why some of the world’s most progressive organizations, like Sky TV, have evolved to a new way of learning enabled by an LXP, the modern-day learning platform or get your THRIVE demo and see it all come to life yourself.

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