Everything you need to know about LXPs
WHAT: Tired of hearing about next-gen LMSs and ‘the future of learning’ yet? The buzzwords are flying, the expectations are high. But in many cases what you wanted is rarely what you got. Why is that? Well, we think it has a lot to do with our expectations from technology. This article will help you better understand what to expect from Learning Experience Platform features and help you get to grips with the new kid on the block.
WHY: Too many times we have seen systems fail after launch in organisations who were filled with optimism and hope. Hope that things would be different this time. But the failure doesn’t sit with just the technology – it also sits with our understanding of that tech and how it can be used properly. A system laden with expectation but launched without an understanding of what it really is, or indeed, due care and attention, will undoubtedly fail. Because we’re not doing anything to change the attitudes towards said technology. So, what’s the answer?
Better understand what you’re buying, before you buy it. With that in mind, here are the Learning Experience Platform features you should be expecting, regardless of who you buy from.
Table of contents
- Why consider a Learning Experience Platform?
- User generated content
- Modern user experience
- Easy content creation and curation
- Enhanced data insights
- Mobile app
- Connects people with people
- Social learning
- Rewards and recognition
- Bonus: Leverages new technology
- How these features help you
The term Learning Experience Platform is a relatively new concept for the learning technologies industry (in fact, Josh Bersin actually only coined the phrase a few years ago). It’s rising in popularity in the states but is still somewhat unheard of here in the UK. But these new learning platforms are fast becoming the first choice for many organisations. Why? Because unfortunately, many organisations are finding that their learning management systems of old just don’t seem to be as effective as they used to be.
What’s changed? Learners are apathetic. Disconnected. And completely disengaged from the organisation as a whole (read our jaw-dropping Learner Engagement Report if you don’t believe us).
Some people choose to call theirs a Learner Engagement Platform (or LEP for short), but whatever they’re called, many are citing them as the next-gen of learning management systems. They typically have much more modern user interfaces and improved user experiences as well as catering to modern expectations around social interactions and the use of data to drive more relevant interactions for users.
But that’s just the beginning. This technology is so exciting but it’s also new and therefore a bit of a maze already. Before we developed our LXP we did a lot of research into both what a learner and indeed an organisation wants and needs. These features are sometimes the same, however, catering to both these wants and needs can be a challenge.
So here are the key features you should expect as a bare minimum in your Learning Experience Platform. And more importantly, what you should expect each of these features to do.
LXP key features
On top of all the standard functionality you’d expect from a LMS (such as assigning courses/content, supporting SCORM content, and even building learning pathways), here are the key features we think any good LXP should have.
1. Supports user generated content (UGC)
Creating all your training content from scratch can be costly, time consuming and exhausting. Equally, having only one source of truth (that’s L&D in most cases) in an organisation often doesn’t resonate with learners anymore. We need to mix it up.
We all know that people learn best from people, which is why many L&D functions are turning to UGC to surface more knowledge and expertise from those who know it best – their employees.
As a standard expect users to be able to share content in the guise of: screen captures and recordings, webcam recordings, videos, images, questions and online content (think web links, YouTube links etc) and documents.
2. Modern UI and UX
Naturally, a system which can capture, support and share all that diverse content needs to look and feel very modern to users. It should be visually pleasing and easy for even the newest of users to navigate.
Many new systems put a huge emphasis on the ‘wow factor’ of a stunning user interface (because let’s face it, most LMSs are NOT aesthetically pleasing). But the promise and expectation built by a great UI are often let down by sub-par user experiences.
Make sure it’s intuitive, easy to use on every fathomable device and comprehensive for the digital literacy of ALL of your employees.
3. Easy content creation and curation
Leading on from strong UI/UX is a very important feature that any learning system should prioritise. We believe it should be simple and easy for content to be created and populated within the system. The premise of many LXPs is that they are learning ecosystems, meaning they need to be kept alive with content in order to thrive (yes, that was an intentional pun. You’re welcome.)
So as well as ease of use for learners, admins will also expect some help and support in order to keep the platform fresh with new learning content. After all, fresh content helps to keep learners connected, without manual work for you. Jolly good.
At a minimum, expect it to:
- Allow users to create and share a wide variety of content on any device
- Effortlessly integrate with 3rd party content aggregation tools (our favourite is Anders Pink, those guys are great)
- Ensure content is highly searchable to users, ideally leveraging tagging functionality and powerful searches at a minimum
- BONUS: Save content for later (like most social media platforms allow these days)
4. Personalisation as standard
Personalisation is something your learners expect now. In fact, 52% of consumers are happy to share personal data in exchange for product recommendations that meet their needs. They want it at home, why wouldn’t they want it at work too?
No matter what learning system you decide to use, we believe that the presence of personalisation for each and every employee is critical to its ongoing success. That means serving up personalised feeds and content which is relevant to learners based on a series of data points including:
- Behaviour-based data: Meaning learners are served up content based on previous behaviours. What have they liked before, who have they interacted with? What sort of tags are they using? What groups are they in? A smart system should learn more about the user the more it is used and adjust accordingly.
- Structured data: As well as behavioural data, smart systems should also allow you to do more standard personalisation around job title, location, skills, tenure in role and even whether they have previously taken certain training.
Personalisation is much more than a buzzword; it’s happening everywhere except the workplace. Your learners already expect it, so we believe this feature to be 100% essential.
5. Enhanced data insights and reporting
Gone are the days when a percentage of completions is a notable measure of success for L&D. Now we’re burdened with terms like ‘learner sentiment’, ‘employee engagement’ and ‘return on investment’. No amount of tick boxes are going to prove those, unfortunately.
If you’re exploring potential Learning Experience Platforms for your business, we highly recommend you seek powerful reporting functionality which will allow you much wider insights into learner behaviour, content and platform performance and even learner engagement. This data will allow you to iterate and improve your efforts over time, which can only be a good thing, right?
Seek systems that have AT LEAST this reporting functionality as standard:
- Clear, easy to use dashboards which are visual and give admins snapshot views of overall performance
- Auto-generated reports on notable occurrences within the system. Imagine being told that specific types of content are more successful than others, or indeed what times of day help to drive the most interactions? That’s powerful stuff.
- Individual content performance
- KPI dashboards (see above in terms of being visual and easy to interpret)
- Learning history and manager views of their teams
- Standard compliance reporting (most organisations will need this and that’s just fine)
6. Mobile app
Simple. Without a mobile app your learning platform will underperform on mobile. And with more and more organisations having dispersed, transient workforces never has the need for full, real mobile support in learning been more pertinent.
If mobile learning is a priority for your business this is an absolute must-have feature.
7. Connects people with people
The whole point of an LXP is to better connect people with people using technology. In a world where workforces are global, home-based and tech-savvy, siloed data and comms systems just aren’t enough anymore.
Any Learning Experience Platform you consider should at least allow users:
- The ability to follow like-minded people, be inspired by mentors and connect and engage with newbies
- Profile page creation: sharing expertise, interests, content they engage with and post in one simple, easy to understand view
- Easy collaboration and interaction in the form of sharing, liking and commenting on content
- Helpful integrations with the likes of TED, YouTube and more to enable easy sharing and access to inspiring content which goes way beyond the realms of L&D content
- Recommendations of new people to follow and interact with to encourage further networking and more learning
Most Learning Management Systems simply do not allow easy and straightforward discourse between colleagues, meaning that everyone’s experience is completely isolated and siloed. An LXP should help to encourage collaboration, sharing and learning with the final goal of driving a mentoring and developmental culture in your organisation.
We’re all pretty busy these days. No one has time to do anything, so having automation as part of your learning system is intrinsic to maximising output whilst not compromising on quality or integrity. These automatic functions free up your time to focus on more important stuff. (Wait. What? We’re told that drinking gin or spelunking do not fit into this ‘important’ category in this context. We don’t agree; you spend your free, well-earned time however you please!)
Here are some of the automation features we’d expect a next-gen Learning Experience Platform to have.
One of the biggest worries and challenges many L&D departments see with systems of this ilk is how to keep it alive with new content. Relying purely on L&D and employees to populate it is a really scary thought for most. That’s why any good LXP should allow automatic web content curation as standard. How it’s curated depends on the system, but this is vital to take some of the pressure off you to create everything from scratch.
Commonly, LXPs will capture and harness a lot more data than your typical learning system. That means there is a lot (and we mean A LOT) of data to grapple with. Doesn’t sound all that attractive (see above RE: time constraints), does it? To be frank, you need the system to do the heavy lifting – so seek systems that do loads for you with that data, out of the box.
Look for systems which provide pre-set reports for behavioural info as well as learning-driven data such as completions, attendance and more. Don’t want that data? Expect to be able to create your own reports and dashboards too.
Onboarding is hard enough without having to build your onboarding learning pathways from scratch in a new system. A good LXP with automation should allow you to easily create onboarding experiences – ideally using pre-set frameworks so you don’t have to start from scratch.
- Automatic push notifications to learners based on a variety of events
- Mandatory training reminders
- Auto-tagging to make content uploading as straightforward as possible
- F2F event support such as sharing pre and post-event mails and materials
- Auto-transcription for video uploads
9. Social learning and sharing
The key to a good Learning Experience Platform is, well….an emphasis on the learner experience (it’s aptly named, really). Generally speaking, they’ve been created to facilitate and encourage learning amongst your employees, all whilst helping you do your job better and with more ease.
A common thread through our research on existing LXPs is a much wider use of social media type tools to embolden and rouse enthusiasm amongst employees. We talked earlier about the facilitation of user generated content, but being able to share bespoke, personal content is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social learning.
This is all about encouraging touchpoints between teams, helping to empower knowledge powerhouses in your business and drive interaction with both one another and the system.
Seek systems that AT LEAST provide:
- Support for a wide range of user generated content including questions, link sharing, videos, screen recording and more.
- Interactions with content including likes, shares, comments and even the ability to surface related content and save content for later.
- Powerful search functionality to ensure content is easy to find and not lost in the ether.
- Supercharged data tracking – providing admins and L&D with insights into learner behaviour, successful content and even identify what content is missing.
The main aim here is to get people talking, encourage conversations and humanise technology, all whilst facilitating a wider ability to share knowledge and expertise amongst your employees.
10. Rewards and recognition
Of course, you want people to WANT to use the system. That’s the L&D dream. But often is the case that learning is undertaken in dribs and drabs (or worse, just for compliance) and therefore it never becomes a focal part of a business, or indeed it’s culture.
These next-gen learning systems endeavour to make learning a habit, not just a one off. And there’s much research to support the science of addiction and why it can be very compelling in building habits and changing behaviours. Therefore, if you’re looking to change cultures and modify the way your learners perceive organisational training, it’s going to have to go beyond launching a new snazzy system. R&R can be an extremely effective way to achieve this.
Ideally, a LXP needs to drive interaction, reward positive behaviours and promote and encourage usage over a prolonged period of time. Some of the features we expect to see in R&R include:
- Points – Users can accumulate points for desired interactions. Bonus points if you can customise this internally (ie allocate points for behaviours your want to reward) and even allow employees to use those points in a shop or ecommerce environment.
- Achievements – Allow users to see their progression, be it in a traditional learning format (completing modules/curriculums etc) and also for completing specified tasks. These work very well in tandem with points.
- Ranking – Ensure greater engagement through meaningful competition. Ensure learners can see how they rank against one another, within teams or even against the whole organisation.
11. BONUS: Leverages new technology
Any platform which cites itself as a next-gen system, or indeed an evolution of the LMS, should be seeking to explore the opportunities that the internet of things offers. We’re particularly interested in the Learning Experience Platform features which leverage new tech and help to enhance the product further, way beyond the features we’ve listed above.
A. xAPI and Chrome extensions
Perhaps the system could have a Chrome extension, allowing easy screen capture or link sharing. Equally, we’d love to see xAPI being utilised more. According to their website, the purpose of xAPI is “to track learning experiences. including traditional records, such as scores and completion. It also (can) records learners’ actions, like reading an article or watching a training video.”
Given that the foundational basis of an LXP is around improving the learner experience, we feel that it makes sense for xAPI to be more involved in the learning function because it provides a wealth of data that wouldn’t normally be captured. Again, perhaps not something you need immediately but certainly will in the coming months and years; having that data will prove invaluable, we promise.
B. User engagement campaigns
A key to continued success for any new software implementation to be successful is adoption. Many L&D practitioners struggle to put their marketing hats on and build really useful, applicable user engagement campaigns that drive interest and interaction over time. Ideally, these campaigns help to build habits and promote usage of the system over time. But as we said, many people struggle to build these.
That’s why having pre-set or automated marketing or engagement campaigns to promote not only the platform but ongoing use of it should be an integral part of using the technology and its functionality to help you make incremental shifts in changing your learning culture. Not essential in terms of Learning Experience Platform features, but certainly a huge help!
How these features help your business
Even though we are writing an article around the awesome, game-changing features of Learning Experience Platforms, it comes with a caveat: learner engagement isn’t caused solely by new tech. Improvements in engagement come from steadfast dedication to evolving cultures, shifting mindsets and an ongoing, continuous commitment to change. Which is hard (we know).
Tech isn’t a plaster to fix all your problems.
The good news is the likes of a Learning Experience Platform, laden with the features we listed above, can help you with that change. They can support you in your evolution and help your learners to love the technology they need to use to be better at their jobs. It’s not a fantasy. It’s 2019 and the real change learning technology needs is here.