Once upon a time there was something called a library. Here, you could get your knowledge and learn something new from books. Real, hardback books. And when you needed them, you had to move yourself from your couch, out the door, and walk the way to your local library to get them. Today, the library still exists, but if you want knowledge, it is right at your fingertips.
At our smartphone screen we can surf the web in just a few finger taps and within milliseconds you can learn everything you can think of from how to bake Swedish cinnamon rolls or when the infamous druglord Pablo Escobar died - and how.
Organizations and companies can provide a similar knowledge and learning service for their employees through either a Learning Management System (LMS), Learning Experience Platform (LXP), or a Learning Lifecycle Platform (LLP), and often these different platforms can do much more than just provide the learner with knowledge. Learn about the differences between the three types of learning platforms in this guide.
Learning Management System (LMS)
An LMS is a system or software where you can administrate, document, track, report, and deliver educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs. Even so, a lot of vendors stick to the LMS-label even so it can do more than a traditional LMS.
Features can vary a lot from LMS to LMS, some have only one or two, while others have more. The most frequent features are, however:
- Sending out digital learning content to employees
- Tracking learning and probably completion rates
- Analyzing tools
- Often mobile ready
- Branding and white-labeling
- LMS are the most used term for learning platforms and this makes it more recognizable and possibly easier to compare different systems. This however can also be a con, because as time has passed a lot has happened to the LMSs and the features that comes along. More about this in the con-section.
- Administrators are in control and can choose what learning content is relevant for the organization, and in some cases - departments or individuals too. This is in particular relevant to organizations who want to drive a top-down learning perspective.
- Collect and consolidate all digital training materials at one place.
- A lot of LMS-vendors stick to the LMS-label even though the different platforms add-on a lot of extra features that is not typical for a 'classic' LMS, and this makes them look like other types of learning platforms and there by less transparent
- As just mentioned, some vendors have been sticking to the LMS-definition but have kept up to date with the development and added a lot of new features to their systems, but otherwise LMSs can seem a bit outdated to newer platform solutions for learning possibilities. Outdated, both in terms of features, bad user experiences, and oldschool or poor design choices.
- A lot of LMSs do not have a 'social learning'-feature where learners can engage, and debate learning content, and create learning content themselves also known as user-generated content (See page 34-35 in Nordic Learning Trends).
Learning Experience Platform (LXP)
An LXP gives a personal, more tailored online learning experience for the users. The social factor is key at LXPs where users have the ability to create their own content and choose for themselves what learning content to consume. Whereas LMSs have an administrator-advantage, an LXP has the learner-advantage. Furthermore, an LXP is often open-source where LMSs are more likely to be closed systems.
Like with the LMS features vary from LXP to LXP but the most common are:
- Analyzing and reporting
- Multiple learning content resources
- Learning recommendations
- Mobile ready
- Authoring tool for both admins and learners
- Search feature
- The personal factor. LXPs are often very user-focused and gives a lot of power 'back' to learners. Instead of the 'classic' top-down learning perspective, here, we are talking about a bottom-up learning perspective.
- A large variety of learning content from many different sources, also external vendors and user-generated content
- The User Experience (UX) design can be more visual intriguing and more intuitive than in a traditional LMS
- If the LXP is open-source there are a lot of disadvantages connected, for example that applications can be tricky to set-up and use, and there is often capability issues when you have to connect the LXP to other systems or software you use
- Furthermore, open-source systems can have a lacking support and a lot of hidden costs
- With so much power to the learners, things can easily get out if hand, and you will probably be investing in one or more community managers to check up on the tone in debates related to user-generated content, and maybe also to assure that the content users consume are relevant to their jobs and up - or reskilling processes. Maybe the first thing a learner would pick for themselves to learn is probably not compliance-training, but this is still a must-have for most organizations.
- Does not support structured learning journeys
Learning Lifecycle Platform (LLP):
A learning platform that brings learning content for the entire employee journey. At the same time, an LLP takes some of the best features from both the LMS and LXP. The world's first Learning Lifecycle Platform was created by Learningbank.
- Creating tailored learning experiences for new hires and employees due to the employee journey and matching with career goals
- Tracking learning, analyzing, and reporting
- Learning store with relevant microlearning content developed by experts for specific areas and industries
- Learning on all devices both smartphone, laptop, tablet, etc.
- Authoring tool with interactive elements
- Social learning tool for community building, interaction, and sharing
- Easy built-in integrations with existing software and systems
- Combines both the administration part from the LMS and the focus on learner experience from the LXP
- With the focus on the employee journey that both contains preboarding, onboarding, growth & development, reboarding, and offboarding, it is easier to follow-up and create learning paths for employees on their specific stop on their journey
- Secure and GDPR-compliant
- Receive more efficient support and guidance as LLPs are closed systems
- Intuitive and great UX on all devices
- This type of learning platform can easily be mistaken with the two other types, LMS and LXP, and the actual difference can seem a bit blurry at first glance.
- Learning Lifecycle Platforms are closed systems and are not tailored to fit the needs of, for example, educational organizations.