The good old Learning Management System (LMS). It has been around for a century, however, in a totally different form when Sidney L. Pressey developed the first teaching machine in the 1920s. Fast-forward to the modern LMS era starting in the 2010s where APIs saw the light of day, and it has been updated with new features ever since.
Learning and development to upskill the workforce of the future are more important than ever. Here, digital learning platforms, such as the classic LMS come in handy to get the up - and reskilling challenge done more efficiently. The LMS, however, is not the ruler of them all anymore but has got strong competition from the Learning Experience Platform (LXP) and the Learning Lifecycle Platform (LLP).
The digital evolution accelerates every little microsecond, and with the speedy development, it is easy to get confused and see the differences clearly between the learning platforms. So, let's stop for a moment and double click on the classic LMS and the LLP to find out what's the best solution to your learning challenges.
Let's start with the classic definition: 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, when it can do more than a traditional LMS. And that's probably why you are reading this blog right now. This fact can cause confusion about what is this? An LMS? Or another learning platform?
Anyway, the classic features in an LMS are:
- Sending out digital learning content to employees
- Tracking learning and probably completion rates
- Analyzing tools
- Often mobile ready
- Branding and/or white-labeling
The key thing to remember about an LMS is that here the administrators are in control. It is the admins who choose what learning content is relevant for the organization, and in some cases - departments or individuals too. This is, in particular, relevant to organizations that want to run a top-down learning perspective.
Learning Lifecycle Platform
At first glance, an LLP can seem quite similar to the classic LMS. And you are right, there are plenty of similarities. First things first, here comes the definition of a Learning Lifecycle Platform: 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, which we will get back to.
- Creating tailored learning experiences for new hires and employees due to the employee journey and matching with career goals
- Tracking learning, analyzing, and reporting
- Library 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
An LLP shares both the same top-down learning aspect as an LMS with a focus on the employee journey (think: 'Learning Lifecycle'), but it also has a bottom-up learning aspect because it gives the learners the opportunity to engage in a community around digital learning in the platform with the social learning tool. So, here comes the learner perspective from the LXP into the ball game as well in the LLP.
So, What's the Best?
Well. The answer is that it definitely depends on what you are looking for in your next learning platform. If you come from an educational institution, it would be better to go with the classic LMS. But do you come from another place, and want to have your cake and eat it too, meaning, you want the classic features from the LMS, but also want to deliver a great user-friendly experience for your learners and yourself as an admin, then go with the LLP.
However, with that said, a lot of classic LMSs have user-friendly experiences in mind as well but might lack the social aspect, which often comes with the LLP and LXP. And the LXPs often lack the necessary control for admins to make sure strategies and relevant learning come out to the right parties.
So, an LMS or an LLP? The learning platform choice is also often dependent on your workforce, what learning strategy you have, and internal resources. Think: What do you need? Explore the opportunities and find the features that ensure your success with your next learning platform.