Learning Management Systems (LMS) have long been a staple in large organizations, being a critical component of ongoing training and employee onboarding since the early 1990s. However, since then, there have been several significant shifts, both in terms of technology and workplace learning methodologies, which have led to the advent of a newer, sexier way of delivering learning – the Learning Experience Platform (LXP).

Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) are the newer of the two technologies – and as you would imagine – with it being more recent, it offers several innovative, more modern approaches to training challenges that Learning Management Systems don't. Even for seasoned Learning and Development professionals, the differences and benefits of one learning delivery technology over the other might not be immediately apparent, which is why we've decided to create this article.

While we won't go into these with any real depth at this point, things like learner collaboration, content accessibility, and a mobile-first, always-on approach to learning are some of these approaches and benefits that LXP brings to the table that LMS doesn't.

So – and let's jump right to the point of this article – just what are the differences between LMS and LXP? To answer this question, we'll start by providing a brief explanation of what each of these technologies is. 

What are Learning Management Systems (LMS)?

Learning Management Systems – or LMS – provide organizations with a system to house, administer, and manage cross-organizational learning, focusing on more formalized, structured learning processes.

What this means in practical terms is that it's great for delivering mandatory compliance training, or more simplistic, instructional content – however, for anything more complex that requires a more flexible, personalized approach, the rigidity and structure of an LMS can actually impede learning.

As you'd expect from any system, one of the main benefits of delivering training in this way is the ability to track learner completions. This sort of tracking is excellent at providing a high-level overview of training activity across an organization, but it isn't all that useful for assessing the effectiveness of your content or how to tweak and improve it.

While LMS is a great technology and certainly has had and will continue to have a significant role in employee onboarding and continued training, it can leave gaps in an organization's training. These gaps are exactly what its younger cousin – LXP – sets out to address by offering a newer, more modern approach to workplace learning challenges.

What are Learning Experience Platforms (LXP)?

Learning Experience Platforms – or LXP – focus on delivering highly personalized training experiences, making learning more effective by tailoring content and experiences to specific learner needs.

This tailoring is where LXP succeeds. By providing learning with a personalized, adaptive experience, organizations can get much better training outcomes and results at a significantly reduced time than they otherwise would with a more traditional Learning Management System (LMS).

Part of this personalization includes adding community and other social elements to a learning platform, creating opportunities for collaborative learning that, according to the 70/20/10 rule, is where up to 20% of learning occurs.

Through the effective use of technology, LXPs can deliver bespoke, tailored experiences to learners, whenever and wherever they want to learn. Making the best use of modern technologies, from communication to mobile, to deliver effective, highly personalized, and always-on learning to your workforce. 

LMS vs. LXP: What are the differences? 

In this article, we'll address some of the key differences and distinctions between these two eLearning technologies – looking at their benefits, use cases, and effectiveness in particular scenarios and situations.

When it comes to eLearning, there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all. This is especially true when we look at the technologies used to deliver learning – as each has a role to play. LMS and LXP can exist together, being complementary instead of being a direct replacement.

So, without further ado – here is our round-up of the five most significant differences between LMS and LXP.  

1. Better content personalization and discovery

Content discovery and personalization are some of the most significant advantages of an LXP over a more traditional LMS – with the former doing more to promote continuous learning over the long term.

With an LXP, it's possible to utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to personalize content better on the fly, offering learners a more tailored, unique experience catered to their learning needs.

This personalization, based on the habits and behaviors of particular groups of or individual learners, works to deliver content that maximizes results intelligently. An approach like this can lead to better learner outcomes and suggests additional learner content that is most relevant increasing learner stickiness.   

2. Less theoretical, more practical learning

LMS offers a somewhat traditional means of delivering learning – offering an experience more akin to classroom learning, albeit self-paced. It's excellent for rigid, structured learning but not so great when a more flexible approach is required. LXPs aim to take training beyond this traditional format, making continual learning a constant feature of the workplace, promoting on-the-job training and skilling through increased accessibility and customization.

According to the 70/20/10 rule, employees gain most of their knowledge and competence from on-the-job experience. What this means for employers is that it's far more effective to provide learning the is easily accessible to learners while they work – meaning bite-sized, easily digestible content available at will, from wherever they are – like quizzes, social features, or personalized assignments.

By effectively blurring the lines between the workplace and the classroom, eLearning is more effective when delivered using an LXP. This can lead to better results and outcomes and decreased training times, enabling employees to reach competency in their roles far quicker than was previously possible.

3. Better suited to complex, facilitator-led training than simple, instructional courses

Whether or not you'll opt to deliver courses using a traditional LMS or a more modern LXP will likely come down to the type of training you're providing. For example, instructional courses – things like health and safety or mandatory compliance training – are ideally suited to LMS. 

However, when we look at more complex, in-depth training on vast topics, the traditional, self-paced learning offered by an LMS is often inadequate.

While most LXPs are more than capable of hosting more traditional, simplistic instructional courses and content, they're far more suited for more complex, multi-faceted topics, like business leadership training and professional development.   

This is due primarily to how customizable these platforms are, giving facilitators a set of tools that enables and empowers them to structure and organize courses the way they like, as well as, and similarly, offering learners the freedom to choose how they want to consume content based on their own learning styles and preferences.

4. Collaborative, social learning – not individual

An LXP offers a modern approach to learning, forcing organizations and course providers to rethink and modernize their approach to learning radically. Whether this is accessibility – making content available on mobile devices, offline – or simply making it more collaborative and social, instead of the traditional, individual approach of the past.

At its core, an LXP provides users with a platform to discuss and share their experiences in an open, transparent way. This collaboration between users empowers learners to become teachers and creators themselves, taking emphasis away from the more traditional, structured eLearning we've historically been more used to.

Another key consideration – especially if you subscribe to the 70/20/10 rule – is that as much as 20% of learning happens as part of interaction with other learners, not from the content. This is an area in which LXP wins out over LMS with ease, offering meaningful learner interaction, making LXP great either standalone or in conjunction with the traditional courses and content delivered by your LMS.

5. Richer data and better learner analytics

Arguably one of the most significant benefits offered by an LXP is what it offers when it comes to learner tracking and data.

With an LMS, what you can track and the data this tracking generates is far more limited than what is possible with an LXP. For example, with an LMS, you'll typically be able to track and monitor course completions, assessment scores, and not much else. Whereas, with an LXP, you're far more able to track the entire learner journey.

Having richer, more complete learner data gives you and your team a better understanding of what your users are engaging with and what they aren't in a visual, more digestible way. This makes it far easier to refine and improve your eLearning, helping to maximize its effectiveness.

Final thoughts

The differences between the two eLearning technologies relate primarily to their approach to learning.

LMS offers self-paced, instructional learning, great for mandatory compliance training, while LXP focuses more on collaborative, social learning, being better suited to more complex, facilitator-led courses, like leadership and management training.

While each has its distinct advantages and benefits, for most organizations, it won’t be a choice between LMS or LXP. Instead, it will be how best to implement both technologies to maximize learning cross-organization.

We hope you found this article helpful and that you now have a better understanding of LXP - how it differs from LMS, its benefits, and how you might utilize it within your organization.

Learn more about Skills Anywhere

Skills Anywhere is a mobile-first Learning Experience Platform (LXP).

It integrates seamlessly with your existing Learning Management System (LMS), enabling learners to access course content anytime, anywhere. 

This enables you to update your existing eLearning solution, extending product life cycle at a fraction of the cost.

Please speak with one of our eLearning consultants to learn more about Skills Anywhere.