The great LXP heist: rethinking the learning experience
No single learning system is going to solve all your problems. L&D needs to think beyond content and embrace a more holistic way of looking at the learning experience.
Exactly one year ago, before Covid-19 hit Europe and blew everything out of the water, Fosway blew the whistle on a secret in the learning industry. You see, for the previous three years the momentum around the concept of a learning experience platform (LXP) had been gathering extraordinary pace.
In a post-Covid-19 world, L&D needs to think beyond content and forget just using its systems as a delivery mechanism.
The truth is, however, that there is no such thing as a learning experience platform. There never was…
Rewind to the beginning
As you probably know, the concept of a learning management system (LMS) originated in the 1990s as a platform for digitising the administration of training and as a home for this new thing called e-learning.
Growing out of training administration functionality, the LMS began offering a more strategic, enterprise take on learning management including (drum roll) self-service access for learners. What had previously been a solution for L&D administrators, offering a pretty ugly interface in most cases, began to evolve into a system for the end learner.
Since the balance has been tipped towards improving the end user experience, things have changed. If we had £1 for every time a vendor told us they had created the ‘Netflix of learning’ we would be very rich!
In 2017, the term LXP also surfaced and ultimately became a huge part of the L&D zeitgeist. We rejected it despite the hype, however, as we never believed it was a meaningful buying category. What does that mean? Quite literally that learning systems don’t provide true learning experiences.
Learning experiences and the great content heist
You see, the phrase ‘learning experience’ is about so much more than the UI or UX of a system. The original focus on improving the look and feel of the old LMS made sense – they needed help. All learning platforms have been far too obsessed with learning content for too long, however. Content can now take many forms outside of the traditional course, but whether it’s a podcast, a PDF or a video – it’s still content – and L&D as a profession and as an industry has been a slave to it for too long.
Genuine proficiency, and even mastery, does not happen by just consuming some content – no matter how great that content is and how easily someone found it on their learning platform. They happen when there is action-oriented learning, the chance to reflect, some collaboration and social interaction. It happens with practice, over a period of time, not as a result of a one-off intervention.
A simple focus on distributing or connecting people to content – which is what most LXPs do – is not the answer. That’s because – and here’s the heist within the heist – content is only ever one part of a real learning experience.
That’s why we ignored the LXP label. Most learning systems don’t support such a wide view of learning experience. So, the term was simply a non-starter from the beginning.
LMS and LXP are dead, long live learning system suites and specialists
Following the explosion in vendors using the LXP label, the market has been disrupted and it’s now a crowded and complex place to navigate. Fosway analysts predicted a convergence of learning systems and that has come true in a big way. Many LXPs have backfilled their systems with traditional LMS functionality around areas like compliance. In addition, many LMSs, caught on the hop by disruptive new entrants, have added in more ‘experience-led’ features.
Today, the learning systems market is classified across suites and specialists instead. Ultimately, the point of this is to debunk the marketing hype and help buyers understand what vendors are really offering e.g. if they are a suite trying to manage the multiple aspects of modern learning, or really a specialist – if so, what is their specialism – mobile, collaboration, curation, etc?
What’s the difference?
- Learning system suites are platforms supporting and integrating a broad range of traditional and next generation learning approaches. They aim to cover all the main bases – traditional learning management, heightened learner experience, old and new learning channels. They are the evolution of the LMS that have added next generation and learner experience capabilities, but also include some of the evolved LXPs that have back-filled learning management capability to become a ‘one stop shop’ for modern learning.
- Learning system specialists are at the opposite end of the spectrum. They unashamedly focus on specific areas of capability with a disruptive, high impact agenda. Whether that is being the best at mobile learning, doing AI-managed adaptive delivery, or building integrated learner experiences from multiple sources, specialists have a focused proposition and want to lead the market in their chosen focus area. Specialists will rarely be the only learning system in an organisation. They cannot cover all the areas of learning that a company needs to manage or support. Instead, their goal is to disrupt the suites and to deliver heightened impact in a specific area of modern learning.
Why does this matter?
The Fosway team is always asked ‘which system should I buy?’ or ‘which is the best?’ These are, of course, the wrong questions – you should be starting with the end in mind and ask ‘what am I trying to achieve?’ first.
The learning industry is quick to jump on new terms and shiny trends, but hopefully this tale of the great LXP heist helps you to see through the hype to the heart of what really matters. If in doubt, the new 2021 Fosway 9-Grid™ is freely available to help guide you through the market.
No single learning system is going to solve all your problems. In a post-Covid-19 world, L&D needs to think beyond content and forget just using its systems as a delivery mechanism. We need to harness digital learning now more than ever, but that needs to include opportunities to collaborate, integrate with the flow of work and support true learning experiences in a way that goes above and beyond just the technology.
Interested in this topic? Read Raising the vendor bar: how to select learning and development providers more effectively.