LMS vs. LXP (summary)
This article is about the difference between a Learning Management System (LMS) and a Learning Experience Platform (LXP).
An LMS serves the needs of administrators and teachers. An LXP, on the other hand, focuses on the needs of learners.
The distinction is fuzzy: every LMS provides a learning experience. The question, strictly speaking, is what constitutes an "ideal" learning experience.
1. a LXP puts the wishes of learners in the foreground. First and foremost: knowledge, easier and faster learning.
2. learning content: The difference lies in the Personalization.
3. data-driven, personalized recommendations are the basis of an LXP compared to the traditional LMS.
4. the next level of personalization is Adaptive Learning, i.e. personalized learning paths.
5. social learning: for the ideal learning experience, the community of learners is important and valuable.
6. expected in the near future: the personal (24/7 A.I.) coach for the ideal learning experience.
7. optimize, optimize, optimize: Support from experienced experts is a critical component for success in creating the ideal learning experience.
Introduction: LMS vs. LXP
The LMS vs. LXP distinction is one of the insider discussions among EdTech specialists. The public hardly takes part in this discussion.
However, it concerns the question of how education works in the first place. It is about a change of perspective of far-reaching significance.
In any case, the general difference between LMS and LXP is quickly explained:
A Learning Management System (LMS) is a system designed to help organize learning.
Learning content, learning paths, quizzes, surveys, user data or entire learning initiatives are managed in an LMS.
A Learning Experience Platform (LXP) takes its starting point from the individual learners themselves.
An LXP follows the idea that learning is an experience. And this experience should be optimally designed and aligned with the needs or goals of the learners.
LXP is the education and training industry's answer to the megatrend of personalization.
Learning is a personal experience.
The distinction LMS vs. LXP is blurred
In the EdTech industry, the concept of LXP is considered the next step - away from the static learning environment of an LMS, towards the dynamic individuality of the learners.
A whole range of LMS providers therefore like to position themselves as Learning Experience Platforms.
However, the LMS vs. LXP distinction is anything but sharp:
Even an untested, lovelessly thrown together collection of mundane, irrelevant learning content provides a learning experience for the learner.
A miserable learning experience is still a learning experience.
The fact is:
The range between a "miserable" and an "ideal" learning experience is also arbitrarily granular.
Therefore, the question is precisely what makes the difference between a "conventional LMS" and one focused on the "ideal Learning Experience platform".
Less demanding asked:
In this article, we address these questions and the potential that a Learning Experience Platform (LXP) offers compared to a traditional LMS.
The personalization of all areas of life will increase significantly in the future: The latest developments inartificial intelligence and adaptive learning in particular are undergoing an extremely dynamic transformation.
It may well be that the idea of what constitutes an ideal learning experience will look different in just a few years.
We therefore want to focus on the criteria that are very likely to remain relevant in the future.
1. an LXP focuses on the needs of learners.
An LMS that not to the needs, goals, and potential of learners is unlikely to provide an ideal learning experience.
But what do learners want in the first place?
We were all learners.
We just have to remember what we ourselves wanted - back when we were at school or university or in training.
One could present the most important wishes and goals as follows
"All people strive for knowledge," as Aristotle recognized 2,400 years ago.
Knowledge is inspiring.
Knowledge means more possibilities.
Possibilities mean more freedom.
In contrast to this is the path to knowledge, learning:
Learning in and of itself is not a primary interest of learners.
On the contrary:
Learning is often quite tedious.
For the sake of brevity, the other interests and needs of learners above will not be discussed here.
For this on other key points of an ideal learning experience: learning content, recommendations, adaptive learning, social learning, mentoring and optimization of the learning experience.
2. learning content: Same for all vs. personalized
Learning content is at the core of every learning platform, LMS, and LXP.
We explained in detail what to look out for in learning content in the blog article "Creating optimal learning content for your LMS [Checklist 2023]".
It is worth remembering the following graph regarding distinction LMS vs. LXP:
This graphic illustrates what is relevant learning content in the first place.
The "ideal learning experience platform" offers learners exactly the learning content that is relevant to them at that moment.
Relevant content is based in each case on the level of knowledge of one or more learners.
If the learning content is already known, too simple or even banal, the learning experience is also immediately negative or at least not ideal.
If learners are overwhelmed with overly challenging learning content, the learning experience may not be ideal.
The particular challenge for an LMS that wants to distinguish itself as an LXP:
The mindset of "traditional LMSs" is not primarily focused on the relevance of learning content:
The "Learning Management System" is primarily about the most efficient, centralized management of learning content, quizzes, learning checks, course data, etc.
Organizational questions such as: Where can I find which learning content? How do I set up my courses? How do I communicate with the learners? are more likely to be among the immediate tasks of administrators or teachers.
Delivering personalized learning content or learning content types that make learning faster and easier may require more work than putting together an 0815 course that you can always push to learners the same way for years.
The fact is:
The primary interests of administrators and teachers are not the same as those of learners.
This problem affects not only the education and training sector, or the EdTech industry, but also primary education. To date, the entire education system does not sufficiently take into account the individuality of learners.
A few years ago, the now deceased Sir Ken Robinson, in his well-received TED Talk. Do schools kill creativity? clearly identified this problem:
Ever since schools have existed, basic, further and continuing education have suffered from the conflict between uniform, always the same learning content in contrast to the individuality and creativity of learners.
How to solve this difficult problem?
The answer is:
By making education policy, curricula and teachers focus more on the needs, goals and potential of learners. LMS providers have the task of providing technical support to the education system in such a way that an ideal learning experience can be provided as quickly and easily as possible.
Especially the latest developments around artificial intelligence and large language models like ChatGPT, image creation programs like Midjourney or video generators like Pictory will lead to a tremendous acceleration in the delivery of learning content in the context of a LXP.
The discussion of artificial intelligence is, of course, beyond the scope of this blog article and will be dealt with elsewhere.
In general, it can be stated that the learning content of a learning ideal Learning Experience Learning Management System should have the following characteristics:
We would like to briefly discuss a selection of these points here.
3. LMS vs. LXP: Data-driven, personalized recommendations
Data and analytics are the starting point to objectively assess what an ideal Learning Experience consists of.
Edwards Deming's famous saying applies:
What data can an LMS collect and analyze to provide an ideal learning experience?
In principle, we recommend collecting as much data as possible: You never know in advance exactly which data is relevant and whether seemingly unimportant data can be used for better recommendations after all.
For corporate academies around training and development of employees and for learning platforms of training centers, the following 4 data groups are relevant indicators for course recommendations:
The first three sets of data are more or less self-explanatory. These data are already fixed before a person even starts learning.
More exciting are the click behavior and other web indicators, as well as the empirical values of the respective LMS provider.
An LMS that aligns with the idea of an ideal LXP works much like Netflix.
At Netflix, click behavior, views, and search queries are precisely analyzed in order to display the presumably most interesting content to each customer.
This is exactly how an LMS should work, providing relevant recommendations for learners.
At MaxBrain, we follow this principle with the "GROW Screen", which suggests courses, learning content, learning nuggets, blog posts, etc. to learners with pinpoint accuracy:
The most important data that are decisive for course recommendations:
Anyone who knows anything about online marketing will quickly recognize these key figures:
In contrast to the large marketing platforms, the numbers of LMS/LXP users are often manageably small. - Small and possibly not very meaningful.
This problem can be solved as long as an LMS/LXP provider offers a modern cloud solution that enables cross-customer data analysis.
Those who would rather follow the idea of an ideal LXP should consider the following:
4. next level: adaptive learning for personalized learning paths
Adaptive Learning takes the components of an ideal LXP discussed in this blog article and how it differs from a traditional LMS to a new, sophisticated level.
Instead of just recommendations, entire learning paths are - newly - to be adapted to the individual needs, abilities and learning behavior of learners.
This is achieved through continuous analysis of data collected about learners, including their performance, progress, and behaviors on a learning platform.
The main ideas of "Adaptive Learning" include:
"Adaptive learning" is a relatively old idea, formulated as early as the 1970s.
Thanks to the rapid advances around artificial intelligence, "Adaptive Learning" is becoming more and more likely today.
From the perspective of learners, "adaptive learning" sounds very sensible. - From the perspective of teachers, it is challenging, but in the future it will be feasible thanks to artificial intelligence.
The idea of "Adaptive Learning" is closely related or even identical to the idea of an "ideal Learning Experience Platform" discussed in this blog article.
To some extent, the idea of personalized learning paths and learning processes can certainly be implemented without complex algorithms.
At MaxBrain, we are increasingly seeing the need for personalized learning paths or even entire learning initiatives; especially when it comes to designing and implementing corporate academies whose employees sometimes have very different levels of knowledge.
5. social learning: ideal learning experience in the community
In one of his brilliant lectures this year, in April 2023, Dr. Prof. Pierre Dillenbourg of EPFL in Lausanne showed the audience the following photo and asked which of these children were more successful learners:
Not surprisingly, according to EPFL studies, children who learn together are quite a bit more successful in terms of learning outcomes; at least at the age before puberty.
And all indications are that the adults - slightly taller, often less creative children - also benefit from social learning.
Social learning has various advantages and manifestations:
An LMS designed for an ideal learning experience takes into account the potential of these learning formats and offers functions to organize them in the best possible way.
6. the personal (24/7 A.I.) coach for the ideal learning experience
New employees who are in the onboarding process are in many places supported by colleagues or supervisors to learn faster or better what the job consists of and how best to solve their respective tasks.
Mentors are usually critical to whether someone needs 2 weeks or 2 months to be productive for a company.
Teachers in basic and higher education also have the task of supporting and "coaching" learners.
An LMS that is interested in learner success takes into account the possibility of mentorship with features and functions - e.g., chats or integrations of calendar functions, customizable learning programs, etc.
And that's just the beginning.
Mentorship, coaching, learning support will soon see entirely new manifestations:
Too futuristic a thought?
We do not think so:
There are already companies today working on the vision of a 24/7 personal learning coach driven by artificial intelligence.
For example, recently, in May 2023, the founder and CEO of Khan Academy, which is very successful in the US, Sal Khan presented this idea during a TED talk:
The idea that every human being has a constant, intelligent companion that takes care of gaining valuable knowledge step by step sounds scary to some, fascinating to others.
It is not hard for us to see why this vision has the potential to revolutionize the entire education system.
At MaxBrain, we belong to the group that is fascinated by such approaches and likes to integrate advanced technologies into our LXP. The prerequisite for this is an open integration platform that allows seamless connections to third-party technologies and services.
No one knows what the future will bring.
The development of data-driven personal learning coaches as a perspective toward an ideal learning experience is very likely.
7. optimize, optimize, optimize: Service as a Critical Component for the Ideal Learning Experience
An ideal learning experience doesn't fall from the sky.
The motto is: optimize, optimize, optimize.
Only thanks to constant optimization does an LMS have the chance to develop in the direction of an ideal learning experience platform.
The process is simple to explain:
In practice, this process means:
Those who buy "only" an LMS - a software - without services that help to optimize the learning experience will hardly manage to take up rousing or at least goal-oriented learning initiatives.
This is not just about traditional customer support, which helps out with questions.
It's about proactive guidance from experienced education professionals to optimize a learning platform to the point where it leads to the best possible learning outcomes.
At MaxBrain, we call this department "Customer Success". The name says it all here.
The general recommendation:
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