The introduction of the first learning management systems (LMS) in the 1990s laid the groundwork for the creation and integration of powerful corporate learning systems, enabling learning leaders to administer, deliver, and track educational courses, training programs, and other learning and development initiatives across their organizations.
However, since 2012, learning experience platforms (LXPs) have grown in the competitive landscape. The LXP—a term coined by industry analyst Josh Bersin—has been called the next generation of LMS, evolving what had primarily been a tool for top-down administrator-driven learning to bottom-up employee-centric experiences.
This has left many L&D professionals wondering, “How is an LMS different from an LXP, and should one (or both) be part of my learning tech stack?” In this blog post, we answer these questions and explain why a third technology that blends and enhances the best of both LMSs and LXPs may be the right fit to foster your organization’s learning culture and further its business.
LMS versus LXPBoth LMS and LXP technologies strive to improve organizational learning by making it more efficient, manageable, and scalable.
Since LMS platforms have existed for 20 years longer, they dominate the marketplace, and there are far more product options. Bersin projects the LMS market at $16 billion in 2022 and expects it to grow to $41 billion in 2029.
By comparison, the emerging LXP industry is more limited. The LXP market, however, is primed for explosive relative growth. Bersin projected the market opportunity for LXPs at $350 million back in 2018 and currently predicts a 50 percent annual growth rate.
This growth curve makes sense. Whereas an LMS serves primarily as a means of administering and delivering learning content from the top down, bottom-up LXPs feature interactive, personalized learning programs with curated content from a variety of sources and recommendations based on the learner’s individual interests, skills gaps, and goals. LXPs are, at their core, consumer-grade versions of LMSs, designed for better user experience and personalization—not for administration and compliance. As organizations become more employee-centric, their learning programs also do.
Both systems, however, can leave a learner feeling disconnected from the organization’s larger learning community. Moreover, neither an LMS nor an LXP represents a strong tool for co-creation of new knowledge or sharing of tacit institutional knowledge that systems such as collaboration and coaching technologies provide. Learning is innately social, and both LMSs and LXPs could benefit from social integration.
Bringing a Social Aspect Into the Learning ExperienceThe last several decades of platform innovation in corporate learning have helped learning leaders realize there can be more effective ways for learners to achieve their potential and their learning and business objectives.
Both LMSs and LXPs have their limitations. The hyperconnected nature of today’s business environment means contemporary learning platforms should support peer-to-peer learning, connect users with subject matter experts and mentors, and encourage knowledge sharing. This helps close the gap between online learning and on-the-job performance. Traditional LMS or LXP technologies lack these capabilities.
However, collaborative, cohort-based learning platforms, such as NovoEd, blend the best of each while layering on the socialization and peer-to-peer tools that create truly sticky and relevant learning experiences. Such platforms—which rely on discussion and feedback, practice and application, team-based projects, and coaching and mentorship—can strengthen and sustain learning journeys across entire workforces and organizations.
What’s right for your organization may evolve over time. Whether you choose to add a social aspect to your current LMS or LXP or jump to a new cohort-based learning platform, integrate social aspects into your learning technology to create richer, contextual experiences that change mindsets and behaviors and grow organizational wisdom.