Definition

learning experience platform (LXP)

Contributor(s): Dennis Shiao

A learning experience platform (LXP) is an AI-driven peer learning experience platform delivered using software as a service (SaaS). LXPs were born out of a new approach to corporate learning platforms, addressing perceived shortcomings with learning management systems (LMS). While a learning management system focuses on the needs of the Learning & Development (L&D) department to deliver education, policy and compliance training to employees, an LXP flips the model to focus on employee needs.

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An LXP is an intuitive learning and development platform. LXPs help employees answer key business questions and provide them with opportunities for professional development. Learning experience platforms signal a shift away from the top-down, management-administered style of learning management systems and toward a more independent, autonomous and self-directed style of learning.

Industry analyst Josh Bersin coined the term "learning experience platform." Bersin estimated the market opportunity at over $300 million and projected an annual growth rate of over 50%. While the user experience (UX) of conventional corporate learning platforms may be perceived as outdated or stale, LXPs deliver a modern, consumer-grade look and feel, much like the experience of popular social networking and multimedia sites. In addition, LXPs provide fully functional mobile device experiences, delivered through responsive design and mobile apps.

LXPs can support a wide array of content, sourced from inside and outside a company's firewall. Content types in an LXP can include blog posts, industry articles, videos, podcasts and courses. LXPs enable end users to create and publish content, along with social profiles that include users' bios, achievements and activity.

What are LXPs used for?

LXPs are used to satisfy the self-directed learning needs of employees seeking skills development and professional development. While an LMS is well-suited as a compliance training software, it falls short for open-ended discovery and goal-based learning. For example, employees might state, "We want to learn more about Java programming," but discover that no entries in the LMS course catalog suit their needs.

An LXP uses artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend content to users, including third-party blog posts, articles, documents and videos available on the Internet. The use of AI enables personalized learning for users, based on their past activity, stated goals or inferred learning style. An LXP supports peer-based social learning as well, connecting users with peers or experts in a manner similar to social networking platforms.

Key features

The following are key features of a learning experience platform.

Content creation. An LXP supports user-generated content from end users. Employees can use a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor to create posts and lessons, which can include hyperlinks, images, videos and documents. Other LXP users can leave ratings and comments on the posts and lessons.

Content curation. LXPs provide machine learning services to intelligently select and organize third-party content discovered on the web and provide personalized recommendations to users. In addition, users can manually curate both internal and third-party content to share with peers.

AI-based recommendations and training. Some LXPs can ingest training content (e.g., documents or videos) and apply AI and machine learning to determine what the material is teaching. The AI can then generate microlearning, training and recommendations. Some LXPs can understand the instructional needs of a user, then fast forward to the specific point in a video where the learner should begin watching.

Analytics. LXPs collect and store usage and learning data to display in dashboards and reports used by both end users and administrators. The dashboards help employees track their progress toward goals and help administrators understand learning and usage trends across the platform.

Chatbots. Some LXPs provide AI-based chatbots that are available to users on a 24/7 basis. The chatbots can assist users with their current task and make intelligent recommendations. Users interact with chatbots by typing messages in a text-based chat area.

Gamification. LXPs utilize gamification, or gaming mechanics, to spur engagement and competition (e.g., leaderboards, badges, achievements and special privileges).

Integration with e-learning content providers. LXPs integrate with free and paid e-learning providers, giving users access to course materials from platforms such as Coursera, LinkedIn Learning and Udacity.

Integration with third-party technology platforms. API integration enables an LXP to connect with third-party business applications used by the company, such as communications, cloud storage, document management, CRM and ERP.

LXP benefits

The following are key benefits of a learning experience platform.

Tailored and customized learning paths. An LXP uses machine learning and AI to guide employees' learning paths using personalized recommendations. Personalized learning enables employees get more out of the platform, with content and interactions geared toward their learning goals. In addition, LXPs give administrators the option of manually configuring training recommendations offered to users.

Agile learning. Traditional learning requires an upfront planning process: Employees must set aside an hour (or more) of time to view an online course. These days, allocating a few hours out of a day's schedule may not be feasible. Employees would much rather have agile learning experiences that can deliver content quickly and flexibly in the flow of work to better suit their busy schedules. LXPs deliver microlearning content that solves a need at a particular moment in time.

Difference between LXP and LMS

In an LMS, the course sequences and learning paths are determined by the LMS administrators, giving employees very little control over the content they consume or the activities they participate in. An LXP democratizes the learning experience, putting full control in the hands of end users. Employees can set their own goals and determine their own learning paths. While an LMS confines learners' experience to a defined curriculum, an LXP provides an open-ended discovery platform that can take employees in any direction they choose.

An LMS is a closed system, with learning content confined to the modules and courses provided by the administrators. LMS systems do not incorporate resources from third-party providers, nor do they permit end users to create content. LXPs, on the other hand, are open systems that freely permit the incorporation and sharing of third-party content. In addition, LXPs enable users to curate and add content for discovery by other users. In an LXP, end users can elevate their profile and reputation with the knowledge and information they share.

Chart comparing LXP to LMS
A chart comparing LMSes to LXPs

Future of LXP

Digital learning platforms such as LMSes and LXPs are expected to be crucial to business success in the future. LMS vendors are rushing to add LXP features to their platforms. Meanwhile, business buyers seek clarity on how the vendor landscape will shake out. While some companies run LXPs and LMSes simultaneously, others will look to consolidate systems, choosing one or the other. While some will choose an LMS over the LXP, others will choose the LXP and eliminate their LMS. Organizations that have not deployed either solution will need to assess whether to deploy one solution, both solutions, or neither.

Proponents of LXPs believe that they are the learning platform of the future. Legacy LMS vendors and pure-play LMS upstarts alike are investing heavily in LXP platforms. In the coming years, mergers and acquisitions are likely. While conventional wisdom says that LMS vendors will acquire LXP companies, it's possible that the reverse could be true.

This was last updated in January 2020

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