Introducing the LXP – the Google of Learning

Move over LMS, it’s time to share space with a new member of the e-Learning ecosystem: the learning experience platform, or LXP. Only a few years ago startup companies pioneered the idea of a platform that would make corporate learning content easy to find. These next-generation portals sky rocketed and now thousands of companies are looking to put their Learning Management System in the basement.

Since then this market has exploded (it’s over $300M and growing at 50%+ per year) and it now shows signs of age: vendors are getting bigger; products are becoming complex; the players are moving in different directions. Will the LXP market replace the $4 Billion+ LMS market?  The signs are there that this could start to happen…

So what is an LXP?

A Learning Experience Platform (LEP/LXP) is a cloud offering that focuses on delivering a personalised learner experience – one that goes beyond the traditional Learning Management System (LMS). In contrast to LMSs, LXPs typically function as a curation and content aggregation layer between an organisation’s internal digital learning assets, the vast amount of external content available on the Internet, and user generated content. Its unique ability to capture the learning that happens outside of formally assigned training is also a critical element that sets it apart from the traditional LMS – the outcome is a personalised and interactive hub for learning that extends beyond the curricula made available by internal L&D.

The LXP is a significant development on the ‘one size fits all’ content hub that the traditional LMS presents to learners, and works to curate and aggregate relevant content based on data provided by each learner at the point of need. In so doing the LXP allows for the creation of learning and career pathways to help learners strategically build on their workplace skills development.

These capabilities become what is known as the experience layer offering 3 core funcitons:

  • AI-driven recommendations: No longer will learners be inundated with large quantities of overwhelming options. Instead, key pieces of content most relevant to the user and their individual goals/learning journeys are highlighted for a more seamless user experience.
  • Resources: Quality curated content, along with smart recommendations, ensures an appropriate amount of content is available without creating a state of confusion among learners.
  • Reflections: At the end of a learning activity, learners are prompted to reflect on their key takeaways, allowing them to see where what they have learnt can be put into practice.

Why LXP?

The LXP facilitates and encourages collaboration and knowledge sharing among learners; facilitating a new age of social learning in the workplace.

It also enables the capture of learning that occurs outside of formal settings which means, for the first time ever, learners are being rewarded for the learning they are already doing. Training and reinforcement content consumed on mobile devices is likely to fly under the LMS’s radar. Social media increasingly offer opportunities for collaborative learning, curation and sharing of content, and other activities that enhance employee learning and performance; these too are outside the boundaries of the conventional LMS—but can be part of an LXP.

Consider the following diagram:

In the early days of the LXP, the green layer was very thin. All these products did was serve as aggregation portals.

As the product category grew, however, they became more functional. Not only does the LXP need intelligent methods to recommend content (discussed below), but they can also be used to recommend third-party articles, find people who are experts, and potentially index documents, videos, and other digital assets. In a sense, they are content management, knowledge management, and learning systems all in one – which is why the market is growing so quickly…but as they become full of content the problem of “intelligent discovery” becomes hard. And that’s where the market is going next.

How will content discovery evolve?

Josh Bersin suggests that content discovery will evolve in 6 directions simultaneously:

1. Skills based learning learning. While all LXP systems have skills-based tagging, these vendors are starting to build skills assessments, skills inferences, and skills-based learning paths.

2. Usage based recommendations. The problem with data aggregators is that when one program is widely used it becomes widely recommended, and it starts to “crowd out” other content that might have more value and credibility. New platforms allow teams to segment themselves into communities, so the system can recommend the most popular content within that group. Their clients found this to be far more relevant than any type of enterprise-wide usage tracking.  (i.e. If I work in a certain hotel, I may want to see content most useful among my peers, not necessarily across an entire global network.)

3. AI based content analysis. The third approach to discovery being the most innovative and powerful. These vendors actually injest instructional content (text, video, audio) and then identify the instruction within.  In other words, they read the content and figure out “what is this trying to teach people?” This approach has enormous potential as these systems identify “level of expertise” and “credibility” of content through pedagogical analysis.

4. Chat with and understand the learner. In the best of all worlds, the Learning platform should know your role, your experience in that role, what content you have consumed, your learning preferences, and of course what aspirations and goals you have. Most of the LXP products let the user define their interests when they log in. But that’s not enough. The system may need to know your tenure, aspirations, levels of expertise, and even your “way of learning.”

5. Expand the learning business schools. This approach to discovery is the boring, well-known, but badly needed model of “business rules for learning.” Every LMS has lots of this. Every quarter we need people to take sexual harassment training; sales people have to finish their new hire training by the end of the quarter; engineers in a pharma company need to be recertified on equipment etc. etc. All these business rules are creeping into the LXP. And why not?

The below screen dump demonstrates the new way of managing this with a conversational interface – Valamis’s Digital Learning Assistant.

6. Store and Manage Data Analytics. The sixth new dimension of the LXP market is data. Where are all the utilisation, history, tracking, assessment, and compliance data going to be stored?  Right now most companies put their LXP in front of their LMS. It’s only a matter of time before companies start saying “why do we have two platforms anyway?”  Can’t this LXP store the data in our LMS?  Or can we just buy one system? Right now LXP systems don’t store much learning history data, but they are collecting a lot. You as a buyer have to decide where you put all this information, and how the machine learning can best use it all.

Will the LXP Become an LMS?

The LXP is the learning delivery platform of the future, and the level of investment in that platform is growing exponentially. Vendors with legacy LMS systems are trying to catch up, but they’re finding it’s harder than they thought. And now this market is too big to ignore.

The shift from centralised, proprietary learning to a mix of proprietary eLearning and outside content, some generated by learners themselves, does not mean the LMS is going to disappear. As Steve Foreman found in a recent Guild research report on learning technology, 86 percent of organisations use an LMS; in companies with more than 5,000 employees, that figure jumps to 98 percent. In most cases, the LXP is an enhancement, not a replacement: It works alongside the LMS and adds functionality.

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