What is a Learning Experience Platform, and Does My Organization Need One?

Learning Experience Platforms or Not?

Unless you have been living under the proverbial rock, you’ve likely heard the buzz on how critical it is for organizations to improve the employee and customer experience, no matter the industry! So, it should be no surprise that Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) are the next big thing in learning and performance.  It was just a few years ago when Josh Bersin coined the term “Learning Experience Platform” and described it as the “Netflix” of learning. More recently in an article from March 2019, Josh refers to the LXP as “The Google of Learning”.

In some ways, the LXP seems to be a revolt against the Learning Management Systems (LMS), that many organizations see as a necessary evil. Frankly, when you get down to it, the idea of managing someone’s learning is somewhat ridiculous. The bottom line is that the LMS was created to manage training offerings that mattered to the organization, with little thought given to the employee experience. The LMS was ultimately a great way to ensure organizations could track the courses their employees completed. This ability to track completions becomes critical if an organization is asked to defend their approach when it comes to compliance-based learning or fields that have a certification component; such as Accounting, Legal, or Aviation; or organizationally-mandated topics such as sexual harassment or non-discrimination. The need for organizations to continue to track these types of completions means that the LMS will likely be around for many years to come.  However, it seems the LMS will fade into the background as the more learner-oriented LXP takes center-stage, where employees will be able to still receive compliance-based assignments and organizations can still track their completions.  However, the employee experience will become more like the “Netflix” or “Google” of learning, where employees can set their preferences for what they want or need to know, they can search for internal or external learning experiences (e.g. videos, etc), and they can follow other individuals that they want to learn from. These capabilities will help drive learners’ daily learning experiences in a typical LXP.

What is a Learning Experience Platform?

Beyond an LMS’s ability to track completions, it was also built to manage and serve up courses. However, in today’s world, most employees have grown to appreciate, and expect, the ability to quickly search their smartphone for videos or articles to build their knowledge and skills. The LXP not only enables a seemingly infinite search capability, it can also serve up learning experiences that are relevant to the learner’s role, experiences that are based on topics they have selected, as well as experiences that are being recommended by managers, peers, or leadership to build specific skills for success within their organization. Some of the commercially-available LXPs also recommend learning based on what you are consuming. We like to call this the Amazon approach; ‘others who purchased this, also viewed or purchased this’. These experiences can be internal, external through an integration with a preferred content provider (e.g. LinkedIn Learning), or externally through YouTube, Forbes, or etc.

So, what exactly can you expect from an LXP? It somewhat depends on the tool you select but many LXPs include the following features:

  • A daily feed that provides you learning experiences based on system-generated recommendations, preferences you select, or people you follow. (just to name a few possibilities)
  • Create pathways or channels where learning experiences are grouped based on a topic
  • The ability to externally or internally curate learning experiences (e.g. articles, PDFs, podcasts, videos, etc.)
  • The ability to share experiences with individuals, groups, and the broader organization.
  • The ability to map the required skills to content that will help you build those skills

Tools such as Degreed, EdCast, and Fuse have labeled themselves as an LXP and often appear in learning technologies research as the leaders in the LXP market.

You will also see that in Josh Bersin’s most recent article from March 2019, “Learning Experience Platform (LXP) Market Grows Up: Now Too Big To Ignore” he identifies LXPs that go beyond the mapping of skills and offer skill assessments, skills-based paths, etc. Lastly, he discusses AI-based recommendations through other tools like Volley, Valamis, IBM, and Docebo. As you can see, the list of tools can quickly become overwhelming.
This is exactly why I believe the biggest mistake an organization makes is classifying what they need by using terms like LXP. Organizations should first determine their business needs and the experience they want to create for their employees. Then, look for the technology that best meets their needs, regardless of what the marketplace is selling.  The last thing an organization wants to do is miss out on a fit-for-purpose tool because they were searching for an “LXP” and the solution they really needed was categorized as a micro-learning technology. Redthread Research does a great job of exploring the learning technology marketplace based on functionality through their recent research report.

We encourage organizations not to become overly focused on the latest acronyms and buzzwords, such as LXP, micro-learning, or adaptive learning. Rather organizations should focus on selecting the right set of technologies that can work together and deliver an overall employee experience that is engaging and enables success through the right learning experiences, at the right time, at the right depth, and within the right context. A preliminary example of this stems from a question that Josh Bersin recently posted, ‘how can the LXP use the skills data from a content provider?’”

St. Charles Consulting is currently completing a pilot, which will leverage Pluralsight’s Skill IQ and serve-up learning to employees based on the results of the assessments, through Degreed, and will also include a sampling of Pluralsight’s offerings as an integrated content provider. The possibilities of the current learning technology market are endless and with the amazing content providers that are now available, (e.g. PluralSight, LinkedIn Learning, OpenSesame, etc.) it really doesn’t make good business sense for organizations to create the bulk of their own content when they can curate learning from content providers.

The Question You Should be Asking

With all this in mind, the question you should be asking is not about whether an LXP, Adaptive Learning Platform, or Micro-Learning Platform is the best solution. The question should be “does it meet your business needs, fit within your culture, and will it enable your employees to continue to build the skills necessary for success within your organization”? Let St. Charles help you on your journey of developing a learning strategy and selecting which technology solutions will work best within your organization. Contact us today!


Outlook and Trends Impacting Learning & Development

On today’s episode, we look at Part 2 of the current business landscape for L&D, what are the trends that are driving change, and what are the implications on Learning within organizations.