A modern LMS acts as a learning hub, and usually includes features for creating and managing courses, quizzes, competencies, resources, users, communications, groups, gamification, news feed, calendars, and integration with external tools. A business LMS also usually includes support for ad-hoc reporting, learning paths, compliance, and e-commerce.
The LMS marketplace is around $ 10 Billion worldwide and is predicted to grow to around $22 billion by 2023. This includes the market for businesses, universities, and K-12.
The LXP (Learning Experience Platform) marketplace is relatively new – around $350 million worldwide – and is predicted to grow by about 50% per year.
An LXP provides a way for learners to direct and control their own learning experience, and includes the following key features:
- a large catalog of third-party content which is a mix of free and for-fee courses and resources,
- a way for users to indicate what they are interested in learning,
- a recommendations system that guides users towards resources that can help them with their learning goals,
- robust analytics,
- social features such as finding users with similar goals, expertise in particular areas,
- sharing resources with others, and
- a good search functionality to find useful content.
LXP products do not include a comprehensive set of LMS functionality, so organizations that want to create rich courses and provide a way for their learners to direct their own learning must purchase both an LMS and an LXP.
It’s worth noting that LXPs are typically significantly more expensive than an LMS even though they are simpler from a purely technical perspective.
Why LMSs will soon have LXP functionality
The LMS of today has come a long way. In the beginning, trainers and L&D professionals used LMSs mostly to give access to learning materials to all employees and assess their learning results. In time LMSs evolved to respond more to learners’ needs, through responsive design, the possibility of creating online communities where users could ask questions related to training courses and receive instant feedback, including multimedia content, adding gamification features, and more. Now things are moving even further on the path of meeting learners’ needs and creating more personalized learning experiences, through advanced technologies such as machine learning and Artificial Intelligence.
Slowly but surely the LMS is shifting from a management system to a learning system. A learning experience platform takes things a step further.
Here are a few examples of LXP features that can be a part of a business LMS today.
Third party content
Sharing is caring and curated content can be useful content. LMS users can be allowed to add third party catalogs so that any third party content provider (like LinkedIn Learning, Open Sesame, etc.) can build an integration with the LMS catalog system.
Users can also be allowed to publish their own custom catalogs, for use by other customers. For example, a business using a certain LMS could publish a catalog of some of their courses for sale and then other businesses using the same LMS could add those catalogs into their own system with a couple of clicks.
Goals and recommendations
More and more businesses need to migrate to competency-based learning, where learners can move at their own pace, direct their own learning (sometimes with the help of a mentor), and learn topics based on the competencies that they cover rather than having to use a traditional course-based approach.
An LMS can allow users to add goals in their personal learning path. In the world of business, a goal might be all the competencies associated with a user’s current job or desired job or mastering a particular professional technique.
Once a goal is added, the LMS will start to recommend useful resources (such as courses, videos, groups, etc.) that can help a learner to achieve their goals. The recommendations system can be very flexible thanks to a blend of hand-crafted automation rules and AI (Artificial Intelligence), and this mix can be configured on a per-site basis.
An LMS can infuse its goals system with communities and its gamification system so that a user can visit a particular competencies page, post a question to its community, and other users who answer that question can earn points, badges, and community recognition.
Those questions/answers will be persistent and thus form a nice knowledge base over time.
Each LMS customer will be able to configure the scope of these communities so that its members come from their business, their network, their state/country, or the entire world.
Enhanced learning paths
Creating personalized learning paths for trainees is already possible within some business LMSs. The current advancements will make it easier to string together learning resources to form a more coherent path.
For example, instructors could create a path for a certain learner that starts with an introduction, then requires the learners to take a couple of courses (which can be hosted on the platform and/or a third-party site), then take a quiz tied to competencies at the end.
Other possible features
A business LMS can integrate other forward-looking features, like AI-powered chatbots, trends recognition so that the platform can identify various issues related to learners before these become more serious problems, or emotion recognition: providing ways for learners to easily share their emotions about a particular course (happy, frustrated, bored, etc.) so that instructors can take this into account and adapt accordingly.
We think it makes sense for a learning platform to provide both LMS and LXP features. Organizations that are interested in having the best of both worlds and get the above-mentioned features in a single platform will also find that they’ll get a significantly lower cost than purchasing and integrating separate products.
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and NEO. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author and educator.