The LMS vs LXP: Which One Should You Choose?

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Steve Finch
Thinqi Ambassador
The LMS vs LXP: Which One Should You Choose?

Decided to take the leap from traditional to blended learning in your organisation? Congratulations! Blended learning paves the way to L&D that’s accessible, relevant and measurable, yet still allows coaches and mentors to engage with learners on a more personalised level when compared to just classroom-based training. You can breathe a sigh of relief now you’ve braved the decision and got on board with a blended approach.

But before investing in learning technologies, how do you know which one is best? Is the traditional learning management system (LMS) really dead? Is the learning experience platform (LXP) the learning technology of the future? It’s a big investment, but which choice is right for your organisation? It’s certainly not a decision that can be taken lightly. Cue panic.

If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by it all, let’s start by taking a look at the key differences between the two technologies.

L&D trainer showing data to room of learners on their laptops and working

What is a Learning Management System (LMS)?

With its ability to create, manage, track and deliver online corporate courses, the learning management system, or LMS, has long been seen as a bastion of the old-world learning order. For example, an LMS might be used in order to assign induction training courses to new employees, so that progress can be tracked and learning retention assessed in a scored test.  

However, in recent years, there has been debate over whether the LMS has become redundant in light of the rise in personalised, adaptive delivery that’s so intrinsic to modern learning. Is the age of the LMS well and truly over?  

Perhaps not yet. Despite the fact that modern learners are now gravitating towards more learner-led, rather than administrator-driven learning experiences, the LMS still serves a purpose in delivering compliance training, hence still enjoys widespread use. To put this into context, 60% of respondents in the L&D Tech Barometer Research Report 2019 stated that they use an LMS within their company. However, only 13% are looking to adopt it within 12 months. What this tells us that while the LMS still has its place, the traditional LMS is by no means future-proof as new learning technologies continue to emerge.

L&D practitioner comparing data and analytics on LMS or LXP software on laptop and on paper

What is a Learning Experience Platform (LXP)?

According to world-renowned industry leader Josh Bersin, the LXP market “exists because the paradigm of the LMS is out of date”. The category of the LXP not only refers to a product category, but it is also a category of systems designed with the philosophy of “learning in the flow of work”. 

Think about the sort of content you engage with on a daily basis: for example, entertainment. When you log in to streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify, you are presented with a wealth of personalised options based on your preferences and activity history. The content has already been curated based on your own interests, allowing you to select from the most relevant categories without having to waste time wading through countless options yourself. 

Now imagine you could log in to a learning system and find the most relevant content at the touch of a button – without hours of searching. Imagine that you can select your preferred form of content: for example, articles, blogs, videos, podcasts and micro-learning. Imagine a learning journey that puts the learner in control. Curation and user-led experience is one of the key capabilities of the LXP that make it arguably more suited to modern learning than the traditional LMS. Other benefits of the LXP include:

  • An open system to accommodate external resources
  • The ability for anybody to contribute their own content
  • Adaptive learning paths
  • Discussion spaces for collaborative learning and coaching/mentoring
  • The ability to track learning outside of formal situations (with the help of xAPI)
  • The ability to track soft skills (or ‘intangibles’)
  • The capacity for unmarked, practice assessments

This more holistic, personalised approach to learning is therefore ideal for engaging learners beyond just mandatory compliance training. What’s more, the focus on curation also slashes the time wasted searching through endless content – good news for both time-poor learners and L&D practitioners alike.

The result? More money saved and more time spent learning.

L&D practitioners looking at laptop with different data sources plugged in to show graph onscreen

LXP vs LMS: Can the LXP Really Replace the LMS?

So surely what we are we saying is that the LXP can successfully replace the old LMS? 

Not so fast. The key difference between the LXP and LMS is that the LXP focuses on putting learning experience first, whereas the LMS is based upon learning management. But remember, there are times when we do still need formal learning management. Compliance training isn’t going away anytime soon. 

This only makes that painstaking decision between LXP and LMS more difficult.

But what if you didn’t have to decide? What if you could have a learning technology that was built upon the foundations of the traditional LMS and then integrated the enhanced capabilities of the LXP?

When you made the decision to take the leap towards a more blended online learning approach, what you wanted was an approach which supports the best of both formal and informal learning. You wanted learning which could be tailored exactly to your organisation’s needs. And this is precisely why we have designed our Thinqi platform to replicate how we learn naturally. For example, when learning something new, we’ll Google the topic and perhaps read a few articles or blog posts. We might watch a few YouTube videos and start constructing our own understanding of the topic. We might attend seminars and events, then consult peers who are likely to have their own views on the topic. We then apply our knowledge and share our experiences with others. It’s clear that the learning journey is becoming increasingly self-led and informal, and this is where xAPI, typically associated with the LXP, can help track and reward the learning experiences that happen outside of the traditional platform.

However, there’s no escaping that all-important compliance training. You’ll therefore also want to incorporate formal learning pathways into your strategy, which is where the LMS comes in. While Thinqi incorporates the key features of the LXP and its xAPI abilities, it does so without compromising on the formal delivery and tracking associated with the LMS. By integrating the two, the result is that you can successfully engage learners beyond mandatory compliance training, yet are still able to measure and manage formal learning activities linked to unique organisational goals. 

It’s a real, proven solution that’s perfectly suited to modern learning.  

Different technological devices being used by learners and connected to cloud

In Summary…

Choosing between the LMS and LXP doesn’t have to be a headache. As we’ve proven, with an integrated system like Thinqi, it needn’t even be a choice. Josh Bersin states that “the trend is clear: integrated learning platforms are here”, and it’s easy to see why. Why have a fragmented, substandard learning experience when you can have the best of both worlds? 

The modern learning landscape is fast evolving, and our approach to learning technologies must evolve and adapt to ensure we are delivering the best, most holistic learning experience tailored exactly to your organisation’s unique needs.

Want to build a high-performing workforce today? Then get on board with the integrated learning technologies of tomorrow.  

If you would like to learn more about how our cutting-edge blended learning ecosystem can help you get the best out of both formal and informal learning, we’ve got the tools and expertise to help you succeed. Request a demo to arrange to speak to one of our experts.

We’re always exploring key trends in the learning and development world, so keep an eye on our blog and social media channels to see when new insights are published:

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Steve Finch
Thinqi Ambassador
Steve Finch is Head of Marketing and Brand Ambassador for Thinqi, the modern learning system. With a background in customer success and digital learning programme delivery, Steve has been helping organisations deliver effective modern learning for nearly 20 years.