March 4th, 2019 E-Learning

What are LXPs, and will they replace the traditional LMS?

I’ve recently seen a new term crop up in e-learning blogs, and it deserves some clarification. That term is “Learning Experience Platform,” or LXP. According to some of the blogs I’ve read, the LXP is the next generation of the LMS: more powerful, more flexible, and generally better across almost every e-learning context.

What people describe when they talk about an LXP sounds great. But defining it usually means setting it against something else—in this case, the LMS. The way the narrative seems to run, the LXP is set to replace the LMS. In this narrative, savvy educators should adopt early to stay ahead of the curve.

I’m all for keeping pace with technological advances when they make sense, but the marketing around LXPs seems to be just that: marketing, rather than something truly innovative. LXPs don’t seem well-defined—or even to offer anything fundamentally more advanced than what can be gained from an advanced LMS.

So, what does it mean to be an LXP, can LMSs keep pace? Let’s take a look at some of the chief characteristics of an LXP and how LearnDash measures up.

1. Versatile micro learning program options.

One of the chief differentiators between LMSs and LXPs seems to be this: LMSs are static, stuck in the past, and unable to accept new changes in e-learning, while LXPs are more versatile. Case in point: micro learning. A good Learning Experience Platform gives educators flexible ways to create course material that their learners can consume in bite-sized chunks.

Of course, any self-respecting LMS should deliver the same capabilities. If it can’t, then we would have to agree: it’s holding you back. But micro learning is hardly a new trend in the e-learning industry. Many LMS platforms offer functionality to create micro learning courses, and those that don’t can hardly be long for this world. So, we agree: micro learning is an essential component of e-learning that LMSs must support.

2. Mobile-optimized courses and learning apps.

We haven’t been shy about mobile optimization and the benefits it brings to online courses. If, somehow, you have an e-course that isn’t mobile-optimized, you’re already several steps behind anything LXP bloggers are talking about.

Mobile optimization is the new standard among online educators. It’s understandable if you don’t fully realize everything this entails, but it’s also not permissible to understand it and simply opt-out. More learners than ever are accessing learning through mobile technology, and it’s essential that your course can accommodate this learning style. LXPs don’t have a monopoly on mobile optimization. To the contrary: it’s essential for any LMS that wants to stay competitive.

3. New content types and social integration.

Back in the day, LMSs could get away with fairly basic content types: videos, text quizzes, and the like. New learners tend to expect more advanced content types, including podcasts and social media integration.

Neither of these content types are particularly difficult to tie in with your course. Podcasts are a one-way content distribution method that you can leverage to your advantage without the need of any particularly advanced content distribution platform. As for social media, integrating these with your current LMS doesn’t have to involve much more than a link to your social profiles.

4. Gamification, flipped classrooms, and other e-learning experiments.

In many ways, LXPs are less about the capabilities of an LMS, and more about the creativity of the instructor. At least, this is what I think when I see gamification and flipped classrooms included in the criteria for a good LXP.

Yes, there are certainly tools within an LMS that can enable these features. Forums and chatrooms are important for putting learners in charge of their learning experience, and game-like elements such as a badge system or leaderboard might be harder to implement if they’re not built-in features of your LMS. But it seems to me that often, when these elements don’t make their way into the final course, it has more to do with the way the instructor designed lessons than the functionality of their learning platform.

5. AI, VR, and augmented reality experiences.

LXPs really pick up when they enter the realm of truly advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality. There’s a lot of possibility here that current LMS technologies have yet to tap. At the same time, many of these advanced technologies aren’t yet at a position where most educators could take advantage of them.

Should you be prepared for them? Yes. Are you falling behind if you haven’t already adopted them? As of 2019, no. But online learning is moving in this direction, and if the concept of an LXP means anything, it is as a service that can deliver a more immersive environment than a traditional LMS.

Your LMS should deliver the capabilities of a Learning Experience Platform.

In short, I would agree that the new LXP delivers is exactly what learners need for a truly advanced learning experience. But I would disagree with the suggestion that this is anything fundamentally different from what advanced LMSs already deliver.

It’s always worth reassessing your LMS to determine if it’s still meeting your needs. Apart from the emerging technologies we discussed in point five, any LMS worth its salt should offer versatile content types, mobile optimization, and micro content creation options. If that’s what it means to be an LXP, you may find you’re already on one.

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