Brad Zomick

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What’s a Learning Experience Platform?

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A learning experience platform (LXP) provides a personalized, social, online learning experience for users, typically employees at large enterprises. It consolidates disparate learning resources into a single portal.

Janet Clarey, Lead Advisor, Technology, Analytics, and Learning at Bersin by Deloitte defines learning experience platforms in the following way:

LXPs are single-point-of-access, consumer-grade systems composed of integrated technologies for enabling learning. They can do many tasks, such as curating and aggregating content, creating learning and career pathways, enabling networking, enhancing skill development, and tracking learning activities delivered via multiple channels and content partners. By delivering on a central platform, LXPs enable businesses to provide an engaging and learning-rich experience and may lessen their reliance on an LMS or talent suite as the learning hub.

These days, learning can happen anywhere and manifest in many forms. An LXP helps employees discover learning opportunities, offers ways to enhance them and manages all their learning. LXPs also facilitate and encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Because most employees were not engaging with their company’s learning management system (LMS) outside of mandatory compliance training, industry leaders invested in designing a superior experience that would motivate employees to learn skills and acquire knowledge.

What’s the Difference Between an LMS and an LXP?

At first glance, a learning experience platform simply might seem like a modern version of a learning management system, but with a sleeker aesthetic. Both are applications for providing courses and training. But fundamental differences exist.

Administrator-Driven vs. Employee-Driven

Companies that only use an LMS typically have an administrative team managing the software and deciding what courses and training modules will be available. The content choices are made by Learning & Development managers and executives. The vast majority of employees cannot directly influence their learning experiences or content offerings.

With LXPs, every learner can decide what content they want to engage with. Anyone can add or create new content, which then becomes discoverable by anyone in the company. Sharing is encouraged, with few or no controls over what is allowed.

Closed System vs. Open Platform

The LMS is a closed system that does not assimilate learning resources from external providers. Only administrators can add content, making it more difficult and time-consuming to generate a diverse array of choices and learning paths.

Read: Why Businesses Must Not Wait for Their Learning Management Systems to Evolve

LXPs are open. Any URL can be added as a learning resource. Employees, managers, L&D and subject matter experts can freely submit content and recommendations.

Administrators have limited time to curate content, and can’t possibly scour everything available. LXPs help everyone become curators, so the selection for each learner quickly becomes vast and diverse.

Compliance Focus vs. Impact Focus

Organizations frequently use LMSs primarily to comply with laws and regulations. They also often use similar styles for each course — a block of information followed by a brief quiz. As a consequence, many employees perceive the LMS as a chore, rather than a portal for learning new skills and acquiring valuable knowledge. Even if the platform offers hundreds of courses on interesting topics, employees will most likely not bother engaging with non-mandatory content.

Instead of prioritizing compliance, LXPs are designed to positively impact the growth of business. When employees spend more time learning, they become more valuable and are able to make greater contributions to their companies — which, in turn, makes their companies more competitive.

Speed of Instructional Design vs. Speed of Business

Updating an LMS to offer new learning paths or features often requires rebuilding the system — a task that can take months. By the time the project is complete, the skills and knowledge the company wanted the LMS to offer might no longer be relevant to the business. A new technology may have come along, supplanting the old one.

In the era of the digital transformation, an organization’s learning needs can change from day to day. LXPs take this into account. They’re dynamic, unlike the static interfaces of LMSs. So learning experience platforms allow businesses to start teaching new, emerging skills without delay.

Understanding Modern Learning Styles

Today’s workers want just-in-time microlearning experiences and intuitive suggestions. LXPs offer software with the speed and capabilities people need to be more engaged in non-mandatory online education.

In a recent article, Josh Bersin describes what this experience looks like:

“Imagine if you opened up the corporate training page and it showed you ‘Mandatory courses to complete this week,’ ‘Recommended based on your current role,’ and interesting categories like ‘Programs to prepare you for promotion’ or ‘Tips and techniques for your current role.’ All, including much more sophisticated recommendations based on your prior learning experience, your job role, and what other peers in your company are taking.”

Enhancing, not Replacing

Still, LXPs are not designed to simply replace the LMS.

Most learning experience platforms integrate with LMSs, so LMS content is available as part of the LXP. Previous investments in corporate training don’t go to waste. And the combination allows for both mandatory training and elective development opportunities.

Users become more likely to remain engaged in the platform after finishing learning related to compliance training.

The Payoffs

Organizations generally invest in an LXP to address specific learning needs, retain and develop talent, and become more competitive. Benefits include:

At Pathgather, we also refer to ourselves as a learning experience platform. Here are some stories of companies we work with:

HP: Providing More Engaging and Shareable Content

By conducting focus groups, interviews and surveys, HP Inc. learned that its employees wanted easier access to content that was engaging, endorsed by fellow employees and relevant to their specific needs. They also were interested in efficiently sharing knowledge with teams and peers.

HP worked with Pathgather to create Brain Candy, a fun learning experience platform that has been a huge success. The system allowed employees to thank one another publicly for learning-related opportunities.

“Peer-to-peer recommendations allow people to feel connected to subject matter experts and the content being promoted,” one HP employee said.

Today, more than half the company is active on the platform, and collaboration has increased exponentially.

T-Mobile: Consolidating Learning Resources and Putting the User First

T-Mobile had invested heavily in learning and development, yet their content systems were disparate. Each arm of the business had its own learning platform, and they rarely collaborated.

“The information our coaches and reps need was hidden away in communities, databases, email, C2, Sharepoint, Skillsoft and across the T-Nation intranet,” says Tim Collins, a senior program manager in the Customer Care Leadership Development Team at T-Mobile.

The interfaces were not engaging either. Despite the wealth of premium options for corporate learning, employees preferred relying on Google.

Integrating an LXP allowed T-Mobile to consolidate resources and create learning paths for employees who showed high leadership potential. The vast majority of people invited to the platform logged in, and roughly 40 percent use the interface to share knowledge, best practices, recommendations and resources.

Visa: Staying Ahead of the Competition

Visa was on top of the payment industry and wanted to retain its standing. Besides other credit card companies, disruptive competitors such as PayPal and Apple Pay had entered the space. Leadership realized that a new culture emphasizing learning would attract valuable talent.

The company uses an LXP to combine learning resources and create Visa University, an open platform that allows employees to add content. Since its launch, more than 15,000 people have shared their expertise in the digital community. The program represents a shift toward focusing on lifelong learning rather than traditional linear career paths, according to Gordon Trujillo, Visa’s senior director for digital learning.

Who Uses LXPs?

Large enterprises typically purchase LXPs, and their employees are the most common users.

Senior executives and managers, especially those in learning-related departments, are usually those who select and implement the platform. They often work with the software provider to customize a branded learning experience everyone in the organization can access. These leaders are often administrators in the system.

Executives and managers employ LXPs to track their subordinates’ learning progress and identify opportunities for coaching. Learning and development staff also views results to analyze the impact of their investments and gain valuable insights.

What Will Be the Future of Learning Experience Platforms?

In this era, technologies change constantly. So it’s crucial for LXPs to remain dynamic and capable of evolving. The more elastic they are in design, the more opportunities they offer for creativity and innovation.

So LXPs can become central pillars of how organizations operate. And they can help workplaces become what Pathgather CEO Eric Duffy has said they need to be: “the university of the 21st century.”

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