LXP – Are Times Changing?

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Let me tell you a little story, it is about this kid named LRS, okay, it’s a nickname. The real name? Learning Record Store.

I’m sure you have heard of this kid, LRS. LRS is seen in a lot of places, various learning systems, heck even standalone. The funny thing about LRS though, is that what it was designed to do (wait, you didn’t know I wasn’t talking about a real child?) isn’t what it is being used for today.

When LRS rolled out – the original premise

An LRS can capture everything that the end-user does in the system. Chat – yes. Taking courses and content? Yes. Looking around on various pieces or various places within the system? Yes. Assessment results? Yes. A robust capture of data.

That is a key piece, okay, the key piece that is used today – the data – that is the differentiator that an LRS can bring to the table – and if a vendor is using i.e. it is active in their system – can show all this wonderful data based on the learner’s actions.

However, going back to the original premise – it is best to explain it as a scenario

Scenario A – Corporate

Diego works at your company. Loves it, but hey, you pay rotten. Diego gets hired at another company, that happens to have a learning system (doesn’t have to be the same brand). This Learning System has an LRS. All that data that is part of your LRS in your learning system is pushed over to this new LRS (pushed isn’t the right word, in essence, the data is downloaded and then uploaded, or it is moved in some approach). Now, the new company, where Diego is going, is plugged in with all his actions from the previous system known as a learning record.

Scenario B – Corporate with a Twist

It’s Diego again, however, after bolting to your competitor – seriously, your benefits stink (former company) – the competitor’s learning system doesn’t have an LRS. Where does that learning record go? Well, it has to be stored somewhere, because it won’t be staying on his previous company’s system. Diego or the new company has to find a place to store the data, in something similar to learning storage until said time that the new company’s learning system has an LRS. This opens up a whole new bag of worms, gummies! – Kidding, just worms.

Scenario C – EdTech (K-12 and HigherEd)

Cali is six years old. Her learning system, the one the school uses, has an LRS. When Cali goes to middle school or junior high (same premise, different terms), that school has an LRS – her learning record is moved over to that new LRS. Cali then goes to high school. That school has a learning system, and it has an LRS. Here learning record is moved over to there – it is built on with more data of actions to each system she has been before, thru her schooling. Cali is now off to college. And that college has a learning system with an LRS. Her learning record is moved over to the new LRS. Cali graduates! She lands a gig at the company, Diego, left, and to her amazement, the company has a learning system with an LRS. Her learning record from the time she was in elementary, to the time she was in middle school, thru high school and college – all that data is now in the company’s LRS. Let’s say she goes to a company or a school that doesn’t have a learning system, let alone one with an LRS – that data – learning record has to be stored, if it is to be used at a later date – a learning locker seems to be an ideal spot.

All the above scenarios could play out when the LRS was initially presented. I know because I was at an event after the Learning Record was being promoted and asked enough questions, including ones around security and privacy. It was concerning.

Vendors clearly weren’t enthralled either was my take, especially clients who didn’t want a competitor to be able to see all those learning actions, especially if Wallenda was espousing inside information in a chat room, which now the competitor could see as part of the learning record. Laugh if you will, as though that wouldn’t happen – but it could because everything is captured.

However, it changed over time. Gone was the record to one to another, and it was the data around learning actions, whatever they are – nowadays it is all about engagement in some form, and additional actions, and I haven’t found a vendor pushing out to their clients an extensive amount of data – which is a whole other discussion. I mean, if you are using an LRS – when was the last time you were seeing what Diggy was saying about you (the boss) in the chat room? Besides your pay stinks and you are a rotten human.

LXP

In trying to find an example that fits best to what is happening today with the LXPs, I realized the LRS was similar, in that, what something was initially designed to do, is now being used in a different manner and seen by the clients in a different manner.

Misunderstanding of what is really an LXP, in terms of UI/UX, and functionality plays a huge role in this, not just with buyers of a system, but also with vendors who are adding an LXP or say they have an LXP in their system.

On top of all that, what an LXP is really all about – is totally not even in play here – well, the wordage exists, but the buyer, the vendor is not seeing it – they say it – but see it is different.

Chart Time

The Original LXP

LXP
Playlists (trending, Most Popular, Recommended, Suggest – based on skill or other content
Modern Aesthetic – many have Netflix aka Grid look
Select “Skill(s)”, some you could select “Interests” – then content/courses based on those specific skills appear – i.e. available ; Skill Ratings
Learner-Centric, Self-Directed
Informal only, not compliance focus
Curation capabilities
Multiple 3rd party course/content publishers (fee – majority, and free)
Can view publishers and purchase immediately (client does this)
Lacked the majority of LMS features – inc. classroom mgt, rules-based, various admin functionality, e-commerce
Basic reports
That was then

The table above represents the majority of LXPs when they arrived on the scene. If you wanted notifications, event management, even hierarchy rules, they were not for you. LMS capabilities? Limited in scope. AI was pushed, but let’s be real, this is a) machine learning and b) they were not the first type of systems to offer it, and c) trust me, it’s all over the map here – with some, requiring you to “complete” learning to identify recommended (skewed data).

Skills again all over the map, what you see today, is not what you saw when they rolled out. In fact, Degreed was the first LXP to have skill capabilities, including some metrics around it. Skill Ratings appeared first with the LXPs, but it was not universal.

The Anti-LMS pitch was launched.

The Modern Learning Experience was introduced with the “LMSs are all about compliance and formal” pitch.

LMSs and Learning Platforms, even if they had those feature sets, and yes some did to various degrees, never pushed the idea that an LXP was in their platform, or it was LXP. That was a no-no.

LXP Today 2022

To better understand where we are at, is to recognize that the LXP market has split into two – most folks when comparing learning systems (LMS, LXP, TXP, Learning Platform, Board Game with the words learning on it, etc.) , look at say an LMS and ask if they have an LXP or say to the learning system vendor, we want an LXP, or compare an LXP to an LMS and try to decipher between the two.

On the other side you have LMS and Learning Platform vendors saying they have an LXP built-in or an LXP which is an add-on (additional module cost).

The Two

  • Actual LXP – They say they are an LXP, they pitch themselves as an LXP
  • LMS or Learning Platform that says they have a built-in LXP, or LXP functionality or they sell it as an add-on module to their main system

Review the Table Above

Look at your LXP or an LXP you are considering and see what of those items do they have today, versus initially. Let me help you out

LXP (Then)LXP (Now)
All the Playlist optionsMixed. They have playlists, but trending, recommended, popular/voted – no. Based on skill(s) the end-user has selected, again mixed bag, but most have some form of it. Recommended tied to machine learning is pretty common, but not universal, and remember if you are forced to complete, how self-directed is that? Learner created playlist that can be shared – pretty common. Share is one-to many or one to one. The ability to create multiple learner curated playlists (i.e. not just one only) is low.
Modern UI/UXYes, although some need an update – it looked great two years ago. Now, REFRESH.
Skills (select before you go into the system and/or can add/removePretty consistent most have this capability. Some do a better job than others. Interests as a selection option? (i.e. it says Interests) – Rare.
Skills output tied to show content relevant, again, pretty consistent – and again, some do a far better job than others.
Skill RatingsThey have it, but there is a big difference with 1-5 or 1-10, and what one means, and two means and so on – i.e. you enter that info in, so your learner knows that three means you are knowledgeable in blah blah.
Self-Directed, Learner-Centric In name only. All the LXPs have the ability for “Assigned learning” which uh, is formal learning BTW, and it is not self-directed or learner-centric is any way.
Informal only. The moment assigned learning came into play, no formal, went bye-bye. So, the pitch of “informal only”, no longer applies.
Not compliance oriented Never was an accurate statement – sure they may have initially lacked a chunk of compliance, but the content? The client could always purchase compliance content.
Curation Capabilities Still exists – but curation can go far more than where it is, only a few in the LXP have a bookmarklet extension, and not everyone’s curation pull from the net to show free content is the same, a couple lack it.
Course/Content Market, ability to purchase quickly and goes in Yep, they all have it. Some have more publishers and additional resources than others. BTW, sorry Degreed, but there is another vendor out there, who is the largest with assets.
Lacked the majority of LMS Features Not anymore. Sure, there are items such as event management, notifications, a couple of admin functionality, e-commerce – that the masses do not have (some do), but the LXPs are changing and are slowly becoming more ubiquitous to many LMS vendors. EdCast for example, offers classroom management, e-commerce and a few other items, that the LXPs initially did not offer.
Basic Reports Still exists. You do not purchase an LXP for extensive data and reporting, overall, that isn’t there. If you want it – are EdCast which is a TXP, and it is an additional fee , and Degreed which is an add-on called Degreed Intelligence.
What? They are not learner-centric?

LMS says they have LXP capabilities or an add-on LXP

This is going to get tricky, because there are LMSs and Learning Platforms that have many of the key LXP capabilities, but equally sell an add-on module as an option – and yes, it makes no sense. Then there are LMS vendors who say they have an LXP built-in or LXP capabilities and actually have no clue what is or should be an LXP.

The Reality – I’ve seen this, it is more common than you think

  • If you do NOT have multiple playlist options, including one where a learner can create their own playlist and share it with other learners you DO NOT HAVE AN LXP
  • If you do NOT have at least 10 3rd party course/content publishers that are fee-based, you DO NOT HAVE AN LXP. The freebies are easy to get, still I see plenty of systems that do not even have these.
  • If you DO NOT have curation capabilities that go beyond just the system curates’ content (Every system does this, and has since 2000), you DO NOT HAVE AN LXP
  • If you have a modern UI/UX, then you have a modern UI/UX – and everyone says they do, even when they don’t. Anyway, it never was a “new concept” only for the LXPs.
  • If you do not have a GRID option or Netflix like appearance than you DO NOT HAVE AN LXP. At a basic level, you can go hierarchy or GRID and default with GRID. Of course, if you lack playlists, then there is no chance you can say you have a Netflix like appearance.
  • If you have skill ratings, and skill capabilities – that is awesome, because many LXPs lack the latter, and even the former is all over the map. But you need to define 1-5 or 1 to whatever option – i.e the admin does this.
  • If you offer your client the ability to go assigned learning or self-directed – or both, then welcome to the world of learning systems – Because all systems could do this, since 2000. Shocking! I know, just a stunner. And no, sorry LXPs, the moment you included assigned learning, you were no longer the special darling. Welcome to the rat race. HA
  • If you say you have Peer to Peer Learning, congrats – but that doesn’t make you an LXP, and oh, LXPs that is not just limited to you. I had it my learning system. In 2000.
  • Basic Reports – Exists in LMSs, so it is not universal, and yes, advanced and more robust exists in LMSs, Learning Platforms too.
  • No Compliance – LMSs were not created for compliance – but this has been a huge marketing spin for LXPs to say that. It’s just 100% NOT TRUE. Just as they say LMSs were designed only for formal learning. NOT TRUE. And content? All Client-driven.

The lack of publishers and playlists is a big one that I see with LMS and Learning Platform vendors who claim they have an LXP built-in their system. The moment I have to explain what is in an LXP to a non-LXP vendor, is the moment I realize that said vendor who is saying they have a built-in LXP, has no clue what an LXP is. And that goes for some add-ons too.

The Modern Learning Experience

What do you see as a Modern Learning Experience?

Is it about curation? Slick UI and UX? Peer to Peer Learning? Self-directed learning all the time? Some of the time? Completion driven or completion optional (courses, content)? Is it lots of resources to choose and select from? Is it the ability to ask questions and the system outputs the content tied to those questions? Machine Learning? (Vendors pitch this as A.I., it’s not). Skills specific or skills optimized or skill options. Social robust or Social sufficient?

Modern Learning Experience is not living in the past. If you believe that ILT is a valuable learning experience, then you are not in the MLE camp. If you believe completion is the only way to go, no other options can be at play, you are not in the MLE camp. If you do not allow your own learners to be empowered and truly drive their own learning/training, without any push you to this or that, then you are not MLE. If you think a learning path with X to X to X to X is the only method for onboarding, nope, not MLE. (You want a learning journey, where sure have a few X to X to X if needed, as a foundation – then let them set their own path of knowledge discovery).

If you believe your Learning System shouldn’t play a key role in your learning culture, then you are not buying into MLE.

A modern learning experience is a state of mind, by tapping into the true method of learning – and why WBT aka e-learning was established in the first place. Learner experienced first (yep, back in 2000 it started), leveraging the technologies built within the system to tap into new opportunities of discovery, inquisitiveness and exploration.

It’s not just UI/UX – although let’s be honest, people like shiny and slick and yes the system should be aesthetically pleasing, because who wants to go into any learning system that looks like it was from 2000 – and you know who you are.

Bottom Line

LXPs are moving away from the modern learning experience. Sure, it is not universal, but they are tweaking their system to be more than they started, which is fine, as long as they stay true to their roots, to their initial premise and ideas. They can argue they are still learner-centric, and sidestep assigned learning, as an option you can choose. They can say we are self-directed even if the client decides to go all directed, again, it is not us. They can argue that informal is still the main driver here, but let’s not fool ourselves here, if it truly was, there wouldn’t be formal, which there is.

Mentoring should have been an obvious next step for LXPs to continue the discovery journey, because mentoring is not the same thing as coaching. And even then, they didn’t jump headfirst into that either.

LXPs have a purpose in the learning system space.

They can continue to develop and change some learning parameters by introducing new learning (not experiences because that is just marketing buzz) opportunities for discovery.

Just as an LRS was about capturing learning actions – and still is albeit with tweaks, an LXP could be about something that taps into their premise – when they started – and brings if forward to 2022.

It isn’t going to be skills content tied to job roles, because plenty of LMSs and Learning Platforms are already there, and in some skills capabilities, there are LMSs that have surpassed LXPs.

It isn’t going to be pushing the career opportunities angle either.

If you look, truly look, you will see Modern Learning Experiences in a few new learning actions.

And you don’t need an

LRS

To do

it.

E-Learning 24/7

2 comments

  1. Totally on point Craig, been running an RFP for a client, for the last couple of months and you’ve done a fantastic job outlining the LXP current state. The acquisition of Edcast makes for interesting development and we’ll see how (if) this again changes the trajectory. I think LXPs will continue to evolve and probably lose the name as they continue to focus on skills, talent marketplace

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