Are learning experiences only for an LXP?

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Are learning experiences only for an LXP?

The other day, I was thinking about Apple. I remember the days of the Macs in the 90’s. While they were a software company – operating system wise, they also sold hardware.  Then, they sold mp3 devices.  Next, came iTunes, which went from just music to e-books, movies and eventually podcasts.  Wait, oh, yeah, iCloud.  Now, they have dumped iTunes and split into three different streams of content for purchase, yet still sell hardware and oh yeah, an operating system.  Oh, and tablet covers, and accessories. 

The point is they do more than just one thing.  So, where do you place them? Hardware? Software? Consumer Goods? 

Let’s look at Amazon.  They started out with books.  Now, they have their own planes.  They also have brick and mortar bookstores.  A grocery chain, and uh, with those planes, what is to stop them from starting delivery services not just for their own products, but going up against UPS or FedEx?

I could go on, but they, and Wal-Mart, Tesco and many others, all provide goods, but they also provide

an experience.  

Which leads me into the learning experience approach that so many LXPs bank on, as a key cornerstone to their platform.  It is as though, only they (LXP) can provide such an experience and that any other type of learning system doesn’t.

This “experience” angle is intertwined with the whole mantra of a Learning Experience Platform as if that is something so unique, so different than say an LMS, which as a result, provides such experiences.

I respectfully, disagree.

Who Drives What?

Let’s remember that it isn’t the fault of the LMS, for how it is being used.  Some LXPs (okay, many) and even newer LMSs, love to pitch their brethren as “traditional”, or “rigid” as though it is because the system was started more than a decade ago (when was long term a bad thing?), or because it offers folks required/compliance training/learning.

Here is the thing though.  It is not the system that is driving this approach, it is the driver themselves – i.e. who is overseeing the LMS.

Just as I can use my LMS for non-required training content, offering employees, customers or both, free courses and materials on personal and professional development (which I did, when I ran training at numerous companies), so can I provide proprietary training/learning courses (again, been there, done that) and even required compliance content too. 

I as the person overseeing the entire training for the company, had the full power to decide what was pushed out to the customers, employees or a combo of both. Association members as well.

Who drives a car?

Until self-driving ones are out in full force, it is you or another human.  And how they drive, if it isn’t you, can be all over the place. Maybe you have zero patience and drive like Speed Racer.  And maybe that Uber driver drives like an 85 yr old who barely can see over the wheel.

The point is someone is driving and thus, you can’t blame the car for that experience.  Nor, do you say to yourself, “This experience being in the car with Sara, is enough to make me want to experience Disneyland in the summer on half-off price day.”

Experiences are for everyone

LXPs will often note that they are more than just courses – they offer resources – workbooks, materials, audio, video, even podcasts (starting to appear but as links to podcast sites for the most part).  The implication is that this “experience” for knowledge is exclusive.

But is it really? 

Couldn’t you do this in any type of learning system, regardless if it is an SEP (Sales Enablement Platform) or LMS or learning platform or even know talent management systems, where learning is a component?  

The answer is yes.

There are LMS vendors who offer resources via 3rd party providers, just as the LXPs offer.  Now it may not be the same 3rd party providers, but they do exist.

And each system offers knowledge as the takeaway.  In fact, right now, there is knowledge being acquired right here on the post.  Thus, I can pitch this blog offers a learning experience, with knowledge as a benefit.

Many folks are becoming more and more confused with the differences between an LXP and an LMS, and I can totally see why. 

LXPs as noted in a previous post are offering feature sets more and more like an LMS, and LMSs are offering feature sets like an LXP.   Now, think about that for one or a few seconds.

If you are an LXP, pitching that you are not like an LMS, why are you then adding functionality that matches what an LMS offers?

Wouldn’t you go in the opposite direction?  If an LMS is static in your mind, with things such as required or assigned content, then why as an LXP, are you now having features for required channels/playlist of content, or assigned playlist/channels or even solo pieces of content? 

How is that different than someone using an LMS for the same thing?

There are now a couple of LXPs that offer event management and components of mentoring (the majority still don’t). One LXP says they have classroom management, although in the demo I viewed, I didn’t see it – maybe it is invisible to all of us, except them.  I must have lost my X-Ray plastic glasses I could buy in the 70’s comic book back cover.

Let’s then Recap here

You are an LXP.  You push that you are not an LMS because of required/assigned training/learning.  You are fluid, and an LMS is not (according to you and most of the LXP market).  You are learner-centric, but an LMS, again according to you is not.

All of this pushes the “experience twist”, according to LXP vendors. 

Let’s Compare

Assigned content? All learning systems can do this, regardless if they are an LXP, LMS, SEP, etc. 

Learner-Centric?  All can do it – it totally depends on who is overseeing the platform – from a client perspective.  If I am using my LXP to include required/assigned learning, how is that learner-centric?  I thought the whole point of learner-centric was for the learner to drive the learning/training – not the client (i.e. administrator or manager, for example).  

You can’t say you are learner-centric if you assign content.  Just as you can’t say you are the best movie ever made, but are straight to video i.e. video streaming today! 

You can’t push that you are the only type of system that enables learning experiences, when you know deep down that isn’t accurate.  Or perhaps, you haven’t thought about it in such a manner, because you are unaware that LMSs can do the same exact thing.

Amazon offers a buying experience. So does, Wal-Mart, Tesco, and even Apple.  They have those stores for a reason (although some folks are now griping about that buying experience and not in a good way).  

Can an LXP be an LMS or an LMS be an LXP or a hybrid of the two?

The answer is yes and again, in a previous post the ubiquity is happening at a faster rate, than I surmise many analysts thought.  I’ve read some analyst postings where they clearly missed the big picture.  They saw and thus wrote about an LXP being the whole learning experience and never saw that crossover was inevitable based on the approach and entire feature set.

That isn’t to say that an LXP matches 100% with an LMS or vice-versa.  There are still differences between the two, but from a learning environment and administration standpoint it is becoming blurred.

Content wise. Ditto.   Content capabilities – Ditto.   Video management? Ditto.   And I could go on.

Skill management right now is slightly on the LXP side – but it is not universal in terms of the functionality – as in not every LXP has every skill management function that exists on the market (available that is).  But, not every LMS has the exact same features either, but many either do or are close. 

There are LMSs who do not offer a content marketplace (which is not a reseller marketplace per se).  And there are LXPs who only have a few 3rd party content providers, and not the minimum of ten, which I see as a must for an LXP.  

Side-Bar

Just a quick item regarding content marketplaces.  They might be called an exchange, or some other term, but they have the following

  • 3rd party content providers (could be courses, videos, documents, audio files, images, workbooks, combination of all, podcasts, etc.)
  • The client (i.e. whoever bought the platform) buys the content – which can be from one partner or dozens. 
  • The client chooses how many seats of the content they want to provide to their end users.
  • They the client, does not resell the content to the end users.  They give it to them for free (but now a few vendors are tweaking that, which only adds to confusion). 

The Dirty Little Secret

Many LXP vendors want an audience that LMS vendors as whole (not all mind you), have as clients.  Those multi-tenant customers (aka extended enterprise).  Oh, how they want them.  They want the customer training/education component which you get via the multi-tenant angle (even if you are not yet have multi-tenants – i.e. parent- child relationship).  

But in order to really get them, they need to add a feature that overwhelmingly they do not have?  What is that you wonder?

E-commerce.

And multi-tenant capability (I know a few LXPs that have this though).

Which, gets us back to supposedly uniqueness of the LXP as compared to an LMS.  Just as there are LMSs who do not have e-commerce and thus target only employees, so the LXPs as whole follow this mantra.

But, that secret of many LXPs wanting the customers as a percentile that is more than minuscule is desired.  

The challenge is that many LXPs client base wise, are being used as an add-on and bolt-on to an existing LMS, so sure you can offer the customer education/training aspect, as long as the client is offering the content for free.

Wait, there’s more

Most LXPs do not have a built-in authoring tool, nor do they accept you building a course in a 3rd party authoring tool and uploading it into their platform.   Most LMSs do, as a whole.

But, again, this is starting to change.  Instilled, from LTG, has the Gomo authoring tool as part of the LXP.  Learn Amp allows you to upload content from a 3rd party authoring tool, just as EdCast does as well. 

If from an experience side of things, wouldn’t I as the client, want to have that experience of uploading content I built via that 3rd party authoring tool to be in my LXP? 

Have you seen some of those videos out there?  They have zero navigation – no Table of Contents, thus that static angle comes back in full swing to the LXP.  Just as in the case of the LMS – but with both types of platforms it comes back not to the platform, but the client, who built the course or uploaded the video.

Bottom Line

Knowledge is not exclusive to an LXP.

It’s available in all types of learning systems.

Nor is a learning experience.

It’s available in all types of learning systems.

You can’t pitch the two as being unique and only to you,

When you are yourselves trying to mimic the exact same thing

you say your not,

An LMS.

Or the driver.

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