Ponder This in your LMS and LXP

Ponder This in your LMS and LXP

I think people like to question the status quo. Well, some people do, and I readily admit I am one of those folks.

It’s not like I sit here staring out onto the sea of Cortez contemplating whether a shark the size of a whale is out there (rumors say yes), but, I do more often than not, look at what it taking place in the e-learning space and ponder.

Where are the markets heading? Why is anyone buying a desktop authoring tool?  Are adult coloring books really that stress-free?

As you can see, that is a lot to ponder.  So, let us ponder together on these follow items.

Buzz Words in the Learning System Space

You may remember that song “take out the trash..” and I can’t remember how it goes, but there are three buzz words making their impact felt, so much so, that the words that were originally in existence, need to head to the rubbish bin.

Out – Coaching

In – Mentoring

Do they mean the same thing? I guess it depends on your take, but “mentor” seems more easy-going – a helper if you will, whereas “coach” can be easy or tough.  The term coach in the business world is not the same as “coaching” in the learning system space.  As such, it would make sense that a new word is necessary.  That buzz word is now mentoring.

Speaking of mentoring, one vendor is about to launch in their mobile app, “live mentoring.”  I think it has potential, but there are a lot of unknowns.  While folks seem excited about it (the vendor’s customers), this approach is clearly for those who love OJT or wish for something that could be like OJT update 2.0.

Here are the challenges that I see with live mentoring

  • It’s peer to peer, which is fine, but who is going to be a mentor?  Top talent. Likely A-Star talent, which by the way, who is the OJT talent you line up with the new employee? Why.. it is your A-star talent.
  • Metrics are missing – as in how often does this mentor respond? How long does it take? What are the questions being asked? What are their responses? How often does that employee contact a mentor and/or other mentors? Comparison data between that mentor and all other mentors at the company and so forth.  Metrics will do wonders, and help strongly in skill gap analysis, development of the right content, and expanded engagement data.
  • What will be the times available for live mentoring?  Will the company allow their employees to contact anyone at any time or at a certain time?  Does the live mentoring work in the warehouses or at retail locations (where the net might be bad?)?  How will it work with hourly employees compared to full-time?
  • With the video be auto-detection fps too?  What happens if employee A does not have a smartphone? 

Solve these items and I see live mentoring as a possibility.  I’d prefer it as an AR angle with the “live mentor” more so, then what it will be for right now.   Even then, the metrics are essential, because without it, you just have two people experiencing “mentoring” as though they are on What’s App or Facebook Messenger.

Out – Machine Learning

In – AI

The problem here is that machine learning and A.I. are not the same thing, and in reality what vendors are doing is machine learning. The next tier from machine learning is deep learning, and as vendor that would be more apropos by say mid 2020, if things continue to go this route.   Stay the course with machine learning for now.   And as a consumer don’t buy into “we have A.I.” 

Out Competencies

In – Skills

I’d prefer the term skill management, because in 2019 – all the rage is “skills”.  This is how the industry rolls.

First it was mobile, then video, next up was micro-learning, then back to video management, then back to micro-learning and now it is skills.

Skill-based learning.  Skill Ratings. Skills to build and develop. Skills to attain and synthesis to occur (which you want, BTW).   Skills..Skills…Skills

Competencies sound scary.  I mean it sounds like I am at a lab deep in Siberia, and need to achieve these competencies or else I am off to digging a hole.  I never cared for the word, too much L&D in it.  Skills though that is something everyone can sink their teeth in.  Perfect word usage for training.  Very good for L&D.  Heck, even those HR folks can wrap their arms around “skills.”

The industry has as well.   Competencies in reality – what does that even mean?  I know what it means, but for the general worker?  Nah, skills though – easy to understand and I mean, when you read a book on how to write backwards, that is a skill you are trying to accomplish, which folks want (uh, to learn skills that is).

Heck, there is a growing movement for universities to focus on skills rather than theory, and you may have read recently there is an increase in hiring folks with specific skills rather than attaining a degree (i..e no need to attend college/university).   One tv ad shows that exact approach and the value of doing so.

They never mention the word competencies.  What do they mention? Skills.

What do you want in your Learning Environment?

Learning Environment – Ties into what is available for the learner.

Items include

  • Learning Path – now being called by some vendors as a learning journey (it is the same thing, albeit, a journey is more graphical and can be fun). Another term is curriculum path.
  • Individual Learning Profile
  • Search bar or search capability
  • Learner home dashboard
  • Learner can apply or ask to be accepted into a specific piece of content or course, they may or may not be accepted
  • Learner catalog
  • Transcripts
  • Progress bar or similar

The new HOT ones – coming to a vendor near you, okay plenty of vendors offer these (and they ones you want)

  • Deep linking allowing the ability to share a link directly to a training module via email (user will be led to log in page and then directly to the course/content/module)
  • Customizable home page that is a different look/appearance/theme based on the learner who logged into the system
  • Support for the hierarchy at the enterprise, business unit or other desired levels
  • Support for multiple catalogs (one could be fee-based, the other free or one is required where they pick and the other is all you can eat for free, err take)
  • Individualized learning plan (including required courses and optional courses selected), to-do list or similar appear on the same screen  – I’m not a fan of required courses, but I am a realist and many people have to take required.

What’s HOT in the LXP?  As in learning environment functions?

  • Netflix like experience (UI and UX)
  • Digital badging – But watch out, as vendors who offer this tend it have it with their own logo.  No offense, but having a digital badge for WidgetLXP on my Linkedin profile isn’t going to get me a gig, when the person looking at it, has no idea who WidgetLXP is or cares.   You need to have micro-credentialing tied to a university, organization, something with “juice”.  If I see that same badge from URI I will be impressed, much more so than one from yourvendorname system.

Ponder this

LXPs are starting to become more and more like an LMS. Feature overlap is continuing at a rapid pace.  Instead of trying to be something different than an LMS, it seems more are moving towards similar.  I get that some functions will be, and it makes sense from that standpoint, but there should be more than plenty that are not, and here is where the concern to me, is happening.

LXP vendors will argue that people do not want an LMS, yet for all the blather, they (many LXP vendors) are adding the exact functionality as the LMS.  Sure, they will note some differences – often the HCM vendors, but when you look at the market as a whole, that argument doesn’t hold up.

Heck,  I know for example, that the Netflix UI and UX is already appearing in a couple of those HCM vendors they note.  For example, SumTotal Learning Management has a Netflix UI on the learner home page.

I expected cross-over to occur between an LXP and an LMS, and even some learning platforms, which is happening to. Right now, the only platform that isn’t seeing that much crossover in comparison to an LXP, is an SEP (Sales Enablement Platform).  But I’m confident that by this time, next year, that will change to.

Again, it doesn’t have to, there are things that can be done, but…

Two other categories that are on the rapid fire mode are

Content and Curation

Oh how they are so similar. Okay, they are not, except curation occurs with content and yes, content is curated. But what you want in terms of functionality is different.

Here are the ones you will want for each area


System includes  “Trending or Most Popular” Courses
System includes “Recommended courses” 
System shows content via Channels or Playlists 

I prefer the use of Playlists, but many vendors use channels.  They are one in the same, just different verbiage.

You also want

  • System can use job roles and/or skills to identify and present recommended or suggested courses to the end user
  • System uses ratings or voting from other end users to identify most popular or trending courses
  • Content excluding courses can be listed in the trending/Most Popular and/or Recommended

Watch for podcasts to make an appearance with some vendors.  Okay, they are in a few systems already, but to be seen in the trending, uh, haven’t see it yet, happen.

  • Client can create their own courses (via system or 3rd party) and sell them on vendor’s course marketplace – to other clients in the vendor’s system

A few systems can do this already, Talent LMS is one for example.  I’m a big fan of it.  And every LXP out there should offer it. And LMS for that matter too.   If folks want to give it away free, so be it.


It has hit stagnation.  In other words, most of the LXPs have the same curation options and many LMSs do as well.  Innovation needs to be re-charged here. Quickly.

Bottom Line

That’s a lot to ponder right now.

Or at least until we learn who will be

sitting on the iron throne.

And no, it won’t be your LXP, LMS or

any other learning system vendor.

Or will it?

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