How to choose an LMS, LRS, or LXP to upskill or reskill your workforce

Aug 08, 2022

How to choose an LMS, LRS or LXP to upskill or reskill your workforce

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020, half of all workers will need reskilling by 2025 because of automation and technology.

Skills gaps will persist as in-demand skills change over the next five years. The gaps drive L&D leaders to prioritize upskilling and reskilling to reshape their workforces.

Upskilling is improving existing skills to bridge gaps in your organization. It includes both hard and soft skills. Resilience and digital fluency are among today’s top in-demand skills.

Reskilling means retraining for new roles in a different direction from one’s current career path.

New skilling is an emerging approach defined as all types of continuous learning to help build high-demand skills. It may include upskilling and reskilling.

When employees see you’re supporting them with helpful learning tools, platforms, and programs, it’s evidence that you value their contributions. They become more motivated, engaged, and productive.

Employees, especially younger Gen Z workers, place great value on learning in the workplace. If their learning achievements open doors to new career opportunities, even better. You’ll see more satisfied employees and lower attrition rates. Everyone wins.

This isn’t wishful thinking. LinkedIn Learning’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report found that employees stay almost twice as long with firms that promote from within than in companies with low internal mobility.

Firms planning for future change must recognize the value of an investment in learning, but the many learning and development choices out there can be confusing.

How do you choose? The barrage of acronyms can spin your head—LMS, LRS, LXP, and more.

Let’s take a look.

Making Sense of the Acronym Salad

All online e-learning happens on Digital Learning Platforms or DLPs, a generic term embracing many approaches.

Here is a quick comparison of three common acronyms associated with corporate learning environments.

A quick comparison of LMS, LRS, LXP table

Learning Record Stores—the LRS

A Learning Record Store or LRS only exists to receive, store, and present data in xAPI format. This tool can only help you if you already have educational platforms or tools in place.

An LRS can’t do any of the things an LMS is designed for.

An LRS is not a user management tool. It has no social features. It cannot

  • manage your learning content,
  • deliver learning content to your organization,
  • offer learning activities, or
  • offer certification.

But if you need to track learning activities for many people across many sources and tools, an LRS can help.

An LRS is good at collecting clean, well-structured data. It can collect data from any source you use and make it available for learning analytics.

Ideally, all other digital learning platforms you use should connect to your LRS, letting you source diverse training content while maintaining a single source of training data.

LMS versus LXP

An LMS is used to deliver standardized courses, whereas an LXP enables personal learning adventures.

There are differing opinions on the merits of an LMS versus an LXP.

The two primary questions to ask are:

  • What learning or training does your business need?
  • What do your learners want and need?

The balance between these two will depend on each organization’s

  • corporate culture,
  • regulatory requirements,
  • business and workforce strategies, and
  • choice whether to provide on-demand individual and collaborative social and informal learning experiences in Netflix-like, mobile, multimedia ways.

Learning Management Systems—LMS

For years, companies used LMSs to run top-down mandatory training programs; today, it’s still the backbone of many corporate training systems.

In the 2000s, the LMS was used mainly to

  • track compliance training to reduce regulatory risk,
  • manage quality and consistency of learning across the organization and alert managers to deficiencies,
  • deliver learning to partners to support distribution and sales channels, and
  • create revenue streams by offering training to partners, customers, or the public.

Since the 2000s, however, hundreds of vendors now provide many learning opportunities. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offer many free courses. The online learning marketplace has exploded with new offerings.

The best modern corporate LMSs are scalable, customizable, goal-oriented, and user-friendly.

Top enterprise-level LMSs today include EdApp, iSpring Learn, Absorb LMS, Adobe Captivate Prime, Docebo LMS, Looop, TalentLMS, Cornerstone Learning, Northpass, and eFront. And there are many more.

Advantages of an LMS include:

  • Convenient, consistent, and efficient. All course material is on one centralized platform, making it easy to find course material, submit assignments, and find instructions.
  • Easy tracking and reporting. Organizations can track the progress of students at a glance. This is the biggest strength of an LMS: its robust administration tools to control and manage learning programs.
  • Good for compliance and formal training. Whether for onboarding new employees, compliance courses, or training on company policies, an LMS is a reliable solution that enables assessment and certification.
  • Better results through engagement and gamification. Modern LMSs can be cloud-based and include recorded video and game-like elements to boost interest and aid retention.

To deliver formal training for compliance, industry-specific learning, or job-related certifications, an LMS simulates the control of an ordered classroom experience.

What an LMS can’t do is track learning exchanges outside of the platform—like online chats or mobile live streams.

The LMS was designed to manage users and content, but many have developed content creation tools and integrate with other content tools. They tend to be used by large enterprise-level firms managing many prepackaged training programs over many locations.

Learning Creation PlatformsLCPs

Another type of digital learning platform is the learning creation platform or LCP, which may be the modern version of the LMS. An LCP lets you create customized training content yourself.

An LCP uses intuitive eLearning authoring tools, guided processes, template modules, and building-block editors to create interactive, branded online content. An LCP will often let you host your content similar to an LMS.

LCPs don’t support external eLearning training or instructor-led training.

Learning Experience Platforms—LXPs

An LXP provides a more intuitive, often more engaging and personalized experience than an LMS. It starts from the learner’s point of view, not the needs of the boss or the company. It’s designed for learners to discover their own content. You can browse and search to your heart’s content.

An LXP can offer digital learning in many ways—you can read articles from online sites, watch videos, take quizzes, do webinars, or check out employee-made content. It’s like a “Netflix of learning.” This makes it more flexible and fun, letting learners consume content in many formats.

For informal learning, it offers a consumer-grade user experience, internet access, AI recommendations, and social media sharing.

Leading examples of LXPs include 360Learning, Udemy Business, Degreed, EdCast, Percipio from SkillSoft Ltd., Salesforce’s myTrailhead, and LinkedIn Learning.

If you don’t require rigorous compliance courses, but wish to offer short, lively micro-learning, interactive features, skills-based learning, on-demand video learning, and let users gather and curate their helpful learning resources, an LXP is the better option.

LXPs reflect the fact that there are many ways to learn. LXPs are suitable for self-driven, individual learning—a prerequisite for agile skills development. They are ideal for upskilling and reskilling.

An LXP can work with an existing LMS.

Do you need both an LMS and an LXP?

Most organizations need both the freedom of an LXP and the structure of an LMS. Both systems provide different valuable types of learning.

However, according to Mimeo 2020 statistics, 70% of US L&D departments use an LMS, not an LXP.

And while most (83%) of L&D professionals in that survey said their executives supported employee learning, less than a third (27%) said their CEOs are active learning champions.

With the need to adapt to future skills changes, that slender but revealing statistic may well change, and with it, the expanded use of LXPs.

Also, the landscape is changing as technologies and vendors merge and evolve. The November 2021 launch of Cornerstone Xplor shows how converging technologies challenge old approaches.

Josh Bersin noted Cornerstone Xplor combines features of an LXP, an LMS, a talent marketplace, and a skills engine. Could this be an all-in-one learning solution? Time will tell.

It’s a whole new era in learning systems.


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About Pixentia

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.

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