What is a learning experience platform? Suddenly the phrase seems ubiquitous, but what does it mean? It’s been on my mental ‘todo’ list for a while, but I finally spent some time investigating the concept. And what I found as the underlying concept mostly makes sense, but I have some challenges with the label. So what am I talking about?
Some background: when I talk about the performance ecosystem, it’s not only about performance support and resources, but finding them. Ie, it includes the need for a portal. When I ask audiences “how many of you have portals in your org”, everyone raises their hands. What also emerges is that they have bunches of them. Of course, they’re organized by the business unit offering them. HR, product, sales, they all have their own portals. Which doesn’t make sense. What does make sense is to have a place to go for thing organized by people’s roles and membership in different groups.
A user-centered way of organizing portals makes sense then. People need to be able to see relevant resources in a good default organization, have the ability to reorganize to a different default, and search. Federate the portal and search over all the sources of resources, not some subset. I’ve suggested that it might make sense to have a system on top of the portals that pulls them together in a user-centric way.
An additional issue is that the contents of said portal should be open, in the sense that all users should be able to contribute their curated or created resources, and the resources can be in any format: video, audio, document, even interactive. In today’s era of increasing speed of change and decreasing resources for meeting the learning needs, L&D can no longer try to own everything. If you create a good culture, the system will be self-policing.
And, of course, the resources aren’t all about learning. Performance support is perfectly acceptable. The in-the-moment video is as needed as is the course on a new skill. Anything people want, whether learning resources from a library to that quick checklist should be supported.
The Learning Experience Platform(?)
As I looked into Learning Experience Platforms (LXP), (underneath all the hype) I found that they’re really portals; ways for content to be aggregated and made available. There are other possible features – libraries, AI-assistance, paths, assessments, spaced delivery – but at core they’re portals. The general claim is that they augment an LMS, not replace it. And I buy that.
The hype is a concern: microlearning for instance (in one article that referred to the afore-mentioned in-the-moment video, glossing over that you may learn nothing from it and have to access it again). And of course exaggerated claims about who does what. It appears several LMS companies are now calling themselves LXPs. I’ll suggest that you want such a tool designed to be a portal, not having it grafted onto to another fundamental raison-d’être. Similarly, many also claim to be social. Ratings would be a good thing, but also trying to be a social media platform would not.
Ultimately, such a capability is good. However, if I’m right, I think Learning Experience Platform isn’t the right term, really they’re portals. Both learning and experience are wrong; they can be perform in the moment, and generally they’re about access, not generating experiences. And I could be wrong.
Ecosystems should be integrated from best-of-breed capabilities. One all-singing, all-dancing platform is likely to be wrong in at least one if not more of the subsidiary areas, and you’re locked in. I think a portal is a necessary component, and the LXPs have many performance & development advantages for over generic portal tools.
So I laud their existence, but I question their branding. My recommendation is always to dig beneath the label, and find the underlying concept. For instance, each of the concepts underpinning the term microlearning is valuable, but the aggregation is problematic. Confusion is an opening for error. So too with LXP: don’t get it confused with learning or creating experiences. But do look to the genre for advanced portals. At least, that’s my take: what’s yours?