The Learning Lowdown: What Separates an LMS From an LXP, and Why You Could Need Both

The demand for enhanced digital learning in schools and the workplace has never been greater. The eLearning industry is keeping pace with many tools and resources designed to help learning institutions and businesses educate their users more efficiently. Although there are many ways to educate large groups of people, two learning delivery software options have proven to be important assets for both schools and corporations.

Learning management systems (LMSs) and learning experience platforms (LXPs) are both designed to deliver education to users in a digital environment. However, the two programs serve different purposes for institutions and organizations and provide users with unique learning experiences.

Below, we highlight some of these differences and discuss how an LMS and LXP can be used in tandem to provide users the best learning experience possible while also meeting organizational and institutional goals.

What Is an LMS?

An LMS is a popular software application with which organizations and institutions manage, host, and track learning programs. In 2021, 90% of companies were using an LMS to deliver training to employees in some capacity—and that number could continue to rise as the digital learning market continues to grow.

These closed systems give schools and businesses full control over the content being provided to users, making an LMS the ideal choice for delivering instructor-led learning experiences. Additionally, an LMS can deliver both synchronous and asynchronous learning experiences. Participants can view online lectures and seminars in real-time or watch a recording later. This allows for more collaborative learning for users while still offering a convenient option for those unable to attend live sessions.

Another LMS benefit is that it can potentially simplify many administrative tasks. A modern LMS will often automatically evaluate assessments and prepare reports, saving institutions and businesses precious time and resources. Data derived from courses in the LMS give vital information about users’ progress and performance, as well as the effectiveness of the learning programs. The data can also be used by leaders to make decisions about the future of the business or institution.

Other examples of what can be done with an LMS include:

  • Delivering mandatory training for employees, such as onboarding or compliance courses
  • Creating course schedules for the learner and sending email notifications and reminders
  • Managing course occupancy, waitlist requests, and other administrative tasks
  • Creating and sharing analytics with the appropriate teams to remain compliant with relevant laws and regulations
  • Using data to further customize learning and training initiatives
  • Delivering personalized learning experiences


LEARN MORE ABOUT LMSs | ‘What to Look for in Learning Management Systems

What Is an LXP?

An LXP is a user-centric software platform for housing both formal and informal learning materials. These materials can come in the form of articles, podcasts, videos, and more, and are created by educators and corporate L&D teams, learners, or external providers. An LXP provides users with a single access point for self-paced, self-directed learning.

Via the LXP, users can share learning content they create or discover with others within the organization. In addition to centrally creating their own content as usual, educators and L&D teams can take on the role of a curator, highlighting useful contributions and contributors from around the organization or institution. This can improve overall engagement and foster relationships within the user community.

An LXP is a good option for businesses that want to provide employees and stakeholders with a variety of on-demand learning experiences, training, or coaching opportunities. Like an LMS, an LXP lets participants collaborate in their learning, but it also provides an opportunity for users to create learning experiences for others.

Learning with an LXP generally involves quick, “bite-sized” learning experiences that are great for users who are looking to apply new knowledge immediately.

Other LXP features often include:

  • Mobile-friendly content options that encourage users to learn on-the-go
  • Built-in authoring and management tools
  • Content self-publishing options (based on permissions set by the organization)
  • Course suggestions based on user interest and previously completed learning


MORE FROM THE BLOG | ‘Content Creativity: A Space to Play and Learn

Do You Need an LMS and an LXP?

Choosing the right learning software shouldn’t mean picking between an LMS and an LXP. While both provide users with meaningful learning experiences, they do so with different degrees of organizational control. They are two learning systems that serve different purposes. Your organization or institution could likely benefit from integrating the two solutions in order to provide users with a more holistic learning experience.

The LMS is meant to be managed and maintained by the learning and development leaders in the organization in order to track users’ progress and performance toward specific goals. For example, industries must remain compliant with state regulations. An LMS can deliver reliable, consistent training to users across an organization to ensure the business or institution is following all government rules—while still being a convenient option for users.

Courses offered through an LMS will usually be geared toward specific organizational goals, so leaders can easily determine who is making progress and who will need additional support to achieve success. For higher learning institutions, LMS content ensures that courses are fair and consistent for all students, and they provide learners with appropriate accommodations that make learning more equitable.

While there is some room for personalization within an LMS, users do not have the ability to author and publish content for wider distribution within the organization or institution. Unfettered access to publishing tools could lead to the rapid spread of misinformation across a business or learning institution, so compliance training and instructor-led content is best delivered through a secure LMS.

KEEP READING | ‘Virtual Training: Maximize Your Teams’ Potential with a LMS

That’s not to say that user-generated content isn’t valuable. On the contrary, learning content created and shared by employees or students through an LXP can diversify your organization’s learning library and help users build their skills across many disciplines.

Your business or institution is comprised of individuals who collectively have a plethora of knowledge to share with each other. LXP tools allow you to tap into that knowledge quickly for the betterment of your entire organization.

For example, you likely have someone in your organization who’s very knowledgeable about one of your computer programs. Instead of that person being routinely asked to troubleshoot a common computer problem, they could create a short video that explains how to fix the problem and publish the video to the organization’s LXP. This way, anyone who experiences the problem can get a quick answer and go about their business, without interrupting the creator’s day by having them answer the same question time and time again.

Learning does not occur in a vacuum, and an LXP is designed to recognize this and make learning content readily available to users for when they need it most.

JUST FOR YOU | ‘What is Personalized Learning? How to Plan Using this Model

An LMS and LXP Are Better Together

The bottom line is that your business or institution has its own goals and objectives that will require a unique set of tools. An LMS is almost a necessity for all higher education institutions and businesses today, yet many could also benefit from implementing an LXP as well. One isn’t meant to replace the other. Rather, they can be integrated in order to meet the varying needs of your organization and provide a variety of learning opportunities—both formal and informal—for your participants.

The sophistication of data analytics and progression tracking of an LMS combined with the features of an LXP can be the winning ticket for businesses and institutions to give their users the best learning experiences possible.

Before you start looking for an LXP, contact Open LMS to learn what our LMS can do.

Rebecca Potter
About the author

Rebecca Potter

Rebecca is a content writer for Learning Technologies Group plc. Prior to writing, she was an educator for seven years. She earned her Master’s of Education from Bowling Green State University and holds degrees in English and Spanish from The Ohio State University.

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