Online learning platform comparison: LMS vs LXP vs LCP vs DLP

December 12, 2019 in Digitise Training



Online learning platform comparison: LMS vs LXP vs LCP vs DLP

LMS? LXP? LCP? DLP? LRS? The learning and training industry has evolved to offer many different online learning platforms, each offering different feature sets for different types of organisations and their learning goals.

What is a digital learning platform (DLP)?

Let’s start at the top – a digital learning platform (DLP). A DLP is an overarching term for all online learning platforms. It’s essentially a generic label. Chances are that your organisation has, or should have, at least one DLP. Larger organisations may end up with 2-3 DLPs fulfilling different functions.

What is a learning record store (LRS)?

Next, a learning record store (LRS). An LRS is a new type of platform. While unknown to many organisations, it aims to become the centre of any DLP strategy in the future. An LRS stores learning data. It is a platform designed to store centralised learning data across platforms and experiences. Ideally, all other DLPs (as well as external learning and instructor-led training (ILT)) would connect into your LRS allowing you to utilise a ‘best of breed’ approach to sourcing training content while maintaining a single source of training data.

What is a learning management system (LMS)?

Now for the most common DLP – a learning management system (LMS). Learning management systems were the first DLP, coming into popularity 15-20 years ago. These platforms focus on the management of learning. They store user data and manage learning enrolments and reporting. These platforms were originally designed to manage workshops and other instructor-led training, as well as provide a hosting platform for eLearning modules.

As you can probably already tell, many of the functions of an LMS are now provided in a LRS. LRS tend to integrate with a wide variety of training sources since they did not host any content themselves. LMSes, which are trying to provide an all-in-on solution, tend not to integrate with any other platform as they attempt to provide everything in the one platform.

LMSes also struggle with training content. They are a ‘hosting’ platform not a ‘creation’ platform. They are empty vessels which can only create users, not content. 10-15 years ago this made sense as eLearning modules were created in complicated desktop software. Today, learning creation platforms have made the creation of online learning much easier and well beyond the limitations of older eLearning formats. As a result, LMSes have attempted to also allow for online training creation by adding in some simple creation tools. Unfortunately for most LMSes, they are simply not designed for content creation.

Nevertheless, LMSes excel at managing training and can simplify the administration of training enrolments and reporting. LMSes tend to be used by large and enterprise level companies managing a wide variety of training content and locations.

What is a learning experience platform?

A learning experience platform (LXP) is almost the opposite of an LMS. An LXP contains ready-made training content, often created with very high production standards (videos, animations, games). It is a plug-and-play solution providing a large volume of prepared training content. 

An LXP is typically not unique to your organisation. It is a shared platform used by manage organisations. While user data can be segregated by organisation, the training content is shared. It’s like a ‘Netflix of learning’ with hundreds or thousands of prepared training modules. An LXP therefore focuses on training on content which can fit many industries – leadership and management, sales skills, popular software, teamwork and so on. 

LXPs solve part of the content problem by providing high-quality ready-made learning on a wide range of topics. Depending on the LXP, this content may or may not be branded to your organisation and may or may not report back to an LRS or LMS. Some LXPs can be quite niche too, which can help provide valuable training content for some roles.

What is a learning creation platform?

Our final DLP is a learning creation platform (LCP). Learning creation platforms are the new breed of LMS. Unlike an LMS, LCPs start with the creation of online training content – without training content, there is no training! An LCP is designed to make the creation of custom training content easy. Organisations should be able to use intuitive tools, guided processes, template modules and building-block editors to create interactive, branded online training modules.

With an LCP, an organisation can solve issues which cannot be solved by an LXP such as employee induction. An employee induction program requires custom content about your organisation and it’s teams, tools, values, processes and standards. This content is unique to your organisation. An LMS cannot help with this problem as it cannot create quality online training. An LXP cannot help with this problem as it’s content is not unique to your organisation.

An LCP typically also provides a hosting function for its online modules in a similar way as an LMS. For many organisations, an LCP can replace an aging LMS by providing a completion solution to be training content and training distribution. Some LCPs also include ready-made content libraries – so they are also a small LXP. 

LMS vs LXP vs LCP comparison

For many organisations, the key decision is an LMS vs LXP vs LCP. So let’s break down these DLPs by examining their features across the four most common learning requirements for most organisations.

Comparison 1: Training management

In this first comparison, let’s consider the support each DLP has for managing the most common types of training content. In this comparison, organisations should consider what the majority of their training content will be (e.g. if your organisation has instructional designers, a significant existing eLearning module library or large training budget, then an LMS may be suitable).

Learning Management SystemLearning Experience PlatformLearning Creation Platform
Self authoring trainingVery limited with basic tools and no guided process or templatesNoneComprehensive with many tools, full guided process and templates
Ready-made trainingNo SupportMassive library but not in organisation branding and not editableSubstantial library in organisation branding and editable
External elearning trainingYes can host all forms of external elearning packagesNo SupportNo support
Instructor-led trainingVaries but usually supports calendar and schedulingNo supportNo support

Comparison 2: Training users

In this second comparison, we consider who the typical users of each DLP. Organisations should consider how they will implement training and what roles will be required to both create, complete and managing learning.

Learning Management SystemLearning Experience PlatformLearning Creation Platform
Who can create training?L&D professionals with the help of an external eLearning authoring toolNo supportAnyone using built-in tools
What content is covered?Anything (with appropriate software, resources and budget)Popular and generic topics with cross-industry appealAnything
Who can use the platform?Staff, contractors, clients, e-store customersStaffStaff, contractors, clients, e-store customers
Typical organisation size?Mid-sized to enterpriseAny sizeSmall to large

Comparison 3: Platform costs

In this comparison, let’s consider the key costs in managing each DLP. 

Learning Management SystemLearning Experience PlatformLearning Creation Platform
Set-up cost0 to $$$$0 to $$$0 to $
Subscription cost$$ to $$$$$$$ to $$$$$ to $$$
Operating cost$$$ to $$$$
Highly customisable so high complexity. Needs separate content solution. Built for L&D professionals.
0
Usually not very customisable. You pay for access to their content. Easy to manage with limited options.
$ to $$
All-in-on solution with extensive automation. Anyone can administer. Easy DIY training content creation.

Comparison 4: Training data

For this comparison, we are ignoring LRS. All three platforms store learning data. In this comparison, we want to consider the quality of that data. What data is easily available for both users and the organisation. LMSes and LXPs tend to use older learning data standards (typically SCORM) which limits their data recording options. We also consider the different levels of Kirkpatrick training effectiveness and if each platform can assist in those measurements.

Learning Management SystemLearning Experience PlatformLearning Creation Platform
Level of data capturedCompletion, ScoreCompletion, ScoreCompletion, Score, Polls/Surveys, Open Text, Learning Objectives, On-the-job Outcomes, Reflective Thoughts, Experience/Relevance, Content Feedback, Next Steps, Social Learning Results
Satisfaction data
Kirkpatrick Level 1
Yes, if custom created (requiring time and cost)Yes, built-inYes, built-in
Understanding data
Kirkpatrick Level 2
Yes, if custom created (requiring time and cost)Topic dependent Yes, easy to create
Behavioural data
Kirkpatrick Level 3
Rarely, if custom created (requiring time and cost)No Yes, easy to create
Outcomes data
Kirkpatrick Level 4
Very rarely, if custom created (requiring time and cost)NoYes, easy to create