Many organizations have long been familiar with learning management systems (LMSs). But as learning needs continue evolving, the learning experience platform (LXP) has increasingly gained recognition as a more personalized and engaging alternative.
Learners are taking charge of their workplace development: From eLearning and microlearning courses to curated web content, best practices and how-tos — they want to be able to decide what, how and when to learn.
As a result, employees want to have access to the right learning content at the right time. That’s where LXPs come in, offering a comprehensive platform with a smooth user interfaces and intelligent algorithms. LXPs also let learners discover content, get recommendations and find experts in their domains.
LXPs are a world apart from the more traditional top-down LMS tools. You could use the analogy of watching Netflix versus watching TV to compare the two learning systems. LXPs even use the same back-end technology and user-centered design as the entertainment giants.
They also add an element of social learning, which is a nice bonus for L&D teams looking to offer this type of informal learning.
Does that mean the LXP is the magic bullet for all corporate learning problems? No, an LXP is an alternative for the LMS when it comes to learner-driven learning needs. Typically, it won’t offer the features you need for compliance training, nor will it help your organization with performance or workplace support.
The Value of an LXP
The key added value is that an LXP encourages the learner to take their own initiative by exploring the platform and looking for the learning content they need. This is different from the LMS, which is designed to push pre-determined content toward the learner. By giving learners more control over their development, the LXP facilitates bottom-up learning – unlike the LMS’s top-down approach.
Moving From a Top-down to Bottom-up Approach
Until recently, most learning was pushed down by L&D departments, who expected employees to follow their lead. But this traditional, top-down approach is shifting rapidly towards an employee-driven approach.
Companies now encourage workers to be accountable for their own learning. This bottom-up approach has a huge impact on the role of L&D, which is moving to a moderator and facilitator role, rather than a controller and a planner.
The top-down approach will remain for more formal learning areas like security and compliance, as well as some of the leadership development programs. But the overall trend is undoubtedly a bottom-up one with employees much more in the driving seat.
The LXP facilitates a bottom-up learning process. This means learners have more control over their learning experience. But how does this happen?
Learners can leverage an LXP’s search function, learning path or other functions to easily look up any content they need, at any time. This gives them the room to take charge of their development by deciding what and when they’ll learn. LXPs also provide learning paths – a string of content tied together for the learner to complete to achieve an overall learning goal. It will not give you control by the L&D department and most LXPs do not offer results tracking. The idea, of course, being that for learner-driven learning needs, tracking may not be necessary.
Many organizations start with re-using their existing content. By doing this, the only difference from using the LMS will be the bottom-up approach for the learners. But, in general, courses that are ideal for an LXP are shorter than what you would normally find in an LMS and, very often, also cover different topics.
You do need to have good content for your LXP. After all, what good would Netflix be without any engaging shows, movies or documentaries? We refer to this as the “empty LXP syndrome.” You can, of course, create bespoke content for the LXP with your learning department or buy off-the-shelf content, but there is a different and better approach available.
What’s the Solution?
An effective solution is to equip employees with the means to create content and use that content in your LXP. Bottom-up-created content for a bottom-up learning approach. We call it Employee-generated learning (EGL), and we have seen many successful applications of it, especially in combination with an LXP. Companies like Philips, Danone and many other companies have successfully implemented this strategy.
EGL is a social learning model which encourages employees — who we can refer to as subject matter experts (SMEs) — to create and share knowledge on the topic of their expertise.
Here are the key ways in which EGL can enhance the content creation process:
Create Content in No Time
In a typical setup, an instructional designer interviews employees to access their expertise. This process may be repeated a few times for multiple reviews before the content is finally ready to be published. With this way of working, it can take up to hundreds of hours just to create one hour of e-learning. With EGL, SMEs are the ones who create learning content either alone or in small groups (which is a much faster approach).
Spend Less Money
EGL turns SMEs into owners of learning content creation. They use their own expertise as a source of input for eLearning. To create a course with EGL, you only need a few SMEs and content iterations before a course is ready to roll out. And with the ability to create content quickly and at a lower cost, you’re able to scale your learning too.
Keep Content Up to Date
The longer it takes to create a course, the higher the chances that the content will be out of date by the time it reaches learners. Updating content can be difficult and expensive. EGL-style content is maintained and updated in the same way it’s created: by handing responsibility to the subject matter experts. They know exactly when a course needs updating and can take care of it themselves.
If you’re ready to reap the benefits mentioned above, here are the top three best practices for implementing EGL and maximizing the value of your LXP:
1. Work with Stakeholders
It’s critical that organizations embrace and leverage the emerging social sharing behaviors of employees. Key stakeholders must recognize the need for and importance of employee-driven learning models because they are strongly linked with employee engagement. In addition, they can share business goals while underlining the key skills and knowledge required. This will lay a strong foundation, along with garnering their support for advocacy.
2. Get started with content and tooling
L&D must drive EGL by providing the necessary didactic guidance to SMEs who generally don’t have an eLearning background. Typically, SMEs assume that content creation or sharing knowledge is a time consuming and difficult task. To ease their concern, you can start identifying the training sweet spots for technical or tactical tasks that SMEs generally work on.
Guide them with eLearning best practices share the right amount, and quality, of knowledge that their peers could benefit from. For example, L&D could emphasize the fact that learning content need not have a full-fledged course, and that it could instead be a how-to or a best-practices guide.
The next step is to equip them with an intuitive content creation tool that allows them to start creating content straight away with zero learning curve.
3. Appreciate Their Efforts
In our internal research with SMEs, many participants indicated that a lack of appreciation or acknowledgement is a key demotivator for them to continue sharing their knowledge. Because of this, we recommend that L&D works with individual teams to make content creation part of their to feel that the endeavor is valued and worthwhile.
Remember that SMEs are experts in their jobs and not in eLearning content creation. That’s why we also recommend eliminating the perfection mentality. Instead, encourage SMEs with guidance and appreciation, and equip them with the tools they need to contribute expert content.
LXPs are addressing a need for a more bottom-up approach for corporate learning — where the learner is responsible for their own learning. To keep up with this need, an organization needs a culture of learning that empowers SMEs to share their expertise. It’s been our experience that well-executed EGL will supply your LXP with timely, up-to-date content.