Corporate learning is on the rise; in fact, Training Industry’s 2018 trends report predicted that global training budgets would rise by as much as 5%.

That level of interest and investment in learning and development is a welcomed change, and as companies begin to look at learning software to manage and track training, they may discover that the learning management system (LMS) market has evolved into two distinct segments: traditional LMSs and learning experience platforms (LXPs).

Neither of these options is necessarily the best or obvious choice for a given organization. Understanding which features make each platform distinct will help you make informed and accurate comparisons between a learning management system and a learning experience platform.

What Is a Learning Management System?

Most organizations use an LMS — a system designed for the administration, delivery, tracking and reporting of learning and development initiatives. LMSs have a few primary functions. Administrators can assign training content to learners, who, upon logging in, are notified that there is new training for them to complete. The learning content is easily accessed from here, and learners can quickly complete the training.

Then, the LMS collects data and makes it accessible to administrators. That data includes whether learners have completed training, their assessment scores and other key metrics. One of the biggest benefits of this functionality is the ability to audit. With an LMS’ robust and easy-to-access reporting features, proving compliance is easy and efficient.

What Is a Learning Experience Platform?

A learning experience platform consolidates a variety of capabilities into a single portal, enabling a variety of methods to engage learners, such as personalized learning pathways and social learning.

While a learning management system is a useful tool for compliance and certification purposes, LXPs encourage learners to engage with training. LMSs are primarily administrator-driven, and LXPs are employee-driven, meaning that learners select which content they want to engage with. In addition, most LXPs have features that encourage sharing among learners, so conversations around learning occur with higher frequency, and content that one learner found useful may become useful for others within the organization.

Push or Pull: Which Is More Effective?

Push learning, where training content is delivered to learners, follows a familiar model: Schools push learning onto students, when those students enter the workforce, they experience the same approach. Learning management systems largely follow this model. Pull learning, on the other hand, refers to the concept of using attractive, engaging content to attract learners, or pull them in.

Many learners view push training negatively, viewing prescribed learning content as a annual chore. Pull learning feels more natural, and it puts the learner at the center of the experience. How-to videos are one of the most popular categories on YouTube, lending credence to the idea that employees will seek content to learn new skills. A good learner experience platform mimics these popular consumer platforms so that employees understand that the content they want to see, and the skills they want to learn, are available.

Both push and pull learning strategies have their uses; most learners aren’t going to look for compliance training without some administrator interference. Inducing learners to interact with training content on their own has cultural and organizational benefits.

There is no right answer to whether a learning management system or learning experience system is a better tool, since that question hinges on a given organization’s goals. In fact, many software providers are now blending both systems, enabling robust reporting and the ability to engage learners’ curiosity. Whichever solution you pick, the right software can augment your training strategy and deliver meaningful results to your organization.