f you’re looking at investing in digital training for your business or organisation and you’re researching the options, there’s a good chance you’re finding all the acronyms, terminology and software a bit overwhelming. You’re not alone! The eLearning industry has a lot of terms that can be tricky to untangle.
It can be particularly difficult to understand the difference between all the different methods you can use to share your courses with your learners. Marketplaces, LMSs, LXPs, all-in-ones - what do they mean and how do you know which one to pick? In this blog, we’ll break down all the names and options so you can make the right decision for your business.
Read now: The Top 9 eLearning course creation tools: a 2021 comparison
Learning Management Systems (LMS)
The not-so-humble LMS has been the juggernaut of the eLearning industry for as long as eLearning itself has been around. Learning Management Systems are cloud-based platforms designed for three main functions:
- Hosting training courses
- Sending courses to learners to complete
- Tracking and reporting on learners’ course progress.
Some Learning Management Systems also offer very basic course building tools, however most rely on admins uploading courses built using a separate eLearning authoring tool (i.e. a course creator such as HowToo) in the form of a SCORM or xAPI package. SCORM and xAPI packages are industry standard file types in eLearning, and if you are planning to use an LMS, then it is critical that your course creation software can export finished courses in these formats.
Once uploaded and hosted on the LMS, the admin can assign courses to learners to complete. Once a course has been assigned, the admin can view the learner’s progress, including their success rate with any assessment components.
Learning Management Systems are able to handle huge numbers of learners - from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of learners, with advanced settings available to make assigning training easier, and advanced reporting abilities. This makes them ideal for large organisations and businesses who need these capabilities.
Learning Management Systems also have a wide range of distribution options, such as creating playlists of courses, or creating and assigning live training events for a blended training approach.
The downside to the powerful abilities of the LMS is it’s learning curve. Learning Management Systems are known for being challenging and time-consuming to learn all the different settings and options. Therefore, many organisations have dedicated learning professionals to manage their LMS.
Secondly, LMS platforms are typically priced for enterprises, and may include additional set-up fees. Some Learning Management Systems feature a reduced set up fee if you are able to provide a developer to assist in the set up.
Canvas, Moodle, Litmos, HowTooHub.
Learning Experience Platform (LXP)
Learning Experience Platforms have emerged in the past five years as a contender to the LMS. LXPs are designed to curate a range of learning materials from across the internet, from articles and videos to podcasts and courses, arranged into learning pathways. These materials are available via “Netflix-like” interfaces, with learners able to pick and choose their own learning pathway. This is in contrast to LMSs, which require an administrator to select and assign learning, however like an LMS, courses usually cannot be created within the LXP.
LXPs also offer social elements, such as the ability for learners to create profiles to connect with others, and can be accessed via mobile devices, unlike most LMSs.
One of the hallmarks of the LXP is its use of AI technology to offer learning recommendations for learners. Some LXPs also allow users to create and upload their own content. As a result, many eLearning influencers rave about LXPs as far more learner-centric than traditional LMSs.
LXPs are still much rarer than other distribution methods, and it can therefore be more challenging to find and compare platforms. LXPs can also be quite expensive and difficult to administer due to the advanced technology they employ.
LXPs have mostly seen uptake from very large organisations that are able to invest in this new technology alongside an existing LMS system, as LMS systems are more suitable for tracking compliance and required corporate training.
Linkedin Learning, Cornerstone OnDemand, 360 Learning, Docebo.
All-in-one learning platforms
All-in-one platforms have also emerged in the past few years as an alternative to LMSs. Unlike LMSs and LXPs, all-in-one platforms are ideal for smaller businesses and organisations. All-in-one platforms combine course creation tools with distribution and tracking capabilities in a single, cloud-based site.
All-in-one platforms are unique for their clean and intuitive interfaces.
Unlike LMSs and LXPs, all-in-ones are often very quick and easy to use. Their tools are designed for anyone to be able use, meaning that organisations do not need a dedicated professional to manage their training.
All-in-ones are also much more affordable for organisations with a smaller number of learners (think 200 or less learners), as they are cloud-based and do not require specialised set-up.
All-in-one solutions typically have less functionality than LMS and LXP platforms in order to facilitate their ease of use and more accessible cost. This can be seen primarily in fewer options for distribution and tracking.
HowToo Growth, Coassemble, Rise.com, EdApp.
Learning marketplaces are ecommerce sites that allow users to create and sell courses. Marketplaces typically integrate course creation software, however it can be limited in its functionality and ease of use, as marketplaces usually place more focus on their selling and marketing components. Some even allow users to create their own branded site for their courses.
Marketplaces are excellent if you are looking to monetise your learning courses to a broad, public audience. As a result, learning marketplaces are generally most popular with sole-traders and very small businesses.
Once a user has their course store set up, marketplaces offer a high degree of automated management, including emails and transactions.
Many learning marketplaces that are currently available are quite difficult and unwieldy to use. The course creator aspects can be particularly limited, with few interactive and editable options, and often very limited accessibility.
Learning marketplaces are also not designed for corporate training and compliance, and therefore have limited tracking and learner management.
Thinkific, Kajabi, Teachable
What’s right for you?
Hopefully now you have a clearer idea of the purpose and functionality of each distribution option, but just in case, here’s a quick recap:
LMS: Powerful functionality, more expensive, higher learning curve and no in-built course creation tool. Ideal for large businesses.
LXP: AI-driven functionality for encouraging learners to self-teach, more expensive, less ideal for compliance, high learning curve and no in-built course creation tool. Ideal for very large businesses.
All-in-one: Easy to use, budget-friendly, in-built course creator but less functionality. Ideal for small businesses.
Learning Marketplace: Monetise courses, automated distribution, marketing tools, in-built course creator with limited functionality, difficult to use, limited learner management. Ideal for sole traders.
HowToo offers one of the best course creation tools available, with unparalleled ease-of-use and a dedication to producing courses of the highest quality. Unique in the industry, the HowToo course creation tool can be combined with either our LMS or all-in-one platform solutions, allowing businesses of every size to find their perfect learning solution. Explore the options, or chat with our team today to learn more.