In Search of the Digital Community of Practice
By Matt Burr
There seem to be a lot of similarities between what we are calling Digital Communities of Practice (learn more about DCPs in our recent podcast episode: Introducing Digital Communities of Practice and in Matt's blog post from last week) and how people often talk about Learning Experience Platforms (or LXPs). Both systems aim to change the way online learning is done in the enterprise (and beyond). Both want to offer a consumer-grade user experience, so both systems are designed for the modern digital consumer. And both approaches aim to foster a culture of continuous learning.
But the differences are also significant. And those differences say a lot about the kinds of learning and business challenges that DCPs and LXPs are best suited to solve.
Here are three differences that I think are important:
Personalized Learning vs. Collaborative Learning
LXPs tend to emphasize personalized learning, while a digital community of practice is all about collaboration. Both approaches actually tend to do both, but what really matters is what they are built for. LXPs are built for personalized learning experiences, so their technology tends to leverage machine learning to generate recommendations. There is some collaboration, but it’s a sideshow to the main event of personalization.
DCPs are built for collaboration. The emphasis is on learning from your team and as a team, rather than solely as an individual. The technology tends to be closer to social media platforms, but at a more intimate scale (a team or cohort). DCPs have personalized learning too, but it’s designed to fit around the main event of team-based, collaborative learning.
Improving Skills vs. Enhancing Critical Thinking
A focus on personalization means LXPs are well suited to developing individual skills, particularly those skills where machine learning can be easy leveraged. Effective personalization really depends on binary choices. If the subject matter is nuanced with few black and white answers the technology is less effective.
A focus on collaboration means DCPs are better suited to helping teams and individuals think and approach their work in different ways. Figuring things out as a group is much less important when you are learning HTML, but trying to become a values driven leadership team, for example, demands collaboration. In DCPs, skill development happens in the learning process, but it tends not to be the primary goal.
Content Breadth vs. Content Depth
LXPs are designed as a single destination for all learning. LXPs boast millions of individual content assets covering every subject imaginable. But the content does not go very deep. You might be able to find several pieces of content on the top seven ways digital is changing your industry, but it doesn’t go much deeper than that. It’s useful for some quick answers for non-experts, kind of like a reference guide, but much less useful for people who are looking for true mastery.
DCPs don’t cover everything. They’re probably not the best destination for some quick surface understanding of a broad range of topics. But they do go deeper. You might find in-depth, original case studies on the world’s most successful digital transformations and the underlying principles that drive a successful pivot to digital. And you’ll find carefully sequenced pieces of original content that gradually deepen your understanding of the topic.
LXPs are a vast improvement on the old LMS as the primary access point to learning. But they’re not suitable for all types of learning. The emerging DCP category should, and we hope will, stake a claim to be the preferred approach for changing mindsets, driving transformation and developing mastery in your chosen profession.
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By Matt Burr
By Nomadic Learning
By Nomadic Learning