Imagining LXP-light or the open source alternative

While I was at JIBC we had a demand and a need for unconventional online learning spaces and this pushed us in interesting ways. On more than one occasion we hired Alan Levine – aka @cogdog – to take our ideas and build them. The most well-known application of that are the Mural and Agora sites which combined SPLOTs, the DS106 features, Discourse and a plethora of other things (including his fantastic photography).

But there are 2 lesser known JIBC/Alan Levine collaborations that are worth highlighting in our collective struggle to move beyond LMS.


Constellations was the first attempt to move in a significantly new direction in the area of workplace learning. We never advanced beyond the proof of concept for a variety of reasons but we were all pretty excited by how Alan was able to realize so many of our ideas in this proof of concept. The government agency we were working with was relying on SharePoint as a giant, chaotic platform for their training stuff. I say stuff because there was everything in their from job aids to recorded webinars to powerpoints to forms to checklists. This agency also had many work teams undertaking a highly varied range of things. So some training was only visible to specific teams, some was available to all, much of it wasn’t visible to the core target audience, and the whole thing relied on Sharepoint’s search function to work well.

We adopted Alan’s approach of finding a metaphor and arrived at constellations. He’s got a whole blog post on how he did it and all the technical bits on his blog. The genius is being able to view collections – or constellations – of training artefacts, with the added bonus of users being able to rate them. There were several community-like features, the key being users being able to add constellations (think work teams; themes; or collections) and stars (training and training artefacts).

Corr Leader  

I had already left JIBC by the time Alan began working on the BC Corrections Leadership site. When I went back to it the other day, I realized that he had essentially created an open source, light version of a learning experience platform, or LXP.

In order to appreciate the design you have to understand the workplace learning context where training doesn’t always come in tidy 3 credit bundles, and “learning in the flow of work” better describes this context. LXPs, as I’ve written about here this year, get away from the LMS or Sharepoint experience, but they come at pretty big price tags and since AI and data are part of their engines, the line between learner performance monitoring and learner surveillance is very thin.  But they have some features such as the ability for learners to create their own pathways, a conception of learning that goes beyond a course, and the idea that training can come from both inside and outside the organization or the corporate training site. There’s a lot to like about this concept and you can see that Corr Leader, and especially Corr Navigator captures several of these features.

So while this probably won’t be a solution to Fortune 500’s learning and development departments, it offers a nice solution to government agencies and continuing education departments and perhaps small- medium organizations.


  • Cog.Dog

    Thank you, thank you for the kind words, Tannis. These are all among my favorite projects from the last few years. Nothing comes close to the teamwork and route of development we did in Guadalajara, and much of that is due to your management and planning approach. And you left out the part of the Constellation prototype that it was a metaphor you crafted.

    I would not have connected much with the LXP concept without your posts and tweets, it is still not a fully framed concept to me. It has a part of “small pieces loosely joined”. but maybe more deliberately joined. I’m plotting through my own post with some thoughts on whats possible.

    I appreciate the brewing of this idea, I’ve been looking for something new to explore.

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