An Oxford view of Learning/ Education Technology (Ed Tech) Platforms and Portals

5 min read
Jul 11, 2024 5:49:04 AM

At Oxford, we help organisations grow for the better through strategic clarity, change and capability, making it easier for teams to work together and deliver growth that’s good for people, planet and profit.

Many of Oxford’s clients are now adopting learning technology/Ed Tech platforms and portals to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ experience to access their marketing resources and support to improve their capabilities. In this briefing, we summarise the types of platforms that exist, what functionality they offer. We share our learnings on what makes the difference in choosing and using platforms as part of a learning ecosystem that offers a seamless learner experience and delivers on your capability and business objectives.

So, what are Learning / Ed Tech platforms?

Learning or Education Technology, commonly known as Ed Tech, refers to the use of technology to facilitate and enhance learning. This encompasses a wide range of platforms designed to deliver educational content, manage learning processes, and support learner engagement and progress. There’s a confusing range of different types of platforms, and they can overlap a fair bit. Some providers are very distinct in their offerings, others are hybrids, offering a range of functionality – depending on your objectives, you may need more than one platform.

What is the range of functionality that platforms offer?

Simple, seamless user interface
The ability to offer a unified entry point to everything a marketer needs to succeed in their role

Customisation in structure and design
The ability to structure the experience of the platform in both structure and graphic design to reflect the organisation and its priorities

Range of content and experiences
Offering a wide range of content and capability experiences, from video and SCORM-based content, to downloads, learning pathways, and courses to sign-up for live (synchronous) events

Personalisation of learning experience (content and learning pathways)
Offering an experience tailored to the individual’s capability needs and role

Tracking and Measurement
Enabling tracking of learner progress and review of the effectiveness of capability programmes and materials, gamification, badging and certification and compliance where needed

Social learning, sharing, and collaboration
Enabling peer-to-peer learning and access to user-generated content and best practice

Mobile Access
The ability to access on the go from any device

Integration with other systems and platforms
Connecting across the user experience, appearing as one system, with access via Single Sign On (SSO).

So, let’s look at the broad types of platforms and their general strengths and weaknesses.

Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Cornerstone on Demand, Success Factors, Moodle, and Blackboard

These are foundational to many educational institutions and corporate training programs. They serve as centralised platforms to manage, deliver, and track learning and training programs. LMS platforms are designed to handle the administration, documentation, and delivery of educational courses and training programmes.

Strengths: comprehensive course management, robust assessment tools, and strong compliance tracking

Weaknesses: often less engaging and interactive compared to newer platforms like LXPs

Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) such as CrossKnowledge, Sana Labs, Degreed, EdCast, and Docebo

These focus on delivering a personalised learning experience. They’ll often enable structured learning pathways and social learning. They may use AI and machine learning to recommend content based on individual learner profiles, preferences, and career goals.

Strengths: high engagement through personalised and social learning, and extensive content integration

Weaknesses: can be complex to implement and manage due to the breadth of features

Content Libraries such as LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Coursera, Skillsoft, and CrossKnowledge

These can offer a vast array of pre-made learning materials, such as articles, videos, courses, and e-books, covering a wide range of topics.

Strengths: wide variety of content, regularly updated materials, diverse formats

Weaknesses: content may not always align perfectly with specific organisational needs

Learning/Educational Content Aggregators such as Go1

Degreed Content Aggregators bring together content from various sources into a single platform, providing a centralised repository of learning content

Strengths: comprehensive content variety, strong integration capabilities, personalised content delivery

Weaknesses: can be overwhelming due to the sheer volume of content; requires strong search and recommendation algorithms to be effective

Upskilling Platforms such as
Pluralsight and Mind Tools

Upskilling Platforms focus on skill development and professional growth. They offer courses and resources specifically designed to enhance specific skills, often in technical and professional domains.

Strengths: targeted skill development, strong assessment and certification processes, high-quality content

Weaknesses: limited breadth of topics compared to general content libraries or aggregators

And we shouldn’t forget to mention Microsoft Office 365. Although it’s not a learning platform, it has some functionality (within SharePoint, Teams, etc) that can be used to support capability. While its tracking, measurement, and personalisation functionality can be limited compared to dedicated platforms, it’s well understood, easy to use, and virtually every client already has it.

What have we learned with our clients?

Focus on objectives and outcomes

Before even thinking about platforms, you need to be clear ‘why?’

What are you trying to solve? What is the outcome you’re seeking? What is preventing you from achieving that? What would help you achieve it?

Be clear on your overall capability roadmap and the role of technology platforms within it.


Keep it simple

It’s easy to be impressed by functionality and features, but the key question is, ‘what are we trying to achieve, and what is the best, simplest way to achieve it?’ Complexity is distracting and expensive.

Equally, platforms can generate a lot of data, but what do you need? What will you take action on? One or two key metrics that you act on are better than 100’s that are interesting but unactionable.

Platforms can enable almost limitless personalisation, but do you have the capacity to tailor objectives and learning programmes?

Your organisation may already be using other platforms at an enterprise level. Can these platforms deliver what you need? If you need something extra, will the new platform integrate with existing platforms? Will your IT function support it?

Learner first

The learner experience is key. If your people find the platform easy, convenient, and engaging, and it is there when they need to use it —in the flow of work—then they’ll use it. If it’s hard to access, complex to use, or confusing, then they simply won’t—they’ll find workarounds.

Consider what the overall ecosystem is; map out the desired learner experience(s) —what are their needs and pain points in learning what they need and doing what they need to do? Is the ecosystem arranged around the learner, or are you expecting the learner to arrange themselves around the ecosystem?

So, to summarise, there’s a fascinating array of platforms you can use to support your capability roadmap. They offer a wide range of functionality and can usually be integrated with each other and your existing systems. Oxford can help you understand the role of platforms to support your capability and help you implement them, from setting objectives and defining and creating the overall learner experience to graphic design, creating programmes and pathways, resources, and content, through to analysis and learner management. We partner with Ed Tech consultants NilesNolen to help clients identify their optimal platform partners.

Everything always comes back, however, to what is it that you are trying to achieve for your marketers and your business? If you’d like to know more about Oxford, our partners, the work we’ve done on learning technology platforms and their role in capability development, or our wider strategy, change, and capability work, then please contact us at or

Note: References to example platforms should not be implied as recommendations. Where we comment on the strengths or weaknesses of a type of platform, these refer to the type of platform in general and not the examples given.

About the author

I’ve always been fascinated in why we do what we do, and how we do it, as much as what we do.

I’ve also a passion that marketing should be the art of identifying needs and meeting them sustainably, not of finding ways to get people to ‘buy more stuff’.

So I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to help teams figure out how they can work better together, on better things, for themselves and all of us.


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