Before attempting to answer this question, it is worth recalling what a Learning Record Store (LRS) is.
An LRS, or Learning Record Store, is a database used to store all the information in your learning ecosystem in xAPI format.
An entry in xAPI format always has the following syntax:
- User + Verb + Object
- John Doe liked this article.
- Jane Doe shared this content.
- John Doe watched this video on Youtube.
- Jane Doe completed this e-learning resource on the LMS.
- John Doe searched for “management” in the LXP.
- …you understand the concept
This data can be written to the LRS from any website and not only from traditional LMS, LEP or LXP.
This is what makes the xAPI standard an invaluable advance in the e-learning industry.
It allows you to capture usage data outside of traditional learning platforms, but also to store in the Learning Record Store other information than what you would otherwise have stored in Scorm or AICC format from your content.
For example, you can store information from CRM, feedback or engagement applications, social networks… This is why ADL (the organization that developed the xAPI standard and previously Scorm) is constantly expanding the list of available verbs. With the increasing complexity of data coming from learning ecosystems, a more standardized norm was needed.
To not place this new standard in a straitjacket like Scorm:
- John Doe has changed the status of this opportunity.
- John Doe requested feedback on his “Active Listening” competency
What are the benefits of an LRS?
If you use an LRS as a simple copy of your data that you might as well have stored it in your LMS as you are sacrificing a good part of the benefits of the LRS. That is, by storing only the completion and score of a Scorm content by changing the export settings of your authoring tool.
The LRS is as capable of capturing the informality of “learning in the flow of work” as it is of cross-referencing learning data with related data to measure the impact of learning on other everyday actions.
Publishers have specialized in the creation of solutions for visualizing the data stored in an LRS called Learning Analytics. These solutions are often paid for, unlike the LRS that you can find in open source on the web.
The low cost of entry, due to the fact that there are open source LRS solutions, is an additional advantage to prototype its implementation in your organization.
You will then be able to control where your LRS data is stored because you will host it yourself.
Make data migration easy
Last but not least, storing all your learning data in an LRS significantly reduces your dependence on an LMS provider.
Indeed, we know how difficult it is to migrate data from an LMS A to an LMS B when you change supplier.
First of all, you have to export the historical data. Then you have to check your content library (Scorm / multi-Sco compatibility… and which vary from one editor to another). Finally, you have to transform these data and reimport them into the new LMS.
With an LRS, data migration is greatly simplified.
You automatically export all the data from your current LMS that you copy to your LRS (like a backup system) in addition to your other Learning streams. If you have to change LMS provider, you only have to “reconnect” your new LMS to your existing LRS. No more data migration problems.
The solution is far from miraculous, but it is still worth exploring.
These are the benefits of the LRS, having a structured, standardized database that is easily readable by several systems.
Can you get by without LRS?
Yes, that’s right, because the standard is still a long way off. Having said that, it is probably better to anticipate in view of the cited benefits than to undergo a forced switchover because of the new authoring tools or content sources (VR, Youtube…).
The time when the LRS will become indispensable is slowly but surely coming and your organization will be glad to have implemented it when the time comes.
Should you use your LMS editor’s LRS instead of your own?
Very few LMS vendors have added an LRS database to their product. Although they do exist, they are often two parts of the product that do not fully communicate. The xAPI data is stored in the LRS. The rest of the Scorm, AICC…data, however, is stored in the traditional LMS database which has its own structure.
It is therefore impossible to have a consolidated reporting on the entire digital learning consumption. Therefore, we do not advise you to use the LRS only from your LMS provider. It is preferable to have one on the side to reduce dependency on LMS vendors and data migration.
Also, their positioning is and will remain that of an LMS. Even if they add social features, free access pages, a paint job, an LXP job, a LEP job, they will remain on a product positioning that has not been thought for this type of use.
Finally, some publishers see the difficulty of migrating their data as a retention mechanism and it would be wise to get rid of these publishers.
Is it possible to have an LXP, an LMS, and an LRS at the same time?
Yes, by adding an LRS hosted by your company, you will have an ideal ecosystem. This will give you the agility you will need for years to come in an ever-evolving industry.