Computer connecting to a variety of things

If you’ve been working in e-learning for a while now, you’ve probably heard of Learning Management Systems (LMSs). But do you know what a Learning Record Store (LRS) is? I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t, until recently. Because I doubt I’m alone in that, I thought I’d write a short article to help you wrap your mind around this more recent addition to the e-learning tech stack.

What is an LRS?

An LRS is a server that stores data from both informal and formal learning experiences. This can be things like: 

  • E-learning courses
  • Websites
  • Social media apps
  • Virtual or in-person conferences or events
  • Discussion boards
  • Books

But that’s not all—the sky really is the limit when it comes to the different systems LRSs can track. Find out more here.

Why use an LRS?

If you already have an LMS, you might be wondering what you stand to gain by using an LRS. Great question!

Basically, using an LRS could give you a more complete picture of how and what your team members are learning. For example, instead of just seeing who has completed your course and their scores, like you can with an LMS, you could find out which resources your learners are finding helpful or whether they’re getting stuck—or losing interest—at specific points. You could also, for example, measure their level of engagement on a discussion board and keep track of the number of online and in-person events they’ve attended.

Having more holistic information about the learning experience can help you refine your training programs to better fit learner needs and therefore increase their effectiveness. But that only works if you take the time to analyze it and make changes accordingly—so make sure that’s feasible if you’re considering using an LRS, or it won’t be worth your while.

How does an LRS track learner activity?

When learners interact with xAPI-enabled learning experiences—like an e-learning course or a website—information about their actions is sent to the LRS. This information takes the form of xAPI statements—or code describing the learners’ actions. Because you can customize xAPI statements, you can collect more detailed and nuanced information about your learners than you can using SCORM or AICC with an LMS.

Here are some examples of what those statements might sound like in different situations:

  • E-Learning Course: [Learner Name] interacted with 360° image X. 
  • Game: Y ability was learned by [Learner Name] after Z hours of playing the game.
  • Manufacturing Production Line: X order was completed by production line Y in Z days.

The LRS stores these statements as individual learning records. Once on the LRS, you can either view the records and generate reports on them or send them to an LMS for the same purpose.

Do you still need an LMS if you get an LRS?

The answer to this question is . . . maybe. Some LRSs have built-in hosting capabilities, in which case you wouldn’t necessarily need to keep your LMS. However, if the LRS you choose doesn’t allow you to host your courses, you would need to have both. 

Another thing to consider is whether it’s worth moving all your courses to a new hosting platform. If you have a large library of courses on your existing LMS, then it might not be worth the effort to move them if you can just as easily keep them where they are and still benefit from the additional tracking an LRS could provide.

Can courses created with Articulate 360 apps be tracked on an LRS?

Yes! And it’s supereasy. Here’s how it works:

Rise 360

Screenshot of Rise 360 export options

  1. Click on Export
  2. Choose LMS* in the Export Type drop-down
  3. Choose xAPI (Tin Can) in the LMS drop-down

*Note that Rise 360 content still needs to be uploaded to an LMS. The LMS will handle sending data to an LRS.

Storyline 360

Screenshot of Storyline 360 publish options

  1. Click on Publish
  2. Choose LMS / LRS
  3. Choose xAPI (Tin Can) in the Report to an LMS drop-down
  4. Check the Report to an External LRS box

For more information, check out the following articles:

More Resources

Now that you know the basics of what LRSs are, their benefits, and how they work, you can start thinking about whether it makes sense for your organization to use one.

Remember to follow us on Twitter and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning. If you have any questions, please share them in the comments.

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