What is a learning record store

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Maybe you’ve heard of the Experience API (xAPI) and how a Learning Record Store is an integral part of this data specification. We’re here to address the question: What is a learning record store?” Let’s start off by presenting a simple scenario.

Tim is an Chief Learning Officer at an enterprise corporation. Last year, he designed and implemented a new e-Learning courseware program enabled by a Learning Record Store. An executive meeting was scheduled for today, and Tim was excited to present the results from his new learning program.

Instead of simply presenting completion and attendance metrics, he presented goals that were decided upon to align with business outcomes, and the actual results of his program. The executives were enthusiastic about these metrics that Tim presented which were finally able to shape training expenses into ROI and real business impact. This type of success isn’t unrealistic. The options for performance goals that link to business goals are virtually endless depending on what you want to measure. Some examples of these could be:

  • Improving Employee Engagement- Increase gamification login usage on eLearning platform by 45% by end-of-quarter
  • Linking training to on-the-job performance- Increase worker productivity in a manufacturing plant by 25% by end-of-year
  • Saving onboarding time- Reduce onboarding time by 85% by end-of-next-year
  • Increase company revenue- Increase call center sales revenue by $100,000 after microlearning initiative

Evaluating the effectiveness of training has been almost impossible without the help of analytics. Many companies and learning solutions offer analytic capabilities, but not all analytics are built equally. It’s important to remember, we hear a lot of buzz about getting “interoperable data” but it’s not about the data, it’s about meaningful data that serves a purpose.

Not all analytics are built equally.

So what is a Learning Record Store (LRS)?

In absolute essence, an LRS is simply a database where Experience API (xAPI) learning data is stored. The integration capabilities of an LRS are profound in that it can connect to, and gather data from, your Learning Management System (LMS) and other systems or programs in your organization where learning data is stored. These might be systems/programs such as Sharepoint, Human Resource Information System (HRIS), learning portals/applications, or anything digital that your learners/employees use to gather information.

One of the highlights of using a Learning Record Store is that it will provide you the learner activity data for formative and summative evaluation methods. The implementation of a Learning Record Store, or something similar to it, is the absolute first step in being able to get into higher levels of evaluation. There are many proprietary ways to get similar information, but many people aren’t fans of being tied down to a proprietary system. One of the interesting benefits of making your learning activities report in xAPI, is that now all of your learning activities will be speaking the same “language” making it simple, and straightforward, for you to view and analyze all of this data in the same place.

Learning Record Store (LRS) vs. Learning Management System (LMS)

This question comes up frequently: “What’s the difference, exactly”? There a few differentiators between an LRS and LMS. The main difference is that an LRS only stores xAPI activity streams. These streams are essentially a learner (or employee’s) learning records. Anything that a learner does digitally is tracked with xAPI and stored within the LRS. These may be things like: seeking areas of a training video, reading a document in Sharepoint, completing a competency quiz, or attending a meeting. Again, anything digital can be tracked and reported on, even “fine-details” such as clicks, order of page turns, at what point a user paused a video, and much more. These reports can be made available to you through live streaming analytics dashboards, such as Storepoints LRS, which allow you to have a holistic view of your learners and the opportunity to see where your training is succeeding and failing in the eyes of the learner.

Recently, some companies have been building LRS capabilities into their LMS. This can be great for having the LMS manage content delivery while the LRS tracks important learning activities within the LMS as well as outside digital learning activity. The only “buyer beware” with this is that not all LRS’s are xAPI-conformant (and conformance is very important). There have been a few different directions of movement in this space. Some learning professionals are looking for LMS’s with an integrated LRS, others are moving away from their LMS completely and simply using an LRS, which has been the case for some of Riptide’s clients using Learnpoints Courseware packaged with Storepoints Learning Record Store (LRS).

Overall, it’s relatively easy with a capable technology partner to get your training programs reporting better learning activity data in the form of xAPI activity streams to an LRS. Riptide Software is always open to providing a free, consultative call with your business to prove how an LRS can help you align your training with your business’s overall goals.

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