Learning Record Stores (LRS) are the heart of the tracking process of learning using the Experience API or xAPI standard. xAPI allows systems, including Moodle and compatible LMS, to develop guidance for learning content. Unlike SCORM, the (still?) de facto EdTech standard, it covers both content and performance, making it possible to compare learning outcomes.
LRS are a response to the need of placing xAPI-compliant data generated from elearning applications —mainly Learning Management Systems— about student behavior and performance in a central place. Since xAPI is platform agnostic, an LRS can be thought of independently from the LMS, which does not prevent vendor from bundling them. For learning organizations with an overarching LMS solution, it might make sense to keep LRS and LMS together. There are trade-offs between taking advantage of an independent LRS focused on capturing learning evidence and becoming a repository from several different sources; and the seeming increased security and ease of use from having a bundled LRS-LMS from a single provider. In reality, modern-featured LMS are designed to protect data ownership and comply to privacy and security, which means the concept of “LRS independence” is fairly well established along IT organizational strategies with no effect on performance, behavior tracking, or evidence-based learning considerations.
In sum, LRS can work with both open and proprietary LMS, or with no LMS at all. This opens up new ways of thinking about learning, mainly the idea that valuable experiences can happen outside the LMS and yet provide reliable evidence on student evidence and performance.
Case in point, video games. They are often associated with a broad set of skills, from motor development and visual contrast sensitivity, to attention and memory, even as a depression-fighting measure. Connecting them to an LRS would put these claims to the test. If the evidence stands strong, then LRS are the starting point towards considering —xAPI compliant— games as active and unashamed parts of learning plans and experiences. LRS could also be helpful to provide comparative feedback about LMS or other tools and activities.
In our first Elearning Success Summit, xAPI played a key role thanks to the presentations by quantitative instructional designers Julian Davis and Devlin Peck.
LRS: A Model Kit
A challenging aspect of setting up an LRS is the development of the xAPI layer, listing each “xAPI statement” about student behavior that an organization would like to track. xAPI lets researchers and managers develop statements as varied and detailed as they want, making it easy for a project to quickly grow in data volume and complexity, and at the risk of losing sight of the original goal. This potential toll, which appears to be the main reason for the low rates of xAPI adoption, can be avoided by starting with an existing reference, among which probably the best choice is ADL‘s. Additional definitions can be added on top, although ADL is very comprehensive. At this time, the real challenge is the limited xAPI compliance among LMS and elearning apps out there.
In any case, a best-case solution would include these key elements:
- A set of learning interventions or activities, which may or may not be bundled partially or completely into an LMS
- A set of goals and learning outcomes associated with them, such as Competencies and Learning Plans. Most modern featured LMS support Competency-Based Learning (CBE or CBL).
- A layer of xAPI statements.
- An LRS. (Keep reading for an LRS popularity ranking.) You could also build your own.
- A Learning Analytics System, Platform, or Dashboard, specialized in drawing insights from the data stored in the LRS. Most LMS, including Moodle, offer several Analytics solutions varying on width, depth, and price. Some LRS already feature them, and there are also external Analytics tools that plug into the systems.
- In some cases, a final link is an xAPI “bridge” that takes care of converting data into xAPI statements as well as the data transmission to the LRS.
You also need to make sure they all work with a compatible xAPI specification. The latest version is xAPI 1.0.3, last updated in 2017.
Most popular LRS in 2020 according to Ahrefs Rank
Digital marketing support data platform Ahrefs gives virtually every website on existence a position in a rank that reflects their relative popularity online, according primarily to search engines.
Products listed are LRS alone unless ‘LMS’ or ‘TMS’ included, in which case it’s a System with LRS features.
|№||LRS or System||Monthly Visits||Backlinks||Keywords||Ahrefs Rank|
|2||Learning Locker by LearningPool||10.9K||60K||6.5K||86,650|
|3||GrassBlade by Next Software Solutions||374||13.6K||1.2K||284,172|
|9||Storepoints by Riptide Solutions||160||3.8K||530||2,148,864|
|13||Nifty Learning TMS||40||160||170||7,944,381|