Learning Management Systems (LMS) were for a long time the preferred method for companies to manage their training content. Users would be registered in the LMS and the company would control the content which was placed in the LMS for registered users to access. The system would record access to the content and would then create a record of the user’s learning experience.
This approach had a number of limitations, not least of all that it created a non-transportable record of learning which was limited to the content which existed in the LMS data store. For this reason a newer and more open approach was created around what was known as the Tin Can API which is now branded as the xAPI or “Experience API”. The Aventi platform is built to work with xAPI and to incorporate the learning experience into an LRS or Learning Record Store.
So, what are the advantages of xAPI and an LRS?
Simply put, learning is not limited to the content which is stored on the platform. There are many places in which employees learn and all of this constitutes valuable learning. A company may, for example, offer internal seminars or from 3rd party suppliers. Attendance at trade shows and peer information exchange events are also valuable learning experiences which contribute to the overall knowledge and level of experience of employees. Equally, learning is not limited only to employees. Suppliers can gain value from being given access to certain content and this concept extends to cross-corporate learning where companies that work closely together can share materials to form part of a collaborative learning experience.
From an employee perspective, the LRS presents an additional layer of value. An LMS was limited to just the company who operated the system but an LRS conceptually is based around the idea that a Learning Record is something that stays with an employee and which, when they move to a new division or a new company, is something that gets to follow them.
In summary, 3 of the most meaningful advantages of a Learning Record Store (LRS) over older systems are:
• History freedom: the Tin Can API allows LRSs to talk to each other. LRSs can share data and transcripts with one another, and experiences can follow the person from one LRS (or organization) to another. Learners can even have their own “personal data lockers” with their personal learning information inside them.
• Device freedom: any enabled device can send data to the LRS and create learning event records (mobile phones, simulations, games even physical training devices like a CPR dummy). A constant network connection isn’t necessary — occasional connectivity is fine.
• Workflow freedom: tracking learning events doesn’t have to start or end in an LMS, it can start wherever the learner is and on whatever device they choose to use. Content isn’t tied to an LMS.
Many companies ask “Does this mean that all of my LMS content is obsolete?”. From an architectural perspective, the answer is “No”. An LRS based around the xAPI standard can work with any content store which can interact using the xAPI. However, the more important question which is being answered by using an LRS is the one of how to incorporate learning experiences from a wide array of sources and how to keep current the training and on-the-job learning which is being offered to a globally distributed workforce. xAPI and LRS answer this fully and this is the reason that we chose to integrate an LRS into the Aventi platform.