Do I Need an LRS If My LMS or LXP Already Has One?

Even the learning platforms with conformant LRSs—ones that generate great xAPI data from non-xAPI content and the platform’s interactions—can have issues. For instance, they don’t generally allow you to send outside xAPI statements into the internal LRS, so you can only report on the data contained in that platform. They also often have canned reports that can be quite difficult to change or configure without additional support from vendors—which can be time-consuming and costly. In this blog post, we’ll explore these challenges, what they mean for you, and how to work around them.

I say tomato. You say potato.

Remember, just because an LMS or LXP has an internal LRS, that doesn’t mean that platform automatically generates and sends xAPI data about platform events, content views, etc., to the internal LRS. It’s not uncommon for platforms to only track statements from other xAPI learning record providers that are connected to it (as long as they meet its requirements).

For instance, Acme LMS supports a set list of 20 verbs. So when a verb that’s not included in that set list is used (e.g. finished), the LMS automatically changes that verb to another verb (e.g. the verb finished might be changed to experienced).

Or, perhaps Acme LMS doesn’t change verbs—but it only understands statements with certain verbs and activity types, and it simply drops statements that don’t meet its requirements into the ether!

This is only further complicated when the platform’s documentation isn’t complete or easy to understand and platform features often change with little or no notification.

This means that building content for these internal LMSs can be very difficult. You will often have to modify learning to support the requirements of the internal LRS. This at minimum will require understanding how to utilize the advanced configuration of your learning authoring tool, and—at worst—require an understanding of how to change its underlying code. You will also find there are not many people who understand these internal LRSs, so getting help when things go wrong is tricky.

Learning isn’t one size fits all, and neither is your reporting.

Even if you can get your content to work with a platform’s internal LRS, it’s important to remember that oftentimes the platform’s available reports are pre-canned. And while some vendors and providers can add custom reports, actually getting them built is not so simple. That’s because:

  • They’re likely to cost you—either as managed services hours, or the provider could even potentially charge you the cost for developing a custom report.
  • They may be broken by future releases of the product, and the provider may charge you to update their code/configuration to make them work again.
  • Making minor changes to the report can be costly.

And when it comes to canned reports:

  • You can only see the data for the provider-built reports. If you want to report on anything these reports don’t cover, too bad.
  • Often, you can only look at a single course or content category or container. There’s no easy way to compare a course with another without downloading the data and doing it yourself (and that's still potentially difficult).
  • Normally, you’re limited to basic sorting. So say you want to sort by cost center, but that group doesn’t exist in the platform. That means there’s no way for you to sort without utilizing another solution to combine the learning and HR data sets.

Up Next: What’s the best way to extract learning data from your LMS or LXP?

The more learning data you have (assuming it’s good data) means better, more comprehensive reporting and insights around your learning programs and initiatives. But how do you easily get your hands on all that data? Join us for our next blog post when we explain the best ways to extract data from your LMS or LXP.

Is your learning ecosystem missing an LRS?

Use Essentials LRS to gather and track learning data from inside and outside your LMS. And, yes, it's free to get started.


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Is your learning ecosystem missing an LRS?

Use Essentials LRS to gather and track learning data from inside and outside your LMS. And, yes, it's free to get started.

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