Learning Record Store (LRS), xAPI, and What You Need to Know

Designing Digitally


A Learning Record Store, or LRS, is a data store system that is used to receive, store, and return learning records. The data that is stored in a LRS comes from a variety of learning experiences, all of which are supported by Experience Application Programming Interface, also called xAPI, Experience API, or Tin Can API. The use of three names for the same basic function can be confusing and is not ideal for a new technology. For the purpose of this article, the moniker xAPI or Experience API will be used, as the focus is on various learning experiences. 

xAPI is elearning software that allows communication between learning content and learning systems and tracks the data from learning experiences. Experience APIs express learning activities in the form of statements. There is a full range of learning experiences that can be tracked by an LRS. These include job execution, mobile apps, and real world activities. 

The Specifics

An LRS has data sharing capabilities that allow multiple systems to communicate for the purpose of reporting learning activity outcomes. Learning Record Stores can record and keep large amounts of data, which allows for a more comprehensive analysis of learning activities. As more results come in, this data can then be used to judge the efficacy of a training program.

Respective learners have the capability to store their own learning data on personal LRSs. This is helpful for them to track their own progress over time. LRSs are used by a wide spectrum of companies and have a place in virtually all areas of industry. Large corporations utilize LRSs to increase the level of employees’ engagement in training exercises and to improve comprehension and retention of learned skills. 

The xAPI is somewhat of a conduit for all of this amassed data. Information can flow in and out. It makes it possible to record learning, or any activities that utilize computers. Activities that can be tracked include social media interactions, normal work duties, data from learning games or simulations, and almost any other pursuit with quantifiable data.

In the terminology of xAPI, learning activities are expressed in “statements.”  Each of these statements contains:

  • An actor. The person who performed the activity.

  • An action. Activity performed by the actor. 

  • An object. The matter that was accomplished. 

For a bit more clarity, an example: The actor in this scenario is John. The activity was that he inputted data. The matter that was accomplished is a completed expense report. The statement from this activity would read: John completed an expense report. This is a very simple example but shows the format of a statement. If John’s next statement read, “John filed the expense report”, the tracking ability of xAPI becomes a little more clear.

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