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How LRS and xAPI Technology Helps Educators Understand Learners

Imagine if, as an educator, you had easy access to how well all of your learners were doing—what courses they passed, how long it took them to complete e-learning assignments, and how their performance had fluctuated over the course of their education.

Consider how analyzing such data could improve the quality of education you provide. Now think about what kind of knowledge you could obtain if you had access to similar data from learners around the globe taking similar courses.

These "what-if" scenarios have been made a reality by LRS (learning record store) and xAPI (Experience API) technology, and yet many in the e-learning industry still don't know exactly what an LRS does or how to use the xAPI technology available to them. This article will define what LRS and xAPI technology can do, as well as enumerate ways in which you can incorporate these technologies into your LMS for your own use.

What Is xAPI Technology?
To understand what an LRS does, you must first understand the technology behind xAPI. In essence, the xAPI is a system that stores data about learners in the form of an AVO (Actor-Verb-Object) statement. An AVO might look something like this: "Samantha passed Biology Quiz 5."

Of course, AVO statements are rarely this rudimentary. This previous example could be expanded upon to provide, for instance, the statement "Samantha, a junior biology major with a 3.7 GPA, passed Biology Quiz 5 at 11 a.m. in the Science Building with a score of 97 percent, putting her in the 98th percentile of the class."

In essence, the xAPI provides educators with a tremendously powerful way of aggregating data about their learners. This usefulness can be extended to business as well. Many businesses struggle to evaluate how well employees are performing post-training.

Using the xAPI can provide business owners with statements such as "On July 15, Steve worked the cashier position from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., he checked out 13 customers and sold two company memberships, a 15 percent improvement on his membership sales from his last shift." The AVO statements that xAPI provides are stored within an LRS. It is also important to note that both xAPI and LRS are open source technologies, meaning they can be flexibly implemented onto any device that has access to the Internet.

What Is an LRS?
Essentially, an open source LRS is a server—a system capable of receiving and processing information in the form of learning records. xAPI AVO statements can be stored and aggregated in an LRS as learning records and can then be accessed by educators.

Although xAPI and LRS technology are extremely flexible, one of their most potent uses is through implementation into an LMS. By incorporating xAPI and LRS technology into an LMS, you can then gain comprehensive data on the learners using your LMS, allowing you to tailor your future e-learning experiences to specific demographics with almost complete accuracy.

Not all users of an LMS necessarily need an LRS; but if you want to aggregate data about your learners with pinpoint accuracy, it's a wise investment.

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