The Enterprise Learning Ecosystem

xAPI changes the way we think about the enterprise learning ecosystem. It’s been designed with a completely different mindset than previous learning specifications Learning happens everywhere, not just the LMS and often that learning is self directed by the learner. This requires a change in how our learning systems are organized so we can track and integrate these disparate learning experiences and then see that data alongside all of the other data that the organization collects.

A new class of system, the Learning Record Store (LRS) stores data about learning experiences from a range of sources, known as Activity Providers. The LRS uses this data in dashboards, reports, learning analytics and can even award Open Badges. It also makes the data available for other systems to use.

The diagram above shows the LRS as a stand alone system, but the LRS can also be incorporated into an LMS. In this scenario, reporting and analytics may be left to the LMS to provide, using data from the LRS.

Even when the LRS is part of an LMS, it should still have the capability to connect to activity providers and other LRSs external to the LMS. Whether the LRS is internal to or external from an LMS, data from mobile applications, learning websites and informal learning experiences can all be brought into and used by the LRS. Even operational business systems can be made to record experiences and performance relating to job tasks, so you can correlate performance data with learning data.

Learning Record Stores are designed to communicate with one another. Many organizations choose to have an LRS embedded in their LMS to collect data from the LMS and have an external LRS to provide deeper analytics and collect data from external sources that an LMS can’t do without an LRS.

One innovative feature of xAPI is to enable the sharing of data between Learning Record Stores (LRSs). It’s possible that two LRSs, perhaps from different vendors, can be integrated together by configuration in a matter of minutes. If you’ve ever been involved in an LMS integration project and seen the work involved, you’ll realize just how groundbreaking that is.


In the new world of xAPI, the LMS often continues its role in managing and launching formal learning materials. The LMS also plays the role of an activity provider, reporting the learner’s activity to the LRS. This goes beyond data from e-learning packages; any activity within the LMS can be tracked.

Some LMS vendors have chosen to include an LRS as part of their system whilst others allow the administrator to connect the LMS to an external LRS, allowing their customers to choose their LRS separately. If you’re an LMS vendor just making that decision now, our xAPI Impacts guide will be of interest.

Some organizations have considered replacing their LMS with a number of smaller systems integrated together via the LRS. 

Learning Record Store (LRS)

The LRS is the heart of any xAPI ecosystem, receiving, storing and returning data about learning experiences, achievements and job performance.

Despite the similar sounding acronyms, LRSs and LMSs are very different products. You use an LRS to store, retrieve and study data about learning experiences; you use an LMS to launch and facilitate learning experiences. These experiences might be traditional e-learning courses and formal training, or more innovative learning experiences made possible by xAPI.

In most cases learners will never see the LRS or even be aware it exists; any data relevant to them will be pulled out and displayed within a learner-facing system.