Life in a Post-SCORM World Part 3: When will you need an LRS?


  1. Dear Megan,
    Many thanks for this detailed and very helpful article.
    Would you mind if I asked you a question. I am new to this field so please forgive my ignorance.
    So far as I understand it, the LRS-centric scenario (where the LMS and the LRS are separate) presents the possibility of hosting the learning content on a server different from that which runs the LMS. However, I am still a bit confused about how the learning content, the LMS and the LRS will interact in such a setup.
    Assuming such a setup and use of the CMI5 standard, may the LMS communicate directly with the LRS, or must its communications with the LRS be mediated through the content? In other words, will it be the case that only the content may send statements to the LRS?
    The difference seems significant from an interoperability point of view. If it is the case that the LMS may communicate directly with the LRS then the success of a deployment would appear to be more be heavily dependent upon the extent to which the LMS complies with the CMI5 standard. The content provider would also need to more closely address differing levels of compliance between different LMS vendors, a problem already familiar in the SCORM context.
    I would be grateful for your comments. Many thanks.
    Kind regards,
    Grant Bailey

    • Excellent question, Grant. In an LRS-centric environment there are three options (at least):
      – learning content resides in the LMS and manages to communicate both SCORM (to the LMS) and xAPI (to the LRS)
      – the LMS communicates to the LRS via a connector for hands-free passing of data from LMS to LRS. As you noted, this requires either a standard configuration of both CMI5 and (the WIP) LRS conformance standards to work seamlessly or a degree of hand-holding to get everything set up the first time.
      – you extract data from the LMS, format as xAPI (Watershed, for example, has a .CSV to xAPI process) and send into your LRS. In this case you’ll likely have more control over what LMS data you send to your LRS, for the price of having to do some of the work yourself.

      At this point, there is still a little bit of lifting required when using a new activity provider / LRS couplet. It’s getting easier every time someone does it though!

      Thanks for asking – this question furthers the conversation.


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