Update: Waxbox no longer exists. Many of the Learning System vendors are building their own LRS, rather than using a 3rd party. An LRS is not the same thing as an LMS.
Update: Riptide was acquired by HT2 Labs, the owner behind Learning Locker.
Rankings as of April 2019.
Before jumping into the rankings, I recommend an interview that was done a year ago, regarding LRS and xAPI (it was conducted on this blog).
Keys to remember
- There are some standards in terms of what data is captured that is seen in most LRSs. These include top influencers, xAPI, statement activity, most popular content, search extraction, data visualization (but all over the place from that standpoint), and connectors.
- When I note “LMS integration/incorporation” it means that an LMS vendor has struck a deal with an LRS vendor to incorporate the LRS into their LMS as their LRS, thus the vendor does not have to build their own LRS.
A few quick points, that many vendors fail to note regarding an LRS (and I can’t decide if it is because they are unaware or indifferent).
- The premise (besides what it can do and its benefits) was that each learner has this data record and it captures everything (which it does), BUT and here is the kicker, if the learner leaves the company, school, etc., they take their data record with them.
Thus, if they go to another company, business, school/university the data record can be inserted into that LMS (assuming it has an LRS) and it will work fine (interoperability).
- From an education standpoint, I can see how a data record of the student’s learning can go from primary to secondary to higher education.
Some vendors though have changed the premise of the data record transference. How?
- They delete the record if the person leaves (regardless if they quit, fire, bolt, go the route of the school angle above, etc.)
Yes, an LRS can be an amazing tool and component, but that data record is an important piece of the pie.
If you follow the route of deletion, then that approach of its total usefulness, from the learner angle is gone.
Just something to think about.
Anyway onto the rankings
Oh, I added screenshots when possible and a couple of recordings of screens from the top two. The screens are just for visual purposes only.
- Watershed LRS – This is a very good solution that provides a lot of power and some difference in terms of analytical data extraction than Yet. That is not a minus per se, rather, an approach that will work for many folks – who want an alternative.
The data is easy to follow and read. Data visualization has been improved, although it still needs refinement. The soon to be released Gomo Learning LXP will include Watershed as part of the product.
There are LMS vendors who have Watershed in their system (as their LRS). It can also be a standalone or API into your system/platform including TM/PM. Easy to use. Has connectors.
2. Yet Analytics – A very strong LRS that can do a lot. The graphical interface is robust. A lot of analytical data can be viewed and captured. Data visualization is great. Pluses include usage behaviors, influencers, trends of actors (learners including network), learner profiles with details, statement frequencies (many systems do this, just fyi). Unaware of any LMS vendor that has incorporated the LRS into their platform. Can be standalone or API into your system/platform including TM/PM. I have personally found the vendor to be challenging to work with, but they know their stuff.
3. Learning Locker– A lot of people love Learning Locker. It is open source first of all, which I surmise plays a role (although it also offers a fee-based option too). It has a very nice GUI and is easy to use. They say they are the most installed LRS in the world.
I love the ability to create business rules (from simple to complex). Identifies influencers too (listed as top performers) and why they are the leaders. Captures the data many other LRSs do as well, including statement activities and learner history.
Connectors include Slack (surprise), SAP, Tableau (many support as well). Data visualization as a whole can be better. Seems too simple for me, but I am a fan of lots of data, lots of analytical extraction to chop up, cut up and see. Especially when it comes to training – the more I know, the better I can develop, design and implement content/courses/etc. for my learners, regardless if they are customers, employees or both.
LMS vendors that created their own LRS. Many vendors have gone this route. As a result, quality is all over the place. Some are strong, others are not. GUI follows suit. Data visualization is useful but to a degree. The biggest issue I have with several vendors is the data record deletion and the refrain from offering all the analytical data that the LRS captures. It is more of a drip, drip, drip – here are the common stuff that virtually everyone else does and here are some unique pieces BUT if you want the store, forget about it.
Listen you can extract a monster set of data with an LRS, so why hold back? I get the pitch not everyone wants it, but when you are doing your setup, ask the customer if they want “regular – which is what comes with the system” or “extreme” which punches a lot of analytical information and all that it entails. Again, from a training/learning standpoint the more data the better. After all, if you want to do an effective gap analysis, is simple really better?
GrassBlade. Love that it can generate certificates, includes many of the standard features on a side note (but not all of them). Connectors include LearnDash (WordPress LMS) and Zapier (sweet!) Data visualization is doable, but nothing to write home or email folks about. Another alternative out there. For some folks, it is a fine fit. Unaware of any LMS vendor incorporating it, standalone, API options. Pricing is on the site.
Mzinga. It is there. Captures some of the standard data, not enough to warrant a love factor for me. Standalone, API, LMS integration – unaware of others though.
edTotal. Captures some of the standards. Standalone, API. Will be doable for some folks. At least they are trying, so that is a plus.
There they are. The rankings of the top four and a few others to examine, consider or just think, maybe someday, I will try one out for size.
For the folks who believe an LRS is an LMS, it is not. It is a compliment to an LMS.
Of great value.
If it is done right.
With data visualization that empowers the training, L&D, even HR executive to do more. To design, define and interpret so that what is being extracted means something beyond just tracking for the sake of it.
LRSs are a form of learning technology.
Start now and reap the benefits.
But be realistic.
For that LRS you seek, may not be there right now.
Tomorrow, another story.