Tips to help you get the LMS reports you need
The reporting requirements of an LMS can be easily overlooked during the initial planning and LMS setup process, even though reporting is one of the most important aspects of your training program. Without proper reporting, you could fall behind in measuring compliance, miss critical requirements for continuing education, or miss out on important ROI and BI metrics. Don’t make the mistake of planning your reporting needs after your LMS is up and running. Making assumptions about your LMS reporting capabilities can put you in a difficult position. Here are some LMS reporting tips to help you avoid such mistakes.
Make fun of your news needs
When it comes to LMS reporting needs, it’s best to start at the end and work your way back. In other words, sketch out what your ideal reports will look like and include it in your LMS setup plans. After answering the following questions, create mockups:
- What specific types of reports do you need?
- Are you required to report continuing education credits to the governing body?
- Need to report employee compliance?
- Do you track and report competencies and skill mastery?
- Need a custom field for an employee ID or job title?
- Does your LMS need to integrate with other data sources?
- Need to report course completion or actual scores?
- What additional information do you need from the course content? (e.g. time spent, interactions, etc.)
Use model reports to list the information you need to collect during the enrollment or registration process. Include notes on whether you will collect this information using custom fields or through integration with other systems.
Analyze your LMS reporting options
Once you know what reports you’ll need, research your LMS to see if it can meet those needs. Each LMS has its own general reports that can be generated out of the gate. These typically include user information, course completion details, assessment reports and so on. Other LMSs include more specialized reports for compliance, competency, mastery, and continuing education. The best LMSs also include custom reporting tools to help you generate reports with custom fields, filtering, and even infographics. A good custom reporting tool can help you create most of the reports you need, but only if you’ve planned ahead to gather the data you need (see the previous tip).
Confirm integration of LMS reports
You may not want to store all user information in your LMS, but instead integrate it with your organization’s database, HRIS, CRM, or other single source of truth (SSoT). If this is the case, verify already in the planning phase that your LMS can integrate with your system or that the data can be exported in a usable form. Most learning management systems have integration methods to connect your LMS data to other services. These methods may include direct integration, APIs, or third-party tools such as Zapier. Your LMS most likely includes a way to download reports as CSV or Excel sheets so you can manually import the data into other sources. But you should confirm that it is.
Know your course content: Reporting using SCORM, xAPI, LRS
Some of the most common reporting problems come from mistaken assumptions about what information an LMS can report about course interactions. What your LMS can report depends on how you create your course content. If you build your courses with videos and other built-in LMS content options, your LMS will likely report progress, completion, and assessment scores.
If you render your lessons using SCORM or xAPI, your LMS is limited by two things:
- What is your SCORM/xAPI package set up to report (completion, score, time spent, etc.)
- What is your LMS programmed to “grab” from that package.
This is where you can get into trouble. Never assume that your LMS will get everything your SCORM package makes available to it. Every LMS is different, so do your homework. This is doubly true for xAPI.
If you package your course content as an xAPI, you have a lot more data available. xAPI can report everything that SCORM can do, in addition to more specialized user interaction data—such as how users interact with specific activities or exactly which test questions they missed. Very few LMSs actually get all the information available from the xAPI package. And even those that get xAPI data don’t necessarily have the ability to generate meaningful messages from it. This is where the Learning Record Store (LRS) comes in.
Educational record stores
The Learning Record Store goes one step – or leap – further when it comes to capturing and reporting on course and user data. LRS tools like Learning Locker and Watershed integrate with your LMS to grab all available xAPI data and allow it to be used for analytics. In addition, Watershed offers the ability to pull external data from other sources and serve as an SSoT for all your learning and development data. Using LRS opens up a number of reporting options. In addition to gaining access to granular details of course interactions, you can go a step further and compare these interactions to real-world data such as job performance or sales numbers.
Armed with your mockup and knowledge of the tools available, you should be able to incorporate reporting strategies into all phases of your LMS setup. Don’t forget to test as you go!
Originally published on www.elearningdelta.com.