Differences between an LMS and LRS

What are the differences between an LMS and LRS? Do you need both? What can and can’t each piece do?

We’ve compiled below a list of capabilities of an LMS. This is to illustrate the point that the LRS will not, and is not intended to, replace the LMS. The LRS simply stores all of the learning data as a component of an LMS.

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3 reasons education needs an LRS

Education needs an LRS. Here are three reasons why

We have a very rudimentary understanding of how our students and teachers actually learn.

We can’t tell how and when they are learning or what their preferred learning style is. We can barely even see our learners data without (practically) begging for it.

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Thrivist and the Learning Record Store

Why Thrivist exists and how the Learning Record Store supports our mission

Today’s education market demands technology that is easy-to-use, intuitive, adapts to an individual’s learning style and creates actionable insights from the data collected.

Adaptive learning and actionable insights from data, we feel, are what is currently missing in education solutions today. There isn’t anyone in K-12 education working to solve those two problems.

Thrivist exists to solve those two problems.

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Week in Review

Thrivist Education Week In Review

And don’t forget to follow us, The Thrivist Team, @thrivist_edu


Let the March Madness Begin


March Madness isn’t just about basketball these days.  Today, March Madness is also associated with the controversial statewide testing that begins across the nation. And yes, the preparation for and the testing itself can be truly maddening for both teachers and students.

No one denies that data is a valuable component of instruction. We understand that assessment helps guide decision making. But somewhere along the line, testing became the end all be all of determining a student and a teacher’s value. 

And as we are accustomed to hearing about the anxiety created for students by the pressures of standardized testing, we overlook the fact that teachers are facing the same pressure and scrutiny.  In many states, teacher evaluations are heavily influenced by standardized test scores and this creates uncertainty about job renewal and compensation among other things.  The stress is real folks, I get it!

Not to disregard the seriousness of the issue, I would like to share a few tidbits on the matter.

1.       Remember this is just a test. One assessment does not determine your value as a teacher nor does it define a student. 

2.       Teach.  Not to a test. Teach to open minds. Foster the ability to think critically by challenging students to discover solutions by allowing them to fail. Be there when they do to guide them and prompt them to use the strategies you taught them. Be the teacher you went into the profession to be not the ‘teach to the test’ person that some have proposed you must be.  When you do this, the tests will reflect it and your students will be better prepared for the world they exist in.

3.       Let it go. As Disney’s Ice Princess Elsa says, “Let it go, let it go” Society is figuring out that these tests are overrated and that the United States is falling behind in education because of the overemphasis on testing.  I know it is easier said than done, but let it go, and have faith in who you are as a teacher.

4.       Have faith. Have faith in yourself and your students.  You became a teacher because you wanted to make a difference in the lives of your students. Have faith in your ability to do so.

desperate teacher and blackboard background Stop the madness!  The anxiety created by the current climate of testing is maddening.  We need to put things in perspective and turn March Madness back over to basketball, and release teachers and students from the testing madness the month currently inspires. Enjoy the real games, folks, and don’t get caught up in the testing game.

The Perks of Teaching Online: Flipping pancakes while grading papers



pancakes laptopImagine enjoying a nice cup of coffee and a stack of pancakes while reading the newspaper to start the day. Oh, and did I mention you are at work? That’s right, you can be flipping pancakes and grading papers all at the same time.  Working remotely as an online teacher isn’t for everyone, but it definitely comes with some perks that you should consider before ruling it out!

I’m not implying that teaching online means you will be eating bonbons and watching Netflix all day. Teaching online requires one to be highly organized, a good time manager, and have the ability to be very flexible. Online teachers don’t work a normal school schedule nor do they see their students face to face, so they must be creative in their approach to engaging students and building a rapport. There is a lot of hard work that goes into the day to day lives of online teachers, but for some, the advantages may offset the challenges.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the advantages of being an online teacher so you can decide for yourself.

  1. Flexibility

I know I stated that flexibility is one of the challenges but it is also a huge benefit of teaching online.  Students will expect you to be flexible with your hours of availability but you will have the ability to set those hours.  Not only that, but it allows you to tailor your schedule around a variety of activities that used to require a sick or vacation day. What?! Yes, you heard right, doctor’s appointment – no problem, need to get your roots touched up – schedule it, grocery shopping – go while everyone else is at the office.  Your day is your own as long as you meet your students’ needs and are available to them to create a successful atmosphere.

  1. Student Engagement

Student engagement can prove challenging to a new online teacher, however, it also comes with rewards. Your students might not be directly in front of you for your daily interactions but you can still develop a rapport with them and create an engaging environment. In fact, students who might be hesitant to participate in classroom discussions in person, are more apt to engage in meaningful discussions on line. Many students also feel more comfortable discussing their progress and asking questions since they get to interact with teachers one on one. Huge perk, in my opinion!

  1. Technology

Online teachers can teach anywhere there is an internet connection and a mobile device that the Learning Management System can operate on.  With the advances in technology, many online courses are accessible on laptops, smartphones, tablets, and more.  Technology also allows you to work more efficiently. Quizzes, surveys, quick checks, etc. can include automated grading items to help with the workload.  Working in this environment might also give you access to the latest programs and tools to integrate into your teaching. A win-win for you and your students.

  1. Facilitating higher order thinking

Using discussion forums without the time constraints of the classroom bell schedule gives online teachers more opportunities to ask higher order thinking questions.  Students can take more time to analyze, synthesize and evaluate information before replying. An added benefit is that discussion forums are in writing, so the teacher can review responses, pose more higher-order questions and continue the discussion further.

  1. Freedom

And one of the biggest perks of all is freedom.  Teaching remotely means you can work in your pajamas, not be bound to an alarm clock (for the most part), and eat lunch at a restaurant with friends.  Not having a building to go to or set schedule to work from gives you the opportunity to try new things like go to the gym, take a yoga class, or have a nice midday nap. Yes, I said you can take a nap if you want to!

So while your peers might be rushing out the door with coffee in hand to get to class before the bell rings, you can be flipping pancakes with one hand and reviewing your course on a laptop with the other.  For those of you who are adventurous of spirit and have a passion for teaching, consider teaching online.  Besides, think of all the money you can save on dry cleaning! 😉

Let the Pieces of the Puzzle Come Together With xAPI

“Depending on an LMS alone to understand learning is like trying to play an entire football game between the ten-yard line and goal line. To say the least, it would be an incomplete game with a frustrating degree of finitude. Our LMS uses xAPI to connect all your learning pieces allowing you to see the entire picture and allow your learners to make use of the entire field of digital and offline learning tools.” Andrew McGarrity, CEO, Thrivist

Online and blended learning have opened new doors for learning. However, tracking and recording learning experiences that happen outside the learning management system (LMS) can be challenging. Sure projects can be completed and uploaded and teachers can add anecdotal notes to the system, but true recording of what the learner is doing to gain knowledge doesn’t happen outside of the LMS in online classrooms.

Learning happens everywhere. The experiences can be in a formal setting like a classroom or part of a social setting like Twitter. Some of the most powerful learning experiences are those that take place in the informal environments! So shouldn’t those experiences be part of a student’s learning record? Wouldn’t that help a teacher better predict her students’ needs?  Of course it would!

Taking into consideration the best features in an LMS for K-12 school systems, Thrivist set out to go a step farther.  Employing a new technology called xAPI, the Thrivist LMS has the ability to not only track formal learning experiences, such as, lessons, quizzes, and tests, but informal learning experiences that are taking place outside of the LMS! All of this doesn’t happen in isolation, either, and this is the best part! The xAPI technology used by the LMS bridges the gap of learning taking place online and offline, and the Learning Record Store (LRS) collects this information and stores it for multiple levels of reporting.

puzzle pieces of learning
Image Credit: iStock Photo


xAPI helps put all the puzzle pieces together to provide a complete picture of the learning experience, so teachers can truly enable students to thrive! We know that students seek knowledge outside of the classroom, so we cannot expect them to remain in the LMS to learn either. The difference is, in a physical classroom we can observe behaviors and participate in a way that has until now had many barriers for online learning.  With the implementation of xAPI technology, the Learning Record Store is able to capture those meaningful, and often, informal learning behaviors that students engage in. A student visits YouTube and watches a video tied to the content he is studying, uploads a file for a research project to read later, or plays a game, and all of these behaviors are captured in the Learning Record Store. Now when a teacher is reviewing the student’s progress in the online course, the data is capturing more authentic learning experiences and providing a well-rounded picture of the student’s needs.

As a former teacher and administrator, I often used outside resources in my online classroom to supplement the content in the course. However, with the limited technology available to me at the time, I was unable to collect any objective data about these materials.  It was frustrating because educators want to validate the materials worth when using it with their students, and there was just no way to do that. When I heard about the technology that Thrivist is using and the abilities of the LMS and LRS through xAPI, I was thrilled!  I knew that is was going to resonate with teachers because there is nothing else like it that I’m aware of, and it fills a gap that has existed since online and blended learning emerged.

Thrivist has not only provided an intuitive and responsive LMS, it has leveraged new technologies to maximize learning.  As we continue to evolve in the digital age, I can say that Thrivist is the ‘next generation’ LMS!

  • To learn more about xAPI and the possibilities it provides in the Thrivist LMS, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@thrivist_edu) and Facebook (facebook.com/thrivistedu) for the latest news when articles are posted.