Basics first. An Application Programming Interface (API), in context of a Learning Management System, helps organizations in seamlessly integrating the LMS with third-party enterprise applications for information sharing and managing various functions with ease. It enables information flow between applications thereby automating workflows and processes, which otherwise would have to be done manually. This not only increases productivity and efficiency, but also makes the system future-ready by supporting unanticipated future uses.
Today, almost all good LMSs offer APIs as a part of their feature list. While it is not mandatory to use the available APIs, it is highly advisable to as it saves a lot of manual Admin tasks by automating data exchange between the LMS and other third-party client system(s).
However, the subject of APIs itself is daunting for some business users; quite contrary to the real essence of APIs. Easy to configure, APIs really are no more complex than a URL that you have been using to navigate the web for years, with slight difference of the URL having additional data appended to it to pass data to other system(s). That simple!
Sometimes it’s the security aspect that deters business users from implementing APIs. However, almost all APIs use some or the other form of security making the data exchange between the API(s) and the LMS highly secure. Advanced Encryption Standard or AES, which is a symmetric block cipher used by the U.S. government to protect classified information and is implemented in software and hardware throughout the world to encrypt sensitive data, is one of the most common securities used for APIs the world over.
So how can you leverage the APIs provided in your LMS? The best possible way to answer this question is through some actual examples –
- If you are an organization using an HR system like a HRMS or HRIS, or an ERP software or even a legacy application that stores employees’ details, you can benefit from an API that enables importing all data into the Learning Management System. This data, stored as learner records, gets updated automatically in the LMS as the employees move through the organization (in terms of change of location, role and responsibilities, promotion, etc.). For new recruitment(s), the API automatically registers the new employee(s) into the LMS enabling them to begin their learning activities almost immediately. Without an API, the scenario would have been pretty different (and time-consuming too!) with the LMS admin having to manually create and update the user details. Not to mention, giving opportunity for human error too!
- If you are a Training Company selling training materials and catalogs on your company’s website (or any web portal), an API that lets you push all details about the training material/catalog along with its curriculum(s) and content filled in the LMS onto your website directly helps you in speeding up your go-to-market for new training.
- For a Training Company (or an Enterprise), an API may allow pulling of the Learning Plan information from the LMS to any web portal. The web portal, depending on its functionality, can then showcase all enrolled training components (curriculum, content, progress data etc.) in an individual’s Learning Plan.
These are just three examples of how APIs can help your business. But with LMSs adding new APIs to address common challenges/ pain points faced by organizations, the possibilities are endless!
Which API(s), in your opinion, can benefit organizations today? Leave us a comment below.