The xAPI story continues and it’s quite an exciting one!

By Mirjam Neelen

Back in 2015, Learnovate completed an initial xAPI project to explore the overall concept and all the things organisations would have to consider when implementing xAPI.

Back in 2015, Learnovate completed an initial xAPI project to explore the overall concept and all the things organisations would have to consider when implementing xAPI. We also did a proof of concept in which we implemented xAPI ourselves in a meaningful way for the users involved. This project resulted in:

  • An xAPI Checklist – which helps organisations to determine if they should or could consider xAPI,
  • a ‘Proof of Concept’,
  • a ‘How to’ guide
  • an invitation by LPI to present at the Learning Live conference in London.

Now, half way through 2017, there are still major questions in the minds of learning folks such as ‘What are xAPI’s key values? When to consider xAPI? What is the recommended design process when implementing xAPI?
Learnovate has been very much aware that thought leaders in the xAPI space, such as HT2 Labs, the Connections Forum, and of course the Tin Can xAPI lads and gals have made quite some progress with xAPI implementations and explorations, and we felt it was about time to create an overview of xAPI’s current state of the art.
We dug through academic research (we can’t help ourselves), piled up the case studies, and spoke to Ben Betts from HT2 Labs who was so nice to free up some time to share their experience with xAPI with us (by the way, they have also created some wonderful resources, such as ‘The Learning Technology Manager’s Guide to xAPI’ and – coming soon ‘Investigating Performance: Design and Outcomes with xAPI’).
After some careful analysis, we had to conclude that there are many good reasons to implement xAPI. The main reason being that, when you’re truly interested in offering learners (no matter if they’re employees or students) the best support to improve themselves and they’re using various systems and you need evidence to back your decisions up, then you need learning analytics to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. xAPI enables you to capture the required date from multiple sources, in a structured standardised way, using a single Learning Record Store (LRS).
The State of the Art report that we produced, discusses the ins and outs of the design process and the many things you need to consider when designing for xAPI. At a high level, the recommended design process looks as follows:

MIRJAM3

The complexity lies in identifying what you want to measure and why you need to measure it, dealing with legacy and planning for future systems, data analytics and visualisations, and all the privacy stuff, to just name a few. A fascinating but challenging nut to crack.
We also found some really interesting case studies which together paint quite a clear picture of why organisations go for xAPI and what its benefits are. We have explored seven of them in more depth; two in a K-12 context, two in a higher ed context, and three in a ‘learning for professionals’ context. In the last category, one of Learnovate’s partners, Intuition has kindly shared their experiences with us. They have implemented xAPI successfully and learnt some valuable lessons along the way.
From the case studies that we’ve collected and written up, a couple of trends arose that actually can be captured in one phrase:
Personalising and adapting learning experiences which are taking place in many different ways and places with the goal to increase learning effectiveness using learning analytics to drive evidence-informed decision-making. The example of an Emergency Medical Training using the Internet of Things (beacons) is showcasing this trend:

health

During a medical training simulation beacons on EMTs, firefighters, victims, equipment, and an ambulance record data. The data is sent to an xAPI
Learning Record Store (LRS) in the cloud where it is visualised in real time
The data can be analysed after the simulation to support performance improvement in order to improve patient outcomes in medical emergencies.

Although, like in 2015, we recognised that expanding xAPI beyond a single use case is a tough cookie, we must admit our eyes do sparkle a bit because of the fact that our case studies (and we’re sure there are tons more out there) not only show the potential of xAPI but also the drive in the learning and education arena. To be continued!

In case you’re up for some additional xAPI exploration, please contact us at info@learnovatecentre.org

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