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How will xAPI improve my learning product?

You’re a product vendor within the area of learning and development; how will xAPI help you and your customers? This page takes you through

What role will my product play in the xAPI Ecosystem?

Various product roles are emerging that you can read about in detail on the xAPI Ecosystem pages. This page introduces some of these roles and explores what it might mean for your learning platform, authoring tool or other learning product to fulfil that role.

Learning Record Store (LRS)

The LRS is the heart of any xAPI ecosystem, receiving, storing and returning xAPI data. Some learning platforms and even authoring tools include an LRS to store data about learner activity within the platform. This data is combined with incoming data from sources outside the platform or pushed out to an external LRS collecting data from a variety of sources.

Don’t assume that your product necessarily needs to incorporate an LRS to adopt xAPI though; many adopting products that don’t include an LRS allow their customers to configure their product to work with an external LRS, giving their customers the flexibility to choose the LRS that’s right for them. Building an LRS is hard and there may be better ways to spend your efforts than incorporating an LRS within your product; if you do, consider incorporating an existing LRS rather than building your own.

Launching experiences

Launching e-learning content is the traditional role of the LMS. A baseline for any LMS adopting xAPI is the ability to launch xAPI powered learning experiences either packaged up and hosted within the LMS or externally hosted online.

We’re now starting to see authoring tools offer launch capabilities for their content, with either a lightweight learner portal or simple launch links that can be shared via email, intranet or social media. These can be tracked and reported on via xAPI.

Another opportunity for authoring tools is the launch of external learning experiences such as websites, videos or even other e-learning courses. It’s possible for these learning experiences to be tracked with xAPI alongside data from the course itself.

Activity Provider – sending data

Any product providing learning experiences should aspire to be a xAPI ‘Activity Provider’ and send statements to the Learning Record Store. This is the most obvious way for an authoring tool to adopt xAPI, and many learning platforms and other learning technologies should also play this role.

If your product is something that couldn’t be tracked with SCORM, then the Experience API is absolutely for you. xAPI enables you to track learning experiences beyond what was possible with SCORM and there’s no reason why the learner’s interactions on an LMS forum, progress in a learning game or reflections on real work tasks in a mentoring app shouldn’t be a part of a learning record. Use xAPI to deliver the feature your customers are asking for: getting data about learning experiences out of your product and into their reports.

Activity Provider – consuming data

xAPI isn’t all about tracking and reporting; that data can be used to connect learning activities to deliver features such as learner feedback, team learning experiences, adaptive learning, and more. See the Design Transformed section for details.

Don’t just consider how your learning product could generate xAPI data, but how it could use xAPI data generated by other parts of the ecosystem (or by other parts of your product) to improve the learning experience. If your product is an authoring tool, what tools could you give instructional designers to build links between the experiences they design?

Dashboards, reporting and analytics

One way that your learning product might consume data is to display and analyse that data to an end user. Reports, normally aimed at managers and others responsible for the learner, have traditionally been the realm of the LMS. We’re now starting to see authoring tools taking advantage of xAPI to provide reports designed specifically to help the content author improve their content.

One key advantage of xAPI in the area of reporting is its ability to include data from a range of sources. When designing reports and progress dashboards for learners, consider if and how it might be beneficial to include data from outside your product in what’s displayed. For example and LMS might display the learner’s most recent learning activity regardless of if that activity happened inside or outside the LMS.

It’s also now entirely possible that your customers will want to pipe their data out into an external Learning Analytics Platform for analysis of data there. For this reason, some xAPI adopters are making the decision not to provide anything beyond basic reporting and focusing their development elsewhere.

Case Studies

So how are vendors like you adopting xAPI today? Here are some examples.

CM Group

CM Group has adopted xAPI in their Luminosity LMS and Luminosity Studio authoring tool. Luminosity tracks all kinds of experiences inside and outside of the platform including PDFs, classroom attendance, YouTube videos, web page views and much more. Many of these activities can even be tracked when the learner is offline as a mobile player app stores the xAPI data until a connection becomes available.

Having all of their learner data in one format has simplified and sped up development for CM Group. For example, a rules-based gamified leaderboard driven from the activity statements logged within the system was surprisingly quick to develop because all of the data was readily available in a standardized format. Read More

TES

TES (a mobile platform for tracking on-the-job training and assessment) is using xAPI to output this learning and performance data to an LRS. This data can now be analysed alongside data from other sources such as learning activities on an LMS to measure the impact of those experiences on job performance. Read More

tessello

tessello, Brightwave’s total learning system, uses xAPI to let learners record their own learning experiences, whether they’re online through their web browser, or out in the real world via a mobile app that captures photos and videos or records audio and reflections. These formal and informal learning experiences are stored on tessello’s LMS, where they can be shared, discussed and curated with colleagues. Read More

How about your product?

Many other vendors are solving their customer’s challenges with xAPI and are listed on the adopters list. What are the big things your customers are asking for in your product? What should they be asking you for in order to raise the profile (and budget) of the L&D department in their organization? Could xAPI help you to fulfill those needs? Please contact us if you’d like to discuss.

If you’re ready to adopt, move on to the Get Started section to find out how.

Alternatively, you can read on and explore the emerging Enterprise Learning Ecosystem.