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Archive for the "Announcements" Category

IEEE LTSC xAPI TAG A-OK

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Categories: Announcements, Spec Effort, Standards, xAPI

Posted 15 September 2017

 

Shelly Blake-Plock announced last night via LinkedIn that he would be leading a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for IEEE LTSC (Learning Technologies Standards Committee). This is good news, as Shelly is going to carry a real load in leading that group. In his own words, Shelly describes the work in this way:

Our initial purpose is to create an IEEE technical report as a reference and implementation guide for xAPI 1.0.3. More broadly, we’ll be providing an open place for discussion among xAPI stakeholders and we’ll potentially be making recommendations about needs to support widespread use of the specification based on our activity in writing the report.

Our start point is the xAPI 1.0.3 specification. We’ll discuss all aspects of xAPI such as xAPI Profiles and the relation of xAPI to SCORM and cmi5. The end point is open-ended and in our discussion we will work to define the scope of the TAG.

My version: We’re glad the initial purpose of this group points toward standardization. IEEE stamping xAPI would encourage adoption, particularly outside of the US. It would send a positive message to the community at large that xAPI is a real and complete and adoptable thing.

My priority for this group is to remain focused on the standardization of xAPI 1.0.3, rather than evolution. Broader conversations about profiles and other things that xAPI requires (e.g. evolution of the specification and surrounding specifications) are happening in many venues, and I hope this doesn’t spread the community too thin. Instead, I hope they can successfully take the steps that help IEEE consider it for standardization. This is just step one of many in that regard.

So, thanks to Shelly for leading this. We, as Rustici Software, will be sending along one of our experts to participate as well. Ben Clark played an active role in the evolution of SCORM during the 2000s, and was the true leader on Project Tin Can, which led to the advent of xAPI. He’s pretty well informed.

If you’re the adventurous sort, Shelly has invited all comers. His LinkedIn post will point you in the right direction.

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Responding to recent ADL funding news

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Categories: Announcements, Spec Effort, Standards, xAPI

Posted 6 September 2017

 

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple of weeks learning about some things that are happening with ADL (the governing body for SCORM and closest thing we currently have to a single steward for xAPI right now).

My first tl;dr

  • Some funding things happened at ADL, but ADL will continue to do work on xAPI and with the xAPI community.
  • If ADL is limited in its ability to support xAPI or SCORM, Rustici Software and others are willing and able to step in and do what is necessary (even if there isn’t consensus about exactly what that would be just yet).

Wait. Even that was too long.

A better tl;dr

SCORM and xAPI are both still just fine. Use them exactly as you were planning to before you read this.

Now the long version.

The closest thing we have to news is this. ADL’s funding has been reduced substantially in the short-term. Basically, this means that ADL will make cuts on a temporary basis, and several people who have worked there over the last few years won’t be in the short term. (There are some great people considering their futures, if you’re looking for some expertise.)

ADL’s budget is included in the proper FY18 budget, at a level that is slightly smaller than prior years, but still significant ($11M+ as I read it). Supposing that comes through in February of 2018, they would hire people (familiar faces or new ones) and continue with the same or related work.

Truthfully, we can’t predict what the priorities of that organization will be in the short or long term, but we never really could. Until they say otherwise, I believe that ADL will continue to provide the infrastructure that supports xAPI and SCORM both. This includes the websites that have resources and examples. At Rustici, we have some comparable resources available, and we’ll continue to offer those. If ADL finds itself unable to do certain things at some point in the future, Rustici Software will fill the most important gaps.

Other people and organizations are stepping up and expressing their care and interest in contributing to the evolution and support of xAPI. This can be nothing other than good news. (OK, quietly, and for a small group of us, this can be a little confusing and frustrating. We have to navigate the different bodies and their respective merits. But that’s a problem for a few, not for the many. A service Rustici provides to its customers is absorbing this angst on their behalf.)

Ultimately, what we need as a vendor community and really an L&D community is consensus. We need to agree about how content and LMSs communicate at runtime, and we need to agree about how two systems talk to each other about the things people do. In the end, standards and specifications are a documented form of consensus.

Standards bodies provide some rails for reaching and documenting that consensus. I think ADL’s done a great job of this over time. For as long as there is good, consolidated, effective leadership in these communities, we greatly prefer to defer to and serve that leadership. Should ADL’s leadership wane, Rustici Software would increase our participation and influence consistent with our views on what is best for the community.

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We’re calling it, “Experience API”

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Categories: Announcements, xAPI

Posted 20 July 2017

 

Just a little editor’s note for everyone. You may notice that this site now redirects you more aggressively toward its experienceapi.com representation. In 2015, we heavily revised experienceapi.com and established that, when it came to using xAPI vs. Tin Can, “We call it whatever you call it.” Our goal was to provide resources and advice to people in the way they were looking for it. If they wanted to use “Experience API,” that’s what we’d use. If they wanted to use “Tin Can,” we were on board.

Both in real life and here on the website, we’re pushing a little harder toward xAPI at this point. We’re never going to yell at someone who says Tin Can, but we may just refer to it as xAPI. You’ll also see that we’ve changed all of the references to be explicitly xAPI rather than Tin Can. I promise, we’ve done something more than just “find and replace”, but if you happen upon a place where we missed a Tin Can reference, feel free to let us know. The one caveat is that we’re keeping historical references to “Project Tin Can,” the origin of the Experience API.

We’ll also be updating our prototypes to the new language. As anyone who writes code can appreciate, changing code doesn’t happen overnight, so it will take some time.

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Recently, ADL (the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative) launched the xAPI Adopter Registry, which lists xAPI Adopters and Conformant LRSs. We’re thrilled to be one of the first companies included on the xAPI Adopter Registry and the only company so far to have two conformant LRSs–both SCORM Cloud and SCORM Engine passed the xAPI LRS Conformance Test Suite.

So why is this so exciting?

The registry is a valuable resource for the eLearning community because it promotes adoption of the Experience API and provides a core list of products and companies that have received xAPI conformance certification. The LRS Test Suite is extensive, covering 1,300 strict criteria that ensures true adoption of the xAPI specification and therefore guarantees interoperability across eLearning systems.

Personally, we have been involved in the learning standards community since 2002 and in that time have come to understand the true value eLearning specifications provide in ensuring interoperability. With xAPI, we are excited about the possibilities for new ways of learning and are here to both encourage adoption and help add other companies and vendors to this growing list.

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We’ve launched a new services group.

 

 

Some Background

For years, we have relied on our products to be the solution to a number of complex problems facing companies that use learning standards. If you’re building an LMS or authoring tool and you need AICC or SCORM or, more recently, xAPI, we have a product that can do the heavy lifting. That’s been our bread and butter.

But we also have insights from years of thinking about experiential data and hearing how customers report on it. And we know that the problem isn’t always solved at the immediate boundary of our products.

It’s those considerations that brought our services group to life.

What We Do

We help vendors and organizations consider how to use learning standards to accomplish their goals. These goals include delivering the learning material to their people and selling their products to discerning buyers.

We work on problems related to the learning standards AICC, SCORM, and xAPI.

In the case of xAPI, the newest of the standards, the off-the-shelf solutions are less mature. Listening carefully and collaboratively helps us build better products, but it also helps us get you the right solution now.

Of course, we haven’t stopped thinking about AICC and SCORM.

Where You Come In

We want you to ask us a question. You can learn more about how we’re responding to the questions we’ve already heard here. These are things we anticipate. Maybe something on this list prompts a question you were getting ready to ask. So, ask away– we’re listening and ready to help.

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