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Responding to recent ADL funding news

Posted by

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.

 
  • Tahir Hussain Mir

    I have been working on the SCORM 1.2, 2004 4’th edition, & xAPI for 2 years. SCORM 1.2 & 2004 docs are absorbed in my mind [laughs]. It is good to know that Rustici software ‘are willing and able to step in and do what is necessary’. I am in too.

  • Awesome! We love to hear that, Tahir! Here’s to keep on, keeping on.