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See it working

xAPI is great in theory, but what about in practice? How does it actually work? It can be helpful to see xAPI in action to really understand and apply it in your world.

Prototypes

A quick way to see xAPI in action is with the prototypes. These were created alongside the original draft specification to illustrate how xAPI could be implemented. As prototypes, they aren’t as polished and complete as a final product, so you’ll need to use a little imagination as you explore them.

There’s a traditional next-next-quiz e-learning course that’ll teach you all about golf. There’s a simple Tetris game that represents the possibilities to track more traditional experiences like serious games and simulations. Finally, there’s a location based tracking simulation that records your real-world movements between Nashville museums on a mobile device (there’s a cheat if you’re not actually in Nashville).

Access the prototypes here, or if you’re a developer, here’s more information on where you can get at the code.

Bookmarklet

You may have heard that approximately 90% of workplace learning happens outside of formal training. Whether that’s on-the-job learning or other informal, self-directed experiences, much of this is individual to the learner and often unrecognised by the organization.

A number of organizations and products are using xAPI to let learners record these informal learning experiences using tools such as a mobile app or a bookmarklet attached to their web browser. A bookmarklet is a simple application that runs inside of a standard internet browser bookmark. A Experience API bookmarklet lets the learner record any webpage that they “experience” to an LRS. It will help you to get into a xAPI mindset to have a go at recording your own informal learning using a bookmarklet.

A number of commercial products include bookmarklets that send data back to their products for the learner to keep a record of their experiences. The data is then also available for reports and analytics. You can use our bookmarklet for free and send data back to an LRS. Do bear in mind as you use this demo, that many commercial tools will hide the more technical aspects of this process from their learners to create a smoother experience.

Authoring tools

Most authoring tools now allow you to publish to xAPI and if yours doesn’t, it might be worth looking at one that does.

If you use an authoring tool that can publish top xAPI, a simple way to see xAPI in action is to publish a course for xAPI and track it in an LRS. Many authoring tool users comment that the tracking data they get from xAPI seems a lot more detailed than what they had with SCORM, even with their tool’s built in xAPI tracking. For information on taking your authoring tool beyond what’s possible out of of the box, see Get started with xAPI in my content.

If you are an authoring tool vendor and your tool doesn’t support xAPI, here’s some reasons why you should.

Get a demo

To really see xAPI’s potential, you’ll need to look at real commercial products that are using xAPI to make a $ worthy difference to their customers. The adopters list points you to all the products and vendors we know of that are using xAPI. Read the summaries, visit their websites and ask them for a demo.

The list is a mix of products. Some have simply added xAPI as another way of doing what was already possible with SCORM; others are using xAPI to enable learning solutions beyond what was possible with SCORM. When looking for a good xAPI demo, ask the vendor what their product does with xAPI that they couldn’t do with SCORM. If they can’t answer that question, then the demo might not give you a good idea of the potential xAPI brings; if their answer is “our whole product” then you’re more likely to see something interesting.

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