How xAPI Supports Business Outcomes

All of your Learning experiences are tracked in the Cloud

Learning is evolving. It is becoming more social, less formal, and highly mobile. Learning is no longer restricted to a classroom, as we can see from the quick rise of video-based learning.

There are big questions looming for current learning providers: how can we keep learners engaged and properly manage learning and skill transfer? How do we properly track learning success and capture data about their learning outcomes? As the technology has evolved, so too have the learning standards. These standards have attempted to answer the challenge of tracking and data capture, but they often create challenges for organizations and vendors. In 2009 i wrote a Whitepaper for LETSI, thinking about what was needed for SCORM 2.0 based on actual business requirements which finally led to the Tin Can Experience API in 2013.

Experience API (xAPI) is the latest standard (2014) to arrive in the learning world. xAPI will support tracking of all learning, including traditional classroom learning and the most advanced online learning. The idea behind xAPI is that you capture all learning activities (video, mobile, social, offline, traditional) and report on them on an individual level, or to aggregate the data in order to better understand how learning is working across the whole organization.
What is xAPI?

The term API (Application Programming Interface) is broadly used throughout the software industry. It generally refers to a library of programming functions that software developers can use to easily integrate two or more separate software applications.

xAPI is a specification for learning technology that makes it possible to collect data about the wide range of experiences a person has (online and offline). This API captures data in a consistent format about a person or group’s activities from many technologies. This API based approach makes it much simpler to share data from different systems and different content providers to create insight that hasn’t been possible in the past.

xAPI is significantly different from preceding standards like SCORM and AICC. Unlike SCORM and AICC, xAPI is not limited to eLearning material or Learning Management Systems (LMS). As a standard, it describes how you can interface any software application with a system that stores and reports on learning data, such as an LMS or compliancy system.

The purpose of the xAPI is to store and provide access to all learning experiences, both digital and real world. The xAPI enables tracking of learning experiences, including traditional records such as scores or completion. It also stores records of learners’ actions, like reading an article or watching a training video and how they interact with it.

The xAPI is designed to support existing SCORM and AICC use cases as well as enabling use cases that were difficult to meet with SCORM, such as mobile training and content that is accessed outside of a web browser.

xAPI makes it possible to track activities that people do using computers such as performing work tasks, producing work outputs, interacting with others using social media, achieving milestones in games and simulations, and just about any other activity that one can observe or record.

How it works
The xAPI describes learning activities as statements. Each statement is comprised of an actor, an action, and an object
I (actor) did (action) this (object)

A couple of examples:

  • James read an article from the Harvard Business Review called “The Employer-Led Health Care Revolution”
  • Mary answered a test question.

Your team learns from interactions with other people, content, and beyond. These actions can happen anywhere and signal an event where learning could occur. All of these can be recorded with the xAPI. When an activity needs to be recorded, the application sends secure statements in the form of “I did this” or “Noun, verb, object” to a Learning Record Store (LRS). The LRS records all of the statements made and can share these statements with other LRSs or with a compatible LMS including SCORM and AICC based systems.

Tracking learning events allows you to measure what people have learned and how they perform.
All of the learning events within H5P Interactive Video content type: from starting a video, stopping, answering a question, using embedded content such as a pdf, searching for a video fragment, finishing an assessment to the total viewing duration is tracked using the Experience API and can be reported on.

While its data rich output can be a significant benefit in helping shape business outcomes, you may also need the flexibility to limit tracking in certain instances such as privacy and data protection regulations. We have created a flexible solution which basically lets you collect as much or as little data as you would like.
By combining all of this data from these learning activities with business data, we can start to identify learning paths that lead to most successful business outcomes, and can determine effectiveness of training programs and measure ROI.

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