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What is xAPI?

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I have been working in the e-Learning and UX Design industry for several years. I started designing courseware interfaces and interactions several years ago. My main goal was to create interesting and intuitive learning material, not your everyday ‘next, next, next’ get through the material as fast as you can and get your certificate experiences. After seeing the quality of online courses and training material when I first started, it was not a huge task to make some improvements.

Back then, SCORM 1.2 was the method to track these learning activities, it was fairly simple and limited, it dealt with SCO’s (Shareable Content Objects) and could report some basic interactivity, like ‘initiate’, ‘passed’, or ‘completed’ to name a few. With that, a Learning Data Miner (LDM) could get some very, very basic information about the material being provided to the learners. Basically they could tell if someone attempted a course, completed it, passed a test or failed it or, with a little ingenuity, we could build some custom items to track video usage and some other interesting pieces of data. That said, it was tedious and cumbersome to build any special tracking and even harder to display it. It was not very helpful. Instructional Systems Designers (ISDs) and LDMs had a very, very difficult time gathering or tracking data with the limited metrics.

Even back then, I had heard of this thing called the ‘Tin Can Project’… It was to be the next big thing for eLearning, a way to collect all kinds of data on learning experiences. It was a big buzz word for a little while. It was to be the holy grail of eLearning metrics. The problem was, no one knew what to do with it, how to implement it, or what it could do for them. I still hear people talk about it in the eLearning arena and still think that most of those talking about it do not completely understand what it is. Companies like Behr Paints, Caterpillar, and Visa have use cases and testimonials as to how they use it and tha is very helpful. Even reading their testimonials and use cases leaves one to wonder ‘How?’.

Everyone says, just start, don’t worry about the whats and hows, just find a Learning Record Store and start, then you can consider the whats and hows. It really isn’t that simple though. Research xAPI, there is plenty of papers, sites, definitions, profiles, and just general information. In doing your research, try to determine who is truly the ‘authority’ on xAPI.

Hopefully, I can help clear up the haze around xAPI over the next few posts…

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As I was saying the other day, who is the authority on xAPI? ADL, Rustici, some other body? There is

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