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  • Writer's pictureZubia Mughal

xAPI: The Rising Power of Knowledge Management


Meet xAPI – the experience API. The real hero behind many of the learner analytics you use. Working meticulously with the LRS, the Learning Resource Store - the xAPI generates broad-level learner analytics. In case you need to hear again, The xAPI is the “big data” generator of the eLearning world. Why should you be bothered? Plenty of reasons. Here are a few I tried to grasp in this article.


The field of knowledge management is becoming an urgent reality. Efforts to analyze and aggregate knowledge to make it simplified and meaningful for consumers have gathered momentum. The ADL, the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (the official guys behind developing) referred to this development as the more popularly known Tin Can API. We can see it increasingly replacing the SCORM compliant packages owing to its tracking and reporting limitations. Here is a description of the xAPI and some of its capabilities.


What is xAPI?


These are three components of the xAPI that work together to produce amazing learning and user analytics:


1. LEARNING RECORD STORES (LRS)

LRSs are databases that verify that the input matches the xAPI specification, storing all valid data for retrieval by ‘Activity Consumers’, or by administrative users who wish to access the ‘raw’ xAPI data for analysis.


2. ACTIVITY PROVIDERS (AP)

APs create data in the xAPI format and submit it to the LRS. APs are systems and applications on which learning activities/events take place. Learning content, portals, apps, and more can all behave as ‘Activity Providers’. In an xAPI environment, we expect many APs to be submitting data to the LRS at the same time.


3. ACTIVITY CONSUMERS (AC)

ACs are similar systems to Activity Providers (an AP could in fact be an AC as well), in that they are typically systems and applications that modify the user experience based on xAPI data. This might be an LMS that ‘checks off’ a completed learning activity because that activity appears in the LRS. Or it could be something more complex; a leaderboard, a badge issuing system, or learning content.


What does xAPI do for you?

1. Report multiple scores


2. Detailed test results


3. Use mobile apps for learning


4. Track all social activities associated with the course


5. Track offline activities


6. Track without an Internet browser


7. Enable complete control over your content


8. No limitations based on domains


9. Solid security


10. Device independent


So what types of eLearning tracking does this translate to?


The experience API enables tracking of non-conventional eLearning and learning programs and environments that a traditional SCORM wouldn’t report. Some examples include:


1. Serious Games (other game-based learning)


2. Simulations


3. Informal learning


4. Real-world performance


5. Offline learning


6. Interactive learning


7. Adaptive learning


8. Blended learning


9. Long-term learning


10. Team-based learning


The Future Knowledge Management Promises of the TLA


The ADL works under a common umbrella called the TLA or Training and Learning Architecture. You may have noticed the implementation of some of its promises. But it is good to know what is possible within the learning and development world at this time. The ADL is working on the following four upcoming developments:


1. The experience tracking (already being handled by the xAPI)


2. The competency infrastructure, which will describe the learning goals, objectives, tasks, competencies, context, and performance standards.


3. Content brokering, which will tag, index, and deliver the learning content.


4. Learner profiles, which will tag and describe learners.


Learning would never seem to be the same again!

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