As the Experience API (xAPI or Tin Can) gains traction in the industry, it’s opening up new opportunities for not only tracking the learning experience but also extending it into everyday worklife. When the learning data can be connected with data about performance behaviors and — most critically — actual business results, learning organizations can see the connection between their efforts and organizational improvement. And that’s what it’s really about: we’re able to move past relying on “completions” as our key metric and we can focus on revenue, costs, safety, capabilities and delivering on the mission.
TorranceLearning is among the early adopters and leaders in the xAPI community. Beginning with our first-place xAPI HyperDrive project at the 2014 eLearning Guild DevLearn conference and continuing today as we lead multiple xAPI Party events at our office and the xAPI Learning Cohort experience, we are working to increase adoption of and education about the specification. CEO Megan Torrance teaches workshops, presents at leading conferences and publishes about instructional design approaches with xAPI, as well as the progression of LMS and LRS products in the marketplace.
That’s a great question – one we’ve been helping people answer since 2013. xAPI is a simple, lightweight way to send, store, and retrieve data about learning experiences and to share that data across platforms.
This data is formatted and sent via structured activity statements by learning record providers (like an eLearning course or performance support system) and stored in a learning record store (LRS). The LRS is analogous to the SCORM database in an LMS, but it is not required to handle all the learning management functions that most LMSes do.
Note that this isn’t “LAPI” – learning API – it’s “xAPI” – experience API. With xAPI you can track activity in performance support tools, participation in online discussions, mentoring conversations, performance assessments, and actual business results. Now we can see a full picture of an individual’s learning experience and how that relates to his/her performance. Now we can measure outcomes.
What can I do with xAPI?
With better data, we have the opportunity to go beyond the simple completion status reporting and start doing far more interesting and useful things for our organizations. Now we can:
- Learn more about the learning experience
- Learn more about what goes on outside of elearning
- Learn more about the performance
- Correlate learning with performance
- Correlate learning with results
- Correlate performance with results
- Offer more targeted training
- Support performance in better ways
- Learn from others
- Share learning with others
- Compare performance and learning across learners
- Deliver and track training outside of the LMS
While all of this is possible with custom tools and reports, the promise of xAPI is in the standardization across tools, providers, organizations and national boundaries. This is why we say that xAPI will become more common than SCORM.