xAPI may not sound as glamorous or buzzwordy as adaptive learning, gamification or AI, but if you’re using an LMS to deliver training and information to learners, it’s something you should definitely know about.
So, what is xAPI?
xAPI (also known as Experience API and Tin Can), put simply, is a way for learning content to communicate with your LMS to ensure that all learning activities are tracked - not just those taking place within the LMS environment. It connects your LMS with systems including knowledge bases, document management systems, social learning platforms, and talent management portals, empowering you to track completions, test scores, deliverables, learning tasks and more. This information is then communicated to an LRS (learning record store) which can be supported by your LMS. It gives you a much more comprehensive view of the learning activities taking place among your audience and ensures that you capture valuable data about the true extent of the learning progress made.
Why is xAPI important to learning?
Used effectively, xAPI can make your LMS much more ‘knowledgeable’ about any learning taking place. For example, xAPI enables your LMS to interpret activities like a learner completing a quiz to discover their job skills, or someone accessing product documentation located on a knowledge base outside the LMS. Without xAPI, you are missing out on a lot of valuable data, meaning you don’t have the full picture about what your learners are doing.
xAPI essentially opens up the ‘walls’ of your LMS and gives you much better visibility of the entire learning picture. Considering only 10% of learning takes place through formal channels, such as e-learning and face-to-face workshops, xAPI helps you capture much more of what’s going on outside your LMS.
What are the benefits of xAPI?
There are several key benefits of xAPI.
Firstly, there is the added visibility that it gives you over much more learning activity than your standard LMS reports may reveal. Without xAPI, you may be aware that people are using the knowledge base, but you may not know who, how many, what they’re accessing or how that relates to their learning plans. xAPI allows you to join the dots and understand how and where people are getting their information from.
Secondly, it automates the data collection process for these activities. For instance, if you have a video platform which is separate to your LMS, it may offer analytics functionality, but you would need to go in and manually export this data. xAPI does this for you, bringing together more data in one place for a more comprehensive overview of what’s going on without requiring a lot of extra manual work.
Thirdly, it gives you a true picture of the success of your learning programme. Many organisations don’t deliver learning content solely through an LMS, meaning that much of the activity taking place is not captured. This is important when it comes to demonstrating ROI to stakeholders and the senior management team at your organisation, as you can show that as well as what people are doing in your LMS, they are also accessing knowledge in other ways, showing a more holistic view of how people are learning and demonstrating the value of your entire programme.
How can I learn more about xAPI and the value it brings to the learning and development team?
If you’re interested in introducing xAPI into your learning programme, you can contact us to learn more with one of our skilled Totara Partners. This article also offers a good overview of xAPI if you’re looking to explore it further.
Alternatively, we have two xAPI workshops running at our upcoming APAC Totara User Conference, taking place in Melbourne on 18th-19th March 2019:
Experience API: A practical application solving real-world problems in the health industry
Hosted by Alexander Roche from Androgogic, this workshop will explore xAPI including how it merged and why and how it works. It will then explore a practical example of xAPI in action in the interoperation of learning records across institutions specifically in the health sector.
The session objectives include allowing attendees to develop:
- An understanding of the history of online learning standards-based specifications and where xAPI fits into that journey
- An understanding of how xAPI works and what it can be used for
- Knowledge of what practical application of xAPI looks like and an awareness of other, less achievable options for using xAPI.
Getting hands-on with xAPI data and Totara Learn
This workshop, hosted by Robin Petterd and Brenden Halley from Sprout Labs, will be a hands-on deep dive into the possibilities of xAPI. Expect to get hands-on looking at ways to generate xAPI statements in Totara Learn and how to bring non-LMS data into your xAPI ecosystems. This will include how to use the xAPI bookmarklet and Sprout Labs’ xAPI-enabled checklist builder. Also during the session, you will get hands-on experience with xAPI reporting in Learning Locker. All attendees will be given a free trial instance of the open source version of Learning Locker and Glasshouse for 30 days to be able to continue to explore xAPI data beyond the workshop.
In this session attendees will learn:
- The technical basics of how xAPI works
- The structure of an xAPI statement
- The different approaches to getting started with xAPI in your organisation
- How to choose a Learning Record Store and get an overview of the Learning Record Store marketplace.
To learn more about the APAC User Conference check out this handy article.
Ready to develop your understanding of xAPI?
Join Totara and our partners Androgogic and Sprout Labs at the upcoming Melbourne APAC User Conference and Workshops on March 18-19 2019 to learn more about xAPI and your learning plans.