Some limitations of Experience API (xAPI) – application programming interface

oops

I see some potential, but some people are still too “oooh! shiny!”about one minor piece of a much bigger piece of work, namely, correlating activity to performance and context. Data is meaningless out of context.

Simply reporting that you did something doesn’t show qualitatively or quantitatively whether that activity has any impact on what you know, or what you can do better.

What is the Experience API (application programming interface) ?

Source: Learning Solutions Magazine – http://bit.ly/1L3OsBq

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 integrate two or more separate software applications.

The Experience API is significantly different from SCORM. Unlike SCORM, the xAPI is not limited to e-Learning courses or learning management systems. As a standard, it describes how you can interface any software application with a system that stores and reports on learning data, such as a learning management system.

Any type of software or system that has been xAPI enabled can generate Experience API data.

The xAPI operates based on activity streams, a model that uses software to track things people do. The idea of tracking activity streams emerged from social networking and is used by sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

The Experience API 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 does the Experience API work?

Imagine that your LMS can communicate, not just with eLearning courses, but also with knowledge bases, collaboration platforms, document management systems, enterprise resource planning systems, helpdesk systems, portals, talent management, performance management, and other types of systems used in the workplace. The learning management system may track not only attendance, completions, and test scores, but actual work inputs, outputs, deliverables, tasks, and more.

The Experience API describes learning activities as statements. Each statement is comprised of an actor, an action, and an object. I (actor) did (action) this (object) (see Figure 1).


Figure 1:
Actor, action, and object used to track and store experience as an activity statement

When a user performs a pre-defined action in an enterprise portal that is xAPI enabled, it fulfills an xAPI activity statement. This activity statement describes a learning experience.

For example, your organization may offer a performance-support solution that helps new employees submit vouchers. When a new employee, named John, successfully submits a completed voucher via the company’s portal, it records an xAPI activity statement. The learner’s experience is then relayed to a Learning Record Store (LRS) (again, refer to Figure 1).

My view: Much bigger piece of work needed

The  work really required is the establishment of performance metrics and measuring improvement through various learning activities.

Simply reporting that you did something doesn’t show qualitatively or quantitatively whether that activity has any impact on what you know, or what you can do better.

There may be potential, but some people are still too “oooh! shiny!” about one minor piece of a much bigger piece of work, namely, correlating activity to performance and context. Data is meaningless out of context.

Sales pitches stifle dialogue

Like some community engagement personnel who try to force community conversations in a predetermined direction, there has been much talk in the industry about the inability to have deep conversations about the pros and cons of Experience API without the developers and evangelists inserting themselves and trying to influence the conversations.

They are becoming a turn off for people who want to research, investigate and share their own conclusions beyond the sales pitches of the sales organisations.

Unfortunately, the sales people even hijack these social conversations and creating an atmosphere where no one wants to participate.

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One thought on “Some limitations of Experience API (xAPI) – application programming interface

  1. John Laskaris says:

    Bruce, I agree that data lacking context are in fact useful only while making statistics and as we all now statistics do not reflect the truth. So the question is: what’s the point of making them in your opinion?

    Like

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