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What is xAPI and how do we use it?

It’s important to recognize that in today’s world, learning happens everywhere. We absorb information from interactions with people, educational textbooks and e-learning programs. The possibilities are endless.
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John Sherman
2017-09-11

When we read about e-learning, ‘xAPI’ is a buzzword that pops up all the time. So, what exactly is it?

Well, first it’s important to recognize that in today’s world, learning happens everywhere. We absorb information from interactions with people, educational textbooks and e-learning programs. The possibilities are endless.

Yet, this has meant that employers using SCORM for their Learning Management Systems (LMS) simply can’t keep up with tracking employee development; or at least, accurately. This is where xAPI comes into play.

xAPI, Tin Can and Experience API are all synonymous with one software specification that has the ability to let different programs speak to each other. It allows organizations to collect and track all of the experiences of learning that matter in the 21st century.

xAPI opens up a new world of learning that benefits employees and organizations.

What is xAPI?

xAPI is a revolutionary open source application programming interface (API), which records employee activities from a variety of programs and software.

Unlike SCORM, this software specification tracks all kinds of activities from inside and outside the LMS. It adds a beneficial communicative layer to your system, connecting the employee and the organization.

This means trackable learning is no longer confined to what happens on the LMS. xAPI lets you track employee development online and offline, as well as from other mobile devices.

From online quizzes and webinars to reading a textbook and playing educational games, xAPI captures it all and you can see everything.

xAPI works by producing simple statements, consisting of a noun, verb and object. For example, Jack has completed Basic Business Math.

The statement that’s produced lets you know what e-learning Jack has accessed and exactly when it was completed. This information is stored in the Learning Record Store (LRS). An organization can then use analytic tools to evaluate their future employee development.

All you need for xAPI to function is sources for the statements, such as an e-learning course or application. In addition, somewhere for the LRS.

How do we use xAPI?

xAPI has a variety of uses that’s made it a huge asset to businesses and organizations of all sizes.

While it doesn’t change the design or content of courses and materials, xAPI transforms the way learning experiences can be seen; data becomes knowledge that’s quantifiable and learning becomes more effective.

Integrate all Learning

Using xAPI for your LMS allows you to connect all programs and software that employees can learn from into one place. It solves the headache of disjointed data and captures everything that’s fueling development in the modern workplace.

It doesn’t matter whether the user is online or using a mobile device, organizations can track all learning and see a richer and bigger picture of employee training.

In addition, xAPI isn’t just beneficial for organizations - employees can learn anywhere and at any time, on whatever interface they choose. Flexibility in learning encourages the user to engage, allowing an employee to choose a time and location that suits them best.

The ability to track everything from attendance at a webinar to playing in a virtual world means an increased interest and engagement with learning content.

After all, there’s no doubt employees would rather play an educational game than read an e-book with the same information!

Analyze Data

Since xAPI collects and tracks all learning into one place, this allows an organization to understand data in a way SCORM never could.

Firstly, you can now see how individual employees are learning; whether they are completing that mandatory Team Working program you set or achieving satisfactory scores on the compulsory training exams.

In addition, you can see how teams and groups are working. You can see if training is effective for achieving business goals and whether employees are responding to the targets you set on the LMS.

 xAPI gives organizations the power to understand learning behavior and performance like never before. xAPI data is produced in a simple way that allows you to analyze the results.

This software specification acts as your own scientific experiment that produces quantifiable results and this means xAPI allows you to make conclusions and business decisions for the future.

Improve training and Support

With a deeper insight into employee development, organizations can now implement changes to enhance training and upgrade the support open to users.

The experiences that xAPI tracks and stores is the holy grail for future employee development and achieving overall business objectives.

For example, you notice that your business has dropped in sales this month, despite the launch of a new product. Instead of assuming that customers just don’t want to buy this month, you can use xAPI data to understand why this might be happening.

Your xAPI data may find that employees haven’t been scoring well on their customer service training. You can then draw conclusions on what the problems are before it’s too late.

xAPI data doesn’t just let you understand what’s happening within your organization, but it also lets you do something about it. You can use this information to introduce a new course focusing on How To Understand Customer Needs or prioritize a Persuasion Skills e-learning course, for example.

In addition, you can introduce feedback on the LMS to hear directly from employees and how you can improve the support open to them.

Thus, the recorded and tracked xAPI data provides you with the information your organization needs to make decisions. It lets you find effective learning solutions and improve training open to your employees to achieve overall business success.

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