For many L&D professionals, keeping up with the technology curve is half the fun. Since 2011, we’ve been hearing about Tin Can, now know as the Experience API, or xAPI. No longer just a shiny new object that everyone just scratches their head about, we’re starting to see actual use cases and implementations that show this technology is on the rise. In this post, we’ll take a quick look at three uses cases for xAPI to get your wheels turning on how you may be able to take advantage of it in your programs.
xAPI is a software specification that essentially provides organizations with the ability to track data and pull robust reports to measure learning progress and movement by integrating with a database - either externally or located within the LMS. By doing so, organizations are able to gather more information about their learners, their content, and their processes. Analytics is everything these days and xAPI opens up a big wide door into that world.
Launch training without launching the LMS
There are a number of ways in which xAPI can be implemented that will immediately benefit the organization, but - perhaps more importantly - the learners. One way is that it allows a learning module or course to be opened without having to launch and log-in to the LMS first. You may be able to even leave the LMS out of the equation!
For example, if an employee is working in your organization’s order entry system and they click the “help” button, the Experience API could automatically pop open the appropriate training module or help section that has the relevant information. Learning assets built right into the tools put training content at the moment of need and provide a much easier user experience than having to log-in to the LMS and then search for the appropriate instructional content. And it has the added benefit of being able to capture significantly more data. We can know who the users are, what role they are in, how long they’ve been in their position and much, much more. We also know exactly what parts of the training they accessed, how long they watched a video and more details. Now, imagine feeding this information back into your product development roadmap and onboarding programs to make your systems more effective.
We have a client partner using xAPI with an LRS to provide this type of solution for their customers. So keep in mind that xAPI also opens things up for consumer-facing product education where you don’t want to put your customers through an LMS at all, but you still want to track their learning activity and tie that back to their product usage (and even their buying habits of that product).
Evaluating scenario-based training
xAPI can also be used to get a much more in-depth view of a learner’s knowledge and skill level especially when using it with interactive or scenario-based modules. Where SCORM data is limited to things like completion and results of formal assessments or quizzes, xAPI gives the ability to track just about anything in a learning experience. For example, imagine that learners are taking a sales training course and are presented a scenario regarding what products and services to recommend to a prospective customer. While SCORM might tell us if the learner passed the quiz and recommended the right solution, xAPI can provide a much more granular audit trail of how they came to that decision -- did they access reference documents before making a decision, did they view the tutorial or just jump right in and make a decision. You get the idea. This level of detail, can provide the training professional with a great roadmap for creating more effective training, and it also has the potential to give a line manager significant insight into how their employee approaches decision-making.
Making training smart
Today, so much of elearning is launched in a self-contained “black box”. If we want gamification or other interactions, we’re dependent on our authoring tools and LMS. With xAPI, we can make the content itself “smart.” What we mean is that we can send and receive data on a page, opening up a world of possibility. For example, we can include real-time polls and data responses within a training experience where the results can become a part of the program. By implementing certain protocols, learners will be able to answer questions or polls within their elearning modules, but instead of being fed a generic piece of information or statistic on the next screen (i.e. research shows that 60% of people love chocolate ice cream) they’ll be able to see actual data from other users about their poll responses immediately (i.e. 30% of people prefer vanilla, 30% prefer strawberry, and only 40% of people prefer chocolate). Even more powerful is the ability to personalize an experience based on a previous response or based on input pulled in from external sources. One of our favorite examples is an online marriage counselling course we created that tailored each spouse's experience based on how their partner responded to questions about the relationship.
This type of real-time information not only helps organizations to know what users are finding helpful or what they’re consistently finding difficult, but also creates opportunities for learners to feel more involved with their learning and appreciate that they’re getting real-time, relevant information feedback.
Now that we’ve filled you in on some of the great ways to use xAPI, check out our recorded webinar 5 things you can do with xAPI that will change your life and get inspired!