Often the best way to learn about a subject is to jump in feet-first. xAPI, a standard for gathering data in experiences including learning, is no exception. A first prototype project is the route many new-to-xAPI learning experience designers use to get started. There are many reasons to choose this route: to build an initial xAPI project as a learning experience; to test the waters; or to convince others at the organization to come on board.

But getting started can feel like a daunting proposition when you see “HTTP request” this and “JSON” that, and you have no prior context to understand them or don’t know whether you even need to understand them. Let’s break it down.

Step 1: Determine your goals

xAPI can capture extremely granular information about what individuals are doing in any experience, whether they’re learning or performing. The xAPI standard makes for standardized data which can be used across platforms, tools, and experiences. The enhanced data you’ll get allows organizations to achieve several goals, for example:

  • Evaluation and improvement of the learning experience
  • Dashboards and visualizations for decision-making
  • Personalization of pathways
  • Recommendations for content
  • Action triggers and rules

Most first prototype projects are focused on evaluating and improving the learning experience. Once you’ve laid the groundwork and architecture for xAPI with your first few projects, the larger goals around personalization, recommendation, and business triggers become available to you.

Step 2: Send the data

Most early xAPI projects focus on sending data. Here are a few places you can start:

Get better data from eLearning tools

Since most instructional designers have these tools already, this is a low-cost, low-tech way to get started. All you need is an LRS (learning record store). This is a great way to explore the additional data you can glean to ascertain engagement, features usage, etc.

Make eLearning tools do things that they weren’t really designed for but can do

For instance, make a project using Storyline to create an observation checklist for learning.

Get learning data out of things that you previously couldn’t

You can use tools like SurveyGizmo, Twine, ebooks like PeBL, etc., or use Zapier to connect other apps.

Step 3: Receive the data in an LRS

  • If you already use SCORM Cloud for eLearning testing or hosting, you’ll be happy to know that you already have an LRS built in.
  • Ask your LMS vendor if they have an LRS included. If so, ask specifically if you can send data to it from outside the LMS environment.
  • If neither of the above are available to you, most LRS tools offer free trial or lite accounts to get you started.

This is a quick roadmap to get started in xAPI; to really start understanding it, you need to try it out and generate some data yourself! It doesn't need to be huge or technically complex. There are communities out there to help, like the xAPI Learning Cohort (Spring season now in session).

From the editor: Want more?

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