xAPI Governance: How do I keep my data clean? (Part 1)

xAPI Governance is a set of processes and controls to ensure the quality of your xAPI data. Good governance keeps your data tidy and makes your life easier when reporting on and using your data. This blog series covers everything you need to know, starting with the basics.

What's xAPI Governance and why is it important?

The flexibility of the xAPI specification is both its biggest strength and its greatest weakness. It’s a strength, because xAPI is flexible enough to be used to track any type of learning experience, including those that have not been invented yet. In a world of rapid technological advancement that’s a vital trait.

But it’s also a weakness because that same flexibility opens the door to variation in how xAPI data is structured and the vocabulary used to describe different tracked events. As an organization, there’s a risk that as you start to collect data from more and more sources, involving more and more different people, these kinds of variation can creep into your data, making it much harder for you to report on that data consistently.

What happens when you don’t have good xAPI governance?

A lack of good xAPI governance can lead to all kinds of challenges, confusions, and inconveniences when reporting on data. For instance, you might want to create a report filtered to show completions, but if every application uses a different verb identifier to represent completion, you could end up with a verb picker that looks like this screenshot, making it hard to know which completion is the one you really want. (NOTE: The verb IDs shown in a tooltip help a little, but only if you’re technical enough to know the ID you need.)

Other examples of problems caused by bad governance include:

  • My report says Bob completed A, but he claims he completed B instead!
  • I’m trying to report on X, but some of the data is missing!
  • I’m trying to report on X, but it appears twice in the report builder! Which should I choose?
  • I’m trying to report on this course, but all I see in my list of activities is hundreds of slides!
  • There are two completion verbs! Which is the right one?
  • I filtered my report to show completions for my course, but I don’t see any data!
  • I’m trying to combine data from two video platforms but they’ve structured their xAPI data differently! Help!

Up Next: xAPI Governance to the rescue! (Part 2)

Good xAPI governance can help you avoid these problems because it means you:

  1. Have processes and rules.
  2. Document your xAPI statements.
  3. Test, monitor, and enforce.
  4. Will be ready to fix or remove bad data.
  5. Use a flexible Learning Analytics Platform.

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eGuide: Keep your xAPI data clean

A lack of good xAPI governance can lead to challenges, confusions, and inconveniences when reporting on data. Download this free checklist to help ensure consistent xAPI data across your organization.

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