There’s no doubt there was an xAPI buzz at DevLearn this year. The pre-conference xAPI Camp was a resounding success, vendors promoting related products were swamped on the expo floor, and there were so many sessions that it was impossible to attend them all—even if you went to nothing else. This is a really exciting time for our industry!
What was especially interesting to see was, that while many of the sessions got bogged down in technical jargon—such as “xAPI statements,” “JSON,” and “API code libraries”—there was a clear thread of people doing awesome things without the jargon. Also called the Experience API, this standard allows you to plug and play learning technologies from different vendors without having to understand how it all works. In the same way you can simply plug your phone into your laptop and transfer files without even knowing about the USB standard, we’re starting to see the same thing happening in learning and development with the Experience API.
DevLearn attendees saw this demonstrated clearly with xAPIgo, when 13 vendors collaborated to demo a single learning ecosystem of connected products. Attendees completed various activities at different booths and saw all the data reported on in Watershed. While some of the activities involved custom code written by vendors, many activities relied solely on built-in plug-and-play functionality to seamlessly connect.
Our list of certified data sources is another initiative designed to make implementation as easy as possible. We’ve personally vetted the products on this list to make sure they are easy to connect and send accurate, detailed data about learning activities. There’s no need to write code or understand the technical intricacies of the API; just plug in these products and start collecting data.
Of course, there will always be technical talks at conferences, especially conferences such as DevLearn. There will always be people who want to geek out and build things themselves. That’s great. But if you’re the kind of person who just wants it all to work, then that’s great too. You can skip the technical talks and attend things such as case studies by organizations building next-generation learning ecosystems. Leave the technical integration to your vendors and focus on masterminding and implementing your learning strategy.
About the author
As one of the authors of xAPI, Andrew Downes has years of expertise in data-driven learning design. With a background in instructional design and development, he’s well versed in creating learning experiences and platforms in corporate and academic environments.
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