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?

Keep your xAPI data consistent.

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.)

Good xAPI Governance

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)

What is xAPI Governance?

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.

We’ll look at each of these items in separate blog posts during the next few weeks, starting with the importance of having processes and rules. Sign up for our Product & Tech blog so the next post is delivered straight to your inbox.

Andrew Downes

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.