What is xAPI?

Experience API (also xAPI or Tin Can API) is a learning technology interoperability specification that makes it easier for learning technology products to communicate and work with one another. This means you can “plug and play” xAPI-implementing content, platforms, and applications into your Learning Record Store (LRS) as easily as plugging USB devices into your computer.

xAPI is different from previous interoperability specifications, such as SCORM, because it’s not limited to only tracking courses and completions. With xAPI, you can track anything the learner does—whether that’s more innovative learning experiences (such as games, videos, or mobile apps) or job tasks that put learning into practice.

Bring data from your LMS, apps, social platforms, classroom training, and real-world tasks together in one system to create comprehensive reports.

Unlike SCORM, xAPI doesn’t require you to package content into ZIP files, as you can simply host content on a server and access it via Single Sign On (SSO). Of course, you still have the option to publish and launch xAPI content packages as needed.

Components of an xAPI implementation

For any xAPI implementation, these five things need to happen:

  1. A person does something (e.g., watches a video).
  2. That interaction is tracked by an application.
  3. Data about the interaction is sent to an LRS.
  4. The data is stored in the LRS and made available for use.
  5. Use the data for reporting and personalizing a learning experience.

In most implementations, multiple learner actions are tracked by multiple applications, and data may be used in a number of ways. In all cases, there’s an LRS at the center receiving, storing, and returning the data as required.

What is an LRS?

A Learning Record Store (LRS) is a place where records about learning are stored. Within xAPI, there are specific rules that an LRS has to follow to ensure that other applications send and retrieve the records in the same way—regardless of the LRS product being used.

Watershed LRS is an xAPI-conformant LRS. It’s also a learning analytics platform and is used to present your data for learning analytics and evaluation. As such, it covers both the data storage and data usage components of your xAPI implementation.

xAPI Interaction Statements

These learning records are transmitted in the form of statements about a particular learner interaction.

You can include any data you need in an xAPI statement, but the core of all statements is in the format of actor+verb+object, or "I did something."

That's why all statements include this key information:

  • When the interaction took place
  • The learner’s unique ID
  • What the learner did
  • What the learner did it to

Learn more about xAPI statements​.

What does xAPI mean for your organization?

More and more organizations are using xAPI to connect learning technology products to build the learning ecosystems they need. When applications already support xAPI, integrations can be as simple as plug and play.

And for applications that don’t yet support xAPI, Watershed’s Data Conversion Engine and integration services will help you avoid any hurdles.

Once your learning systems are integrated and all your learning records are stored in one place, your data is perfectly primed for learning analytics. You can start exploring your data to get a clear picture of what’s happening in your organization.

Evaluate training programs and explore the reasons behind the most popular or successful training. And, once you're armed with a better understanding of those programs, you can begin to positively shape and enhance your learners’ future experiences.

How do I get started with xAPI?

Remember the five components we listed above? To get started with xAPI you’ll need at least one of each. Here's your checklist:

  1. Identify a pilot group of learners.
  2. Identify a learning activity you can track.
  3. Use a Works with Watershed Data Source to capture data about that experience.
  4. Set up an LRS to store your data.
  5. Use the data to evaluate and improve the learning activity.

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