How I learned more about xAPI

I think the first reference to xAPI that i remember, was about 2 years ago.  Then it was still referred to as TinCan API.  I googled and read a little about it at Rustici software’s blog site on TinCan API.   But that was as far as I got, I didn’t have a use case or a group of similarly interested people.   while the idea of tracking learning activities outside an LMS sounded interesting, I didn’t have the resources to do anything with it.

Fast forward a year.  New job, technology progresses.

My new boss was frustrated.  So many people in the company were creating content that was obviously learning; webinars, vimeo videos,  mobile gamified quizzes, even documents on sharepoint and all of these were outside the LMS.  How do you determine ROI for training when 1) you can’t track all of the learning that you support, and 2) you don’t have access to performance data?

I remembered that initial foray into xAPI.  That would solve the problem.  If only, I could pitch the idea and figure out how to implement it.  I started researching.

Rustici’s site was a great jumping off point, but I needed more.

I found http://learnxapi.com/ signed up and read and watched a number of great resources.

I considered an xAPI bootcamp, but as an added cost to Learning Solutions, it wasn’t in the budget.

Then I found the ADL site, the initiators of the xAPI specification. They had free xAPI cohorts to learn and create learning solutions using xAPI. But, they stopped offering the cohorts the previous year. Thank you Torrence learning who picked up where ADL left off. I signed up for the Spring 2016 xAPI Learning Cohort and really started to get my feet under me. Working with a team of similarly interested people I helped come up with a use case to set up as many xAPI enabled learning activities as possible and send the statements to our LRS (a free SCORM Cloud account).

At Learning Solutions I met Ben Betts and Craig Taylor who offer a free MOOC Learn xAPI using their own LRS, learning locker as a test site for sending and receiving statements.

Am I ready to conquer the world with xAPI? Not yet, but I’m on my way. My boss is a convert to the idea, we have started to spread the word about how this new technology will solve our business needs and we are brainstorming initial test cases.

Follow some of these links and see what you can learn!

xAPI code in action

This week I watched Increase the Value of Your eLearning with HTML5 and xAPI with James Kingsley from the e-Learning Brothers.

This was exactly the piece I felt like I was missing from understanding how xAPI statements GET made.  Most of the webinars, white papers and blogs I’ve ‘experienced’ have described the components of the xAPI code, but left out how to get the code to actually work.  James showed his end product, a web page created with bootstrap with 3 types of content each triggering a different type of xAPI statement.  Here’s what I learned:

  1. You must have a data call ‘trigger’ in the html anchor tag which ‘calls’ the xAPI statement you require.
  2. If you have something more complicated than a simple click>experience xAPI call, you will probably need to know some javascript or jQuery to make the xAPI statement trigger
  3. If you are having your actors sign on using oAuth access (pulling from existing google, facebook, twitter, etc accounts), you must have code to ask each account for the information you need.

Ultimately, if you are creating an xAPI enabled activity you will need 3 parts to enable your statements to be sent.  This is how it works.

xAPI in action

The Actors in xAPI

I have read many blog posts, heard a number of presentations and watched a number of YouTubes about how the code of xAPI works.

At it’s heart, it is simple.  An Actor, A Verb and An Object.
Bob Completed Drag and Drop Activity.

In practice, it is a little more complicated.

If you are doing the coding, there can be all sorts of extras that can be added to this simple statement.  This is a great thing, it will allow you to add all sorts of information that could be important to the learning activity.  Things like location (added to the Object), different types of security protocols for Actors, and Verbs translated into multiple languages or nuanced for different interactions.  To read more in highly technical speak that I’m still wading through read the ADL xAPI Spec

If you aren’t doing the coding things can still be tricky.  In my last post, I had H5P do the heavy lifting of coding the basic structure of the xAPI statement.  The Verb is coded into the content type as is the Object.  I didn’t need to make any changes.  But the Actor.  That was tricky.  The actor is coded into the statement, but it is a variable, and when an unknown user launches the activity, an error message appears and though data is sent, it is not connected to an actual user.

Anonymous users 729 and 490

anon 729 anon user 490

Actor names will be important.  If you are a provider of content or a learning professional, you want to track who is using your content and if they are making learning gains.  If you are working on your own professional development, you will want to track your personal learning back to a central e-mail or account.

For the xAPI LearnPress project, I have added a Membership Services Plug-in to create user accounts that will allow logging of individual Actors on posts that include content that send xAPI statements.  To see the result, revisit the Content types post.

I will add a how to in the next post…

All Content Types are not created equally

In my last post I created my first H5P content.  It was intended to send xAPI statements to the SCORM Cloud.  Alas, it did not…

So I went into trouble shooting mode.

  1. Was it the Settings on the LRS feed?   Cold
  2. Was it the Authentication settings for the Activity Provider in the LRS?  Cold
  3. Was it the fact I don’t have a sign-on for my WordPress?  Cold
  4. Was it a setting in H5P that I needed to set up?  Warmer
  5. Was it the type of activity I created?   Red Hot

In fact, some of the Content Types can send xAPI statements and some still sadly can’t.  For more check out this new H5P course presentation

xAPI requires an Actor to send statements.  This is YOU!  Please login…

 

The statements that have been collected from this activity in the LRS are more complex than SCORM allows.  And it also tracks time and interactions with the content.

statements2

xAPI MOOC with HT2

To help with my xAPI project, I realize I need more technical prowess.  Now I am at the technically dangerous stage.  I know enough to set up easy activities.  Things that don’t require me to change code much.  I also don’t have an LRS set up.

I met the HT2 team Ben Betts and Craig Taylor at the Learning Solutions 2016 meeting in Orlando.  Craig clued me into their MOOC offerings for xAPI.  Ben is a visionary in the xAPI community and  is the main driver on HT2’s Learning Locker.  HT2 Learning offers MOOCs on their Curatr social learning platform, as well as offering Learning Locker, one of a handful of open source LRS options.

May 12, 2016, they are starting a new MOOC about xAPI.  After registering and looking at the course, it seems a perfect fit.  There are 2 tracks, one an overview of what xAPI can do and a technical track.  I’m in!

xAPI + WordPress = xAPI LearnPress Project

There are many ways to start the xAPI ball rolling.  My first test case was with a group called the xAPI learning cohort.  We were/are (until May 12, 2016) testing multiple ways and locations to start creating different types of learning experiences and send the data to an LRS (Learning Record Store) to record the experiences of the learners.

Today I started my own project.  WordPress+H5P content plug-in+H5P xAPI plug-in+LRS=  xAPI LearnPress Project.

Join me for the project journey.