Why is xAPI the future of learning analytics now?
Learning technology is advancing at full throttle now. The companies are indeed making the best use of innovations in elearning to get the maximum reach of employees.
XAPI(Experience API) helps a company collate data about an employee’s learning behavior.
The best part about experience API is that the data about the learning behavior of employees can be recorded from several devices such as mobile phones, games, and simulations instead of just an LMS. So even if an employee browsed a website on his Mobile phone, it gets into the record in an LRS (Learning Record Stores).
The XAPI technology is open source, and it can be downloaded from the internet, and any device can be empowered with it. So when a company has implemented xAPI, it does not have to depend on an LMS to track its learner’s activities. They can be tracked on a desktop PC or even a Gamification app, whatever software product on such devices supports xAPI.
The LRS works like a server and stores the xAPI data where the data related to the learning activity of an employee is stored. So every device which uses the xAPI technology sends all the activities of a learner to the LRS in the form of statements.
The LRS can not only store xAPI statements about an employee but can also be used to extract these statements by an xAPI device to learn about an employee’s learning preferences in terms of gadgets.
So once one system with xAPI has collected such data from LRS about an employee’s learning patterns, it can show something similar to him.
Difference between an LMS and an LRS
The LMS can track the learner’s formal learning activities, i.e., how much time he spends on this platform, but an LRS makes sure that whatever he does as a part of his learning is captured. So use an LRS to ensure that the user is shown relevant content on an LMS because all his non-LMS learning activities are tracked. All the learning activities on the LMS can be sent to an LRS to help the user with his informal learning activities. Hence LMS vendors are providing LRS inbuilt in such systems.
What kind of non-LMS learning activities can be monitored by the xAPI?
The XAPI data storage and retrieval requests to and from the LRS can come from three learning devices, including non-launched learning activities that don’t happen on the internet. For example, someone who reads a book can store the learning activity by using an app that allows one to scan its barcode.
The second kind of activity includes launched learning activities through intranet or social media where an LMS is not used for uploading elearning content; rather, it is shared via the former mediums.
The third learning platforms include elearning systems like mobile apps. xAPI data helps the content creators know what kind of learning content employees prefer. So, even an LMS can send the data retrieval requests to the LRS to know how users cope with elearning content published on the former platform.
Use of a bookmarklet
For example, an employee might Google something after going through them on an LMS because he might not be able to comprehend something or wants to learn further. In that case, his activities on the browser can also be tracked when a bookmarklet plugin is installed on his browser. All his browsing activities are communicated and stored on the LRS.
However, the user has to bookmark the websites he visited, which he found useful to boost his learning to get his informal learning experiences recorded in an LRS.
So, when the bookmarklet is attached to a browser, the user can send XAPI data about all his activities, like whether he opened a CRM or a social media platform, or an email program on the browser. Once enabled, the bookmarklet will allow the user to send actor, voice, and object statements about his activities, such as whether he finished reading an email.
So an organization knows what the user is doing as per his informal learning activities, and he can be encouraged. It also exposes the weaknesses of the formal training, i.e., elearning content or the technology used in its delivery.
Hence with an LRS, better ROI is provided to elearning buyers
With so many businesses now implementing elearning products for their employees and other stakeholders, they need relevant data about the utility. Hence elearning vendors need to provide more detailed data with SCORM. With XAPI, if a business has implemented an app, it can also get the learner’s usage data.
Once the businesses have detailed reports about how many learners interacted with the product, they feel satisfied. With xAPI enabling storage and retrieval of such learning data, creating such reports for buyers is feasible for elearning vendors.
Shortcomings of SCORM
- Not accessible in offline mode: One shortcoming of SCORM is that you can’t track any learning data of the user when he is surfing the content of the LMS in an offline mode. In XAPI, regular connectivity with the LMS is not required; it can also be intermittent to store a user’s activities. When a connection is rebuilt, all his offline activities are transmitted to the LRS.
- Not usable on mobile phones: A second shortcoming is that SCORM can’t be used to track the user’s activities on a mobile elearning app. This is a major problem for businesses whose employees use smartphones to learn a course.
- Can’t report multiple test results: xAPI is more advanced than SCORM because when you have several quizzes in your elearning module, you want to see the user’s sores for every one of them. But SCORM can only report the scores for one quiz, which is quite a limitation for the elearning vendors and their clients.
Hence, xAPI is a better reporting technology than SCORM.