Podcast Excerpt: Learning xAPI with John Blackmon

As a guest on The Learning Experience podcast, John Blackmon, CTO of ELB Learning, takes us through all things xAPI: the history, what it does, the pieces that make it work, and the future.

The History

“xAPI came out of the ADL group, the Advanced Distributed Learning group.” They were searching for something that gave better results than an LMS, Learning Management System. Through any LMS, authoring tools can communicate with each other but “that’s a very very small language.” SCORM, xAPI, they’re “really just [languages].” It’s a language that a course uses to speak to a host. “The problem is that language consists generally of three words: … completion, score, and duration.”  

What It Does

xAPI “is a language with an infinite number of words.” It allows the courses to get “a lot more data across, and you can create new vocabulary all the time.” 

"xAPI really is limitless.”

The set of ways you can converse in xAPI is referred to as a recipe. “You create a recipe in xAPI, and that recipe, as long as you follow that recipe,… it’s a certain set of statements that you can pass across.” You can create any set of recipes.

The Pieces That Make xAPI Work

A key component to using xAPI is an LRS: a Learning Record Store. “It’s really just the backend storage mechanism.” “[It] will receive xAPI transactions, [it] will verify them, and [it] will store them.”  The LRS is essentially centralized storage, and the data being stored there can be accessed by a developer. 

The Future

The future of learning experiences is ones that are more engaging; more interesting, more succinct, and more accessible. xAPI is the way to this future, because it can track learner behavior: what parts of the content are being used and how the content is being interacted with. This allows us to easily see what content is working and what parts within the content are working. So we can easily improve our learning experiences.

To learn more about xAPI from the ELB Learning CTO, John Blackmon, listen to the full episode: Learning xAPI with John Blackmon