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The xAPI Overview

Many learning experiences in the modern world occur outside of a Learning Management System (LMS) and a web browser. The Experience API (xAPI) specification is flexible. It releases us from the constraints of only being able to track web-based formal learning; in addition, it is capable of tracking informal learning, social learning, and real world experiences. Example learning activities that can be tracked include reading an article, watching a training video, participating in a virtual world with augmented reality or simulation, using a mobile application, or having a conversation with a mentor.

When a learner completes a learning activity, a simple human and machine readable activity statement is generated in a < actor >< verb >< object > format. Previous technologies require programming knowledge to understand the data, but with the activity statement format anyone in the learning process can interpret it. These statements are validated by and stored in a Learning Record Store (LRS).

The data stored in the LRS is interoperable. Learning data from any system (e.g., LMSs, Human Resource Systems, Training Management Systems, and Gradebook Applications) can be captured. Third party reporting systems are able to access and query the data to create analytics and visualizations. This is not possible with an LMS alone. Example analytics that may be generated include how many times a learner attempted a question, how long a learner took to answer a question, or if a learner watched the introductory video and how that affected the overall score on the assessment. Analytics can be captured at the learner and/or group level. Learning designers and managers can use this information to make informed decisions, create more personalized learning, or modify their assessments, resulting in increased learner performance and an improvement in the overall learning experience.

xAPI is adaptable and can be used to augment almost any performance assessment situation. It is currently being used for many LMSs, museums, flight simulators, firing ranges, and emergency medical services.

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