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Summary from I/ITSEC xAPI PlugFest 2014

December 27, 2014

I should say up front, that I had never heard of I/ITSEC prior to starting to work for ADL Initiative.  I've been an instructional designer and developer for some time and have checked a few of the major conferences off my "must see" list.  Still, those didn't prepare me for the sheer size of this event.

Look for a future article about why instructional designers should definitely take the opportunity to experience the I/ITSEC expo floor at least once.  But for now, let's just focus on the xAPI PlugFest held at I/ITSEC this year.

For a while now, many of us have been talking a lot about what the xAPI can do. While this is helpful, there's really no substitute for having a live demo to poke with a sharp stick. The xAPI PlugFest at I/ITSEC is our latest attempt to stop talking and simply showcase the real performance support solutions that xAPI adopters have already released into the wild. We invited eight organizations to come down to Orlando, FL and demo what they've been working on.

Of course, we weren't going entirely mum. No one but Tom Creighton subsists on a diet of learning event scrutiny and JSON, so we wanted to make sure that everyone was on board before the afternoon's anticipated demos. Andy Johnson, Jono Poltrack, Jason Haag and I led the crowd through an overview of the xAPI's history, purpose, and specification.

Tom Creighton and Lou Wolford talked about ADL Initiative's learning record store (LRS), as well as the SCORM®-to-xAPI wrapper, which allows SCORM® content to export xAPI statements.

Before we paused for lunch, Jono returned to the stage to explain the SCORM®-to-xAPI Roadmap.

I think the SCORM®-to-xAPI Roadmap is the most important innovation for helping both instructional designers and learning management system engineers understand how (and whether) to get started with xAPI. We at ADL Initiative plan to build out and promote this guide more in 2015, so be on the lookout for more in coming months.

After lunch, we got down to the business of showing off xAPI applications.

  • Megan Torrance of Torrance Learning showed off her firm's xAPI Hyperdrive-winning RFID tag xAPI solution for tracking student activities in a children's science museum.
  • Mike Hruska of Problem Solutions showcased the Interoperable Performance Assessment (IPA) , which leverages data mined via the xAPI to assess performance and increase training effectiveness.
  • Oscar Marin and Daniel Pfeiffer of Float Mobile Learning demoed both an HTML5 game that exports xAPI game play statements and a smart PDF platform that allows interactions with the text (annotations, inquiries, etc.) to be tracked via xAPI. Speaking for ADL Initiative, I know that we're curious to see the controlled vocabulary used by Float for its application and to see how it compares to that of the existing Ebook xAPI Community of Practice.
  • John Costa of RePubIt and Atsusi Hirumi of the University of Central Florida talked about the confluence of simulations and ebooks via xAPI.
  • Nick Washburn of Riptide Software showed off two xAPI applications: a social collaboration platform that uses the xAPI to track interactions, and the REAPER project, a system to data mine live training firing ranges and roll up performance data for student and instructor evaluation.
  • Harvey Singh of Instancy showed off his ever-expanding ecosystem of xAPI-enabled applications, including LRS-to-LRS communication structures and an authoring tool.
  • Milt Reder, Jason Lewis, and Shelly Blake-Plock of Yet Analytics showcased an array of xAPI applications, including an Android Wear device that tracked heart rate and steps via xAPI, and a flight simulator which instantly reported altitude and crash data to an xAPI learning record store.
  • Our very own Mick Muzac and Steven Vergenz showed off their ADL xAPI Dashboard, which enables low-fuss data visualization pulling from xAPI data.

A final noteworthy event at the PlugFest was Ben Clark's (Rustici Software) announcement of the xAPI LRS Conformance Test Suite, which is an important step toward validation of xAPI platforms.

In all, the xAPI PlugFest definitely achieved its goal of getting solutions in front of the people. Perhaps more helpful in the long run was the chance for more xAPI adopters to see each others' demos live and to exchange notes. This PlugFest was a great way to close out a fruitful year of discussion and to kick off a 2015 that will bring many new xAPI milestones.


  1. xAPI PlugFest was great. You should have been there – we really missed you.
  2. Looking for resources?
  3. Many xAPI implementations were demoed, and both the SCORM®-to-xAPI Roadmap and the xAPI LRS Conformance Test Suite were publicized and explained.
  4. You missed out on the spec working group meeting (a.k.a. xAPI Roundtable and Coffee Hour) the next morning…

Not able to make the PlugFest? Looking for a way to get started with xAPI? Here are a few ways to get involved:

  • Jump right in. Curious about xAPI, but not sure where to begin? Start by getting your hands dirty – visit the xAPI project.
  • Help us develop best practices for using xAPI in your area of expertise. Check out the xAPI Communities of Practice Directory.
  • Shape the future of the specification. Comfortable with advocating the future of learning technology specifications? Interested in privacy issues, universal standards and clean pull requests? Check out the xAPI Specification GitHub Site or on our weekly calls as we delve into the minutiae of the specification.

Have questions? Looking for more? Seeking to defend the honor of liberal arts majors? Let me know at