xAPI Profile Server to Launch in 2021
The ADL Initiative has completed an alpha version of its new xAPI Profile Server and plans to release a forthcoming beta version for user testing in the second quarter of 2021. This web-based application will support the authoring, management, and publishing of xAPI profiles. It also features user-friendly tools to make it easier for instructional developers and designers to employ xAPI profiles, to include using standardized verbs, templates, patterns, and concepts, while ensuring conformance to the xAPI profile specification and DoD data strategies.
xAPI profiles provide a template for assembling sets of xAPI statements. Each xAPI profile is designed for a specific interaction type (e.g., video) or subject matter (e.g., diagnostic medicine). While any given learning activity could involve thousands of different datapoints about a learner’s performance, an xAPI profile constrains what data are collected and in what formats. This helps designers and developers to know what to collect, and it supports interoperability—so that different systems use similar data collection schemas for related learning experiences.
“To be successful in the DoD learning ecosystem, xAPI profiles must be designed for interoperability,” said Aaron Silvers of MakingBetter, a contractor supporting the ADL Initiative on this project. “The xAPI Profile Server will support the reuse and customization of xAPI profiles already proven to work across DoD networks. With its graphical interface and designed-for-novices user experience, it will also make profile creation approachable to non-developers.”
Several existing xAPI profiles will initially be available on the server, including profiles for online courses, e-books, and simulation-based training. The initial offerings will also include a profile for capturing the standard data published by courseware that uses the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM), a popular data standard for e-learning.
Another xAPI profile to be supported is the xAPI profile for cmi5, a profile that defines how SCORM-compliant Learning Management Systems (LMSs) will communicate with xAPI-enabled e-learning activities. cmi5 serves as a bridge between xAPI (which can capture a large number of datapoints) and SCORM (which is designed to capture a smaller, more specific set of learning activity metadata).
The ADL Initiative is also developing a profile for the Master Object Model (MOM), a more abstract model intended to support the uniform and predictable exchange of xAPI data among components of the Total Learning Architecture (TLA). With the MOM profile, diverse learning activities and devices, such as flight simulators, medical training mannequins, and interactive eBooks—each of which may collect hundreds of different types of datapoints for each learner—can feed a subset of generalizable data to an organization’s Authoritative Learning Record Store (LRS). This supports a more extensive range of interoperability and is a key enabler to building a true learning ecosystem.
Beta Testers Needed
Before xAPI Profile Server goes online for general use, the ADL Initiative is seeking interested DoD and Federal Government stakeholders for beta testing and evaluation. If you’re interested in authoring, managing, or publishing xAPI profiles on the Profile Server or want to test the system for your learning applications, contact the ADL Initiative. Beta testing will ensure the Profile Server can satisfy the broad array of user requirements, both within and outside the DoD environment.
Effective learning technologies incorporate assessment, and modern systems can collect a wide variety of detailed and large-scale behavior and performance data. xAPI (short for Experience Application Programming Interface) has become the standard for encoding and sharing these data within and between learning technologies.
The xAPI Profile Server supports the latest version of the xAPI standard, version 2.0, which is nearing final approval under a process led by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Learning Technology Standards Committee. The xAPI 2.0 standard includes guidelines for xAPI data, directly, as well as xAPI profiles.
xAPI Profile Server Webinar
The ADL Initiative hosted a December 2020 webinar focused on the xAPI Profile Server. This included an overview of the alpha system and a discussion of future plans for testing and release. View more information and a recording of the webinar at Authoring xAPI Profiles with the xAPI Profile Server.