Optimizing xAPI usage through a common approach for authoring, managing, and publishing xAPI Profiles
The process for authoring, sharing, and updating xAPI profiles is cumbersome, and their use is fragmented across different communities. This creates obstacles to xAPI adoption by impeding the use of common vocabularies and limiting the creation of xAPI profiles to developers.
Develop a common xAPI Profile Server and associated authoring tools for instructional designers, developers, and anyone working with xAPI-encoded learning data.
About the Project
The overall goal of the ADL Initiative’s xAPI profile effort is to advance semantic interoperability and simplify xAPI implementation, helping to make data-driven learning accessible and impactful to practitioners and learners. xAPI profiles provide the semantic and syntactic distinction that humans and machines use to differentiate concepts for xAPI statements—the main data structure used by xAPI to describe tracked experiences. xAPI statements are a common way for describing data and their meaning in a particular context, regardless of the original source. Each xAPI profile is designed for a specific interaction type (e.g., video) or subject matter (e.g., diagnostic medicine).
The ADL Initiative developed the xAPI Profile Specification in 2017, which informed the collection of requirements and identified research objectives for the xAPI Profile Server project undertaken as the Advancing Learning Interoperability Across Systems (ALIAS) project from 2019-2020. A major outcome of ALIAS was the development of a prototype xAPI Profile Server that is designed to provide a streamlined approach for creating, validating, managing, and modifying profiles in support of widespread xAPI adoption across DoD.
The prototype capability includes discovery services and authoring tools. Ultimately, these are meant to enable a clearinghouse of xAPI profiles, shared vocabularies, and activity identifiers. This provides an efficient way to use xAPI profiles across education and training solutions, while allowing communities of practice to create shared profiles under a single, unified repository. Similarly, DoD organizations can use the Profile Server to find and modify xAPI profiles specific to their unique needs.
As part of the ALIAS project, the performer, MakingBetter, integrated a suite of xAPI workflow tools from GitHub into a dedicated website. These tools make it easier to author xAPI profiles by abstracting away much of the technical complexity for non-technical users. The authoring tools are also designed to create xAPI profiles that conform to established profile schema and formats, and the anticipated xAPI Profile Specification version 2.0.
In addition to supporting profile authoring, the xAPI Profile Server supports linked data to xAPI vocabularies, including verbs and concepts. It also creates persistent, addressable machine-readable identifiers for profiles as well as their components: activities and vocabularies.
In 2020, the ADL Initiative completed an alpha version of the xAPI Profile Server, with a beta version expected in 2021. Several existing xAPI profiles will initially be available on the server, including profiles for online courses, videos, and the Total Learning Architecture’s (TLA) Master Object Model (MOM). The offerings will also include a profile for capturing the standard data published by courseware that uses the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM®).
Before the xAPI Profile Server goes online for general use, the ADL Initiative is seeking interested DoD and Federal Government stakeholders for beta testing and evaluation. Beta testing will ensure the Profile Server can satisfy the broad array of user requirements, both within and outside the DoD environment. Contact the ADL Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org to become a beta tester.
xAPI Profile Server to Launch in 2021
December 02, 2020