Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tin Can / xAPI, Training and Learning Architecture, and other goodies

So Tin Can API / xAPI / Experience API is maturing.
I'm starting to see the beginnings of some functionality I can use.
Not quite yet, but it is getting close.

I stopped by the Saltbox booth to talk to John, the CEO.

As I kinda guessed, much of the work in the space is still modeled after LMSs and tracking.
Being able to produce content that is Tin Can / xAPI friendly isn't really the issue anymore.  Storyline and Captivate 7 both do that (among other tools).  The real issue is in the reading of the API and being able to pull that information.

Learning Record Stores (LRSs) are specifically designed to do that. It requires having content that produces xAPI statements. If I produce it myself using my standard development tools, that's fine.  But I'm more interested in stuff that I don't produce.  Stuff where people are finding information that are not necessarily "courses". Stuff that isn't specifically designed to be xAPI compliant.

The promising technology (to me) is the connectors.  Plugins that will allow me to  track information from a wide array of our systems (SharePoint, WordPress, Drupal) in xAPI.  NOW we are talking a compelling scenario that will encourage me to think about creating a Learning Record Store in our environment. 

The big however....

The Data Whisperer and I are working towards putting the outputs of the elements of our Learning Ecosystem (the LMS to start) into our Business Intelligence ecosystem.  That is going to have to take first priority.  By focusing on that, I am able to leverage a wide array of data from a bunch of disparate systems and APIs.  Not just pre-defined "learning" content or items that output in a specific format. 

Where a separate LRS could be really useful to me is in the creation of a portable transcript for our staff learners.  Making visible what it is he/she is learning and working towards mastery of.  In and of itself - that can stay in Business Intelligence.  Putting it in a format where the staffer can take it with them when they leave our organization (or even visit elsewhere as a visiting professor) - that's where the LRS could be most useful.  Unfortunately, I don't see that functionality as a particularly high priority.

Let's see how the environment matures in the next year.  I think we may be one year out from being able to start looking at including an LRS and xAPI connectors as tools in my toolbox. 
Of even more interest to me is some of the work ADL is doing on Training and Learning Architecture.

(Thanks Craig!)

This is where they (ADL, Problem Solutions, Rustici, and other people playing in the xAPI space) are starting to crystallize some of the earlier thinking around portable transcripts and learner identity, learner experience tracking, content as service and competency networks.

I look forward to seeing how this Architecture initiative evolves.

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