Let’s be honest, technical specifications are generally about as uncool as you can get.
In a world of VR headsets, augmented reality and wearables, technical specifications shouldn’t really get a look in. Which is what makes the xAPI’s rise to prominence even more spectacular. (We’ve seen a doubling in enquiries related to xAPI in the last 3 months alone.)
To recap, xAPI as a technology on its own does little for you: It is not a server you use; a social media tool you deploy or even a database that you store stuff in.
‘xAPI’ is simply the name we give to a standard way of talking about our experiences, using data. That doesn’t make it a standard either by the way; it is literally a technical specification. A 150-page document at that.
But when we follow this document in producing learning experiences, a remarkable thing happens:
- Our data becomes portable
- It becomes somewhat easier to get systems working together
- And it makes swapping out one vendor for another practically seamless
Now that might not seem like a big deal, but I can assure you, if you want your VR headset to talk to your Fitbit, it is. And forget the future; xAPI is already enabling folks to do jobs that seemed impossible just 12 months ago, like to migrate away their LMS, or to improve student retention, or to give a practical method to ‘doing’ performance support.
So maybe it’s time to get a peek behind the curtain and work out what you could be doing to exploit this wonderful, wordy, document. Lucky for you, there are three back-to-back events throughout April that will help you do just that…
Jisc Vendor Open Day
Their Open Analytics Framework is enabling universities and colleges up and down the country to adopt learning analytics to improve student retention and achievement.
Right now, student activity data in the system is conveyed using the xAPI. This has meant xAPI-enabling some serious systems; Moodle and Blackboard Learning Management Systems (LMSs), Tribal Student Insights and Unicon/Marist’s Early Alert System are just some of the tools already working with xAPI in the framework. Of course, we’re there too, powering the data warehouse that sits at the heart of the Framework using Learning Locker.
Now Jisc is looking to open up the framework to get more vendors and more tools involved in the ecosystem. This free, invitation-only event will give vendors of tools that could potentially make use of xAPI data a chance to see what’s been happening so far and to understand how to enable their systems to work with xAPI in the near future.
xAPI Camp, Jisc
Friday, April 21 – London | The xAPI Camp movement has been making its way around North America for the last 12 months, showcasing the very best of how xAPI is enabling organisations better understand learner experience. Now Aaron and Megan are bringing their show over the Atlantic, landing in London for xAPI Camp Jisc.
This one-day event will allow implementers and potential implementers of xAPI to get to grips with the specification and understand the use cases people are already exploiting.
You’ll hear from some of the original writers of the specification about their intents, hopes and dreams for the specification. You’ll hear from case studies of organisations that have connected systems together, proven impact on performance and delivered tangible bottom-line benefits to their organisations. And you’ll get to meet a network of other people who are looking to exploit xAPI for a wide range of educational and corporate training reasons.
LAK Conference & Hackathon
April 24-29 – Edinburgh | As if the first two events weren’t enough, over the weekend we’ll decamp to Scotland in advance of the world’s leading forum on Learning Analytics and Knowledge, LAK16.
On the Monday and Tuesday, LAK will be hosting a Hackathon event based around exploiting the xAPI. Students, coders, teachers and professors will gather together for two-days of challenges, aiming to produce new innovations and demonstrations of xAPI use in the academic world.
This will all of course seamlessly segue into the LAK16 conference itself, where a wide-range of topics including xAPI will be presented and debated by some of the world’s big learning data thought-leaders.
For those of you that can’t make it to the April events, we’ll be exhibiting and delivering a number of talks that look at xAPI and big data at the Learning Solutions and Ecosystems Conference and Expo in Florida (March 16-18). You can find out more about what we’re up to on our event page, or for a more in-depth look at how we’re using xAPI – get in touch.
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