Demystifying xAPI: A Non-Technical Introduction

Demystifying xAPI: A Non-Technical Introduction
vansh tandon/
Summary: You’ve heard of xAPI, right? Don’t be put off by its technical front; the opportunities xAPI opens for learning teams can be revolutionary. If you care about delivering real-life impact from your learning programs, it’s time to give xAPI due consideration!

Demystifying xAPI By Explaining What It Is All About

The opportunities for using xAPI to improve learning experiences are endless, yet they are relatively untapped. The most forward-thinking L&D teams are starting to leverage the wealth of information available to them, using xAPI to make data-led decisions to increase their impact.

First, What Is xAPI?

The Experience API (xAPI) allows you to record, track, personalize, and improve learning activity, both on- and offline. With SCORM, you can track desktop-based eLearning in your LMS using relatively crude indicators such as pass or fail, completed or not completed.

But modern learning is taking place beyond the LMS – on the job, via mobile apps, in coaching conversations and more. And knowing whether someone has passed or completed an eLearning module doesn’t tell you if the learning experience has helped them. xAPI allows you to pull data together from multiple sources into a Learning Record Store (LRS), building up a more rounded, detailed picture of how individuals engage with learning.

What Does xAPI Mean For Your Learning Team?

What would you love to know about how people interact with your learning programs? What opportunities are you missing out on by not having this information? How confident are you that you’re delivering real-life impact?

4 Ways xAPI Could Help Your Team (And Your Learners!):

  • Make the link between learning and on-the-job performance.
  • Identify where learning interventions might be needed.
  • Measure the impact of blended learning programs.
  • Personalize learning experiences.

What could this look like in practice?

An Example Of xAPI

Let’s look at a sales training example. As a learning team, your objective might be to support the sales team to improve close rates.

Data sources you have at your disposal are:

  • Details about won/lost opportunities from your company CRM system, including information about the sales reps working on the deals and sales activity on each opportunity.
  • Data from mobile-based eLearning modules, accessed from your online portal.
  • Logs from call-listening and coaching sessions.

Alone, it’s hard to draw meaning from each of these data sources. By pulling it together via xAPI into an LRS, you can get a much more detailed picture. This could allow you to:

  • Identify any correlations between particular learning activities and sales performance.
  • Trigger a learning intervention based on performance data; for example, a 1-2-1 coaching session if a rep has lost 3 consecutive opportunities.
  • Give personalized learning recommendations based on how individuals engaged with learning content.

Check out three out of four more real-life xAPI examples below.

real-life xAPI examples

Is Your Learning Technology xAPI Compatible?

You should expect modern learning technologies to be developed with xAPI in mind. If you’re unsure, just ask the provider!

Elucidat’s authoring platform, for example, was designed from the outset to be xAPI compatible. As a result, you can get valuable insights into how people engage with your content. As well as accessing this data in Elucidat’s analytics dashboards, you can feed it into your LRS using xAPI to analyze it alongside other data sources.

elucidat xapi analytics

The free Everyday Guide to Learning Analytics will help you discover how you can use data to decode the “digital body language” of your audience.

Time To Get Started With xAPI?

Chances are, you could be getting a lot more insight and impact than you do right now from your learning programs.

At first look, xAPI might seem quite technical (many of the blogs out there can be quite intimidating!). But once you have grasped the concept of what xAPI offers… well, that’s something any forward-thinking learning professional can get excited about!

Learn more about xAPI here!