What Is xAPI (Tin Can)?

What Is xAPI (Tin Can)?
Summary: xAPI, otherwise known as Tin Can, is an acronym for Experience Application Programming Interface. Its development in 2013 brought a major change in the eLearning cycle.

Next Trend xAPI

Have you ever imagined the possibility of having a secured system that could make learning more effective by keeping an eye on students' learning activities? Finally, you have an answer in xAPI.

Tech savvies have watched it grow into an all-inclusive solution for both agelong and emerging challenges associated with eLearning. But before trying it out, you should know how it works and what changes (good and bad) are likely to result in the process. So in this article, you'll learn all you need to know about xAPI.

eLearning: What It Was Like In 2010

As far back as 2010, eLearning had quite a few issues to fix regarding mobile and cloud learning. Among other issues, no one could use SCORM on a smartphone. So even if all you needed was only five-minute access, you'd got to have a computer with an internet connection. You can imagine how frustrating it was.

Nothing that looked like SCORM was working to bridge this gap. There were many problems the system needed to address. Some of them were:

  • Developing eLearning mobile apps
  • Incorporating offline learning into the system
  • Enhancing the security architecture of the network
  • eLearning games and simulations

How Exactly Does xAPI Work?

An xAPI is used in describing a client entity, also called an activity provider, which generates the API statement and a Learning Record Store (LRS) endpoint that receives and stores a statement in a database. The activity provider here could be the LMS, game, simulator, or medical device. The xAPI statement is usually transmitted at the same time that the action is carried out or even at a later time when the network is restored.

LRS As A Centre Of All Your Learning Activities

The major point in every xAPI ecosystem is a cloud repository that stores all experiences connected to it from the activity provider. This storage is called the Learning Record Store. Unlike an LMS that performs functions like managing users and contents, providing courses to learn, and storing learning data, a Learning Record Store does not do any of this. It isn’t even designed to do any of this. It only receives and stores statements in one list while offering reports and learning analytics. So the LRS is just a database for learning activities. The LRS can be a stand-alone system placed in the cloud or be incorporated into an LMS within the same domain.

Key Learning Activities That Can Be Tracked

Unlike other predecessors, xAPI can track any activity virtually that learners may undertake, like reading, interaction, and watching videos. It does not just offer points and progress percentages. Primary activities that can be tracked by xAPI include the following:

  • Video parts skipped by a learner during the economy course
  • Physical buttons pressed on a plane simulator during takeoff
  • Tools used first in a VR simulation of a neurosurgery procedure
  • Heart rate and geolocation data of a runner who is preparing for a marathon

What Devices Are Supported

xAPI was created to support all devices with access to the internet and provide a high level of interoperability between learning activities and the reporting system. This implies that it provides support for phones, tablets, and other devices.


xAPI was created as the next-generation version of SCORM. However, in real life, there are a few differences between the two. While xAPI can be used in tracking all learning activities and steps made, SCORM, on the other hand, is designed for packaged courses with quizzes as the primary assessment tool.

In addition, while SCORM describes the course structure and packaging, xAPI doesn’t. This was intentionally not included in the xAPI specification because a single sign-on mechanism can be used to get learners from one system to another. xAPI is specifically used in tracking data on LRS, where you can analyze your data and create reports.

You need an eLearning agency to lead you in this complicated jungle, where too many tools and options are offered and available. Do not hesitate to talk with your Instructional Designer.

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