A couple of weeks ago we discussed the new role of Learning and Development in The Future of L&D: Business Partner and Trusted Advisor. The L&D role is changing from learning provider to performance and development consultant. Most learning takes place outside of the LMS and the L&D environment, and future L&D leaders will need to help guide that learning.
Current technology enables you to capture information any experience inside or outside the LMS. You can now deliver information to a Learning Record Store (LRS), where you can allow any application you choose to access the data. The LMS is no longer the center of the learning universe. It is only one of the many technologies today’s learners use (Figure 1).
Why SCORM Is Not Enough
Twenty years ago, the internet disrupted the way we delivered training.
In the 1990s, every learning vendor had its proprietary delivery model for online training. Developing and delivering learning content was expensive and painful. To quell the chaos, the U.S. Department of Defense created the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative to create a standard for online learning delivery. The result was the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM). It gave us a standard for packaging and delivering learning content to an individual learner using a browser connected to an LMS. It also gave us the ability to send limited tracking data back to the LMS.
SCORM has served faithfully for 20 years. It is now the most widely used learning distribution method in the world. But it is designed only for using a web browser through an LMS. SCORM can’t meet the needs of today’s learning organization, where most learning takes place outside the LMS.
If we apply the 70-20-10 model, 80% of learning takes place outside the LMS. If we are to meet the future, the way we approach learning data must change.
Development of xAPI
An Application Programming Interface (API) is a standard for connecting applications. It simplifies the process so IT doesn’t have to build a custom program every time we need to connect systems. It has become so standardized that almost every business application has plug-in APIs to connect to other enterprise applications. If you use technology, you use APIs every day.
xAPI, also known as Tin Can or Experience API, is a specific API standard built to capture human experiences in a format both machines and people can read. At its most basic, it is a simple statement:
Actor > Verb > Object (Activity), or Jane completed a quiz.
This Statement API allows you to create and retrieve statements about an experience. Each of the elements is extensible, meaning you can define other information to describe it.
Any activity that occurs in an application can be stored in the LRS and made available to any other application. For example, a mentor can use a mobile app to record a meeting in a few seconds without typing. Now every learning and performance activity, formal or informal, is available for recording and analysis (Figure 2).
The xAPI standard does not replace SCORM. SCORM packages and delivers content,but xAPI captures experiences. To modernize content delivery, the industry is working on a new standard called cmi5. It is the framework for communication of formal learning between your LMS and the LRS.
Until recently, xAPI was for developers only, but we have many software tools now to enable business users to create xAPI statements. Many courseware development tools are xAPI-ready, and there are several LRS providers to choose from.
We can also add an integration layer on an existing LMS to make it easy to connect your xAPI applications and LRS.
The insights that xAPI integration can give into your learning were not possible until now. You can gain a better understanding of your mentoring programs, capture how social learning happens in your enterprise, and integrate all the ways people learn and perform on the job. The opportunity to meld learning and performance has never been better.
Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.