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How xAPI Is Transforming Learning Measurement Strategies

This month, our partner company, Watershed, is holding a series of webinars to celebrate five years of xAPI. But what exactly is xAPI, and why is it such a major player in the transformation of learning measurement strategies?

Experience API, or xAPI as it’s now commonly referred to, was released in 2013.

During the past five years, two of our partner companies, Rustici Software and Watershed, have worked extensively to promote xAPI. They’ve supported organisations and vendors in xAPI implementation, and unblocked some of the significant technical hurdles to learning measurement.

At LEO Learning, we have understood the potential of xAPI from its beginnings. That’s why our experts now help many organisations get started on their learning measurement strategies.

xAPI and learning measurement strategies: a primer

At our recent measuring the business impact of learning workshop, we polled our group of L&D professionals on their team’s knowledge of xAPI. Surprisingly, 70% said that their team doesn’t know what xAPI is.

With that statistic in mind, here’s a quick primer on xAPI for the uninitiated.

xAPI is an elearning standard, like the more commonly known set of technical standards, SCORM. Essentially, it enables organisations to track and store meaningful data from any type of learning intervention.

This is made possible because of how xAPI was developed. The way it tracks data is based around capturing ‘I did this’ statements. For example:

  • I completed x learning programme
  • I spoke to x person about my learning goals
  • I passed this assessment
  • I watched this video on my mobile
  • I achieved x sales goals this quarter

xAPI can capture this type of data from many sources such as:

  • LMSs
  • Face-to-face training
  • Systems used in other areas of the business, such as SalesForce
  • Social platforms and communities
  • Real-world tasks and assessments
  • Mobile and microlearning

Because of this flexibility and interoperability, xAPI is often a key component of learning measurement strategies that prioritise capturing a wealth of data.

RECOMMENDED READING | 'Measuring the Business Impact of Learning: The Definitive Guide'

How xAPI has transformed learning measurement strategies

Historically, L&D teams have measured the success of their learning by gauging engagement levels (through surveys and other means), knowledge uptake (often via quizzes) and completion rates.

But the pressing goal for many, as noted by our Measuring the Business Impact of Learning Year 2 survey results, is to move beyond this more qualitative, one-off method of measuring success. Instead, L&D teams need to move to a more data-driven, continuous approach to measurement that gives demonstrable proof of learning’s impact on wider business goals.

As LEO Learning’s Piers Lea noted in the first webinar of Watershed’s series, one way to meet the ‘pressure to measure’ is with a big data approach. This means drawing data from a range of different sources which can then be analysed collectively to identify trends and insights.

This is exactly what xAPI has enabled.

Because xAPI can capture almost any type of data, it gives organisations the power to draw in data from multiple sources. This could be through more traditional methods, such as surveys, or detailed data on exactly how your learners are interacting with your content.

But for a big data approach to be effective, the business goals of the learning need to be considered upfront. Collecting lots of data without a strategy or alignment to wider business outcomes will make it difficult to identify trends and demonstrate impact.

Luckily, xAPI can also be used to pull in data, such as operational reports or sales figures, from other areas of the business. This means organisations can build those vital connections between learning solutions and business goals.

xAPI has transformed L&D’s approach to defining and implementing learning measurement strategies. It’s now simpler and quicker to take a big data approach to measurement.

Learning management strategies: xAPI, the LRS and the ecosystem

Watershed has pioneered the use of xAPI with a Learning Record Store (LRS). An LRS enables organisations to store all of their data in a single place. Watershed’s LRS also has powerful dashboard functionality which means L&D teams can easily analyse their data with reports and visualisations.

xAPI enables the LRS to connect with a vast array of other systems and digital tools. This can make the LRS the centre of a learning ecosystem which connects all of the ways employees learn. Without xAPI, it’s unlikely we’d be talking about ecosystems as much as we are at the moment.

Celebrate xAPI and its impact on learning measurement strategies

Our friends at Watershed have created a fantastic programme of webinars that showcase how xAPI has been transforming learning measurement at some major organisations.

The first webinar, hosted by Watershed’s Andrew Downes and our very own Chief Strategy Officer, Piers Lea, gave a crash course on getting started with measuring the business impact of learning.

The rest of the series features in-depth case studies from organisations such as PwC and Caterpillar, who share their personal stories of learning measurement success with xAPI.

You can access all of Watershed’s xAPI xApril webinars and accompanying resources here.

If you’d like to get started with your own learning measurement strategy, contact us today.

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