Integrating xAPI into a Learning Ecosystem Using Moodle LMS

By March 13, 2017Blog

This post is authored by Mike Hruska, President and CEO of Problem Solutions. For the last 8 years, Mike and his team have been stewarding the efforts at the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative on the Experience API (xAPI). Mike’s experience spans the continuum between advanced research on adaptive learning ecosystems and solution/product design.

The place where learning and technology intersect should be the greatest space on earth. But many times, we are stuck with the same old things being delivered in the same old way. Frankly, there is not enough “awesome” happening at this intersection. There is a bunch of data that is created, but it evaporates quickly and hardly ever finds utility or use.

We need to make awesome and useful things for our learners. But what do our learners really want? Modern learners want just-in-time experiences, right-time experiences, and just enough content and support. They have been trained to want things like Amazon, intuitive products that provide suggestions based on past behaviors… Similarly, learners want education that acts like GPS – a system that knows where you currently are, where you are going, and how to get you there in the fastest way possible by using all available data.

Have you heard of 70-20-10? The Center for Creative Leadership has suggested that this ratio illustrates the types of learning that are most influential for learners.  The idea is that 10% of learning is formal, 20% informal and 70% experiential.  eLearning platforms fall into the formal learning category, covering only 10% of the educational experience. That’s a good start, but we have more distance to cover!

The good thing is that the 70-20-10 rule makes sense. The unfortunate fact is there are not many out-of-the-box tools that show you how to measure the whole learning experience, all 100% of it.  Moreover, in order to measure the whole experience, you’ll need a number of solutions working together in an ecosystem-like fashion. This is where the Experience API or xAPI comes in.

Welcome the Experience API…  At Problem Solutions, we have been working with the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative for over 8 years to bring the xAPI into existence.  We started dreaming of learning ecosystems and data lakes and helped to develop this space and spec.  This is a place where rather than like Big Brother, “little brother-like” technology-enabled systems collect data to help you by empowering systems to adapt to the learner’s needs.  Our belief was that systems needed to be more like those rock star teachers we had when we admired teachers. Remember your best teacher?  What learning system have you experienced that did anything like what they did for you?

Our industry needs a new way to unlock the power of data to make our learners high-five us.  Data is essential to the future of this industry.  If we want to unlock the power of data, we need to collect meaningful data along the continuum of learner development.  Most importantly, we need to know how to use that data.

The Experience API enables systems to both produce AND consume data.  This enables systems to work in concert to support the learner using 70-20-10 concepts along their learning journey. This enables us to view the data surrounding a learner, including learning paths and capabilities.  Most of all, it enables tracking to go far beyond learning.  We can currently track people in performance and determine the effectiveness of our learning programs.  Soon, we can use data to improve individual learning pathways.

That said, you could have your LMS and produce xAPI data.  The learner could have a defined learning path that can be tracked across mobile, web, and virtual experiences.  Once competencies are observed and a learner is declared ready, they can start performing.  Learning platforms can passively create data about their performance and they can use performance support and job aids along the way.

This can all be done using the xAPI and Moodle by building out your own ecosystem.

Open-source Moodle is a great start for building out your learning ecosystem with xAPI.  First, you’ll need a way to store your xAPI data.  This is where the Learning Record Store (LRS) comes in.  You also have open-source choices including Learning Locker or the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) LRS as well.  There are also a number of robust enterprise implementations on the market.

There are also tons of other solutions and products available to implement in your learning ecosystem:

You aren’t too far away from your potential learning ecosystem.  You just need to start. To get going:

  1. Define a pilot.
  2. Start instrumenting (adding xAPI capabilities to your systems) and defining the value of the data.  There are technical challenges, but they are generally limited in this point of adoption.
  3. Define where your learning ecosystem starts and where it ends.
  4. Designing a solution with both value for the organization and the individual is the most important consideration.

Happy building!

 

I’m excited to take a deeper dive regarding xAPI within Moodle during the upcoming Moodle by eThink Partner Webinar on March 28th, 2017 at 2 PM ET. During the live session, I will discuss:

  • What the Experience API is and what it can afford a solution
  • How to think about and plan learning ecosystems
  • How to account for Moodle and other technologies to power it all

Save your Seat

READ MORE:

Building Learning Ecosystems: http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/1949/the-experience-api-xapi-a-gps-for-learning

70-20-10: https://www.td.org/Publications/Magazines/TD/TD-Archive/2013/09/Harnessing-the-90-Percent

Moodle and xAPI:

https://moodle.org/plugins/logstore_xapi

https://moodle.org/plugins/mod_tincanlaunch