It’s About Damn Time for xAPI
Why a better mousetrap - built six years ago - still hasn’t seen mass adoption.
For the second year in a row, I took the long and arduous 35 minute flight from Phoenix to Las Vegas to attend DevLearn 2018. This year I had the pleasure of bringing two of my senior engineers along to take in the exhibits and demos (only)—not any of the food, nightlife or gambling. Strictly business. Ok... mostly business. At least during the day.
At the show, I wanted us to dive into some of the new products and interact with forward-thinking vendors. I was excited to hear about innovations and new ideas, and the engineers were very interested to talk to anyone who could hold a technical conversation for more than a minute or so.
We were lucky to have good conversations with a number of our favorite people (too numerous to mention here) and some new friends, but the best and most memorable conversation I had was one that almost didn’t happen.
Late on Thursday afternoon, I stopped by the Rustici Software booth as the traffic was dying down. They do a lot of work in the realm of eLearning standards - helping companies conform to SCORM, xAPI, cmi5, and AICC. Along those lines, Mindspace is a SCORM Cloud customer, so that was a convenient, low-risk icebreaker. After a few musings about SCORM and its “legacy,” I realized I was talking about learning technology with Rustici’s new CEO TJ Seabrooks!
I’ve only been in the L+D space for a few years after almost two decades in technology and software development for other industries. Realizing we shared a passion for learning technology, I jumped right to the point…
“What’s going on with xAPI?!”
My claim was that (in my humblest of opinions) xAPI is the answer for several significant issues which still seem to plague corporate learning and training. Even as the best learning and training departments utilize a variety of delivery methods for their materials, they have a hard time keeping track of it all through a central platform. Though SCORM brought a much-needed specification to the industry, it’s based on internet technologies that are (how do we say this nicely?) less than ideal today. As an “outsider”, it was frustrating to me that what appeared to be an obvious answer—arrived at YEARS AGO—was still being (mostly) ignored by the industry.
After a brief pause, TJ said, very eloquently, “xAPI is the ‘what’, but it doesn’t provide the ‘how’. Yes, xAPI can do a number of wonderful things. But without a team of software engineers and a product owner, it still can’t be implemented at most companies.”
This was something I knew and had observed, but the reality didn’t sink in until that moment. Being a vendor and service provider, this isn’t a daily concern because I understand the power of xAPI—and I have an excellent technical team that makes magic with it every day. While the ‘how’ isn’t a hurdle for me—without some combination of intuitive tools, IT support, and software engineers—the ‘how’ is still out of reach in most corporations with Flash-based eLearning and an LMS first introduced during the Clinton administration.
That one conversation, played over and over in my head for the past month, has provided a new purpose. I want to help provide the ‘how’. In an industry that struggles with technology, let’s create solutions that make the ‘how’ easy and approachable. Let’s provide services that enhance and nurture the solutions. Companies like Mindspace and Rustici Software are ready.
Let’s make the ‘how’ finally happen… now.
Words by Chad Bellin, Director of Products and Strategy at Mindspace.
Art by Toby Riley, Art Director at Mindspace.
About Rustici Software: At Rustici Software, we help companies implement standards like xAPI, as well as SCORM, cmi5, and AICC. As the world’s leading eLearning standards experts, we provide the tools and knowledge to help companies create, distribute, manage and play eLearning-compliant content. Not quite sure how we can help you? Ask us anything. We really mean it.