"We're gonna need a bigger boat"

xAPI's Tipping Point for Both Community & Industry

Since last year, I worked with IEEE to standardize the Experience API (xAPI) specification. Most of my work is with the IEEE-LTSC  but recently a few other IEEE standards groups expressed interest in using xAPI. These groups focus on developing personal health devices as well as the Internet of Things. They’re looking at xAPI because it provides a way to share data across devices, related to people, in a way other systems can understand. This can happen, potentially, with zero configuration. Right now, these groups don’t have a way for devices to talk to each other that all the different players can agree on. They’re not interested in reinventing the wheel.

This is exciting stuff for everyone with a hand in making xAPI what it is. What it could mean is a tighter relationship between learning activity and its outcomes. Meanwhile different needs among xAPI adopters in the learning technology business are becoming clearer. Many products today provide solutions for experiencing content on a variety of devices. Specifically, devices that were never supported by SCORM. Some products offer solutions that analyze xAPI data. A few products focus on content management. Others track activity on websites, simulations, and sensors. What’s emerging are learning activities that look a lot more like work or straight up computing.

We need a bigger boat

"We're gonna need a bigger boat"
“We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

A few people identified the need for an industry organization that can deal with the stewardship and direction for xAPI going forward. This is important as xAPI moves into standardization and wider adoption.  As a maturing industry, we need third-party certification of xAPI products. As a maturing practice, we need third-party certification of professionals. Organizations interested in counting on xAPI for their business needs must have a way to know the tools work. As well, people using these tools should be recognizable as a professional class that reliably works with xAPI. In 2014, Megan and I launched Connections Forum to address this need, and the effort is approaching the tipping point.

In the next several weeks, there is much that will happen with Connections Forum. Today, I’d like to inform you of a few quick things that will help you be “in the know.”

First, a small team will draft a Project Authorization Request for IEEE-LTSC. The scope will call for standardizing the information model and a data binding to go with it. In not-so-technical terms, this is the activity stream/statements part of xAPI. In not-so-technical terms, this is the activity stream/statements part of xAPI. We’re starting with this part of xAPI because it’s something for which there’s wide support from current adopters and from new groups interested in adoption. The team will submit this PAR in February for March evaluation by the IEEE New Standards Committee (NESCOM).

Click here to take part in the drafting the PAR.

Second, an xAPI Camp is happening. The University of Central Florida’s Institute of Simulation & Training will host the event on March 24, 2015. It’s in Orlando, the day before Learning Solutions.

The UCF-IST connects with medical education and health device stakeholders interested in adopting xAPI. This is why they offered to host this first event in 2015. We have some great speakers and a growing roster of sponsors helping make this happen and make this affordable.  You can expect to discover solutions that implemented by schools, hospitals and businesses today. You’ll spend a large part of the day in small group discussions where the expertise with xAPI will be there for learning, sharing, sketching, and planning. You’ll walk away with ideas, answers and solutions.

Click here to register for xAPI Camp today!

We’ll have more to share over the next several weeks. As always, I welcome your questions, your thoughts, well wishes, constructive input and participation.