From Data Desert to Data Oasis: Using xAPI to Quantify Learning

No Longer a Data Desert: Using xAPI to Quantify Learning

In our second episode of ‘xAPI in Action’ we dive into the transformative power of xAPI (the Experience API) and its applications with Amy Parent. Amy is a leading voice in L&D and Director of Learning Ecosystems at Salience Learning. In this blog, I’ll explore the insights shared during our engaging conversation on how she uses xAPI to quantify learning.

The Intersection of Science and Learning

Amy Parent is known for her scientific approach to solving learning problems. She draws inspiration from luminaries like Dr. Will Telheimer and his learning transfer evaluation model (LTEM). Like many L&D colleauges, her goal is to measure the impact of Learning Experiences comprehensively. Central to Amy’s strategy is the concept of ‘instrumenting’ learning experiences with xAPI to quantify engagement, learning, and application of new skills.

What do we want to track in xAPI - Using xAPI for data informed decison making

Evidence and Perception in Training Progress

Amy and I discussed the interesting correlation between perception and evidence of training effectiveness.  That is, what we believe works vs. what actually works. Through xAPI, vast types of data can be captured. This offers us more than a snapshot of learning but a narrative of the learner’s journey. Amy discussed how pre- and post-assessments can be tracked with xAPI to provide a rich dataset. That dataset can be used to inform how learning projects are designed, developed, and applied.

xAPI’s Role in Personalized Learning

One of the game-changing benefits of xAPI is the ability to craft adaptive learning experiences and personalized learner tracks. Amy emphasized xAPI’s facilitation of feedback loops for personalization by monitoring student behavior and performance to shape learning experiences. She also discussed how behavioral science identifies the data needed to effectively monitor learners’ intentions and progress through learning experiences.

Learning experience versus data neededThe Quest for Quality Data

Throughout the conversation, there is an emphasis on consistently collecting quality data.This mindful collection of data provides a foundation for informed decision-making. Amy highlighted the challenge of standardizing vocabulary and profiles for xAPI, crucial for ensuring the actionable value of data. We also discussed the IEEE’s Learning Technology Standards Committee work to formalize the way xAPI data is gathered and used.

xAPI in Action: Badging and Beyond

The conversation also covered the operational side of xAPI. We are now at the point we can use xAPI data outside the learning experience. Examples included using xAPI to manage things like digital badges, access control systems and using xAPI to update enterprise systems. RISC Inc’s xACTION application does just this by analyzing xAPI statements and making outbound actions. Amy believes that understanding the core questions we ask with xAPI and how we measure success are imperative in the design process.

Learning Engineering: A Team Approach

Applying Scientific Method to Learning Design Using xAPI for data informed decison makingLastly, Amy shared her perspective on how learning engineering’s evolution unites learning, data and science to address complex learning issues. With the next International Consortium for Innovation and Collaboration in Learning Engineering (ICICLE) Conference scheduled this summer the field of Learning Engineering will do nothing but continue to grow. Amy also recommended the Learning Guild’s xAPI Cohort and DevLearn conference for knowledge sharing and inspiration.

Tune in to the full conversation to learn more about using xAPI and results-focused design in developing structured, mindful approaches to learning.

Looking Ahead: Continuous Collaboration and Innovation

My discussion with Amy Parent uncovered several benefits of xAPI inside and outside of the learning and development landscape. The insight Amy shared reinforces the notion that intentional design, robust data analytics, and comprehensive collaboration are key to deriving maximum impact from L&D initiatives. For those eager to learn more and tap into the growing xAPI community, consider joining one of the IEEE xAPI Working groups, lurk at an xAPI Cohort, and attend industry conferences like the Learning Guild’s DevLearn or IEEE ICICLE .

Join us as we continue to feature leading experts and delve deeper into xAPI’s role in revolutionizing how we understand and facilitate learning. Stay tuned for more from RISC’s ‘xAPI in Action’ series. Don’t forget you can find the RISC team out and about this year at the ATD International Conference and the Learning Guild’s DevLearn Conference.

Did you miss the first episode of xAPI in Action?  Click here to learn from Megan Torrance how their project CODE NAME EMMA is using xAPI and Generative AI to effectively training physicians treating spinal cord injuries.

Do you need help with an xAPI project and not sure where to begin? Reach out to us before you get started to design with the end in mind.

Duncan Welder IV
Director of Client Services RISC, Inc
Mr. Welder holds a Master’s of Education from Texas A&M University in Educational Technology and has more than 25 years experience in implementation of Learning Management Systems, both domestically and abroad. Mr. Welder has been recognized for his application of Learning Management Systems to manage regulatory-compliance in industries ranging from petrochemicals to finance and has provided presentations to professional organizations including the Gulf Coast Process Technology Alliance, the Northwest Process Technology Alliance and the American Society of Training and Development.
Mr. Welder’s career is founded in traditional instructional design and computer-based training development. He is a certified Development Dimensions International facilitator, a Kirkpatrick Certified Evaluator and facilitator of the Ohio State University curriculum development program. In addition to working in industry, Mr. Welder has held adjunct faculty positions at Bowling Green State University, Ohio and the College of the Mainland, Texas. Mr. Welder has been published in both Training Magazine as well as US Business Review.