Follow all the xAPI Profiles
Did you know that one piece of content can comply with multiple xAPI profiles? We follow xAPI profiles to ensure consistent data for reporting. With xAPI, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But what happens when your content needs to follow more than one profile? You simply follow them all. Let’s look at a quick example.
I have a video that I would like to assign out of the Learning Management System (LMS) to my students. It is not an interactive video or embedded into a SCORM module. Just a standard mp4 file. Using video for training is nothing new but has traditionally been fairly passive. You wheel the AV cart into the classroom or you launch a YouTube video and hope that students pay some attention, but what is really happening when the student is at their desk? Are they fast-forwarding through? Do they jump around? Did they bail-out after the first few seconds? Now we can find out.
Profile 1 – cmi5
cmi5 is the xAPI profile for launching content from an LMS. cmi5 defines nine verbs used to track content. For example, the LMS is required to send a “Launched” statement to the Learning Records Store (LRS). The content, or Assignable Unit (AU) as it’s called in cmi5, must send an “Initialized” statement to the LRS to indicate that the module is ready for student interaction after being “Launched” from the LMS. At the end of a module, there is a “Terminated” statement sent by the AU indicating that the content is finished. Other cmi5 statements such as “Failed”, “Waived”, or “Satisfied” are defined in the specification along with their sequence if critical. For more information on cmi5 verbs, read this blog article written by Art Werkenthin.
Okay great, but what does that have to do with the video? Maybe more than you would think. The video itself has not been instrumented with xAPI so, if the video is our Assignable Unit, where does this xAPI come from? Fortunately, when the video is imported into the LMS as a cmi5 AU, the player that the video launches within is actually sending the xAPI (sneaky right?).
Profile 2 – The Video Profile
The Video Profile defines how a student’s interaction with a video is tracked with xAPI. Again, we are striving for consistency so the profile standardizes verbs like “Paused” so that anyone recording video with xAPI records that interaction the same way.
While cmi5 itself does not address videos directly, the standard allows for the inclusion of any other valid xAPI statement. cmi5 will ignore any statement that is not “cmi5 defined”. These are called “cmi5 allowed” statements. So we can follow both the cmi5 profile and the video profile in our statements. If you are using cmi5 or xAPI content, you are likely using more than one profile already. Test questions are recorded as cmi interactions and threaded discussions may be recorded using a Social Learning Profile. This list could go on and on. Remember too that xAPI can be used to track activity outside of traditionally “launching learning content”. For example, the resource library within the RISC Learning Suite follows the xAPI video profile to track when students search for and launch resources for performance support.
xAPI gives L&D professionals a huge amount of flexibility to track student data and performance at a remarkably granular level. But… with great power comes great responsibility. As learning designers, product managers, developers or anyone with access to student data, we must be responsible with our governance. Part of that responsibility is ensuring that we are collecting quality data and that means following specifications and xAPI profiles for consistency. Another part of that responsibility is being mindful of the data we collect. Why is it needed? What will it be used for? Should it be aggregated or anonymized to minimize data privacy concerns. But that’s a discussion for another time…
Questions about xAPI or cmi5? Never hesitate to reach out. I am always glad to geek out.