xAPI Party – It’s a Good Time to Be a Learning Technology Geek

May 2018 was a big month in the learning industry between the ATD International Conference, the xAPI Party and

Duncan Welder at Spring 2018 xAPI Party
Duncan Welder at Spring 2018 xAPI Party

Learning Download. The amount of innovation, sharing and excitement has become palpable – it’s a good time to be a learning technology geek.

One (two technically) of my favorite developmental opportunities are the xAPI Party and the Learning Download organized by the team at Torrance Learning.

The xAPI Party is held twice a year and now in its 8th iteration, the Torrance team maintains an intimate environment for collaborating, exploring, learning and more than a little hacking. The xAPI Party is held at the end of each xAPI Cohort to share project progress, explore tools and check out new technology. Just a few years ago, there were a lot of pie-in-the-sky conversations at at the xAPI party. What can we do with xAPI? How do we enable internet of things devices with xAPI? How can xAPI be used for Adaptive Learning? Real-time Performance Support? And if we do this stuff, will people use it?

Now don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of pie-in-the-sky discussion but this spring, the xAPI Party was all about execution, tools and business value. This shift clearly shows the growth of adoption and realization of xAPI’s value to business. Only having the ability to attend one concurrent session at a time made choosing what to explore difficult.

The first presentation of the morning I attended was John Blackmon from Trivantis showing how to add xAPI into Virtual Reality training using the CenarioVR tool. Using a 360 camera and the software, John was able to add hot-spots and other interactions to the video. Each of the interactions sent xAPI statements to an LRS allowing the tracking of learner behavior and performance as they work through a scenario.

Rob Houck at xAPI Party
Rob Houck

Rob Houck from Underwriters Lab discussed learner facing tools to capture xAPI such as mobile apps, social tools and options for getting your LMS to play nicely with your LRS. At the same time, Chris Tompkins from Rustici Software discussed best practices for getting xAPI and cmi5 into RFPs. Chris also provided a list of questions to ask any xAPI provider. A link to Chris’ presentation is here.


Two different presentations explored how to take tools like Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate – both still a limited in their native xAPI and cmi5 capabilities – and modify them to create good xAPI statements. If there is any indication for a development team that they need to catch-up, having a community of professionals build tools to work around technical limitations must provide a good roadmap.

In one presentation, Torrance Learning’s Matt Kilewer and Peter Guenther previewed the xAVIER tool. xAVIER is an xAPI Statement Builder that uses a series of prompts (like a wizard) to write JavaScript for sending xAPI statements. Once your JavaScript is created, it can be copied and passed into your content module to capture quality statements. In the second presentation, Sarah Mercier of MELearning and Learning Ninja showed how they took an Adobe Captivate module published to html5 and added code to make it cmi5 compatible even before Adobe has announced the release of a cmi5 publish option in Captivate.

On the hacking front, one of the xAPI Cohort teams (#TeamAlexa) reviewed their project for getting the Amazon Alexa to send xAPI statements. Myra Roldan and Bryan Wanzer discussed tools and lessons learned from the project to build an xAPI enabled Skill for Alexa. While certainly a prototype, the possibilities – when coupled with good data strategy – seem endless.

Amir Bar at xAPI Party
Amir Bar

I hated to miss the discussion led by Peter Guenther on xAPI for Serious Gaming but opted to listen to Halliburton’s Amir Bar discuss using xAPI to help tie learning and experience to performance on the job. Amir provided an overview of several projects within Halliburton, and how he uses those to tell the story of xAPI’s impact to a business bottom line.


The xAPI Party was a full day of discussion and exploration leaving lots to ponder overnight before the Download the next day. Interested in the Download and its content? Just check out the next article here.

For more information on the next xAPI Cohort, which begins September 6th, visit TorranceLearning’s signup page!



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.