I have to take my hat off to everyone who just completed the latest xAPI Cohort – all 650 of them! They spent 3 months “together” online for an hour a week from all over the world and learned every aspect of xAPI.
What I loved most was the ingenious projects the “teams” undertook. It really uderscores what I have been saying in this series – xAPI is a technology that allows educators to shake off the straight-jacket of SCORM and get back to innovating!
Over the last two weeks they each got a chance to present their work to the group and I can’t think of many other single technologies that has led to so many practical and diverse outcomes.
As of next year, these xAPI cohorts will be available to Australians too! There’s no charge and it’s a fun and collegiate way to prepare for the future of learning. If you are keen to take part, drop me a line!
My favourite team was led by a grandmother looking to provide improved reporting of early childhood development. She and her group built a tool that a childcare centre can use to analyse child development and it does that with xAPI. Each time a child sleeps, it measures the level of rest they gain. Meanwhile it measures their nutrition, time of dropoff and collection and it keeps track as they achieve development goals. This is a microcosm of xAPI’s big picture goal – to provide a truely holistic picture of a person’s development including activities, formal learning, and personal preferences. What’s really cool is that it now applies to the 3 year olds too!
The next team showed us how analytics and educational games can combine to help people with limited computer skills become more comfortable with technology. They developed a simple 3D world for participants to explore. As they move around and complete small tasks such as placing a ball in a box using a mouse, xAPI keeps a record of what they clicked, what they dragged, when they succeeded and when they had difficulty. Speaking as a person who has often been tasked with designing technological solutions for people with limited confidence in technology, I found the concept really interesting. Better yet, it was particularly interesting to see the graphs of progress against time – how many of us would like to know how their learners are growing more confident with the systems we offer over time?
One other team explored how to take a course created with limited xAPI and retrofit xAPI to it. By the time they had finished, this previously SCORM-only course was measuring the time people spent on each slide. It was looking at whether people muted or “scrubbed through” a video rather than watching it and even reporting when someone set a video playing in a course and became distracted by another task! They could see which videos seem to be over-complex, which seem to be boring and which were effective educational tools. When it came to the quiz, we had immediate access to the kind of analysis that only the most expensive LMSes would normally offer – without the need to buy an LMS.
Another team tacked the issue that chatbots can be impersonal. They designed a system that utilises Alexa as a technical support helpdesk while using xAPI to capture information about each person’s interactions with this automated helpdesk. In short, they have created a chatbot that has a human “supervisor” keeping an eye on the quality of its work and knowing when a person needs to become involved.
Yet another focused on a branching educational video in which a learner can make choices that determine how a scenario plays out. This is something that many of us have seen and often makes for exceptionally engaging interactions. In most cases it gets inserted into a course in a standalone way – we get no data from it. What’s new is that xAPI makes it measurable; we can see the route each person took, and from that learn about their style, knowledge and knowledge gaps.
One other came up with the ingenious idea of monitoring how a reader interacts with an eBook. The data they collect will tell an author what parts were most read, what was skimmed, the order in which people move through topics and where they spent time. They talked about employee handbooks that could be personalised to people based on their roles and needs, but I could not help but imagine this kind of data collection becoming an integral part of the commercial publishing process in the future.
When these things become ubiquitous, remember you saw it first at the xAPI cohort.