I never heard about Experience API (xAPI) but now I did thanks to a video conversation between education expert Stephen Downes and Shelly Blake-Plock, Co-Founder, President and CEO of Yet Analytics in the course #el30. xAPI is a new specification for learning technology that makes it possible to collect data about the wide range of experiences a person has, online and offline.
It captures data in a consistent format about a person or a group’s activities from many different technologies. xAPI uses a simple vocabulary and lots of things can be recognized and communicated with this API: mobile learning, simulations, virtual worlds, serious games, real-world activities, all kinds of learning. Learning activities are being captured in secure statements to learning record store (LRS). The LRS is a server that is responsible for receiving, storing, and providing access to learning records.It can help to develop learning analytics, dashboards, visualizations and recommendations useful for learners.
One of the important questions is whether this technology can be made useful and controlled by the learner or whether it remains in the realm of institutions and companies.
One of the inspiring things Shelly said: “Our experiences and activities become media. Not only when we upload stuff to YouTube but also behind the scenes to make sure internet applications work like we want them to.” It reminds me of the information philosopher Luciano Floridi who describes our lives as being “onlife”.
I’m a journalist, not an educator, but in fact this discussion remains relevant to me. In media we increasingly use realtime audience analytics. A simple news website will track not only how many clicks a story gets, but also how long people read or watch it, how much of a text they read. A/B testing shows which title, picture or caption “works best”.
These metrics can be used to check the learning of journalists and editors: how efficient are they in bringing a story, but at least as interesting would be to get an idea about the learning by the reader or the viewer. Did they actually learn something they can use in their lives, or did they get at least new insights? The readers could integrate metrics of their media consumption into a tool which would point out whether it benefits them in terms of taking better decisions, or in having more interesting conversations with fellow citizens. Media users would own the data and use user-friendly apps to analyze their learning experiences.
Journalism and education seem to be very similar. Learners and audiences become active participants. Monopolies tumble as there are many ways to get learning or information. Business models are put into question. Education and learning explore the possibilities of data, data science, artificial intelligence and have to deal with all-important questions about privacy and autonomy.
Here is the interview with Shelly: