Did you, by any chance, just hear about xAPI (also known as the “Experience API”) for the first time, and ever since haven’t been able to stop hearing about it? While you should not rule out the Baader-Meinhof cognitive reassurance bias, it is also possible that the learning world is finally starting to pay attention to the powers of xAPI as the glue for the unification of the ecosystem students inhabit. Large organizations are starting to realize how much xAPI makes possible, from mapping a person’s extensive and soaring “Experience Graph,” to achieving true learning-business goals alignment; all in real time. It cannot be a coincidence that xAPI is finally getting top billing in some of the EdTech’s main conferences this year. Case in point: An “xAPI Camp” at Devlearn 2018 and an “Instructional Designer’s Guide to Implementing xAPI” session by Megan Torrance at the upcoming Data & Analytics Summit, not to mention the set of xAPI MOOCs made or planned for the year.
For most Moodlers, these revelations are old news, even though new developments are scarce. New updates of Moodle plugins, and services in the ecosystem at large, are expanding a hopefully common vision for xAPI. Furthermore, it is bringing sense to the broad, but not complicated, structure of xAPI. Time and again, hurdles in effective xAPI implementation by developers and educators involve the quality of the action-based user case at the foundation and following through with the level of detail the specification requires. Perhaps the relative simplicity Moodle offers to build user roles is the reason behind the easier grasp of the xAPI lingo.
External Moodle services
It is easy to identify authoring tools, but classifying other solutions are tricky. Some options are target (workplace, personalized learning) or support (analytics, Learning Record Stores), but overlaps abound. There is also a booming industry of xAPI consulting services.
The explosion of xAPI-compliant solutions is giving rise to a new issue, or should we say opportunity. xAPI’s language is, by design, often non-specific. This leads to instances where providers create different specifications for the same components. Fear not, as this gap is being readily addressed by xAPI conforming tools.
As more and more EdTech solutions become xAPI compatible, the landscape for Moodle is only enriched. Sites like xAPI Ready, xapiapps and of course, the official list of xAPI Adopters at adlnet.gov serve as useful directories.
Moodle and xAPI forever for a hundred years
Logstore xAPI also works as a conversion tool, even thought it was originally created to translate Moodle events to xAPI in order to be properly stored by an LRS. As specified by xAPI, the events must be describable using the xAPI vocabulary; and in general, the “Actor + Verb + Object + Context” structure. The plugin recently received its first update in months: version 3.3.6 adds compatibility with Moodle up to 3.5 and polishes a few issues.
Regarding LRS, we recently reviewed the plugin for Annulab, an open source solution (one of the few). It uses Logstore xAPI as well as the xAPI Launch Link plugin for Moodle.
xAPI Launch Link is another Moodle plugin helpful to track activities externally and then feed the outcomes to Moodle through any LRS. It is compatible with Moodle 3.4 and it was last updated in 2016.
H5P’s xAPI surprise
H5P is compatible with xAPI and can send learner information to the publishing platform through custom development. The activity needs to use the xAPIevents function to declare an event in the xAPI syntax. Only a few H5P content types support xAPIevents, and for now it only generates xAPI statements. Additional development and tools are needed to send, store, and use the data. ■
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