What is Experience API | xAPI | TinCan API? How does it work?

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Experience API

Experience API or xAPI is an eLearning standard and the successor of SCORM that represents a format of communication between learning content/LMS and LRS or Learning Record Store. Formerly, it was known as Tin Can API, but now xAPI or Experience API words are used, interchangeably.

xAPI can be used on any platform and has vast day-to-day use cases. You can send xAPI statements with these primary technologies:

  1. Web pages
  2. Mobiles Apps
  3. Simulations
  4. Games and many others.

With this standard, you can record the experiences of a single learner or a whole group’s activities into LRS and filter incoming data in the LRS to generate various reports.

Brief History of xAPI

In 2011, Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) a department of defense (US), and administrators of SCORM identified the requirement for a newer and better specification than SCORM.

After long discussions and meetings, ADL awarded this contract to Rustici Software; a Nashville-based software company experienced with SCORM.

ADL and Rustici Software software named it Project Tin Can. The community-driven active group develops it and published it as version 1.0 in April 2013.

The latest version of the xAPI specification is 1.0.3, and it was released in October 2016.

Read: xAPI vs. SCORM: The Future of eLearning Analysis?

Working of xAPI?

xAPI works with the Learning Record Store in 3 simple steps:

  1. When a user does activity on a website, you can capture this event. How?
  2. Using the javascript library of xAPI, you can create triggers to capture such events. Capture and format data according to the specification and send it as an xAPI statement to LRS.
  3. Learning Record Store receives all the statements and saves them for further analysis.

An LRS can share data with other LRS(s) too. You can install it on a separate server, or it can live inside an LMS.

What is an xAPI Statement?

In general, a statement means, “something that you say or write, especially formally“. In the Experience API world, everything is formal and defined in the specification.

So, a statement is a unit of information formatted according to the xAPI specification defined by ADL to make communication simple between systems that use the xAPI standard.

Statements contain event data in machine-readable JSON-LD format, emitted by xAPI enabled activity. Once a statement is generated, it is meant to be sent to a Learning Record Store.

Key Parts of a Statement

Primarily, an xAPI statement consists of the following key parts or group of information:

  1. Actor
  2. Verb
  3. Object

For example, a statement contains information like:

  • “Joe” “attempted” “Maths 101”

Here “Joe” is an “actor”, “attempted” is a “verb” and “Maths 101” is an activity.

Let’s see how it looks like in JSON-LD format:

Actor

 "actor": {
           "name": "Joe User",
           "mbox": "mailto:joe@example.com"
 }, 

Verb

 "verb": {
     "id": "http://adlnet.gov/expapi/verbs/attempted",
     "display": { 
                 "en-US": "attempted" 
      }
   }, 

Object

 "object": {
     "id": "http://example.com/activities/maths-101",
     "definition": {
       "name": { 
               "en-US": "Maths 101" 
               }
     }
   }
 } 

All together

 {
   "actor": {
     "name": "Joe User",
     "mbox": "mailto:joe@example.com"
   },
   "verb": {
     "id": "http://adlnet.gov/expapi/verbs/attemped",
     "display": { "en-US": "attempted" }
   },
   "object": {
     "id": "http://example.com/activities/maths-101",
     "definition": {
       "name": { "en-US": "Maths 101" }
     }
   }
}

This is very basic information about a statement that you should know. To learn more about xAPI specifications, refer to the official documentation.

What is an LRS?

LRS standard for Learning Record Store is an essential part of the xAPI profile, where all the collected experience data is stored. It can be hosted on your very own server or try some managed solutions, like GrassBlade Cloud LRS.

The primary use of LRS is to store data, but there are many LRS’s that provide analytics to derive conclusions from incoming data.

Learn more about Learning Record Store

xAPI is the future of eLearning analysis, and this standard raised the bar of recording user experiences. Nowadays, it is highly in talk of eLearning town.

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