Building This Missing xAPI Layer Will Make You Rich If You Figure Out How

281
Building This Missing xAPI Layer Will Make You Rich If You Figure It Out

If the mountain (of LMS Data) will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will develop an anonymized, xAPI-compliant LMS Data generation service.

(The assumption here being Mahomet would be a pretty good Open Learning Technologist.)

When it comes to disrupting industries to the core, Data Science has an Achilles heel. It’s at the start of its very name. If the field has not accrued enough Data to operate, there is little Science to do.

Learning Solutions offers an update of xAPI compatibility among the top systems. This is a preliminary step to actual data collection. In the meantime, millions of learners are interacting with a vast array of solutions. The data is waiting, almost begging to be collected and standardized.

Fill in the xAPI statements

xAPI, or the Experience API, is the best solution available for the data fragmentation issue. It excels at presenting both an intuitive enough language for data, a structure for the datasets, and —thanks to xAPI Learning Record Stores or LRS— a straightforward method to store and use the information. A problem not everyone agrees it exist, or it matters. Furthermore, many don’t find value in working toward a common language. But as Big Tech gathers data (and the public’s woes), Open Source begins to understand the need to fight back.

  • The problem is not collecting data, but how users understand and control its power.
  • Open Source technologies need data to evolve and better serve their users
  • Only Open Source communities can foster a decentralized EdTech ecosystem. This is key to ensure an Internet that’s more inclusive, transparent and empowering.

A ground level problem: The “Learning Breaking Points”

There are many signs pointing at the opportunity of a data collection solution. A solution that offers key pointers for teachers, developers and educators in general.

You can start by mirroring the architecture already put in place by xAPI. Think of a learning intervention as a series of interactions. A ledger can keep track of the interactions, recording each one with key information. They could include behavior and performance data, as well as system and transactional specifications.

As long as there is a digital interaction, there is data to gather. But the task can be easier in some context than others:

  • If the application provides an API, you’re set.
  • If the application does not, but it is Open Source and written in JavaScript, it’s still doable.
  • If the application is Open Source, not JavaScript, all you have to do is either a) Learn the language. (I hear great things about Lisp.) Or b) Find the best JavaScript interpreter GitHub or GitLab have to offer.
  • If the application is not Open Source, but it’s web-based, you could theoretically still track web events. Provided the application is not embedded in a Flash container or Java applet. (And if they are, urge whoever is responsible to switch immediately!)

You could create a business model out of data collection from a diverse set of solutions. You would focus on those with the ideal mix of “easy” and popular. Another element in the decision is the “resolution”: How often and to which level of detail it makes sense to track learning?

What’s next? Or: Can xAPI lead me to a sustainable, data-intensive business model?

The success of data-based businesses relies on two key factors: Quality and volume of Data; and opportunities to leverage of exploit said data.

Securing data depends on the stakeholder. The most probable are the learning organization, the instructor and the learner or end user. (Remember: xAPI can transcend learning technologies.) It is also dependent on the technologies used, making the “Breaking Points” issue all the more critical.

The implication could be that there is a period of time between collecting an appropriate amount of data, and successfully monetizing it. Which could point to onerous working capital expenditures at the start.

Early systems could provide dashboards for stakeholders. They would be especially valuable if they help centralizing data from diverse sources.

The revenue generation could be varied and limited to the entrepreneur’s imagination. It will be a reflection of the technical choices, as well as the partnerships struck. Whether it can be a success or not, only time can tell. But we are certain that xAPI makes the LMS Data business roadmap more approachable than ever.

Moonami Logo

This Moodle Technology related post is made possible by: Moonami a company that provides a full range of Moodle services that combine the flexibility, scalability, and power of Amazon’s world-leading cloud platform (AWS) with fanatical Moodle support. Click here to learn more.