Jon Aleckson and I attended an xAPI conference on Friday, September 16th in Chicago. Jon has already provided his perspective on the case studies and what they mean for the medical community. But I’m interested in exploring the implications of xAPI for instructional design.

Design is an iterative process. We used to have to rely on pre to post data and A/B testing to determine whether a learning intervention was effective. But this only gives us a single point in time for the learner. This does not tell us what the learner was doing at each point throughout the learning intervention.

xAPI could potentially change that. Let’s briefly review: xAPI records statements and context about a learner’s activity and sends that information to a Learning Record Store. xAPI could, for example, record “Jenny Saucerman wrote a blog post on xAPI on September 20, 2016.” This qualitative approach to recording learners’ activities gives us a richer understanding of a learner’s progress throughout the learning intervention (or even outside of it!)

These qualitative activities could be used to predict learning outcomes. For example, do learners who submit more than three blog posts tend to score highly on the post exam? Do learners who tweet about the course report higher satisfaction with the course?

What does any of this have to do with iterative design? We can use the data from the Learning Record Store in order to inform our instructional design decisions. Say we found that the more learners blogged about topics in a course, the better they performed on a post test. If this were the case, we might consider adding more opportunities for learners to blog about course topics when revising the course or perhaps when building a new one.

Although none of the presentations at the xAPI conference specifically used xAPI in this way, they demonstrated the way that rich data could be captured and sent to the Learning Record Store for analysis. I’m excited to see the way this data gets used to inform instructional design.

Stay tuned for our xAPI White Paper on medical case studies later this month!