Why xAPI is Critical to Advanced Learning Analytics

One of the biggest challenges facing Learning and Development teams today is an inability to properly measure learning’s impact on the business. Brandon Hall Group research has found that the number one reason why companies look to either switch learning technology or learning technology providers is to get better data and analytics capabilities. Additionally, data analysis is the number one skill L&D teams say they need to be successful in the future.

Proper measurement is critical. L&D teams that cannot move beyond simple completion rates and smile sheets are doomed to continue operating in the dark. A look at the top three challenges facing learning’s effectiveness (according to Brandon Hall Group’s State of Learning Practices study) reflects this problem:

  1. Not enough time
  2. Inability to measure learning’s impact on business performance
  3. Inability to measure learning’s impact on individual performance

That same study found that the number two L&D priority for achieving business goals is improving learning analytics. It all adds up to a critical situation where organizations recognize how important good analysis is, yet struggle to do it.

Brandon Hall Group Smartchoice® Platinum Preferred Provider ELB Learning has a host of different learning technology products, all of which feature measurement and analytics as key elements of what they do. For a specific example, ELB learning touts the Lectora authoring tool. Some organizations may not think of an authoring tool when they think of analytics, but that is a huge part of the overall problem. Measurement and analytics are seen as an endpoint for the process of learning, something to be considered once everything has been built and delivered. This is why so many companies default to holding up completion rates as proof of success.

Using a tool like Lectora allows L&D teams to build the kind of trackable metrics that demonstrate progress right into the content. This is achieved via the xAPI data format. Instead of only tracking launches, completions and test scores, xAPI allows for the collection of any kind of learning experience, whether it occurs online or offline. Without xAPI, it is next to impossible to track what is occurring within any given learning interaction. This kind of data provides invaluable insight into what is working and what isn’t when it comes to learning. It means programs can be tweaked or changed as needed, rather than starting over from scratch.

Additionally, the “noun, verb, object” xAPI statements mean tracking can take place wherever learning does, not just within an LMS, this means Lectora content is fully trackable regardless of how learners access it. Having multiple data points around how learners interact with content gives deeper insight when analyzed along with other data such as sales, performance management and more. The xAPI standard has been around for a while, but organizations are still just beginning to discover its potential. Lectora makes it simple to publish in xAPI and begin the journey to a more mature learning measurement approach.

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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David Wentworth