xAPI Camp San Francisco

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I was asked to present at the first xAPI camp of 2016 on behalf of Elements team on the advantages of using a centralized Learning Record Store (LRS) within an enterprise learning ecosystem using xAPI.

Whether you are new to the specification or have an xAPI enabled application, these camps are a great way to gain knowledge about the Experience API.

I was hesitant to speak at the event because I’ve never done it before, but after thinking about it, I saw this as a growth opportunity personally and career wise. The week before the conference, I prepared for my presentation by consulting with my team members and the Director of Learning, Nick Washburn. After tweaking my notes for several days and talking with the event’s main organizers, Aaron Silvers and Megan Bowe, my anxiousness turned into excitement for the upcoming event.

The conference was held in one of the Autodesk buildings in the financial district of San Francisco. The room itself was part presentation hall, part AutoCAD gallery, and served as an incredible venue for the camp. After formal introductions from Aaron Silvers (MakingBetter) and Adam Menter’s (Autodesk), the day proceeded with several speaker presentations mixed in with small group discussion sessions.

The set of speakers were extremely diverse. Each brought some some unique insight, offered a solution, raised a new set of questions from the previous presentation.

The xAPI Camp  presentations included:

  • Marty Rosenheck (Cognitive Advisors) on the use of xAPI in veterinary medicine
    • Marty stressed that proficiency on a topic is gained mostly by on the job experience, not formal training. He shared TREK, an xAPI enabled on-the-job mobile coaching app used in Veterinary clinics.
  • Kirsty Kitto (Queensland University of Technology) on the desire for more data interoperability
    • Kirsty would like to see individualized personal LRSs which could contain xAPI statements about personal achievements which would then automatically feed to networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Andy Johnson (ADL)  with a captivating xAPI themed rendition of “Jessie’s Girl”
  • Clark Quinn (Quinnovation) on creating content for the learning experience
    • Clark emphasized the importance of having well instructed and engaging content in a learning system.
  • Megan Bowe (MakingBetter) on using the data we collect in more meaningful ways
    • Megan says now that we have a way to collect the finite interactions of a user, learning and development can start focusing on analyzing the data to determine how we can best improve learning performance.
  • Margaret Roth (Yet Analytics) on Security Standards for xAPI
    • Margaret shared a proposed information security standard for xAPI and encouraged everyone to get involved at http://xapisec.org/

Check out the following link for full presentation slides

In the first breakout session of the day, I spoke with a small group of 5 or 6 individuals all from different companies who knew they wanted to get involved with xAPI, but were not sure what the first steps would be to using the specification. We discussed some of the major hurdles with beginning to use xAPI in general as well as some ideas to consider for their own applications. I pointed out that some great resources for taking those first few steps moving towards xAPI are free tools on the TRYxAPI.com open source repository.

During one of the breaks of the event, a member of the Autodesk team gave a tour of the gallery. The gallery showcased some of the most innovative designs created using the AutoCAD modeling software. There were miniature replicas of unusual buildings, a soccer ball that generated electricity when kicked, 3D printed clothing, and several interactive exhibits.

In the final breakout session following my talk, I introduced myself to a few of the attendees I had not yet interacted with. I was able to speak with several groups and individuals including two separate groups from Google and two representatives from Xerox. They were all interested in hearing more about bits from my talk.

A few of the questions they asked were directed at how we are able to collect xAPI statements for a client who has strict data privacy standards. I explained that we are able to collect statements without any personally identifiable information in them because we have an authentication layer that abstracts away the private data. Once a user logs into our system, we have access to a unique authentication token which we can use as the actor in our statements, rather than their email, or name. Anyone without privileges to resolve that token will not be able to determine who that statement is referencing.

If you are using xAPI and want to help spread the word or you have questions about how to get started with xAPI or you just want to learn more about what xAPI really is, these camps are for you! The next xAPI Camp will be held in Orlando, Florida in March. To learn more go here

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