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Deciding when to use xAPI

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Categories: Best Practices, News, Use Cases, xAPI

Posted 18 April 2018


hammering home xAPI

For the better part of seven years, Tim Martin, our CEO at Rustici Software, has carried his xAPI hammer around telling the story of what the standard enables. The problem with his hammering is that it has led some to consider xAPI the solution to any problem. Fear not: he has recently written two articles in Learning Solutions Magazine that provide clear strategies to help you decide when it’s best to use (or not use) xAPI.

In short, “3 Guiding Principles for xAPI Evangelists” identifies xAPI as a suitable technology when two systems talk to each other about things people do. That makes it a fit if you have multiple systems that already support xAPI, if you want to track in-person experiences or if you have multiple LRSs.

The follow up article, “Tips for Deciding Whether to Implement an xAPI Solution,” gives scenarios of when to use xAPI and when not to use xAPI. Sometimes SCORM is a better choice. Like the MP3, which works in every music app, SCORM’s strength is its age and the fact that nearly every software on the market supports it.

But we won’t steal all the secrets from Tim’s articles. Head over to Learning Solutions Magazine to get all the best tips and tricks so you know just when to use xAPI. Still uncertain? Just reach out! We’re always happy to help.

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Learning Solutions Conference 2018

After attending a number of xAPI-focused sessions at Learning Solutions Conference plus attending xAPI Camp before LSCon kicked off, I was astounded to see such a clear theme emerge when it comes to the spec. For xAPI practitioners, the recommendation is to “crawl, walk, run.”

This was a theme echoed by RISC, HT2 Labs, TorranceLearning, Watershed, xapiapps, Riptide Software and our very own Chris Tompkins in his session, “xAPI in your RFP.” All of them recommended that to get started it is wise to start small. Begin by mapping out a few key data points you need to prove your success. The key is to align your L&D goals with your company’s overall business goals.

For example, the benefits of a sales training course could be proved by a resulting increase in revenue. To prove this true, you’ll need an ecosystem of tools such as a sales management application (like Salesforce), an LMS and a learning analytics platform or LRS. Connecting the dots between the tools using xAPI can allow you to correlate learning experiences to meaningful metrics in your organization. Once you’ve been able to start small and prove the value of using xAPI for your training, then you’ll be able to tackle adding additional integrations within your organization’s ecosystem such as an HRIS, customer support platform, etc.

TorranceLearning’s Megan Torrance had a great take away in regards to ecosystems, she said, “It’s unrealistic for you to expect one system to do it all.”

Similarly, Steve Forman at InfoMedia Designs remarked, “It’s no longer build vs. buy–it’s assemble. Your eLearning ecosystem will be designed specifically for your organization and use case model.”

xAPI in your RFP - Chris Tompkins at LSCon

Our own Chris Tompkins reminded us that even though it’s exciting to use xAPI because it’s new, you want to be sensitive to choosing the right tool for the job. He advised, “Don’t just assume you’ll need xAPI.” Each of the standards (SCORM, xAPI, cmi5 and AICC) has specific strengths, so it’s important to begin by identifying why you need xAPI and what you want to achieve using the standard.

Leaving Learning Solutions, I felt inspired and excited to see other attendees use an agile approach with xAPI to get started. Just remember: xAPI can be tough to kick off so be ready to test, fail and iterate.

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Geeking on xAPI at Learning Solutions

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Categories: Events

Posted 7 March 2018


The eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions event is coming up in just a few weeks. We’re counting down the days until the show for two reasons.

The first? We’re speaking! Chris Tompkins, Director of Contracts and xAPI Evangelist, will help you identify why you’d use xAPI so that you can understand how to build an RFP that best supports your goals. “Adding xAPI to Your RFPs: Rethinking Your Process” takes place March 28 at 1:00 p.m.

Speaking of xAPI, that leads to the second reason we’re excited to attend. We’ll be heading to xAPI Camp before the show begins. We attended xAPI Camp before DevLearn last October and were pleased by the breadth of examples we saw. This camp should be no different and will give us a good chance to refresh our xAPI know-how while diving into some more recent case studies.

Heading to Learning Solutions yourself and want to meet up? Shoot us an email. We’d love to catch up.

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Names and domains

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Categories: News

Posted 5 March 2018


In the middle of last year, I made explicit a transition we at Rustici Software made, moving from the name Tin Can API to Experience API, or more frequently, xAPI. Coincidentally, we started redirecting web traffic from to

And this spring, we’re in the midst of substantially reconstructing our various websites (, and A part of this will be making the home of all things commercial, leaving the and websites as primarily community resources.

As a part of this transition, we have moved to, because who doesn’t prefer a four letter domain name? For reasons that are somewhat beyond me, that transition works better if we change the domain prior to changing the websites themselves. So, welcome to step one of the transition, where will now be We’ll handle the redirects, etc, so you shouldn’t have to do anything differently at all. We’ll have further content changes for you over the next several months.

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Political intrigue. High stakes drama. Inside baseball. This post is about something that is important but not exciting.


Facts: Next week, the IEEE LTSC xAPI TAG will be taking a vote about if and which aspects of xAPI 1.0.3 to propose to the broader IEEE for consideration as a standard.

Opinions (mine):

  • Somewhat important: standardization matters in that many organizations (particularly some outside the US) will care that xAPI has (eventually) been blessed by IEEE.
  • More important: the nexus of xAPI work is moving toward this group, and it’s active.

I’m firmly amongst the xAPI pragmatists, seeking shorter term gains and use cases where xAPI is legitimately better than other solutions. This active group, the TAG, is crucial in that it will be able to explore and innovate allowing the utility of xAPI to grow beyond what is currently well supported. Simply, xAPI and its supporting technologies are already useful but not yet sufficient for everything people hope it can be. The work matters, and it needs a home. This seems to be that home.

The Details

The details come with full credit to Shelley Blake-Plock and Avron Barr for their clarity and content.

  • The TAG is considering multiple potential standards related to xAPI 1.0.3, ranging from xAPI data model and bindings to profiles, conformance and LRS behaviors.
  • Members of the TAG will write Project Authorization Requests (PARs) for each proposed standard, delineating purpose, need and scope.
  • PARs will then go through the IEEE approval process over a period of several months and steps.
  • Working groups may begin work prior to that formal approval in the LTSC, based on the assumption that the PARs pass.
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