I did a webinar for HR.com on April 15th. As usual, the attendees had more questions than could be answered in the allotted time, so I’ve taken posted the questions and answers here.
Q: I love the concept, and would like to break out of the LMS confines and track other external content, but not sure how/where to start
We hear this question a lot. There is so much that xAPI offers, implementing all of the possibilities is a daunting task. Fortunately it’s easy to start small. In every organization we’ve worked with, it has been easy to identify 3-6 pilot projects that are small in scope, but provide a big impact and lots of visibility. Take on a mobile learning project, or incorporate a game into your training program. Find an area where you can easily measure business performance and correlate training data with improved performance. Consolidate data from several LMS’s into a LRS, or use a TDS to deliver training from anywhere. Feel free to give us a call, we’re happy to help brainstorm the possibilities.

Q: With the looming explosion – where do you recommend a org focus to prep for it?
I always recommend focusing on what your organization’s real needs are. What are the strategic objectives that the learning/training department is trying to meet? Take a step out of the box and start from the top. What is the core purpose of my initiative? From there, start to imagine an ideal world. How would you create a perfect educational experience? What data would you want to measure and track? What would make your boss giddy with the improvements you facilitated? Craft the ideal world, then go looking for the pieces to make it a reality. Those pieces are going to be different for everybody.
Q: What is the typical data structure of LRS?
It’s too early for anything to be considered “typical” in the xAPI world and LRS implementations are no different. Some LRSs are using relational data structures whereas others are taking a NoSQL approach.
Q: Is there a core guide for implementing xAPI for iOS available? – key interest in eLearning apps in objective-C
To learn more about xAPI from a developer’s perspective, start at ../page-developers/. There is also a recorded webinar describing the technical bits of xAPI available at ../webinar. There is an open source objective-C client library available at ../resources/. (Note that this is a work in progress that is still being ironed out as the xAPI spec gets to a finalized v1.0.)
Q: With the growth of the generic LRS how do we address concerns about data security and integrity from both the organisation and individual employee?
Good question. From a specification standpoint, xAPI includes the ability for the system making the statement to securely sign it. This capability allows LRSs to verify that the asserter of the statement is genuine. The spec also includes authentication mechanisms that allow the LRS to control who may read data from and write data to the LRS. It is up to the LRS to implement a permissions structure that is appropriate for the organization/learner using it.
Q: Do you have a working definition of “non-confidential training data?”
No, nothing beyond the obvious “data that is not confidential”.
Q: What is your thinking about who will provide the Personal Data Locker and how do you see the economics of that working – who will pay over the course of a learner’s life?
I don’t know yet. We’ve given it a lot of thought and are seriously considering doing it ourselves. The problem though is that there isn’t a good business model behind it yet. At this point, it would be a Silicon Valley start-up kind of play where you go get a bunch of VC money, accumulate a lot of data and then figure out a way to make money later on.
Q: Hi, Mike! What are your thoughts about learning through social media and risks of discussions that may leak proprietary / confidential information? Thanks!
I don’t have any new or original thoughts beyond what has been discussed a thousand times before. I don’t think xAPI changes anything in this regard. If people find social media a valuable outlet for learning they are going to use it. The risks of employees disclosing information is inherent to their possession of confidential information. There are plenty of ways to incorporate social concepts into internal learning environments that don’t run the risk of public disclosure.
Q: SumTotal says they will implement when xAPI is finalized. When will that be?
The finalized version 1.0 of the Experience API is due to be released on April 26, 2013. I hope to see SumTotal join the list of adopters and look forward to many others joining in now that we have a finalized specification.

Mike is the CEO of Watershed, though he is the Founder and was President of Rustici Software until 2016. He helped guide the first draft of the Tin Can API (xAPI) and believes ice cream is the "elixir of life."