Learning Strategy Impacts
xAPI transforms the learning design of individual learning solutions. This impact is also felt at the level of learning strategy. Whether or not your organization has a written learning strategy, it will make intentional or subconscious decisions in the following areas:
- What people need to learn and how that’s determined (e.g. competencies, learning needs analysis).
- What approaches to learning and development are available within the organization (e.g. face to face training, e-learning, social learning). How an approach is chosen for a particular learning solution.
- How quickly new learning technologies adopted. Are you an early adopter of every new thing, do you wait for a few others to adopt first, or are you still catching up with decades old technology?
- How informal learning is supported or discouraged in your organization. E.g. Are YouTube and Twitter blocked? Do you have a social learning platform?
Let’s look at how xAPI relates to these areas of learning strategy.
xAPI and analysing learning and development needs
How does your organization currently determine where L&D money gets spent and which learning needs get addressed? Do you have a process or do you just wait for somebody to email and ask for a course? There are a few ways you can implement xAPI to make educated, data-driven decisions around what people need to learn and where you focus your L&D budget:
- Tools which track job performance with xAPI enable you to identify common areas of low performance in particular job roles and other groups.
- Tools which track informal and social learning via xAPI enable you to identify the areas of learning people in particular roles choose to undertake, helping you to better define competencies and learning required to achieve them.
- Analytics of job performance and business impact as a result of learning solutions enables you to identify the most effective learning solutions and do more of those.
xAPI and your learning toolbox
When you’ve identified a competency gap to address, what options do you have available to you to address it? How do you choose the most effective type of solution? Do you use action mapping?
Again, xAPI helps in a few different ways:
- xAPI enables a much broader range of learning experiences to be integrated into your learning ecosystem. This includes mobile apps, simulations, social platforms, informal learning, and more. xAPI gives you more options.
- Analysis of common learning experiences used in your organization to address particular competencies gives you insight into what experiences are most popular. Popularity doesn’t necessarily imply effectiveness, but it is a good sign.
- Analytics of learning experiences and job performance tell you which learning experiences are the most effective.
xAPI and change
Learning technologists have to keep their eyes on both technological developments and learning theory. In both of those camps, there’s always some new thing on the horizon. But is that new thing just a passing fad, or an important feature of the future of learning technology that you need to pay attention to? Will it really work to improve learning and performance in your organization?
You may have had similar questions about the Experience API when it was launched in 2013, but the level of adoption by now means that xAPI is no longer something even more conservative organizations can afford to ignore. One benefit of xAPI, in fact, is that you can use it to pilot and evaluate the impact of new learning theories and technologies in your organization and make evidence driven decisions about whether to adopt them across your organization. You can also expect and demand professional bodies within the learning industry to offer more evidence-driven reports on new technologies and approaches alongside opinion pieces.
xAPI and informal learning
One learning theory that’s here to stay is 70:20:10, the idea that most learning happens outside of formal training and that organizations should recognize and support self directed informal learning. There are a growing number of [products that support informal and social learning] and many of these make use of xAPI, since older learning standards simply don’t fit the social learning paradigm. xAPI also makes it considerably easier for you to pilot the tracking and support of informal and social learning on a limited budget.
As you review, develop your learning strategy, or perhaps articulate it for the first time, be sure to consider the impacts of xAPI on that strategy as outlined above. When it’s time to get into the detail, see our guide on the impacts of xAPI on Learning Design. If you’ve already read that, continue to get into the practical details of Statement Design.
If you’re writing your learning strategy for the first time, or need help reviewing an existing strategy, we can help.