xAPI and your RFP

You’re going to issue an RFP for a learning technologies purchase and want it to have nifty Experience API-features like you’ve seen on this website. Or maybe you need it be xAPI conformant to comply with DoDI 1322.26 or your organization’s system requirements. So, you think you’ll just add “Must be xAPI conformant” to the RFP and the job’s done, right? Wrong. It’s a little more complex than that.

xAPI isn’t a checkbox

xAPI is a specification that defines how data about learning and performance experiences and achievements can be communicated between systems. The applications of that technology are very broad, and xAPI is being used in many different ways. We’ve outlined some of these for product vendors here.

The problem is that if you simply list “Must be xAPI conformant”, your vendor won’t necessarily know what you want them to do with xAPI. Should the product send xAPI statements to an LRS or should it be an LRS itself? Should it launch xAPI e-learning content or display xAPI data in reports? You need to be specific about how xAPI will be used.

Conformance should be a given however the application is using xAPI. When you buy a computer, you might ask how many usb ports it has, but you don’t ask for a usb conformant computer, you expect it. It’s the same with xAPI: ask what the product is doing with xAPI and expect that whatever it is doing is conformant; get annoyed if it’s not!

RFP example

We’re not going to give you a complete example RFP to copy and paste because your requirements relating to xAPI should be driven by your requirements for the solution as a whole. This will be specific to your organization and project.

That said, below are some examples of what good requirements for an LMS RFP might look like. Not all of these requirements will necessarily be required in your organization, so please use these examples carefully. RFP requirements for other systems should include a similar level of detail.

  • Must be capable of launching xAPI content created in common authoring tools so that tracking data from those authoring tools can be sent to an external LRS as configured within the LMS. (Consider listing some common authoring tools used by your organization or that might be used in your organization in future).
  • The proposal must include an LRS either external or internal to the LMS.
  • Learner activities within the LMS including responses to quiz questions and forum posts must be trackable via xAPI to an external LRS.
  • When the time comes to migrate to a new system, it should be possible to transfer all learner data including records of formal and informal learning experiences to a new system via xAPI.
  • The LMS must be configurable to release content to learners based on activities occurring outside of the LMS that are tracked via xAPI. E.g. we will be able to release a quiz to learners after they have attended a particular classroom session.
  • Must include a dashboard for learners to view a record of recent learning activities they have completed that were tracked via xAPI.

We’re happy to look over your RFP and answer your questions.

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