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Why Aren’t We Talking About Content?

Posted by

Categories: Ideas, Standards, xAPI

Posted 17 September 2012

 

One thing that I hear often from people working with learning technology is that there are a lot of standards: they seem to compete and that makes it really hard to know what one is supposed to do about these new standards. One common thing amongst these standards is that they’re all talking about how content should be structured and organized. This is why I want everyone to pay attention to xAPI.

It’s different. xAPI is totally, absolutely, completely content agnostic. Your content has to live somewhere, true. That’s up to you.

Come with me for a minute to talk about hobby crafts (oh, I know you’re so excited!) Picture a grandmother who taught herself to knit pot holders out of sheer need — pots are hot, people. Imagine if those knitting needles made xAPI statements. Each successful stitch, removed stitch, unraveling portions, redos, finished finally. No subject matter expert to be found, though she likely talked about this with friends. She has learned through making, supported by social interactions.

Experience API

Kathy, her daughter, comes along and expresses interest in learning to knit pot holders, because her pots have the same annoying problem (of successfully becoming super hot). She has access to a person with the knowledge on how to do this… or she could figure it out for herself, maybe read a pattern.

xAPI Knitting Pattern

The grandmother can sit down and teach her, through conversation, practicing, and guiding to build up her skills.

xAPI Social

The grandmother could go make a video, draw a diagram, etc. (create some piece of content) and return some time later to hand it off to the daughter.

xAPI Knitting Video

The only sentence that the previous standards can touch is the last one, where the grandmother creates a piece of content independent of interactions and hands it to another person. It feels awfully cold and unnatural… right? All of those existing standards say how it should be structured, work, play, etc.

That’s great. They should. Content needs to be movable when that’s a requirement.

xAPI looks at the entire experience a person is having; the collection of actions they are taking. xAPI can record information about actions from any item used in the experience. If someone designed carefully crafted content to drive such experiences… great! If the person is doing absolutely whatever they want with content and tools that happen to share information about how they’re being used, that’s great too!

xAPI works with all of it, it just doesn’t tell you how to do it.

 
  • I think I’m going to have to cite this for my next blog post…

    “Imagine if those knitting needles made xAPI statements. Each successful stitch, removed stitch, unraveling portions, redos, finished finally. No subject matter expert to be found, though she likely talked about this with friends. She has learned through making, supported by social interactions.”

    Tools that inform > information that augments the context… and knitting. Good stuff.