IMC Information Multimedia Communication AG (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN14 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 1276-1284
ISBN: 978-84-617-0557-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 7-9 July, 2014
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Experience API (xAPI, former TinCan) “is a brand new specification for learning technology that makes it possible to collect data about the wide range of experiences a person has…” xAPI is highly discussed in the world of technology-enhanced learning (TEL) nowadays. However, if you ask TEL experts in the business sector or at learning centres, there is a lack of concrete goals and scenarios. Often mentioned purpose of xAPI is to upload xAPI “courses” and execute them within a Learning Management System. The latter implies the replacement of established SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) by xAPI without any paradigm shift.

However, xAPI is much more different from SCORM in syntactic, semantic and technologic aspects than often assumed. It has a huge potential to establish completely new didactic methods, learning processes, learning analytics and learning environments and to revolutionize TEL and learning in general. By means of application scenarios, syntactic, sematic and technological perspectives of xAPI are analysed in this paper comparing them with SCORM, finding out pros and contras and drawing the line between traditional learning approaches based on SCORM and innovative learning practices enabled by xAPI.

Syntax of xAPI is much more simple, understandable and people-readable compared to SCORM. Almost everything available in SCORM can be based on xAPI, but xAPI is not restricted to it. The structure of statements is defined much more generic providing flexibility and extensibility.
Semantics are even almost out of scope in the xAPI specification. They are supposed to be defined by communities. Only handful terms have obligatory definitions, where it is required due to technical reasons. This fact makes xAPI very powerful. Furthermore, community-driven creation of semantics enables a smooth integration in our everyday life activities to capture explicit or even implicit learning experiences. Herewith, TEL can be applied far beyond the boundaries of formal learning. On the other hand, such high degree of freedom can involve the risk of incompatibility and misunderstanding between actors using xAPI, which is for the case for SCORM. Preventive measures like clear definitions and data constraints have to be taken to avoid it.

Technical specification of xAPI enables platform, device and environment independence. It is a significant benefit of xAPI, especially in contrast to SCORM. Different types of learning content but also applications can apply xAPI for data exchange and capturing with minor training and implementation effort. It is not required anymore to run content within a specific player like SCORM player. Also existing content and applications, primarily created for stand-alone use, can be extended with xAPI in a simple way.

The analysis of xAPI from given perspectives and comparing with SCORM is underlined in this paper by scenarios of formal and informal learning in different contexts. The syntactic aspect is illustrated by SCORM-like xAPI content processing. The semantic aspect is explained by means of curriculum-based learning as well as capturing of informal learning experiences. Examples of applying xAPI on mobile devices as well as a concept for an adapter of experiences and event from different sources to xAPI demonstrate wide-range technological capabilities of xAPI.

This paper summarizes that xAPI is not a “new SCORM” but creates a basis for completely new boundless learning approaches.
xAPI, TinCan, SCORM, e-learning standards, innovation, technology.