xAPI is not magic: I - Introduction

By jPablo Caballero | January 2, 2017

The experience API (xAPI) was released on April 2013, so it is now in its 4th year of life. However, it is rather easy to run into information that doesn't really clarify some of the key aspects of xAPI, because it is innacurate or misleading. This series tries to address some of those areas of confusion.

More than a year ago, frustrated by some ideas I kept seeing in introductory articles to xAPI, I published the article xAPI has great potential, but it is not magic!. This series of posts breaks down that long post into shorter, more focused and updated pieces.

The xAPI (TinCan API) is a technical specification for learning technology. At this point, there are very good sources of information about the xAPI out there. The definitive one -although not the easiest to digest- is the specification itself. However, companies and individuals that have been involved whith TinCan/xAPI from the beginning have done a lot to provide solid, accurate and easier to understand articles and presentations.

The need to learn about xAPI extends well beyond people with technical roles. It's easy to find introductory articles -usually aimed at those nontechnical people- that, while well-intentioned, express some of the ideas around xAPI as hards facts (sometimes even throwing in some buzzwords for good measure), and leave it at that, without providing further explanation. This usually leaves the reader more confused.

In many cases, the confusion happens because the discussion focuses on the potential of xAPI (things that could technically be done with it) at large, and little or no consideration is given to what concrete steps (not only technical, but also legal, organizational, etc.) need to be taken to materialize that potential into a real, working solution.

The next six articles in this series focus on the most common misconceptions:

At the end there's also a short reflection on xAPI and Instructional Designers, and a review of the ideas exposend in this series to wrap up.