Just last month, the LRS Conformance Test Suite for the Experience API (xAPI) was released, marking an important moment for the future of all learning technology.
Riptide's Learning Division Director, Nick Washburn, recently wrote an article for Learning Solutions that covers a more in-depth analysis of conformance.
This new conformance test has given rise to the formality of xAPI and a new criteria for sourcing and procuring LRS vendors. Over 1300 tests were run on our LRS to ensure xAPI conformance, and our Storepoints LRS is now one of the first conformant LRS’s in the world - but why is this xAPI LRS conformance important and why should YOU want to use a conformant LRS?
SCORM wasn't made for an interconnected world
For the past 16 years, it is as if the majority of the L&D industry has remained in a “technological-hibernation.” Some business stakeholders and educators are finally demanding a higher/more modernized expectation in learning data; while others are still content (or simply stuck) with “happy sheets.” If implemented correctly, SCORM should work in the way that was initially promised in 2001 and 2004 and provide useable data. However, the simple fact is that SCORM has not been fully implemented for these last 16 years.
Due to the incorrect implementation and previously no other alternative, nearly all L&D professionals do not get much more than completion data, while the rest of the organization receives detailed analytics on their business performance. L&D analytics technology has been lagging way behind the upward-trending technology curve, and many innovative L&D professionals have recognized this as a problem. xAPI allows for a plethora of experience activity streams (summative and formative/objective and subjective) to be collected and in order to effectively get this data, the industries need xAPI-conformant LRS’s that can be trusted. These activity streams that can be gathered through xAPI technology (and what SCORM has lacked) are what will allow L&D professionals to adjust their learning activities appropriately by being able to evaluate the contextual meaning of all learning activities and not just “click” data.
Conformance verifies that an LRS vendor is a true xAPI adopter
Hear me out - this new LRS conformance for xAPI has just arrived. If you are seeking an LRS vendor and the vendor tells you that they are in the process of conformance, you should probably believe them but, at some point soon, they should be able to verify LRS Conformance. The conformance secures a way for L&D professionals to trust vendors when they pledge conformance. A simple search on the ADL conformance site will confirm or deny their claims. Before now, much of the industry has not been entirely truthful when claiming SCORM conformance (as mentioned earlier about some issues with SCORM). Many problems can arise when a vendor “claims” conformance but is not. You, as an L&D professional, then take a risk in running into problems later if your vendor is not up-to-date on the latest specifications. Now, with the xAPI conformance test, you can get ahead of these types of issues the industry has had to deal with in the past.
An xAPI-conformant LRS opens a world of opportunities
Using a conformant LRS allows you, the L&D professional, to have access to all that xAPI has to offer. You can now work to future-proof your learning ecosystem. What does future-proofing entail? Backwards compatibility, technology interoperability, and having access to valuable data are just a few examples. In this sense, “future-proofing” allows your future L&D program to run efficiently and effectively between all of your learning systems. Learning is happening everywhere. The possibilities of what you can do with years worth of learning data is limitless and invaluable.
If you’ve already adopted xAPI and a conformant LRS into your organization, I applaud you. If not, I would ask yourself if your CEO sees valuable ROI data from your L&D efforts (even better, ask your CEO directly). In a perfect world, the answer to that should be “yes.” By adopting xAPI technology and an xAPI-conformant LRS, you will be taking one small step for the present status of your L&D program, but one giant leap for proven-ROI and future value!
In a recent Learning Solutions article, Learning Division Director, Nick Washburn explains why LRS conformance is vital to the future of your organization and the risks of not opting for conformance: