We’re happy to have a guest blog today from Christopher Pappas, founder of The eLearning Industry’s Network, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning Industry. Christopher holds an MBA and MEd (Learning Design) from BGSU. eLearning Blogger | EduTechpreneur | eLearning Analyst | Speaker | Social Media Addict
LMS, ROI, ILT, and many other acronyms abound in the world of online training. But there is one in particular that every elearning professional should commit to memory: API.
An API, or application programming interface, is a tool that allows one piece of software to interact with another. Its most common use is helping web developers to write code for third-party apps and elements of the operating system. Rather than focusing on human users, they make it easy for machines to communicate and process data. In this article, I will discuss the importance of APIs in online training and how they can benefit your organization. I will also share 3 tips for choosing your next API app.
Experience API Explained
Experience API, also known as xAPI and Tin Can API, is a software feature that facilitates software communication. In other words, xAPI makes it easy for elearning tools and apps to interact with each other. Its specialty is tracking and reporting. Everything that occurs in the LMS is recorded in the LRS, or learning record store. In the past, SCORM handled this task. However, xAPI has taken over in recent years. This is because SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) has certain limitations which hinder tracking capabilities.
How APIs Can Benefit Your Organization
Now that you know what xAPI is, let’s take a closer look at how it can improve your elearning strategy:
1. Track Employee Performance
The true test of online training effectiveness is employee performance. APIs give you the ability to track course attendance, completion rates, and a variety of other online training activities. Thus, you can collect Big Data that allows you to improve your training strategy AND workplace productivity.
However, Tin Can API takes it even further by monitoring offline activities that were once impossible to track. For instance, employees are able to participate in informal learning experiences and then report back to the LMS. The LMS record store houses this data and updates the learner’s profile. The same rule applies to social learning activities, such as online collaboration projects and social media interactions.
2. Maximize Your Training ROI
Effective tracking leads to more efficient training. With APIs, you have the opportunity to monitor every aspect of your online training. Its power lies in the diverse tracking and reporting capabilities. From informal to mobile learning activities, Tin Can API monitors employee performance and proficiency. As a result, you can monitor the effectiveness of your course and pinpoint problem areas.
For example, the data reveals that employees are struggling with a specific course. This allows you to analyze your design to see what’s working and what needs to be changed. By doing so, you streamline your training approach and ensure that every course aligns with organizational goals.
3. Deploy Multiplatform-Friendly Online Training Courses
In the past, APIs were limited to computer-based elearning. Today, xAPI allows for multi-platform learning without any restrictions. Corporate learners have the power to train on any device, browser, or operating system. All of their data is stored on their device of choice. When they sync with the LMS, all of the records are transferred to the main system via the LRS. A side benefit of this is being able to learn anywhere, anytime, even if Wi-Fi isn’t an option.
4. Personalize the Online Training Experience
Without a doubt, the most notable benefit of APIs is the ability to customize online training. Tin Can API makes it easy to create personalized training paths and track employee progress. As I mentioned before, it can even monitor informal and social learning. Thus, employees have the opportunity to engage in online training activities based on their goals and preferences.
Introverted corporate learners can participate in asynchronous activities, such as watching online training videos and reading blog posts. Social learners are able to interact with their peers through online forums and social media groups. No one is excluded from the online training experience, and everyone gets the individualized training they need to boost productivity.
3 Tips For Choosing Your Next API Application
1. Choose The Right Tool
There are a variety of learning portal and LMS solutions that feature Tin Can API. However, you need to determine which metrics you need before choosing your next tool. For example, certain systems offer robust reporting capabilities that allow you to customize your analytics.
2. Pre-Built Vs. Custom Made
Some elearning professionals choose to buy software with Tin Can API. Others opt for a more personalized approach by creating their own Tin Can apps. This decision depends on the skills of your elearning team, the needs of your online learners, and software applications. For example, if you need additional features that aren’t offered by traditional learning management systems, you may need to develop your tool in-house.
3. Don’t Forget About the LRS
Tin Can API needs a learning record store to keep track of user data. The LRS stores information and then transfers it to the LMS. There are 3 types of LRS to consider:
- LAP (Learning Analytics Platform) Sends and receives data from a variety of apps. You can then compare and evaluate the information to improve your online training strategy and employee performance. This is the most robust and flexible LRS option.
- OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Used in conjunction with another elearning authoring tool or LMS. As such, it cannot serve as a standalone app. It typically offers fewer features and functions.
- Testing/Development Allows developers to quality check their apps and search for bugs in the Tin Can interface.
APIs have the power to transform your online training program by monitoring employee performance and customizing the experience. Fortunately, there are a variety of elearning authoring tools that now feature Experience API, which allows you to bring mobile-friendly courses to your modern learners.
API, SCORM, LMS are general elearning acronyms that you’ll probably encounter frequently. However, you should also brush up on some niche-specific elearning acronyms if you are new to the elearning profession. Read the article The Top 10 List Of eLearning Acronyms For New eLearning Professionals to discover all the basic acronyms that new elearning professionals need to know.