Exploring the potential of xAPI " />


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Introduction to xAPI

A non-technical guide


  1. What is xAPI?
  2. Why is xAPI important?
  3. Things to think about
  4. How to get started

What is..


The Experience API (xAPI for short) allows one system (the activity provider) to send a message (known as a statement) to another system (the Learning Record Store) about something a user has done.

Three boxes showing activity provider sending a statement to a learning record store

What is...

an activity provider?

Any system where someone does something. Eg…

  • Some learning content
  • A customer relationship management (CRM) system
  • A social networking system

What is...

a Learning Record Store?

A system built to receive statements
as defined in the xAPI specification

What is a statement?

A statement contains, at a minimum:

Actor Verb Object type Object


Jo read book Running Lean

Why is xAPI important?

  • What was life like before xAPI?
  • What can we do now that we couldn’t before?

Before xAPI...

Anything we wanted to track had to be built as part of the LMS functionality, or needed a bespoke integration

Data remained inside the LMS

Boxes showing the LMS retaining SCORM data, Assessment data and usage data

xAPI means...

Tracking data can flow from any system

Diagram showing how data flows from multiple activity providers to a learning record store

Activity Provider examples

Activity provider Could send data about
Search engine User searches
Social bookmark engine User bookmarks
Proxy server Website access
Intranet Document views
Simulations User activity
Social network User questions
Assessments Answers given
CRM Sales activity

Rich data

The riches come when you start to
correlate data from multiple sources

Analytics examples

Analytics examples

Things to think about

  • Privacy
  • Ownership
  • Definitions
  • Analysis


Have you followed the data protection rules in your region?

Information Commissioner’s Guide to GDPR


  • How can an individual see what data
    you’ve collected on them?

  • Can they ask for it to be deleted?

  • Can they ask to move some or all data
    to another organisation?

  • What are your data retention rules?


Does your industry use standard definitions for:

  • Activity types
  • Verbs

Or even standard “profiles” for a
particular information model?

Use Standard vocabulary where possible

Define new vocabulary where necessary


Do you have people who can
help you analyse the data?

Are they qualified/experienced in
data science or statistics?

Without them much of this data will be wasted

Getting started

  • Design
  • Aggregate
  • Analyse


  1. Identify what you need to find out, what questions you want to answer
  2. Identify where the data will be used, and by whom
  3. Identify what will happen when those questions have been answered
  4. Identify what data you need to support (1)
  5. Map the data to the Experience API statement elements: Actor, Verb, Activity, Context, Result
  6. Identify where the data for (3) will come from - the activity providers
  7. Ensure that each activity provider can produce the required xAPI statements


Implement a Learning Record Store to begin
collecting and reporting on the data

If it’s built into your LMS, make sure it
can receive data from external sources


Your data analysts will need to know how to use statistical techniques to draw meaning from the data and to test which effects are brought about by which changes.

Summary video

Dr Sae Schatz - ADL

Image credits

Page Credit
What is.. Wyver Solutions Ltd
Data remained inside the LMS Wyver Solutions Ltd
xAPI means... Wyver Solutions Ltd
Analytics examples Wyver Solutions Ltd