xAPI Shifting to 3rd Gear

Mark Oehlert kicking off xAPI Camp - AmazonYou might be surprised to find out we’re in 2nd gear. We shifted out of 1st gear at DevLearn last year. Between November 2014’s xAPI Hyperdrive and the xAPI track at DevLearn 2014, we hit our stride. We had people well outside of the ADL bubble talking about real world things things they were using xAPI to accomplish.

What happened at xAPI Camp Amazon?

This wasn’t merely a great event. This was a game changer. The participants, including the speakers and our partners — this event really couldn’t have come out more epic than it did.

Let me talk a bit about our speakers. They are not messing around. All killer, no filler high-octane Awesome. We got Sean Putman to come in from Detroit to talk about what he all did with Altair’s software and xAPI. Ben Erlandsson, who’s working on the boldest and most complex application for xAPI I’ve ever encountered — and how xAPI stands to help make the most impact of any social initiative to date. Myra Travin came from across town in Seattle to articulate the field of learning experience design in a way that really made sense. Kirsty Kitto and Aneesha Bakharia are rockstars in research that’s driving the learning analytics field — and they’re pointing out ways in which we need to be using xAPI better. Bill McDonald spent 25 years helping run the Aviation Industry’s Computer-Based Training Consortium, eventually overseeing their own standard evolve to be completely based on xAPI. Russell Duhon talking about what it takes to run xAPI in Enterprise… at scale. Duncan Welder talking about the ways in which their LMS is helping Big Energy improve their compliance — not just get a check in the compliance training box, using xAPI for both content analytics and social. Their presentations are all archived here.

A breakout group at xAPI Camp - AmazonThese speakers were incredible people, many of whom are outside the xAPI Developer/Contributor/Adopter circles. Real folks making real decisions about real world problems and using xAPI to help. They’re haulin’ ass.We had small emergent breakout groups and large breakout groups moderated by our partners Shelly Blake-Plock, Mike Hruska and Nick Washburn. Participants got into the weeds of learning architecture, project management and scaling the technology to respond to growing organizational demands in near real-time. Everything discussed was approachable in real-world, real-human language but nothing was watered down. People took notes and tasked themselves for next-actions. Attendees were solving real problems while they were there.

The format for the event worked, it really worked. Myra Travin saw so much in it that she wrote a post on just how well it worked. You can read it on LearnxAPI.

Why was this camp so significant?

No matter what Amazon does with xAPI, their embrace of xAPI, even to bring the community to their house so we could learn together — what xAPI enables and (frankly) what value xAPI holds for them — is huge. Just huge.

You need a company to reference when asked, “Who’s doing xAPI?”

Your answer now is “Amazon.” Done. Mic drop.

Because when we talk about the future of learning, usually our professionals from ISDs to CLOs immediately talk about recommendations… “like Amazon.”  Every conference that talks about elearning at all — K-12, Higher Ed, Community Colleges, Corporate, Gov, .mil — everyone talks about recommendations “like how Amazon does it.”

…And even Amazon is going xAPI.

You hold onto that for a moment. Let that thought just linger in the air a bit. Enjoy it. Savor it. This is the kind of moment — those of us who’ve helped make xAPI happen — this is the moment we’ve been waiting for. Given their engineering culture, given their fanatical attention to customer service, given their massive supply chain and the people power it takes to make all of those parts work in harmony, xAPI could not have a better stakeholder.

It marks the beginning of the end of early adoption for xAPI. You go back to the bell curve model of Rogers’ Diffusions of Innovations theory. We hit the level taking us to Early Majority.

This is the shift from 2nd to 3rd gear. There’s more to be done. It’s not just events, it’s not just fancy new adopters. There’s a post coming later this week on what has to happen next. (Hint: we need to formalize our work together to make sure what the early majority is doing keeps working and makes the space to iron out the wrinkles existing today.)


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