We are rapidly approaching the time when our refrigerators will not only text us about what we are running out of but also make a rather informed prognosis about what health issues we might encounter based on our food and beverage preferences. The Internet of Things has been gaining a lot of terrain and since a lot of our lives are in one form or another on our phones, tablets and laptops it’s easier to embrace this and make the most of it by keeping up with technology.
It’s true that a pause is required once in a while but generally staying connected makes our lives easier and more fun. On a torrid day, for example, the weather app communicates with the health app and based on accurate location we get good tips about how to dress, how much to hydrate and what to do in case we get dizzy or light headed. Apart from the slight ‘big brother’ quality of this, it proves to be rather useful.
Corporate learning itself is moving towards a new era. While e-learning remains the main L&D tool, xAPI comes to link this with all the other formal and informal learning instances for a better experience and more efficient planning and reporting.
Top 3 benefits of xAPI in a training environment
xAPI is a rather new player in the L&D quest for delivering personalized learning experiences to all those that need to take some form of training or another, but it is one that comes with big promises. When implemented right in a training strategy, a few interesting advantages follow suite:
Improved blended learning
There has been a lot of talk lately about blended learning and how it has become the general way in which especially Millennials understand to use the different mediums to get information and build their skills. L&D professionals try to facilitate this process by giving employees full access to large libraries of e-learning as well as other online platforms, forums and professional networks.
Yet their efforts to take it to the next level and actually blend all these so that they are not just separate learning episodes that alternate with each other but really interconnect and have some fluency can be greatly helped by xAPI. Having all the firsthand information about each user’s preferences and experience with e-learning modules and online resources allow for true personalization of individual learning paths.
Blended learning is about being given a link to an online tutorial the moment you leave the e-learning module to search online for more information. xAPI allows for this kind of triggers between apps and platforms and greatly increases learning efficiency.
More efficient coaching and mentoring
Coaching and mentoring are very important in the modern workplace. Expertise is not something that comes by easy and those who have it bring a lot of added value by sharing it.
Yet coaching employees can sometimes prove difficult. Shadowing an employee all day to see how he manages his time and his tasks can feel rather invasive to him. People are stressed when they know they are being watched and end up trying to do their best and avoid the areas where they don’t feel comfortable. This renders the whole endeavor useless.
Meeting face to face at a time agreed by both parties is better but then the mentee has to come with a list of situations and questions they had had over time. Odds are they already found the answers and describing a certain occurrence takes time while important details are lost hence not leading to the best solution for it.
With xAPI coaching and mentoring can either happen in real time or have a much more contextualized quality at a later time. Work tasks can be recorded and shared with the mentor so that the discussion is focused and truly useful. Since one of the best perks of xAPI is that it records information at a granular level, nothing is lost and can be accessed whenever it’s necessary.
Bringing back team learning
Traditionally learning has been achieved in a group. Starting as early as kindergarten, we learn by seeing what others are doing and by interacting with them. When corporate training happened in a classroom, it still had that very important component. Participants asked questions, shared their own experiences and one person’s intervention could alter the direction and dynamics of a course.
E-learning, on the other hand, is an individual endeavor and even though some e-learning modules reach pretty high levels of interactivity, it still lacks the human factor. Implementing xAPI allows for the setting up of real team learning, weather by scenario-based modules in which the participants have to collaborate as a real-life team or by crating competitions.
The value game mechanics have for online learning is obvious and with xAPI (which basically creates a universal language that encodes all learning activities and allows different apps and platforms to communicate with each other) it’s easy to have employees from various teams or locations come together (or head to head) for a better learning experience. They don’t even have to be all online at the same time.
With everything recorded and stored in the LRS, one user’s actions will still influence what the others experience and learn.
Clearly, xAPI was born out of the necessity to optimize processes and organize large amounts of data into comprehensive and useful dashboards and reports. While it can do wonders with crunching numbers and drawing pie-charts, it also has great benefits for the learning process itself and for all the actors involved in it.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.