Learning Locker and xAPI: The First Year and Looking Forward
Around this time last year, Ben Betts and I decided that we had to pivot on our original idea for Learning Locker, a personal space for learners to own their data, and turn it into a true Learning Record Store (LRS).
The reasons were two fold: while xAPI was sparking plenty of interest, it was not widely adopted on the ground, so, in order for us to help raise awareness, we had to appeal to institutions, not individual learners. This required building an open source, standards compliant, LRS. Secondly, in order for learners to harness their data, institutions need to be willing to set it free and have a means to do so.
Open Source is Important
The xAPI spec is an open, collaborative, effort so we felt that Learning Locker should be the same. At this stage of xAPI’s evolution it needs to be a community effort with an open ethos on both the standard and available technology.
v1.0, Washington and a day off
In May, after a couple of months as an rc candidate, we released v1.0 of Learning Locker. Ben, I and others from HT2 also hooked up with Aaron Silvers and Megan Bowe in Washington at ASTD 14. It had been a while since I attended an edu conference and it left me wonder why I left it so long. It was fun and informative. There was plenty of good conversation around the future of xAPI and its potential impact. I loved seeing what other vendors / adopters are doing with the standard.
One thing I will say: if you are going out with Aaron, be prepared. A colleague of ours was unable to attend our booth after the first pub meeting – let me put it this way, a pub meeting with Aaron might need a mandatory day off – you have been warned!
In August, Ryan joined the team and started improving Learning Locker’s conformance and feature set as well as providing support to the community. Towards the end of the year, Brian Millar at Rustici added 4000 tests to the ADL xAPI test suite, an awesome job. The team worked hard to reach 100% conformance with the new tests and achieved this goal in December.
While Learning Locker is an open source product it is important to ensure there is a business model in place to support the effort. It has been great to see a variety of organizations invest in xAPI and adopt Learning Locker. We offer commercial services around the product and have a range of customers including: City & Guilds, Tesco, Xerox and Villeroy & Boch.
The project team will continue to work closely with the Learning Locker community, and the wider xAPI community, to ensure the product remains compliant and fit for purpose.
At HT2 headquarters, work is underway on the next Curatr release which will come out at some point this year. Among the many new additions is an experimental xAPI powered profile. The reason we want to explore this route is to ensure the data is portable, facilitating export (and import) in a standard format, something we deem important.
On a personal note
I am interested in the possibilities xAPI affords learners to own their data and control their learning environment.
Although we pivoted Learning Locker to become an LRS, a decision I feel was correct, the reason I started down this road 2 years ago was to try and find ways for learners to own their learning journey, an interest that dates back to my days working on Elgg.
To this end, we have taken our original idea and spun it into an HT2 labs project we are calling ‘Dino’. Basically, it is an open source personal learning profile (PLP) powered by xAPI. The first iteration of ‘Dino’ started accepting users around 20 months ago but didn’t hit the mark as we intended, now, thanks to continued adoption of xAPI, we hope to release something soon that will begin to fulfill our initial vision.
It is shaping up to be an exciting year for Learning Locker and xAPI!