Do I need an LMS with xAPI?
Do I still need an LMS?

I’ve been asked this question many times as I spread the word on xAPI. I don’t think there’s one solid answer to this, but wanted to cover a couple things to consider.

An analogy that I was once given about xAPI is that it is a tool, just like an LMS is a tool. There are many tools that can the same job, but not all tools complete the task as effectively and efficiently as the right tool. Think of undoing a nut. You could use pliers, spanner or vice grips. Whilst all will undo the nut, the correct spanner will do a much better job and have less risk of damage to the nut

If it’s not broken, don’t try and fix it

This is a valid point but ask yourself why you may have purchased a new car or a new phone or a new computer? The older product still did the same thing so why change? It’s most likely you wanted something better. But isn’t it essentially doing the same job? It is, but now it does it in a much faster and more efficient way.

It’s always been that way so why change?

Along with the first point, I get this one ALL the time. You don’t have to change, but look at the benefits you get with change. You can start to see what you learners are doing, and not just form inside the LMS. This in itself is a powerful feature of xAPI.

I understand that some managers or decisions makers would be concerned about assigning funds to an upgrade and a cost and needs analyses will need to take place.

How do you get around this? There are plenty of free resources out there that will allow you to get started. If you can demonstrate how simple xAPI / CMI5 is you can transform your training.

I will need a software developer to use xAPI

Probably not, but that does depend on what you have and what you need.

I think this is a big deterrent in moving to xAPI. The term ‘API’ in my view scares people and need not be like that.

In saying that, the LMS’ of the world are not keeping up with technology and need to integrate the use of CMI5. CMI5 in a nut shell can be seen as the next version of SCORM. It will send xAPI to a Learning Record Store as well as communicate with the LMS…the best of both worlds.

Authoring tools like Articulate and Captivate are now allowing publishing to CMI5 with NO developer knowledge required. As long as the LMS supports CMI5 you can start using xAPI.

SCORM does what we need

Whilst this is very true, as indicated the introduction of CMI5 will greatly increase the visibility of what learning data you will gather. SCORM is dated and does not fit the requirements of today’s learning. SCORM is also limited to your LMS whilst xAPI goes well beyond an LMS.

If you have to use SCORM, there are ways to add xAPI to your SCORM packages, but you will need a developer or knowledge of JavaScript to achieve this. You will need to weigh up if this is worth the investment based on the training strategy your organisation has in place.

It will cost a lot to convert to xAPI

Not necessarily and you’re not converting as such, you’re updating. If you have an LMS that supports CMI5 and you’ve developed your courses in one of the authoring tools that supports publishing to CMI5, you’re costs are incredibly low. You need only republish the course to CMI5 and upload.

You will have to invest in a Learning Record Store (LRS) and these are usually Software as a Service, so you don’t need to install anything. You can get FREE LRS’ to get you started.

If you’re LMS doesn’t support CMI5, this is where you will need to revisit your digital learning strategy.

What next?

Getting started can be a challenge and particularly getting it past management to invest in growing your training environment.

There are lots of articles that can help you get started but I understand this can be daunting. I created a short video introduction to xAPI in 2019 for a course I was doing, it may help!

You can always reach out and we can have a chat about your requirements.

An introduction to xAPI in 5 Minutes

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