I wrote this blogpost last year with Saskia Tiggelaar and Lisan van der Lee. It took me some time to translate it into English. It was written on the basis of a session with Ben Betts organized by MOOCfactory called 'Meeting more minds'.
Experience API, XAPI, Learning Record Stores, TinCan API do you know what this is about? It all sound rather technical. Last year I participated in a fringe event during the Learning and Technologies conference and it was funny to be emerged into a topic I didn't have a clue what is was. I didn't even know what to ask. Nevertheless I think this is interesting for all learning professionals working with 70-20-10. In this blogpost I explain what a Learning Record Store is, what the challenges are and why you should be interested as learning professional.
Point of departure: a diverse online learning landscape
We face similar challenges in monitoring learning as learning professionals, which is no coincidence. In the past five years many organizations worked hard to make educational materials available to employees. These e-learning efforts have taken all kind of shapes, blended learning, tutorials, games and apps. Most organizations also have a rich learning management system (LMS) with herein (self) developed materials appropriate to the particular training needs of the organization. As organizations begin to develop their own content, a considerable body of material becomes available within the LMS. In addition, content on websites like Youtube, Vimeo, blog sites are increasing. We are therefore becoming increasingly conscious that the making of "new" content is not necessary, because it is already available elsewhere. Enter content curation
. Why invest in creating if you can use existing content? By curating content I mean that you select existing content and make it available to employees so that they can access the materials whenever they want to. We may call this a learning landscape. The challenge for the design of a good learning landscape lies in looking beyond borders and use of materials outside your own LMS, such as websites and video's. The requires systems flexibility and implications for the way you monitor the use of resources.
Ben Betts: Use any platform which seems appropriate, do not try to connect everything together, but make sure you have collected the data from the different systems in one place- the Learning Record Store.
A place for collecting all results: the Learning Record Store
The Learning Record Store is the place where you store about about the use of all learning resources, whether in your LMS or other platforms, or social media.
Ben Betts: “it is actually a quite boring piece of software because it is nothing else than a database”.
Below in the graph you see an example where the data is collected in one place. A condition is that the data from the different platforms use Experience in API (XAPI). The definition of xapi "a standard way of talking about our experiences in using data.
A practical example: children in a museum
Ben Betts shared a few practical examples The first is the Ann Arbor museum, a children's museum in the US. The children visit the museum and get a name tag. The tag can monitor what the children do at the museum, and this data is stored on the LRS. The teachers can then see which answers are given and what is popular. The teacher may use this information to adapt his class teachings.
Do you want to have a Learning Record Store in your organization?
Good for the Ann Arbor museum but why would you want a Learning Record Story in your organization? It is interesting to see what a LRS can do for an organization. Especially if you have the ambition to monitor both formal and informal activities of employees it might be useful. The most important and innovative feature of such a store is that it can collect data about different activities and different platforms. The main purpose of the monitoring is to improve the learning landscape. However, this is still a very wide target. That leads us to the most important question you have to answer as an organization: what data do you collect and why?
One can think of several reasons; you can collect data to:
- Generate user feedback about the learning interventions (. eg e learning modules) that you have offered. Use this feedback to improve the learning interventions continuously;
- Find out which interventions the users choose to meet their learning needs;
- Predict what the needs / issues are a target group to arrive at advice for future interventions.
To answer the question what the purpose will be to collect and analyze this data, but there are some stepping stone questions. The question is: what is your vision on learning and development?
This can be formulated in terms of competencies, but it can also involve social, personalized learning. L & D professionals are increasingly placing the learner at the centre, the learners must be able to take its own route and engage in workplace learning. So if you wish to monitor whether what you're doing as L & D department for your employees really works, formulate questions and hypotheses. This will help you get a grip on the data you will need to collect.
What about the privacy of employees, we can simply collect their learning data as an organization?
Privacy and consent is an important issue on Learning Record Stores. On the one hand, there is no guarantee that the data is 100% safe. On the other hand, there are already a lot of data about employees in an organization. Sometimes these data are not or hardly used. Most important is to be transparent to employees on how to deal with their data. A good practice (which was also used in the example of the museum) is to anonymize the data. There is a code of practice developed by JISC. This might give you some inspiration.
In 10 years we might all walk with our own learning passport?
Will the employee be better off with more self control and keep their own data? An interesting idea is that the employees themselves might have full control over their own data in the Learning Record Store- what we call a learning passport in this blog. It might gradually increasing the employee responsible. Ben Betts used the metaphor of a coffee card to describe the learning passport. As a coffee card is already partially filled, it motivating a customer to continue filling the coffee card. Our task for the passport of the employee to partially fill it with formal learning activities and the employee fills in the rest. This allows the employee to take its learning direction as much as possible in their own hands and the employee can decide which experiences are added to the passport. However, someone commented that many people have lost their diploma from school or university .. so how interested will people be in their own learning passport?
Where to start? Just start somewhere!
The big question is the group was: where do you start?
Do you start with a solid plan and legal support or do you start with smaller experiments? Should you form a data team or you can do it yourself as L & D professionals? On the one hand it is good to take an organizational perspective and to collaborate with other departments to also be able to link performance data for example. On the other hand, it is good to get going for instance working with data that are already there. So you build a clearer case and you know better what you would like in the future.
Read my former blogpost "from intuition to know for sure
" about how you can start at the level of a course to analyze. If you want to read a basic explanation of Xapi by Learnovate click here