xAPI Camp

3 minute read

So today we are “speaking” at xAPI Camp! Not really, I am in Freiburg visiting some collaborators for another project, and Aneesha is still in Brisbane, but together with the help of Andrew Gibson (one of my PhD students, who seems to actually know what he is doing when it comes to making videos… unlike me) we have created a video that will be screened, and will then join in on a twitter discussion (assuming people actually want to tweet to us :)

I am hoping this will be interesting. The motivation underlying the video is to try and get the xAPI community moving forwards on a few key initiatives to do with data sharing and portabiity. When asked to write a short paragraph about why I was “attending” xAPI Camp I said that: “I think that xAPI is at a critical juncture, and it is important for the community to reflect upon its purpose at this point. What are we going to do with our xAPI data? Is it just for the managers and HR departments, or are we going to give it to the learner? What kinds of things do we want to report on? I would like to see xAPI data used to enable things like discourse analytics, creativity, metacognition, and life long personalised learning, but in order to do this we need to consider analytics and controlled vocabularies. I am looking forwards to a conversation about data extraction, complex analytics, and learner focused reporting…how can we use the standard to encourage higher order thinking in our learners?” (see the other presenter paragraphs here).

I really mean this. Are we playing the same old games here? Or are we going to try and create a new and better data standard? One with the learner at its heart. Wouldn’t it be great if our learners could own their data, and take it with them from School to University to Work? What if they could use it to create their own portfolios of skills and capabilities… and use this to tell a story about their mastery of key knowledge as they mature. There are many ethical and technical issues involved in this kind of vision.

To me, the biggest ethical ones are all to do with data ownership and the right to be forgotten… should the enormous fight (about his pedagogy of all things!) that I had with my Electromagnetism and Relativity lecturer at age 20 show up as an indicator for “aggression” when I am 40? This fight resulted in my later failure of the course (not directly because of him… I just stopped participating), but then there is the HD I got the next year. I think it would be a terrible thing if these kinds of records became even more widely available then they currently are, but the age of data collection is upon us, and I think we owe it to ourselves and each other to behave very responsibly here. (Far more than we have so far.) I am tired of listening to that certain subset of “baby boomers” who never really understood data talking about how “digital natives” don’t care if we collect data about them. If you ask them the right way they patently do… in fact some of them have a very sophisticated notion of data ownership. So that is one set of issues… hard ones, but I do think that a data ownership model goes some way towards alleviating them… although this opens up its own technical issues as Ben Betts talks about at another xAPI Camp. I have been asked to write a blog for the LACE project about this, so will most definitely put my musings about it down here at some point when things calm down.

In my view, the biggest technical issues stem from data portability, and this is the key focus of the video. We are introducing the CLA toolkit, which means that we get to talk about xAPI, recipes, data extraction, and finally analytics… and paint a picture about how these all fit together in the more complex use cases that this kind of lifelong data ownership model would require. Have a watch of the video and see what you think. I might try to generate a summary of the Twitter conversation (if anything emerges) in a couple of days in a follow up blog.