xAPI: Toward ROI of Enterprise learning & development

Enterprises spend on training in many ways. Offline, online, through learning management systems (LMSs), coaching, mentoring and so on. But often there’s no real way to track how the training has impacted the business. And if someone doesn’t seem to have learned what they were trained for, they are slotted into more training sessions. And it just continues.

But that’s now changing because enterprises now are measuring many activities and have a lot of data at hand. That can be put to use for training. 

Unleashing Data to Enable Learning

Take the example of cleaning a washroom by a janitor. The company can track when he came in, and when he signed out. And if there are sensors attached to the various soap dispensers and cleaning machines, there’s data on whether the right levels of soap were maintained, or if the machine was operated at the right settings. To gather customer feedback, you can have simple button presses to capture a Happy or Sad rating.

What has that to do with training?

Let’s say the time taken to clean a particular washroom is 10 minutes on an average. By looking at the time each janitor spends, you know who is likely to rushing through the job, and who is taking too much time. Map that to customer feedback received, and you have more realistic data to go with. And you also have information on soap levels and machine settings.

You have all this data that can tell you which janitor is doing a great job, and which one’s not. And so, who needs to be trained? And in what area, and for what purpose.

Let’s say Paul, a janitor, doesn’t ensure soap dispensers are kept at the levels prescribed. Instead of putting him through a training module that teaches him “How to Clean Washrooms”, you just create a micro-learning module for him: maybe a video that shows him exactly how to check for soap dispenser levels, and do the refills. And it’s made available on his phone. So he doesn’t have to be called in for an-person training, or log into a straight-jacketed LMS.

Did he check the module sent to him? How many times? Did he see the video? Did he see it on mute? You have data on all this, which enables your learning system to tell him what he is learning/missing.

All this can be automated, except for the micro-learning module creation, of course. So for a company that has tens of thousands of janitors across the world, training now becomes more personalized, and far more impactful.

xAPI, the Enabler

That’s the power of xAPI, or Experience API. It’s a standard that defines how you can interface any application with a system that stores learning data. So in the example above, you are interfacing the application that captures soap dispenser sensor data to pick up instances that pertain to learning, store it in a learning record store (LRS) which is then pulled in by the company’s LMS.

Any activity that can be observed or recorded can be mapped into your LMS through xAPI. So potentially anything that an enterprises has deployed by way of IT setup can be used to extract data that can be used as inputs for further learning needed. This can be the ERP, collaboration platforms, helpdesk systems, performance management systems, and so on.

That changes how the way you look at learning & development, doesn’t it? No doubt, it is a great idea to have all learning modules up on the LMS complete with quizzes and assignments, and scores to ensure people spend time on what they need to know to do their job well. But with xAPI coming into play, you don’t have to force-fit everyone into the same training module. Someone with some prior experience in the job can take an assessment test, and if she clears that, can be put on to the job right away. And then the data being captured on her work, can be reviewed to see what areas she needs to work on so she can deliver the business impact the enterprise is aiming for.

Yes, that’s right. The entire learning focus now can be zeroed in on business impact. So it could be about increasing sales or improving the bottomline. It could be ensuring safety at all times. The enterprise moves from, a broad based training scope to laser-focused micro learning moments that can reflect in the business results.

With xAPI, enterprises now have a way to measure how their learning and development efforts are tangibly impacting the topline or bottomline.

Srijan is now helping enterprises with delivering these systems that will put them squarely on the road to L&D ROI. Our teams are also working with enterprises to revamp their existing learning systems and make them more effective. 

Wish to drive greater ROI from your enterprise learning systems? Let's start the conversation and explore how Srijan can help. 

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