Monthly Archives: May 2014

Making sense of your data – the results!

I did promise to share some outputs from my 2 recent sessions on data and xAPI at the eLearning Network, London and Saba’s @WORK2014 Summit in Orlando and what better place to sit and reflect than a beach in Bermuda!

Firstly, I requested that attendees viewed a HDS video on Big Data – not because this was a Big Data session but rather to widen their thinking beyond L&D data for the art of the possible! If you missed it, here it is:

Next, my slide deck from the London event is available on slideshare:

Firstly, I wanted to understand where we are today in terms of what data we capture and where we store it. The data was consistent across both events:

  • 1/3rd of orgs have a data warehouse for learning data.
  • Some of those are part of a shared repository with HR.
  • The bulk of the data stored (apart from HR data) is SCORM or AICC based.

We then went on to think about what other data may be useful to us and this is where it started to get interesting!:

  • Internal forum posts (already being collected by at least one organisation).
  • Internal SoMe activity streams (already being collected by at least one organisation).
  • Continuous Professional Development (already being collected by at least one organisation).
  • What people are reading (books, blogs, websites).
  • What people are watching.
  • What apps people are downloading.
  • Sales data.
  • What happened next in your career to correlate to your training history.
  • Where people go when they leave your organisation.
  • What are they talking about in your internal and customer communities.
  • What they are searching for in those communities.
  • Customer satisfaction.
  • Which untracked elements of a blended solution did learners consume.

As you can see, we have gone way beyond the boundaries of traditional learning data already! Which brings me nicely to the question: What does this all mean for L&D? The big question for me is around the skills required moving forwards to make sense of this abundance of data and I was reminded of this by something shared by Paul Simbeck-Hampson in Google+:

Beware of correlation!

Much of this data will not only be new to us, much of it will also be unstructured and possibly machine generated too.

So, before you all go out and shave your heads, here are some of the new skills delegates believe we will need in L&D moving forwards:

  • xAPI – I believe that xAPI (or Tin Can) will be a game changer in proving valuable data.
  • Understanding basic statistics.
  • The ability to use basic statistics.
  • Understand how marketing people analyse what works – this could be helpful.
  • Hypothesis analysis
  • Recognising BS when you see it!

The first bullet here is, I believe, very important. xAPI is an opportunity for us to bring in data we have never had before and also, to move away from the concept of a course as being an event and moving to the holy grail of continuous learning. If a course has no ending, how can SCORM possibly be of any use? SCORM is about completion and has little or no role to play in a world of the “never-ending course”.

However: only approx. 1 in 40 confirmed they have a “Learning Record Store” (LRS), which is a vital part of the xAPI standard and something that is sadly missing from many LMS’s today. Of course, that may well be a reflection of the current position where most are still trying to understand what all the fuss is about. There are though some very simple applications of xAPI which could be useful right now. In my sessions, I referred to the basic concept that xAPI is as much about taking data OUT of the LRS as it is about getting it in. My good friends at Transition Associates have done some great work in utilising xAPI statements within a standard Lectora Publisher SCORM based course. Their scenario is simple: Lectora includes a game based on the “Who wants to be a millionaire” TV game show. What they do with xAPI is to send back your score on the game and bring back the current leaderboard which adds to the gamification possibilities within a standard SCORM course. Smart! Check it out here:!

There are some options for experimenting with

Finally, I gave out some homework for after the event! During both sessions, I referred to a new book compiled by Elliott Masie which is full of great articles by leading learning luminaries such as Donald Taylor, Tom King and Nigel Paine.

My thanks to Mark Berthelemy at the eLearning Network and Jan Sysmans at Saba for their support on these presentations. This is a topic you will be hearing a lot more about at learning events and I hope that this blog will at least encourage you to keep a close eye on data and xAPI in particular!