I have been working with xAPI for a little over a year now. One of the tenants of the xAPI was the data would be portable. People could transfer their learning data from one place to another without issue. So we have been doing some testing and prototyping with some HTML based software training modules to start to show the power of xAPI.
Moving the Data
Once we decided on a commercial LRS we needed to move the data we had collected from our prototyping LRS (another commercial offering) to what we are using right now as our production LRS. The problem? Our prototyping LRS provided no easy way to export the data. When I asked the vendor I was told I could do it with some scripting. The problem is I am not a developer. Luckily I have a good developer on my team who was able to get the data exported. How many people in the L&D world readily have access to a developer? If not, how much would it cost them to get the data moved? How does that make it shareable for the average end user who is trying to move their personal data?
OK so we got our data out, now lets get it into our new production LRS. Guess what, no import function. The vendor would create a script for us for a charge. Luckily again the developer I work with has experience with databases and was able to get the data into the LRS. How is this making it easy to transfer the data? Again, how is the average end user going to move their data around?
Call to Action
I fear that if the community doesn’t keep an eye on this we will lose sight of the portable nature of the data. Data portability is so important to the world of xAPI that we need to
ask demand from the vendors that our data can be moved from LRS to LRS.
The Silver Lining
As a side note so this is not all negative, the data did import successfully with no changes made to the JSON output. So if the mechanisms are built into the applications the transfer of data will work. I think from that end the spec is working quite well to make the format consistent. I know that we are still early in this process, but I think this is something very important that we should not forget about.