Although many corporations and colleges, universities and schools use SharePoint for training and education, take-off for SharePoint in learning is still patchy. SharePoint 2013 looks like it will have some education capabilities, but Microsoft are keeping very quiet about them; for some analysis of the client object model in April here or see a November blog from Mike Smith here).
But I wonder if a new e-learning standard called the Experience API might have more impact in getting SharePoint used for learning, particularly in corporate training?
Who is behind the Experience API
The Experience API is a new standard based on activity streams, under development by the US government funded ADL. This is the organization that introduced SCORM, a widely used e-learning interface standard
Almost all learning software supports SCORM largely because at one point the US Department of Defence said they would not buy any software that didn’t support it! SharePoint support of SCORM is part of the SharePoint Learning Kit.
The ADL’s new standard, the Experience API (previously called the Tin Can API) is getting a lot of interest from learning users and vendors because it’s really simple yet supports a lot of really exciting use cases about capture of learning data. Is also supported by the AICC, a very well-established learning technology standards organization, who are redirecting their work on a new CMI-5 standard to collaborate with ADL on the Experience API.
What does the Experience API do?
Learning happens everywhere, not just within formal learning events. What the Experience API lets you do is capture learning activities as they happen, and store them in a Learning Record Store (LRS). Lots of different kinds of learning – simulations, games (serious and non-serious), social learning, mobile learning, quizzes, collaborative learning, viewing documents and almost anything can be recorded by the Experience API.
At the core of the Experience API is a simple sentence structure:
Actor, verb, object
I did this
For example “John Kleeman viewed this video” or “Peter Brown walked into the bank in the simulation” or “James Smith made a forum post in this discussion area”. Any learning activity can be easily configured to send back learning activity using a simple REST interface (based on the Activity Streams concept). And then one can collate the information and make predictions or inform or take actions as a result of it.
How might this help SharePoint?
Lots of learning happens in SharePoint. People view documents, they look at videos, they collaborate with others through forums or using SharePoint social features, they search, they might launch learning activities from SharePoint as a portal. But these SharePoint activities are not well or easily tracked. So although SharePoint is used for learning, the learning is not easy to identify or measure.
You never know. This could be the invention that gives SharePoint traction as a genuine learning system.