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The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative

I should say up front, that I had never heard of I/ITSEC prior to starting to work for ADL.  I've been an instructional designer and developer for some time and have checked a few of the major conferences off my "must see" list.  Still, those didn't prepare me for the sheer size of this event.

Look for a future article about why instructional designers should definitely take the opportunity to experience the I/ITSEC expo floor at least once.  But for now, let's just focus on the xAPI PlugFest held at I/ITSEC this year.

For a while now, many of us have been talking a lot about what the xAPI can do. While this is helpful, there's really no substitute for having a live demo to poke with a sharp stick. The xAPI PlugFest at I/ITSEC is our latest attempt to stop talking and simply showcase the real performance support solutions that xAPI adopters have already released into the wild. We invited eight organizations to come down to Orlando, FL and demo what they've been working on.

Of course, we weren't going entirely mum. No one but Tom Creighton subsists on a diet of learning event scrutiny and JSON, so we wanted to make sure that everyone was on board before the afternoon's anticipated demos. Andy Johnson, Jono Poltrack, Jason Haag and I led the crowd through an overview of the xAPI's history and purpose, as well as the community efforts surrounding the specification.

Tom Creighton and Lou Wolford talked about ADL's learning record store (LRS), as well as the SCORM®-to-xAPI wrapper, which allows SCORM® content to export xAPI statements.

Before we paused for lunch, Jono returned to the stage to explain the SCORMA-to-xAPI Roadmap.

I think the SCORM®-to-xAPI Roadmap is the most important innovation for helping both instructional designers and learning management system engineers understand how (and whether) to get started with xAPI. We at ADL plan to build out and promote this guide more in 2015, so be on the lookout for more in coming months.

After lunch, we got down to the business of showing off xAPI applications.

A final noteworthy event at the PlugFest was Ben Clark's (Rustici Software) announcement of the xAPI LRS Conformance Test Suite, which is an important step toward validation of xAPI platforms.

In all, the xAPI PlugFest definitely achieved its goal of getting solutions in front of the people. Perhaps more helpful in the long run was the chance for more xAPI adopters to see each others' demos live and to exchange notes. This PlugFest was a great way to close out a fruitful year of discussion and to kick off a 2015 that will bring many new xAPI milestones.


  1. xAPI PlugFest was great. You should have been there – we really missed you.
  2. Looking for resources?
  3. Many xAPI implementations were demoed, and both the SCORM®-to-xAPI Roadmap and the xAPI LRS Conformance Test Suite were publicized and explained.
  4. You missed out on the spec working group meeting (a.k.a. xAPI Roundtable and Coffee Hour) the next morning…

Not able to make the PlugFest? Looking for a way to get started with xAPI? Here are a few ways to get involved:

Have questions? Looking for more? Seeking to defend the honor of liberal arts majors? Let me know!