By: Dr Martyn Farrows & Jonny Parkes

We wrote a blog recently about APIs and their potential to disrupt learning and the key ingredients required for success. This blog seeks to build on that and share with you our experiences from two years research on the three key components to consider when developing APIs in for learning.

On the demand side, there is a growing acceptance of the value of data to deliver strategic business and organizational gains. However, embracing the strategic value of data also requires the acquisition of core skills in data science and data analytics – skills and competences that are not traditionally embedded within many organizations, let alone HR or L&D teams. The capacity to create and maintain a viable data model that supports human resources whilst delivering against core organizational goals is central to unlocking and analyzing the strategic value of data about learners.


3 Key factors

On the supply side, for APIs to be implemented effectively there are three fundamental aspects that any organization needs to consider:

  1. Data Mobility – the data itself has to be mobile – and it has to be meaningful and understandable. xAPI has a role to play here, by helping to determine a common ‘language’ that can be used to describe rich learning experiences. The ability to communicate and infer meaning from the data is paramount;
  2. Privacy by Design – learner data is, by definition, personal. It therefore demands an appropriate level of privacy – adopting the principles of privacy by design with APIs ensures that privacy is taken into account throughout the entire process. Trust is a necessary and valuable commodity;
  3. API Usability – the attraction of APIs is their convenience, they can be used to effectively deploy new functionality and features for learners at the drop of a hat. But adoption will only happen if the APIs are well designed, documented and supported.

Over the next few years, the demand for the ‘consumerisation’ of technologies to support learning in the workplace will inevitably grow stronger. Consumer-like digital experiences require effective APIs – there is no question, therefore, that the API economy matters for learners and for organizations that value their employees’ growth.

Applied to learning technologies, APIs have the potential to fundamentally change the way that we think about our learners simply because we will have more information about them. What we do with that information is key: whether it is to empower learners to take more control of their learning, or whether it is for organisations to better understand learning needs and design more personalized interventions.

This blog is the second of two blogs looking at APIs in the learning technologies environment, The Blog is leveraged from the presentation by Learnovate’s Dr Martyn Farrows (Centre Director) and Jonny Parkes (Chairman) at Learning Technologies 2016.