xAPI Barcamp – a Learning Technologies fringe event

The xAPI Barcamp at the end of the first day of the Learning Technologies conference attracted around fifty people, eager to talk xAPI over a few free drinks at the local pub! I was one of five invited experts alongside Andrew Downes from Rustici (@mrdownes), Mark Berthelemy from Wyver Solutions(@berthelemy), Ben Betts from Learning Locker (@bbetts) and Jonathan Archibald from Tesello (@jonarchibald). Moving around five tables in turn, each expert began by talking for a few minutes about what they were doing with xAPI, then the table held an open discussion.

I found the event fascinating. Having worked on a few xAPI projects for clients I had some solid work to discuss, however I personally still have more questions than answers about xAPI so this event was the perfect forum to pose some of those questions and find out what other practitioners were doing and thinking. Continue reading “xAPI Barcamp – a Learning Technologies fringe event”

Top ten learning platform trends from 2013

The end of the calendar year is a great opportunity to reflect and take stock of some of the key trends in the learning platforms market that have stood out for me and the team at Epic over the past 12 months. Do these reflect your own views of the market? What was big for you last year? Let me know in the comments, it would be great to share thoughts and notes on what was a fast moving year!

Customers aren’t afraid to switch suppliers

It’s all about the customer, stupid. Everyone knows that, right? Well, I’ve learned a big lesson this year about customer service through the mistakes of others. I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve picked up new customers who said their last supplier a) didn’t care about them, b) had poor quality of service, c) over-promised and could not deliver or d) behaved like lawyers and charged just to pick up a pen. I even had a new customer reveal that they threw one of our competitors out of an LMS procurement on ethical grounds because they were having a go at us! While it’s kind of nice knowing a competitor is so preoccupied with Epic that they focus on us in their sales presentations instead of on themselves, what is genuinely worrying is what appears to be a trend of falling standards in the industry. Of course, we sometimes make mistakes too, but I do think that our relentless focus on our customers keeps us ahead of the competition.

The drive to good user experience

LMS vendors are continuing to improve usability following years of negative feedback from customers and analysts. Customers are increasingly taking the lead on this, insisting on good user experience in their solutions. This is easier with bespoke platforms which we design from the ground up; however when using an off-the-shelf LMS you are always a bit constrained by the product’s capabilities. But there’s no doubt that Open Source gives you extra flexibility here. Moodle HQ have formed a dedicated front-end team and we have seen a renewed focus on usability in M2.5 and 2.6 which is warmly welcomed. Some of my favourite moments this year have been getting involved in design workshops with students and stakeholders. This is basic stuff, but so often forgotten in technology projects.

Continue reading “Top ten learning platform trends from 2013”

Most Marvellous Moot

During the two days I spent at MoodleMoot Dublin last week, I had an overwhelming sense of information overload which made it all but impossible to blog during the conference. However it was clear at the time that a number of key themes were emerging from presentations and discussions: responsive design and usability, learning analytics, application performance, and Moodle’s place in the fast changing  world of higher and further education. Now that I’ve had a few days to reflect on things, I have been able to start to make some sense of it all.

Moodle’s place in the changing world of education

This was one of the big questions for the conference and there were three key sessions where this was dealt with: ‘The Future of Online Learning’ panel session on day one, the Martin Dougiamas ‘Future’ keynote on day two and the ‘Education in a Global Context’ panel session also on day two.

Continue reading “Most Marvellous Moot”

Thoughts from #LT13UK

So, the dust has settled from Learning Technologies 2013. What a completely manic two days! I’m not sure how many years I’ve been doing this but it seems like a lot, and I never tire of it. I was looking forward to it for weeks and it didn’t fail to deliver. There were a number of highlights for me.

My presentation

I did a presentation in one of the exhibition theatres on Tuesday: “What does your next LMS look like?” It was the first time I have presented at LT despite many years of attendance and the theatre was absolutely rammed which was great.

LTseminarImage: My “What does your next LMS look like?” session on Tuesday morning

Continue reading “Thoughts from #LT13UK”

Understanding Tin Can API

Tin Can has been getting lots of people in a twist lately. Early adopters are tweeting and blogging about it and anyone who’s anyone seems to be dropping it into conversations to prove they’re at the cutting edge of learning technologies. It is certainly doing the rounds as the Next Big Thing. But ask anyone, “What is Tin Can? Explain it to me” and more often than not you’ll just get a shrug of the shoulders and a quizzical look.

This is because Tin Can API is pretty confusing to the newcomer. I can vouch for that because I am a newcomer to it myself. This blog post is my collected notes and thoughts from one day spent learning about Tin Can API. It’s become pretty clear over recent weeks to me that most people understand that Tin Can API is the next version of the SCORM standard, but few people realise that it is still only at the DRAFT stage. There is a high level of vendor ‘early adopter’ activity with technology companies implementing the draft standard but there is also a high level of vendor hype with people like Articulate touting Articulate Online as a “Tin Can API-supported learning management system”. The level of hype makes it sound more real than it is, and the race to innovate seems to have taken the standards definition squad by surprise. While these people are still working on the final revisions to the draft specification, the hype in the vendor market is leading e-learning practitioners to eagerly search out press releases and marketing material that just aren’t ready yet.

Continue reading “Understanding Tin Can API”