Ongoing education is a vitally important element of running a successful technology company. It’s an industry that thrives on innovation, after all, and a developer skillset must remain in a state of flux if they simply wish to remain relevant (let alone outperform the competition).
Consequently, any tech company with aspirations should invest in training — both to keep workers moving with the times, and to upskill lower-level employees to make them happier and more valuable to the business. This is easier said than done, however.
Enter xAPI, an eLearning foundation with the inherent flexibility to cater to many different types of learning. For all forward-thinking tech companies, implementing it as the basis of an internal training system makes all the sense in the world. Let’s consider how exactly it can benefit them:
Here’s a common training scenario for a tech company: someone of the managerial persuasion (perhaps the boss, or whichever mid-level employee got saddled with responsibility for training) decides that skills need to be developed, and issues an edict that everyone must start putting their time into training. They suggest some courses, give people permission to spend time following them, then go back to their regular work.
What happens after this? Yep, you guessed it: employees go right back to work, and likely forget completely about the training (people tend to forget after doing training, but this is a much more threatening type of forgetfulness). Why? Because they don’t want to spend valuable working time on something that won’t bolster their productivity, and they know that confirmation of completion will never be expected, or even requested.
Because xAPI has a stable system for importing and exporting data, it can neatly be hooked into standard project management and task automation systems, meaning it can be regulated just as easily as any other work project. Instead of casting broad nets and hoping to get something out of them, then, tech companies can take control of training, mandata completion, and confirm it through triggered events.
The days of the tech professional sitting in front of a laptop all day haven’t quite left us, but it’s certainly true that there are more platform options than ever before — most notably, there’s the critical distinction between mobile and desktop operating systems. Many elements of eLearning are well suited to smartphone screens (multiple-choice questions, for instance), and giving employees the freedom to choose the devices on which they learn will help with morale.
For example, instead of eating into their working time, and employee might want to use commuting time that would otherwise be wasted. Someone could fill in a quiz on a train, or listen to an informative podcast while walking to work — there’s no shortage of systems announced as compatible with xAPI, and of course any company with in-house developers could simply develop a custom training system.
The simplicity of the language behind xAPI makes it immensely easier to track offline training. It’s as simple as mapping the learning experiences to suit the LRS, and attaching any relevant resources such as certificates or trophies. This grants a lot of freedom to allow employees to experiment with different types of training experience.
It’s also productive in the analytics data that gets generated in the process. Training can feel like shooting in the dark, never quite knowing how close to the bullseye you’re getting because you have no point of reference. The more broad you make a training plan, though, the more easily you can compare the different approaches.
Suppose that a much-vaunted online course produced no significant boost in productivity, but a more relaxed offline exercise did produce such a boost — that could radically change how a tech company aimed its training plans. That’s the type of information you can gather when you use a versatile system like xAPI.
The richness of the analytics data produced by xAPI-based learning doesn’t just make it easier to compare different tactics — it also makes it possible to use machine learning to derive some intriguing insights. The possibilities are near-unlimited, but to give you just one example of what it could achieve, machine learning could be used to assess employees for career suitability in a way that aptitude tests ostensibly can.
Tech jobs have a lot of overlap, and it’s entirely possible that someone working in IT security has the potential to be even better at web development but has never really thought about the possibility. If their employer spotted that potential through analyzing xAPI data, it could give them an opportunity to try a new role — success might make them happier, and would increase their value (and loyalty) to the company.
Staying ahead in tech demands cutting-edge skills, and you can’t stay sharp if you’re not keeping up with the latest advances. Through implementing xAPI-based training, tech companies can create sophisticated, convenient and trackable learning experiences, and even sell them on to make some extra profit.