xAPI and LMS – Allies or Enemies?

Session Overview

Fifteen years after it started, LMS market is still growing. Bersin estimated that the LMS market was well over $2.5 billion and grew by over 21% in 2014. This market is driven by replacement cycles and growing adoption by small and mid-size organisations.

But this happy picture masks the discontent that many learning professionals are feeling with LMS. While ideal for page turning compliance courses, the current crop of LMS struggle to accommodate the flexible learning approaches needed by a changing workforce including 70:20:10, informal, unstructured learning and performance support.

Change is in the air. TinCan/xAPI is the latest generation of SCORM standards, which lay the foundation for employees to access learning anywhere (think articles, Facebook groups, YouTube video etc.). However mainstream adoption of TinCan/xAPI by vendors and organisations is still a couple of years away.

In the meantime, we are caught in this no man’s land where implementing innovative, blended and informal learning designs in an integrated manner will remain a challenge. Some organisations have started to use other platforms and learning delivery channels (e.g. using intranet, social collaboration platforms etc.) but this presents a fragmented experience for the learner and creates inefficiency of learning design. We discuss the current state of LMS usage in organisations and if there are any options to deliver new approaches to Learning to overcome current limitations.

Facilitator’s Point of View


LearningCafe Point of View

LearningCafe has observed with unease the growing gap between what L&D and Business require and what LMS currently provides. LMS has become a fine tuned platform for delivering compliance and “101” learning but struggles with delivering learning for performance support and higher level capabilities (i.e. behaviour change) where the real value add is. LearningCafe believes that TinCan/xAPI is an important development to reduce the gap but may take some time for mainstream adoption.

In the meantime, L&D should not wait but look for solutions and platforms to supplement the LMS for flexibility and increasing design options. However, this approach will be “messy” and care should be taken to provide a consistent learner experience.

LearningCafe has started an Ideas@work project to accelerate the adoption of TinCan/xAPI in Australia (www.ideasatwork.com.au)

Big Questions

  • Have LMS kept pace with business requirements? Is your current LMS supporting flexible learning design?
  • There is a large ecosystem built around the LMS i.e. teams, skills and vendors. Will this slow down the adoption of xAPI/TinCan?
  • TinCan/xAPI is a technological and conceptual leap for L&D. Is L&D ready for it? What are your predictions for TinCan/xAPI?

Disruptive Thoughts

  • Don’t regard LMS as the centre of organisational learning. If you do, it may limit your design options. Not all learning needs to be tracked and these can reside outside the LMS.


  • Sharing our TinCan/xAPI@Work Journey – Step 1 – Validating the L&D Potential – LearningCafe webinar recording https://vimeo.com/129063274
  • xAPI/TinCan@work – A collaborative exploration by Asia Pac organisations facilitated by Learning Café Webinar (www.ideasatwork.com.au)


Arun Pradhan – Senior Learning & Performance Consultant at Deakin Prime