Category Archives: eLearning


Tracking User Clicks Using the xAPI Part 2

We have a working LRS! It has been a couple of months since the first post on this that you can see here. Due to other projects progress has been a little slow. Back in May we got a couple solid weeks of time to work on the next step of being able to see what users are doing in the software and comparing that against what an expert would have done. When we left off we were making statements, but writing them to a text file. We now have a working LRS powered by a SQL database that can store the statements as they are produced by the system. So lets walk through a few topics here to get you up to speed on what we have done.

The Statements

Below is an image of what the statements looked like when we were first producing them.


You can see we are missing a couple of things, namely for us the URI and the time stamp. So the first thing we did was create the simple web page here that has our URIs for one of the verbs we are using: created.


Interacted, the other verb, was available through the ADL so we set the URL to the ADL repository.
Now that we have that set, here is what the statements looked like:


You can see we are displaying the URL for the verb URI. Finally we needed to add the timestamp. This will help us gauge how much time it takes the user to perform a task. So in the TCL file we were able to pull the time from the computer and display it in the statement. That got us to what we think are good statements for our system. Next we needed to store them.


I am very fortunate to have a very good database guy that works with me. He went through the xAPI spec and made tables in the database for each item that can be written in a statement. So if we ever want to expand to store more items from the statements we already have the infrastructure built. As I stated in the first post, we are starting small and will work our way up to more complex statements as necessary. Now that we are storing the statements we needed to display them. We built an HTML page that will display the statements in real-time. Now as we are writing to the database, we are displaying them in the web page as you can see in the image.


We are super excited to be at this stage where we are seeing the statements being generated real-time.

The Next Step

We are now at the point that we have distributed the TCL file to many people to start using in their day-to-day activities in the software. We feel that this will help us find the patterns that we need to build higher level activity statements. What I mean by that is that although all the clicks are great, as we compare them to one another, we get a good idea of what the user is doing. On a higher level, we can tie these click patterns into context-style activities which really starts to give us a feel for what the user is trying to do. Our first goal is certification testing using the xAPI. Comparing clicks to clicks to see if the user did the right thing. We are going to accomplish this be creating a Gant chart of the clicks which will allow for an easy visual comparison. Our ultimate goal to be realized in the next 4-6 weeks is to provide reccomendations to the user as they use the software. We think using the activity statements is the way to do that. Build the clicks into a pattern and use those patterns to recommend pertinent help when people need it. We would love to hear your thoughts on the path we are taking and where we are going. Stay tuned as the next month is going to be exciting!

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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in eLearning, Tin Can, Uncategorized


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The “Duh” Moment

So while at DevLearn I heard a lot of talk about personalized learning experiences and reuse of content.  It didn’t hit me until I got back and processed what it all meant.  I spent some time researching different ways to focus the content rather than the tools to make deliver the content.  I deal with software training so I do a lot of screen capturing.  I use Captivate to do that and will continue to use it for the foreseeable future.  However, we are providing more than just screen capture demonstrations to our clients.  We are not just trying to show them button clicks, but why they do the things they do in the software.  So we are trying to teach them concepts as well as button clicks.  Currently we are using HTML and some embedded interactivity from Flash to deliver this content.  Again I am focusing on the delivery method and its limitations rather than the content itself.  SO in my research I started to look for blogs by some of the people I had seen speak at the conference.  That gets me to the “duh” moment.  I think we have all had that moment, when that new concept hits us and we get it.  That moment happened reading this blog post from Reuben Tozman.  After reading this article I had that moment of duh, that makes complete sense and why weren’t we doing this?  In my day to day job I am also responsible for our product documentation which can be the basis for our content.  Using the methods talked about in Reuben’s post and some other research I have been doing with XML it would seem to allow us to share that content in a better way.  We can have one source of content that can be used for both our eLearning courses and our product documentation.  I am very excited about the prospect of this and can’t wait to dive into how we are going to do that.  Stay tuned to for future posts as we move forward and make this happen.

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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in eLearning


Thoughts from DevLearn 2011

It was 3 weeks ago today that DevLearn wrapped up and I left Vegas.  As this was my first DevLearn and actually my first experience at any eLearning conference I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was nervous and excited to arrive as I was speaking and presenting at the DemoFest session.  Each day started the Morning buzz which is a discussion group broken by topic.  These discussion were extremely informative and just provided a great forum for talking with other attendees.  The keynote speaker Michio Kaku started day one.  His session was absolutely stunning, his combination of wit and amazing predictions was something to see.  Even if you didn’t agree with what he was saying, there was something to learn just from watching his presentation style and delivery.  Following his session the Expo opened and I was completely overwhelmed by the size and scope of the vendors that were there.  I think I made at least 3 laps just taking it in before stopping and talking to one of the vendors.  I spent a lot of time in the Expo the rest of the week talking to vendors and learning everything I could about their products or services.  The concurrent sessions were great throughout the rest of the week.  Since the focus of my work is software simulation I focused my session attendance on sessions focused around those topics.  In hindsight I wish I had branched out a bit of for nothing else than to pick up ideas from other areas.  Day one ended with Tom Koulopoulos talking about the Cloud.  It was another exhilarating session by a very dynamic speaker.   Day 2 started with the final keynote Steven Rosenbaum talking about curation and the context of learning.  Again, just fantastic and very interesting topic.  In the evening of day two I had the honor of presenting one of our projects at DemoFest.  I cannot begin to express the amount of fun and how awesome this experience was for me.  The people that stopped by were so great and gained so much knowledge just from talking about what we were doing in comparison to them.  I am hoping to be accepted to the DemoFest again at a future DevLearn.  Finally on Day 3 it was my turn to speak.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this session.  Looking back I am so grateful for the opportunity to present.  I have presented many times internally to my company about our training plans and I always get the blank stares.  There was actual dialog in this session!  People seemed excited to be there and the discussion was great.  I was so excited by the session and getting actual feedback and discussion as the session went along.  Finally the conference ended with the Ignite session.  The session was a chance for 6 people to present a new idea in learning.  The session was really inspiring and well done.  Great job by the folks from the eLearning Guild!  All in all the conference experience could not have been better.  I spent the plane ride home processing what I learned at the conference.  In fact I probably spent the next 2 weeks processing what I learned and reading blogs and following Twitter for the people I had met and seen at the conference.  I have really started to rethink our approach to learning as we create material for our customers.  We have already started to implement some new thinking focused more on content instead of the technology.  I think anyone wondering if they should attend, you definately should.  The experience cannot be matched.  In fact I told my wife when I arrived home (at 4:30am) that I didn’t care if I paid for it myself, I would be attending next year.


Posted by on November 25, 2011 in eLearning