Tag Archives: xapi

An Active Repository for OLab scenarios

For several years, we have been looking at different ways to make OpenLabyrinth scenarios more accessible. We think we have found a solution that meets the needs of both consumers and contributors of scenarios: the OLab Dataverse.

Now at first glance, this looks like Yet Another OER. But we think there are a few things that may help this to be more successful. We are working on ways to make it dead easy for OLab authors to upload their best cases directly to the OLab Dataverse which should help with the tedious task of metadata entry.

Because the materials are given a proper citation and DOI by the DataCite service, it means that the scenario becomes a citable reference that can be added to the authors’ CV and makes it easier for them to get academic credit for publishing their cases.

We have created some short notes on how we currently upload OpenLabyrinth maps to the OLab Dataverse, using a template in the meantime.

The OLab Dataverse is hosted at Scholars Portal on Canadian servers. Using a non-USA based service will help to mitigate some of the concerns raised for some jurisdictions and granting agencies.

When we say ‘Active Repository‘, we also plan to make this process more useful in providing activity metrics, using xAPI and a LRS. At present, we can create simple Guestbooks, which help us to track when the datasets are downloaded. But we feel it is equally important to create some activity metrics around the contributionsĀ  by faculty members and teachers. Partly, this will be based on the new xAPI Faculty Profile that we are developing and will incorporate into our OLab uploading mechanisms.

It is time we did a better job of looking at how our contributions to open science are used, appreciated and distributed in the world of Precision Education. We just submitted an article to MedEdPublish on why this is so important.

If you are interested in working with us in exploring how we can make these processes more accessible and more rewarding, please contact us.

OIPH Catalyst Grant outputs and metrics

In 2015, we were delighted to receive a Catalyst Grant from the O’Brien Institute of Public Health in support of development of various aspects of OpenLabyrinth as an educational research platform.

We have just reported on what arose as a result of this grant and, in general, we are pretty pleased with what came out of it and where things are headed. OpenLabyrinth continues to be used widely in the educational community and that reach is growing.

But how do we know?

This is more challenging to assess than you might think. Using standard lit search techniques, it is not hard to find journal articles that relate to the ongoing and innovative use of OpenLabyrinth. But that is only a small part of the impact. Now to give credit to OIPH and its reporting template, it is great to see that they want to know about the societal impacts, social media etc. This is something that we strongly agree with in OHMES.

But the actual measurement of such outputs is not so easy. An obvious way to do this would be via Altmetrics, which is revolutionizing how such projects and outputs are seen by the public. It has a powerful suite of tools that allows it to track mentions and reports in various public channels, social media channels, news items etc. Great stuff.

But Altmetric requires items to be assigned to either departments or institutes or faculties. For OHMES and OpenLabyrinth, this creates a significant problem. There is no ability to assign a tag or category which spans the range of groups and organizations that are involved. This is somewhat surprising, given that the general approach in Altmetrics is ontological, rather than taxonomical. (1,2)

In our PiHPES Project, partly as a result of such challenges, we are exploring two approaches to this. Firstly, we are using xAPI and the Learning Records Store (LRS) to directly track how our learners and teachers make use of the plethora of learning objects that we create in our LMSs and other platforms – the paradata, data about how things are used, accessed, distributed.

Secondly, we are looking for ways in which to make such activities and objects more discoverable, both through improved analytics on the generated activity metrics, and in tying the paradata and metadata together in more meaningful ontologies, using semantic linking.


  1. Shirky C. Ontology is Overrated — Categories, Links, and Tags [Internet]. 2005 [cited 2019 May 3]. Available from: http://www.shirky.com/writings/ontology_overrated.html
  2. Leu J. Taxonomy, ontology, folksonomies & SKOS. [Internet]. SlideShare. 2012 [cited 2019 May 3]. p. 21. Available from: https://www.slideshare.net/JanetLeu/taxonomy-ontology-folksonomies-skos

OpenLabyrinth stress testing at CHES scholarship day

On Wed, 5th October, the Centre for Health Education Scholarship (CHES) at UBC held its annual scholarship symposium, in Vancouver.

There were many interesting sessions, including a stirring keynote address from Rachel Ellaway (Professor, Education Research, University of Calgary.

OpenLabyrinth featured at a few presentations at the CHES symposium, including a short presentation on Activity Metrics by David Topps and Corey Albersworth. (SeeĀ http://www.slideshare.net/topps/activity-metrics-for-ches-day )

In one of the afternoon demonstration sessions, we were able to show our Arduino stress-detector kit in action to conference participants. Here we have a short video of the Arduino sensors being calibrated.

This was the same basic setup as that first shown at the Medbiq Conference in Baltimore earlier this year. However, for this conference, no expense was spared. We splurged another $29.99 on another Arduino device. Yes, it nearly broke the budget!

We also managed to set up the software on both Windows 10 and OS X Yosemite, which highlights the platform independence of the Eclipse IDE that we used for collecting the Arduino data and sending it to the LRS.

Here we have a short video of the OpenLabyrinth stress-test in action. Our participant is playing a rapid-fire series of case vignettes on the Mac on the right, while the Arduino sensors connected to the Windows machine on the right is recording real-time data on her heart rate and Galvanic Skin Response.

We initially created this project as a simple technical demonstration that one could use a cheap, easy combination of Arduino hardware, OpenLabyrinth and xAPI statement collection into the GrassBlade Learning Record Store. We had only intended to show that such collection from multiple activity streams was feasible in the time and resources available to the average education researcher i.e. not much.

We were delighted to find that the stress detector was much more sensitive than we anticipated and will be useful in real-world research.

Activity metrics at Medbiquitous conference

It’s conference season indeed, around here. The Medbiq Annual Conference is coming up again soon in Baltimore, May 15-17, 2016.

Medbiq logo

Following on from previous years, activity streams and learning analytics will again feature prominently. OpenLabyrinth will be heavily used in a workshop we are holding about the Experience API (xAPI), along with some interesting widgets and gadgets to track/stress your learners.

This will make a nice extension on some of the other work we have recently presented about big data principles, applied to educational metrics, at the Ottawa Conference and CCME over the past month.

Come and play – we’ll make you sweat!