The Dutch xAPI Specification for Learning Analytics (DSLA)


Have you ever wanted to store the data collected from any learning environment in a standardised way but did not know how? Look no further, you are in the right place now! After working with xAPI for several years, we have compiled a registry of xAPI specifications for learning activities to support and highlight the consistent usage of xAPI recipes in the educational domain.


But first things first. What is xAPI? The Experience API (xAPI) – formerly known as TinCan API – is a specification that captures data about learning events from all sorts of sources in a consistent format, i.e. any interaction between a learner and other people or with any form of content. xAPI statements follow the structure of “subject – verb – object” and are stored in a Learning Record Store (LRS). From there that data can be passed on to other LRSs or analytics engines. There are several aspects that make xAPI so appealing to education providers: the xAPI approach is (1) learner activity centred, (2) system independent, and (3) straightforward to implement.

One of xAPI’s big advantages, however, is also one of its most challenging issues: the freedom of choice when designing xAPI statements. They can be defined by anyone at any time. This works well for small solutions but when data sets from different sources or providers are to be combined, this freedom of choice can pose a problem to interoperability. xAPI therefore promotes the use of recipes to standardise the expression of different learning experiences and relies on the educational community to make their recipes public.

We have therefore developed a complete overview of xAPI statements that we implemented in various projects (Berg et al., 2016) to enable the deployment of a customised learning analytics solutions. With this inter-project and inter-institutional xAPI recipe collection we aim to stimulate a national Dutch as well as a European xAPI movement and to also contribute to the international definition of usage of xAPI specifications around the world.


The overview of these xAPI statements in available in two ways:

(1) a registry of the complete statements in JSON format (Scheffel et al., 2016a)

(2) a spreadsheet with the most important information needed for each statement, i.e. a more user-friendly and more human-readable version of the same content that describes the activity, names the specific action and lists the verbs and types of objects to be used (Scheffel et al., 2016b)

These recipes significantly increase the range of recipes and thus support recipe standardisation that fosters an orchestrated process of delivering one authoritative source of xAPI recipes.

So browse through our recipe collection and start ‘cooking’ your very own xAPI-based learning analytics! Let us know what you are working on, share your insights and statements with us and then we can extend the collection with your recipes.



Berg, A., Scheffel, M., Drachsler, H., Ternier, S. & Specht, M. (2016). The Dutch xAPI Experience. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK’16), April 25-29, 2016, Edinburgh, UK.

Scheffel, M., Ternier, S., & Drachsler, H. (2016a). The Dutch xAPI Specification for Learning Activities (DSLA) – Registry. Retrieved from

Scheffel, M., Ternier, S., & Drachsler, H. (2016b). The Dutch xAPI Specification for Learning Activities (DSLA) – Overview. Retrieved from


About Author

Maren Scheffel is an assistant professor within the Technology Enhanced Learning Innovations (TELI) department of the Open Universiteit’s Welten Institute, the Research Centre for Learning, Teaching and Technology. With a background in computational linguistics she started to work in the field of technology-enhanced learning in 2009 and has since then been involved in the coordination and management as well as the research work of several European projects. For her PhD that she obtained from the Open Universiteit in 2017, she developed the Evaluation Framework for Learning Analytics (EFLA).

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