A Comeback for Another Drink

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Saltbox has occupied a large part of my life for the past five years. I’ve passed on other opportunities to focus on this team and the product we were building, and I’ve learned a lot in the process.

Why Saltbox? The people, many of whom I’ve previously praised in Not Thirsty for Cool Projects at Saltbox, are the core of why I keep finding myself back there. They are focused, driven, and dedicated; but also friendly, supportive, and professional.

Saltbox has had many growing pains, as should be expected in a bootstrapped “startup”, including pivots and cash-flow issues. The company went through its major pivot in product and focus back in mid-2012. And while I still think back on that initial application I worked on, back when I wrote “Not Thirsty …”, as something with a lot of potential, it’s nothing in comparison to Wax LRS.

Wax LRS is a “web scale”1 platform for receiving data about what learners are doing, supporting an open specification that lets anyone define statements2 that describe some activity. These statements include a core tuple of who, what, how, and when; along with associated metadata that can include scoring, categorization, and whatever else with support for extensions to the schema.

Built on top of a data platform to receive and store all the learning, Wax LRS provides “RESTful” interfaces to derive useful insights into the why’s of learning: Are your companies salespeople struggling to absorb knowledge about new products? What learning activities are the best indicator of later success in their jobs, and how is that different for different departments or teams?

The scope of what was possible with Wax LRS, in terms of the potential sources of data to drive reports and visualizations, as well as the possibilities for making a large impact in the professional lives of an unbounded number of learners that can be guided by L&D leaders using the knowledge they could gain from our product, really appeals to me. This is the kind of thing that excites me, and makes me want to keep coming back.

  1. That’s why we use PostgreSQL :P 

  2. For more information, see the Experience API specification of statements at https://github.com/adlnet/xAPI-Spec/blob/master/xAPI-Data.md#statements 

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