I’m sure that by now many of you will already have come across the biggest buzzword to hit E-Learning town since the second coming of SCORM in 2004.
Yes folks, a new standard has landed on our shores and it’s called Tin Can API (AKA Experience API).
So what is Tin Can? What does it do? What does it look like? And what can it do for your organisation? Well let’s have a look.
To fully understand Tin Can it’s necessary to appreciate the history and indeed the limitations of our old friend SCORM. SCORM has been the leading industry standard since 2001 for the tracking and recording of many a learner’s online training history. Quite simply SCORM will record the following details of a learner’s achievements:
· Has the learner begun their course?
· Is the course complete or incomplete?
· Did the learner pass or fail?
· What score was achieved?
There are a few extra functions that never became common practice, so in essence that’s really all that SCORM does.
“But what’s so wrong with that?” you may ask. No doubt much of SCORM’s success has been down to the simplicity it offers, both for content designers, LMS developers and administrators. But since those bygone days of 2001 the world, and indeed technology, have progressed to now offer us a much more comprehensive means of recording our learning experiences.
So how does this work in the real world? Well gather round and I’ll tell you a tale….
Once upon a time, in a business far far down the road, a young accountant called Alice decided she would like to further her knowledge and skills by learning more about accountancy law. She spoke with her colleagues from learning and development who enrolled her on an online course. “Woohoo!” she said when she completed her online course with a pass mark of 95%, before going on to read 2 accountancy law books, several journals, and learned from many discussions with colleagues and online peers.
Not long afterwards, Alice seen an opportunity for promotion to a job in which accountancy law was a big factor. Feeling enthused she asked her learning and development team to provide a report on her training so far. But when she received the report all it said was that she once did an online course and achieved a 95% pass mark.
“Awww” thought Alice. “It’s just a pity our L&D team were not able to record all the other studying, research and practice I got after I did my online course. If only there was another way…”
Well folks, dry your eyes and put your hankies away, because the answer is here and it’s called Tin Can API.
You see, the main benefit of Tin Can is that it is designed with the simplicity to make it easily adoptable, whilst remaining dynamic enough to record much more of the everyday life experiences that are fundamental to our learning and development.
So here it is in a nutshell…
Tin Can works by recording just 3 simple variables, those being a noun (Object), a verb (action), and another noun. Quite simply, this can be translated into the following:
[Person X] [Had] [This particular learning experience]
Here are some examples:
Noun Verb Noun
Alice - Read - The fundamentals of accountancy law (a book)
Alice - Visited - AccountancyLaw.com (a website)
Alice - Watched - A presentation on YouTube on accountancy law
Alice - Commented - On an online discussion about accountancy law
Simple, eh? The truth is that Tin Can API is the first standard that strives to embrace what we learn in the ‘University of Life’. And with the progress of modern technology (Smartphones, Tablet PCs, Cloud computing etc.) we now for the first time have the means to record much of the informal learning that plays such a big part in our professional and personal development.
And there’s more! Tin Can is independent from specific LMS’s, so no need to remember your username and request a password reset. Mobile and desktop apps are now becoming available that can record your learning activity at literally the touch of a button.
Here’s an example:
Alice is sitting at home surfing the net. She comes across a website all about accountancy law which she finds very informative. Once finished, instead of just moving on, Alice hits a ‘Tin Can’ link on her browser which automatically records the website she was on. Alice can also add comments which will aid her with reflective learning, or she can even share it with colleagues or with peers from a social learning group. All at the touch of a button.
On another day, Alice reads a book. The book doesn’t have a link (as most books don’t!). But Alice can use the Tin Can API App on her smartphone to take a photo of the book, or even to scan the book’s barcode, before sending the precious data off to be stored online. Again, all at the touch of a button.
In essence, we are only beginning to realise the potential that Tin Can API can offer. The simplicity of the ‘Noun, Verb, and Noun’ approach means data can easily be shared across systems and with other learners. It also means that our offline learning can now be captured, reflected upon and reported with ease.
So there you have it. Now that you’ve seen how it works and how it can be applied, maybe now is the time to begin thinking about how you too can implement Tin Can into your organisation to give a richer, more fulfilling learning experience to your learners.
Ciarán joined the Aurion Learning team as an Instructional Designer in 2014 and has held a number of positions within the educational and training sector over the past 12 years.
In his role as Instructional Designer, Ciarán is responsible for working closely with Aurion client Subject Matter Experts and the in-house e-learning development team in the design and production of online and work-based learning materials for a range of programmes.
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