The Tin Can API which is also known as the Experience API is sometimes called the “Next generation of SCORM”. I believe that it is not. It’s more of a paradigm shift. Tin Can involves reshaping how we deliver and evaluate training. In that respect, it can not only be called the next-generation of SCORM, but fare more.
Tin Can is designed to be simpler and more broad mechanism to communicate about various types of ways that people learn and absorb information. It is modeled around experiences, after all that is how we learn, thus the official name the “Experience API.” Tin Can is meant to be part of a larger Future Learning Experience Project framework, but as the first component, the Tin Can API stands on its own as a “replacement” for how we currently tether courses to people. Although it is early in the adoption process within the training community, it is already proving itself to be a very useful technology to store data about learning outcomes and different types of activities in the same location as the learner’s experiences.
Some basics about the Tin Can API (aka Experience API) itself, and about what it can be used for:
An API is an application programming interface. In it’s most basic form it’s a set of rules and standards that can be applied by programmers to communicate with a Learning Record Store (LRS). A learning Records Store, can be part of a Learning Management System (LMS), or can work perfectly fine on it’s own without a Learning Management System. With or without a LMS, Learners and end user’s experiences are stored inside of this Learning Records Store as a series of statements. These statements viewed together then form a stream of activity similar to a Facebook wall. An instructor or facilitator could review user’s statements the same way your friends or family can review your wall on Facebook and determine what kinds of experience or learning has been taking place.
But instructional designers and training professionals can also do much, much more with this technology. And the data stream that it creates. Besides the new form factor for raw data, the Tin Can API also brings more features to the eLearning community that have been sought after for the last decade. Instructors have been trying for years to get around the challenges of storing learning activities that are, shall we say, less standard ie. blended learning, any learning away from a desk-and-keyboard, and mobile training. The Tin Can API allows these activities to be more easily tracked and allows administrators and instructors to analyze the information. They can then determine if, and what, learning objectives are being met. In a sense is a conduit to get more information about learning experiences into electronic form on the learning platform. Once this data is available for analysis by educators, better metrics and measurement can take place.
This is really the first time that instructional designers have had a simple yet robust piece of technology to allow them to incorporate mobile training, e-learning, and blended learning with a single protocol. Additionally the experience API uses a REST programming protocol. If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry. REST is something that most developers are very familiar with. What it will most likely mean for you is that it’s not a challenge for developers to work with Tin Can and begin creating proof of concepts or rolling out pilot programs. There are already several commercial LRS products available for content creators who are interested in trying out Tin Can today.
Now that you know a bit more about the protocol, and assuming you become an early adopter, the question becomes: How will you use Tin Can to modernize your delivery of training and better measure outcomes?