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Last week, we did a webinar that showcased the most advanced deployment of the Tin Can API that we’ve seen to date. We always get a lot of questions during webinars, but we never have time to answer all of them during the webinar—so we answer them with a blog post.

If you missed the webinar, you can watch it and download the slides here.

And now, here are the questions we received, and our answers to them.
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If you’re planning to attend Learning Solutions 2013 in Orlando, FL next week (March 13th – 15th) and you’re curious about how your organization can begin taking advantage of the Tin Can API today, we want to meet you!

We’ve been involved in many of the earliest implementations of the Tin Can API, starting with our own products back in 2011 (soon after we crafted the original version of the specification). While working on these many implementations, we’ve developed and are formalizing a methodology for helping products and organizations make the best decisions when it comes to leveraging the Tin Can API.
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What’s the difference between Tin Can and SCORM?

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Categories: Standards, Tin Can

Posted 11 January 2013

 

We have many folks that come to us from the SCORM world and want to know the difference between SCORM and Tin Can. I answer this question so much that I thought its worth addressing (at a pretty high-level) in this blog post.

First, I’ll unpack the limitations of SCORM (much of this you may already be aware of).

  1. SCORM is reliant on a web browser. This means it’s impossible to track learning or job performance experiences that happen outside of a web browser using SCORM. Examples: a CPR dummy, a drivers ed simulation, etc.
  2. SCORM is usually reliant on a constant Internet connection. This means it’s extremely difficult to track disconnected learning or job performance experiences using SCORM. There are a couple of offline SCORM players out there. We have one that’s works really well, but most of them are typically unstable (SCORM just wasn’t intended to be used this way).
  3. SCORM content must be played via an LMS. We’re among those that believe most of our learning takes place outside of the LMS. With SCORM’s reliance on an LMS to play and track, the majority of our learning experiences (our most valuable learning experiences at that) are not being tracked today.
  4. SCORM can only track a single learner. This means it’s impossible to track team-based learning using SCORM.
  5. SCORM can only track a limited number of things, i.e. completion, time spent in course, pass/fail, a single score. This means there is no way for SCORM track anything beyond a course or assessment (and actually provides very little data for each).

There are other limitations of SCORM, but most are a result of the limitations listed above.

So how is Tin Can different, and we would argue better, than SCORM? Simply put, it does away with all of the limitations listed above. Here are a few key benefits of the Tin Can API.

  1. The Tin Can API can track any experience, anywhere. We’re no longer reliant on a web browser, constant Internet connection or an LMS in order to play and track our experiences. This opens up a world of opportunities for organizations and institutions needing to train their folks. Organizations will now be able to supplement their LMS learning with learning experiences that live outside of the LMS, and use their LMS as the central repository for all of their learning records if they choose to. Some may decide to do away with their LMS entirely and replace with Tin Can focused solutions.
  2. The Tin Can API uses a simple, flexible, but robust statement structure to track experiences. ‘I did this’ (Noun, Verb, Object) is the core of every Tin Can Statement. Examples: ‘Andy attended DevLearn 2012′. ‘Andy resuscitated CPR dummy’. ‘Andy closed a $30,000 SCORM Engine deal’. This simple structure allows us to track any experience in any context.
  3. The data that the Tin Can API tracks is intended to be portable (unlike SCORM). Tin Can Statements are sent to and stored in a Learning Record Store, which can be integrated with an LMS (see our Tin Can Engine solution). The LRS is designed to store these statements, but is also designed to distribute these statements to other systems that have support for the Tin Can API, i.e. another LRS, an LMS, a reporting tool, a HR management system, a Talent Management System, etc.
  4. Because the Tin Can API can be used to track any experience, anywhere, organizations can also use it to track performance support and job performance. In our opinion, this is the holy grail of big data. When an organization is tracking their learning/training, performance support and job performance using the same language, i.e. Tin Can, they will be able to determine the effectiveness of their training programs and measure ROI.

There are numerous other benefits of the Tin Can API, many of which can be found in our “Layers of the Tin Can Onion” article on tincanapi.com. Here’s a PDF of this article if you’d like to take it with you.

If you still have questions after reading this about how the Tin Can API, and technologies that adopt it, can benefit your organization, please feel free to reach out. We’re always happy to help!

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Our first Tin Can API Technical Webinar was a big success. Thanks to everyone who attended. For those of you who missed it, you can find a recording of the webinar here, and can see the Q & A from the webinar within this blog post.

*****

Q. Is there already an implementation using OAuth?
A. The Tin Can implementation which is part of the SCORM Engine includes facilities for working with OAuth Tin Can authentication. SCORM Cloud private endpoints also have this functionality, but it has not yet been exposed there. Additional support for OAuth is forthcoming.

Q. Will it remain OAuth v1 or become v2?
A. Currently the Tin Can spec is written for use with OAuth 1.0a.

Q. What if activities disappear?

A. A logical activity should never disappear. “Intro To Computer Science, class of 1972″ might now be “gone”, but it will never disappear from history. In Tin Can, activities exist within statements, and statements are historical.
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Our first Tin Can API webinar back on October 9th was a huge success. We had over 1800 folks sign-up to attend and ended up with over 800 attendees. Jeff and I were working feverishly to answer as many questions in real-time as we could, but it was impossible to get to all 250+ questions that were submitted (we’re good, but not that good!).

In between supporting out customers, designing and developing some new Tin Can tools & applications, and preparing for DevLearn12, we’ve taken some time to answer all of your questions… and they’re finally ready! We hope you find these informative and helpful. If you have follow-up questions to any of these, or brand new questions we’ve yet to answer, please let us know. We’re happy to help.


Q&A – October 9, 2012 Tin Can API Webinar

Who’s supporting, or has plans to support the Tin Can API?

We received several of these types of questions, so we decided to lump these all together and provide a single answer.

Q: Any idea if WBT Systems (Dublin) has Tin Can on their radar?
Q: I am curious about Oracle Learn (previously Learn.com) plans about adopting Tin Can?
Q: What version of SumTotal supports Tin can?
Q: Will Adobe Captivate support this?
Q: We use Elvate as our LMS is Tin Can compatible?
Q: We use Cornerstone on Demand as our LMS. Have they been an adopter?
Q: Are open-source LMS systems (e.g. Moodle) adopting Tin Can?
Q: What about Saba LMS? Can we use Tin Can on this LMS?
Q: When will Adobe Captivate support Tin Can export?
Q: Any plans for Moodle or Oracle to implement the Tin Can API?
Q: I don’t see the Desire2Learn platform on the list of adopters. Are they on the radar? If not, I will be a huge squeaky wheel with them!
Q: Are you aware if SkillSoft has any plans to adopt Tin Can?

A: We can’t speak to any of these vendors plans for adoption as they have not made any public commitments. We have spoken with many of them as part of our outreach efforts to ensure that everybody is aware of Tin Can and its implications. We encourage all end-users who’d like to take advantage of the Tin Can API to speak up to their vendors and request that they support this new standard.

… and the rest of them.

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