SCORM has been around for over a decade now and it has served the e-learning industry well. It was a visionary technology for its time, but ten years is an eternity in the world of technology. SCORM is long overdue for an update.
At its simplest, the Tin Can API is the next generation of SCORM that allows e-learning to use modern technologies in an interoperable way.
For fellow geeks, the Tin Can API is a set of RESTful web services. The services carry a JSON payload that allows a “Learning Activity Provider” to make a series of “Statements” to a “Learning Record Store (LRS)”. Each “Statement” describes a learning experience and consists of three parts, an “Actor,” a “Verb” and an “Object”. A “Statement” conveys something like “Mike passed Introduction to REST”. For a deep geek dive into how the Tin Can API works, start with the Tin Can API developer section.
For the rest of you, the Tin Can API lets you do all the fun stuff you want to incorporate into your learning programs but just can’t because SCORM gets in the way.
The Tin Can API is great for tracking:
Real World Performance
The Tin Can API allows you to operate anywhere:
Disconnected or occasionally connected environments
On any device (ex: smartphone, submarine sonar system)
From any server (host your own content, no more cross-domain scripting issue)
Outside the web browser (ex: native iPhone app, F-16 flight simulator)
The Tin Can API lets you do things that weren’t easy or even possible in SCORM:
Launch content outside the LMS
Maintain complete control over content delivery and user experience
Freely navigate a learner across disparate content
Add security to prevent users from cheating
With the Tin Can API, you can deliver a richer instructional experience:
Interactive and adaptive learning experiences
Multi-modal learning experiences (ex: reinforce your CBT with text message refreshers)
Learning experiences that span long time periods
Tin Can lets you report data that just didn’t quite fit well in SCORM:
Multiple scores for a course (pre-test and post-test)
Many attempts (and you control when new attempts begin)
Detailed test results
Much more (we’re just talking SCORM improvement at this point)
Good stuff, right? This is all real, and forward-looking vendors are making it happen right now.
The first layer alone represents a significant leap for our industry. The Tin Can API will unlock a world of potential innovation. But, of course, there’s more…