Tin Can API, previously and variously known as Project Tin Can, Experience API, and Next Generation SCORM, is the next generation of SCORM and AICC. But it’s not SCORM. And it seems the designers of Tin Can are trying very hard to make sure we know it’s not SCORM. This is true in many ways. And at the same time, for many of us, we will use it as a substitute for SCORM to do what we are currently doing with SCORM. By now, you may have read a bit about it already; if not here’s a brief description.

So when we’re thinking about tracking training, why might we be interested? I think the most immediately relevant of the new specs will be that it is designed to be more mobile friendly. And it’s asynchronous – learners won’t have to be connected to the internet while taking a course: think a medical device sales person in a hospital using their iPad without wireless service, completing a demo or training piece. Once they are connected again, their completion is sent to their LRS/LMS.

The intention is to track anything of any kind of learning and to be able to send that to the data tracking and storage program of your choice, not necessarily an LMS. My initial thoughts are that we won’t actually see much impact on our clients for traditional eLearning but that they will be interested in knowing if they can use it to do Learning, any kind of learning, on mobile devices and when can they track it in their LMSs. Presently, the major LMSs do not support it. I am waiting to see when and how that adoption will happen.

When we’re thinking big, this has great possibilities. If you have the incentive and the budget to track all kinds of learning experiences, to learn what your learners are interested in, how it may relate to their performance or skill uptake, or you name it, this can do it. If you want to know if your training is working, or how your training works for different individuals, this can track it. If you want to know what kind of training material, educational games, or seemingly non-educational experiences may make that person better at what they do, this specification can handle tracking it.

One of the things I’m very interested in is how major LMSs will handle it. The question is, will they integrate the LRS or talk to one that’s provided along side of it? Will anyone with authorization in the company have the ability to create any reports or run analytics from the LRS? Or will the legal barriers stymie groups within in the company who have the interest, budget, and willingness to learn something from the tracked information beyond whether a course is completed?

When you listen to Rustici people describe what Tin Can API can do, they talk about the amazing possibilities. They talk with stars in their eyes about tracking really useful information and connecting experiences and learning that go beyond the usual tracked training. And it can do this. And yet these guys, though visionary, are pretty down to Earth. I think its going to be a nice marriage, of being able to get things done, that we need to get done, and being positioned to be able to take it to the next step if we ever have the opportunity.

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