It’s the 90TEN. It’s the ‘World’ of Mouth.
December 5, 2012
The LMS and Me – Don’t let the tail wag the dog.
December 18, 2012

If you don’t know about Tin Can, learn more here … or … here. In short, it’s simply the next generation of SCORM, a standard for the development of eLearning to help online courses communicate in a language (completions, scores etc) that’s universal. Until now, this really came down to ‘courses will travel’ – from one Learning Management System (LMS) to another. Ok, those of us in the industry know that this isn’t always the case, but it’s the individual LMS’s functionality that generally lets us down when migrating courses to different platforms – not so much the SCORM standards themselves. Tin Can is the next gen of SCORM, but the description ‘courses will travel’ may become redundant, as Tin Can will provide you access to courses and learning experiences outside of LMSs i.e. the course or learning experience doesn’t have to travel – it just needs to communicate in the right way (through the Tin Can ;-)). Over the next few years we’ll see a shift to the new Tin Can standard being developed.

I wanted to write a little about why this is so exciting for us in the learning industry. I’ll post a few articles on this topic as lots of bloggers already are; there are so many areas of this new standard that are real change agents for how we can record our learning. The first thing that springs to my mind is learner centric and driven professional development.

Associations and training institutions that support professional development of their staff or members might be quite open to providing credits towards yearly accreditation simply by knowing their members or employees are completing professional readings. But how can we capture this within an LMS today? In most instances, we can only track and capture what has already been set up, such as a SCORM compliant course that has been uploaded, or potentially professional readings that are chosen by someone other than the learner and uploaded to the LMS (pdfs, riveting stuff!).

Tin Can provides an option to train outside of the LMS. There’s some pretty wafty descriptions of this out there, such as ‘whatever you experience, Tin Can will track it.’ I think a good example of this concept is to use bookmarklets.

Bookmarklets have been around for years. They can be customised for different uses. They’re very easily installed on browsers (when I say easy, I mean drag it to your toolbar and drop it on!). When you press the bookmarklet button, it will do ‘something’ (dependant on what it’s been programmed to do). For example, Delicious has used bookmarklets as a way to send the website you want to add as a favourite to your Delicious account (basically an online accessible copy of your favourite websites).

Tin Can API ‘breaks the shackles’ of only reporting on things that are ‘only on the LMS’. Bookmarklets can be installed that will send data to an LMS for the recording of that data (it might actually travel through an LRS to the LMS – read more if you need to know what this is, but all you need to really know if you’re more of a learning consumer or L&D manager is that it will get you the data you want). Think of it this way: Tin Can opens the door to learners tracking their self-guided professional readings online. For professional associations such as Pharmacy Guild or CPA, this provides an abundance of opportunities in how to accredit their members. The data is still stored and consolidated within the LMS, but Tin Can provides a conduit and SCORM compliant standard between off-site training and the management of the training records. The real clincher here is that it’s learner centric and driven: For example:

Jonesy has just spent half an hour reading an online journal article regarding the most amazing break throughs in Accounting Methodology 2.0. He clicks his Bookmarklet (a button in his browser toolbar), and data is sent to his association’s training records. He’s accredited whatever points associated with the readings. The coolest thing for Jonesy, is he didn’t need to click through five prompts to launch an online course and he always forgets the #$%@ LMS password anyway…

There’s so much more to discuss here such as where the LRS fits in, the parameters of what bookmarklets used in this way will report on. It’s happening, SCORM’s moving forward, it’s growing up with more freedom, we’ve given it the keys to the car and the ability to track outside of an LMS – huge potential for mobiles and apps offline. For us at The Learning Hook, this is an area we’re keenly looking at, as we hope you are too.

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