Is Tin Can the Next SCORM?

Headline: ADL (the inventor and organization behind SCORM) is backing SCORM’s, Tin Can API. If none of those words mean anything to you, let me explain what Tin Canis and why it might possibly be the best learner-tracking option for your organization:

  • Every organization needs training in one form or another.
  • Learning must be tracked and measured.
  • Since learning doesn’t always happen in a single location, the Tin Can API will transform the entire world into a classroom.  Anything that happens, anywhere, can be tagged and submitted as “learning.”  (<–This is a big deal!)
  • An “API” is essentially a bridge connecting the world of learning to your current learning management system (LMS).

I starting talking about the Tin Can API on my work’s social network back in March 2012.  It still hasn’t caught on yet, but I think it’s just because they haven’t seen any case studies yet.  Here’s a list of adopters.  And here’s a specific example—Float Mobile Learning’s Tappestry is a knowledge sharing tool powered by Tin Can.  Float wanted a tool that allowed learners to be able to get credit for performing a specific task with learning objects and training modules across the web.  They also wanted to be able to track learning that takes place off the web.  The Tin Can API allows them to track that information and store it in a single place. Tin Can was officially launched at the Elearning Guild’s MlearnCon 2012 back in June.  They’ll be popping up here and there at various conferences.  But the Tin Can folk’s next big presence will be at Elearning Devcon 2013, where they expect everyone will be networking and figuring out how to adopt the SCORM Cloud.  Below, you can peruse a 30-minute webcast where two Tin Can experts, Mike Rustici & Tammy Rutherford from, discuss their product.

(Skip the first 5 minutes.)  As mentioned in the video, the anticipated adoption rate of this LRS will be much faster and much greater than the move from SCORM 1.2 to SCORM 2004.  There was little motivation to move before.  Moving learning to the cloud, however, is a game changer.  Early adopters will begin fitting Tin Can into their business plans this year.  I predict a significant shift by 2015.

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About bryantanner

I'm obsessed with learning via the appropriate technology. My professional mission is to effectively deliver instruction to learners in a way that yields the greatest results for all stakeholders involved.
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2 Responses to Is Tin Can the Next SCORM?

  1. Hey Bryan,

    Need to correct a few things here.
    1) Not sure that ‘learning needs to be tracked and measured’ but certainly knowing the impact of learning is important. TinCan provides a great bridge for doing this
    2) An “API” is essentially a bridge connecting the world of learning to your current learning management system (LMS). – An API is a handshake between two computer programs is you really want to make that simple. There is no need for an LMS at all. An API can be used to speak to your LMS from another application but defining an API as anything tied to an LMS is slightly misleading.

    The issue of API is what makes TinCan so powerful for some of us since I can have data speak to data. In one program we’re developing TinCan data speaks to an application that ‘reacts’ based on the data its receiving. What TinCan really does is provides an ‘out’ to the LMS since data captured in an LMS might be useful for an auditor but is horrendously useless to the organziation outside of that.

  2. Steve says:

    One minor point of clarification for folks that read the article but don’t watch the video –

    The Experience API (Tin Can) was developed in no small part by the continuing contributions of the Rustici folks. It’s awesome partly because of the energy and vision they’ve put into it. That said, the spec for the Tin Can API isn’t owned by Rustici. Similar to SCORM, the ADL Initiative (a U.S. Government entity) is sponsoring the effort to setup the plumbing, language, and concepts that will drive better systems. It’s one piece of many.

    Not to diminish Rustici’s contribution. Just don’t want folks to get the wrong idea. Tin Can isn’t a vendor licensed thing. It’s an open standard. It’s awesome. It’s open. It’s not a product and it’s not owned by anyone.

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