Is TIN CAN the New SCORM for LMS?

Tin Can API can change the way tracking metrics are measured and transmitted across various eLearning systems.


The Tin Can API has been in the news lately, gaining in popularity and captivating the Moodle community.

This API converts learning records or experiences into quantifiable and shareable data.

Before we get into to the details of the new tool, take a quick look at the old specification that Tin Can seeks to replace.

Why do eLearning systems and courses conform to SCORM?

SCORM – Sharable Content Object Reference Model has been the industry standard for over a decade. Technical standards for eLearning courses that solved problems and provided solutions did exist, but it took Rustici Sotware to collate these and introduce a set of standards under the umbrella term – SCORM.

Prior to this, businesses, course creators and users were hampered by the inability to use or share course material across Learning Management Systems (LMSes ). With the adoption of SCORM, any LMS that conformed to this set of standards could run any SCORM conformant content, making online learning both enterprise and customer friendly.

IS SCORM the ultimate answer for LMS?

The main advantage of SCORM has been and still is – integration the ability to run courses developed by other vendors through any LMS, provided the standard requirements were met.

With SCORM compliance, instructional content is reused in multiple applications, delivered to different locations, and accessed from remote locations. This helps create affordable courseware and ensures smooth upgradation.

But SCORM has its limitations, as this the case with many other systems.

Yes, we are talking about learning activities and user experiences.

SCORM doesn’t deliver when it comes to data on learner activity. Training programs and interactive learning modules cannot provide you with the whole picture. For example; when you create courses with end chapter quizzes, SCORM does provide basic data on a user’s attempt. But it is unable to track such data when you have a simulation game added to the module. It also cannot generate data on learning activities of the participants when they aren’t online. Your LMS requires third party plugins to track offline information. SCORM doesn’t provide optimal support for team based learning sessions, especially for, learning modules with many and concurrent users.

Where does the TC API figure in the LMS scheme of things?

Tin Can, developed by the same group that introduced the original market ecosystem, attempts to score where SCORM failed.

For one, you don’t really need an LMS to record user activities. These records are stored as log files in a Learning Record Store (LRS) in the form of messages. The information can be retrieved by any record tool or learning system.

Tin Can enables tracking of data from simulated games in your course module or training lessons. As simulation training systems are likely to be built-in into future eLearning courses, Tin Can is considered as a next-generation alternative to SCORM. That’s not all there is to this new learning technology. When it’s integrated with LMS or used by LMS based training systems, this API captures learning activities from various places and transmits relevant experiences as data.

It helps Moodle and other LMSes to identify and interconnect with various modes of learning including social and mobile learning, blended and collaborative learning, offline learning, and virtual and simulated training.

Records of user activity and team interaction can be stored, shared and transmitted as data. You don’t even need an online browser for your activity sessions.

Tin Can scores in others areas, namely; improved security, detailed test scores, tracking of multiple scores, and tracking data for learning systems with many users.

What does the adoption of Tin Can entail for the average developer or business?

Tin Can allows course developers and LMSes to know more about their users. It enables business to analyze user activity in training and support systems. Learners are able to share recorded activity statements and to see how others use their responses.

Implementation of Tin Can API, however, doesn’t come cheap. For now, benefits accrue to big businesses with multiple training and support materials and a higher percentage of users/learners.

Smaller businesses and course developers needn’t worry, as SCORM isn’t going anywhere. It may take a while before the new specification becomes the norm. In the interim, you can make use of external plugins to test the prowess of this tracking tool.

Tin Can plugins for courses and activities

Course developers who want to tap into the power of Tin can without launching it from their LMS will find these plugins developed by Andrew Downes handy.

Tin Can API Launch Link

Helps you harness the tracking power of the TC API by launching externally hosted activities  from a LMS course and track them with any record system.

Tin Can Learner Stream

Helps create a block based on a basic activity report for a learner including the tracking and recent activities.



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