Part 1: The Tin Can API – Why Should eLearning Professionals Care? [w/ audio]

If you're at all even remotely associated with support for the eLearning industry (i.e., instructional designer, training developer, software developer, LMS vendor, social networking host provider, CRM provider, etc.) then you'll be interested in this series.

At last year's DevLearn conference (DevLearn11), the anticipated release of Articulate's Storyline authoring tool was all the rage.  This year (DevLearn12), the buzz was all about Tin Can (a.k.a. the "Experience API", a.k.a. Tin Can API).  In fact, so buzzy was it that I actually heard the "R" word used several times throughout the conference.  And...AND, if you can believe it, the "P" word (*gasp!*) was actually used by one of the guests in a panel session.

eLearning Professionals Are Confused

The thing is, in the months leading up to DevLearn, and extending to the days following DevLearn's opening keynote, I asked a bunch of you, my professional eLearning colleagues and friends,  if you could explain to me what Tin Can was about and how it differs from SCORM.  Not surprisingly, the answers the lot of you gave were all over the board; they were speculative at best.  Hell, I wasn't immune.  I read the discussions on the TinCanAPI consortium website and, by DevLearn's kickoff day, I still couldn't wrap my head around it enough to be able to articulate a value proposition.

Audio Interview (Part 1): What is Tin Can? What can it do that SCORM can't?

So, I made it my mission to learn more.  Below is the first in a 4-part series of interviews I conducted with contributors to the Tin Can API consortium, vendors who were amongst the so called Tin Can adopters (they actually had badges at their exhibitor booths identifying themselves as such), developers, as well as learning industry PhDs who are themselves challenged with a vision of the Tin Can-enhanced eLearning horizon.

In the audio clip below, I share the interview I was fortunate enough to conduct with Ali Shahrazad of Saltbox Services.  (Thank you, Ali!)

Mr. Shahrazad's explanations helped a LOT in describing a compelling perspective of the value -- and key components -- of Tin Can.  I also listed below the questions that Mr. Shahrazad addressed for us.

If you're an eLearning professional -- or someone who works to support those who develop online training, social networking or informal learning programs, you'll want to take a listen to the audio below.  After taking a listen, I'd love to get your comments about any scenarios you can envision for Tin Can in your eLearning projects.

DevLearn12 Tin Can Alley - Saltbox Services

Questions/Answers Highlights

  • (00:00) What is Tin Can? (a.k.a., Experience API; a.k.a. Tin Can API)
  • (00:38) What does Tin Can do that SCORM can't?
  • (1:48) What's a Learning Record Store (LRS)?
  • (2:44) So, is Tin Can's value then in providing enhanced reporting capabilities?
  • (3:01) How would I use Tin Can…? Is it really more an API for software vendors and software developers to use so they can offer more feature sets to their customers?
  • (3:48) How would Tin Can help me in creating better instructional design?
  • (6:24) Is the LRS (Learning Records Store/Storage) like an analytics engine?
  • (7:14) So, what you have here (at his exhibit table) is one implementation of Tin Can, while these other vendor tables are showing other implementations, is that right?
  • (7:40) Any last thoughts about how we can find out more about Tin Can?
  • (8:20) What kind of skills are needed to implement Tin Can?

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About Mel

Mel is the online training architect and screencasting wizard at Kareo, one of Forbes' 2013 list of 100 Most Promising Companies in America. He's also the creator of Digital-Know-How, a training website devoted to developing learners' skills for screencasting and web video course development. Mel is also the chief blogger of; Mel's personal blog. The comments and opinions you read here are Mel's and not associated with any other company.
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