Tin Can vs. SCORM: What’s It All About?

Have you heard the buzz surrounding “Tin Can API” and “next generation SCORM”? Do you know what Tin Can and Scorm are and the differences between them? Do you know if the hype about Tin Can is worth it? Let’s take a look at both, including the similarities and differences, and how it can help facilitate your e-learning objectives.

What is SCORM?

SCORM, which stands for “Shareable Content Object Reference Model,” is a specification for sharing data across different learning systems. These technical e-learning standards tell programmers how to write their code so that it works well with other e-learning software. Essentially, SCORM governs how online learning content and Learning Management Systems (LMS) communicate with each other. It is not related to instructional design, rather is it solely a technical standard. (Scorm.com)

What is Tin Can?

Tin Can, also known as the Experience API or APX, is the successor to SCORM. It is also an e-learning specification that allows learning content and learning systems to speak to each other in a manner and track different types of learning experiences. Learning experiences are recorded in a Learning Record Store (LRS). (TinCanAPI.com)

What Are the Differences?

Both SCORM and the Tin Can API were developed by the Advanced Distributed Learning, a research group sponsored by the Department of Defense in conjunction with Rustici Software. The innovative standard was created so that all e-learning content was compatible and could work with other LMS.

Although SCORM has served the e-learning community well over the last 10 years, there are issues with the standard that the new Tin Can API can now address. For example, one major drawback that Rustici Software attempted to address was the fact that it does not capture the entire e-learning picture.

Now, according to Tin Can, the new program “captures the activities that happen as part of learning experiences. A wide range of systems can now securely communicate with a simple vocabulary that captures this stream of activities.” This flexible program also lifts many restrictions that bogged down its predecessor allowing it to recognize and communicate with “mobile learning, simulations, virtual worlds, serious games, real-world activities, experiential learning, social learning, offline learning, and collaborative learning.”

Due to the fact that it is less structured than SCORM, API understands that people learn from interactions with other people, content, and beyond. Tin Can recognizes that these actions can happen anywhere and signal an event where learning could occur. It can record all those interactions and allows administrators to define any activity and learning path that they want, making it ideal for informal training and video-based training.

What Next?                                                        

While SCORM blazed the trail, Tin Can seems to take standards and specs to the next level. Now, more LMS and tool vendors are offering Tin Can API integration. This encourages designing a learning experience as opposed to just a learning object as with previous e-learning solutions. Both Tin Can and SCORM are great reminders for exploring better ways to leverage what we have rather than focusing on what we can’t do.

Want to dive deeper into learning standards and systems? Check out our latest on-demand webinar to learn much more!








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