What is Tin Can and SCORM?

There’s been buzz about the “Tin Can API” and “next generation SCORM” for some time now – but do you actually know what these terms mean? Here, we’ll define and explain the two in correlation with e-learning.

SCORM stands for “Shareable Content Object Reference Model.” It’s a specification for sharing data across different systems. SCORM is a set of technical standards for e-learning software products. It tells programmers how to write their code so that it works well with other e-learning software. Specifically, SCORM governs how online learning content and Learning Management Systems (LMSs) communicate with each other.

SCORM was developed over ten years ago – a lifetime in terms of technology adoption. Think about it: ten years ago concepts like e-learning, and particularly mobile learning, were either brand new or non-existent. With the rapidly increasing adoption of mobile technology today, the learning landscape is vast, ever-expanding, and more accessible than ever before. So, if you need to capture and evaluate the big picture of learning within an organization, more sophisticated analytics are required in order to collect and interpret activities through the context of “learning.” The Tin Can API seeks to address this challenge by creating a uniform format for sharing such data.

Tin Can (or the Experience API), the successor to SCORM, is an e-learning software specification that allows learning content and learning systems to speak to each other in a manner that records and tracks all types of learning experiences. Learning experiences are recorded in a Learning Record Store (LRS).

As more LMS and authoring tool vendors offer Tin Can API integration, there will likely be a greater emphasis placed on designing learning experiences and not just learning objects in the form of traditional e-learning. 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.

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