You can’t be involved in L&D without taking a keen interest in e-learning. It obviously will play an increasingly central role in the provision of training to employees. But are you aware of the important step change that is going on right now?
Firstly, a little background. E-learning as we know it came of age with the creation of SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Mode). Like so many training initiatives, it was developed for US defence requirements, and although its use extends to the whole of federal government, it remains under military departmental control. SCORM defines how you and your training content communicate with a host system, which is normally a Learning Management System (LMS).
From 2001, SCORM became the default standard for LMS providers to use, and it has been enhanced to the present day by various editions of SCORM 2004. But although it was a great step forward in the early years, it was designed in a world of desktop PCs; it requires web access; and it is not fleet of foot enough to cope with the sort of distributed, multi-platform, mobile learning that we expect today.
Hence the call by the US Department of Defense for a new standard. They awarded the job to Rustici Software of Nashville, and Rustici’s project name for it was ‘Tin Can’. The name stuck, although you may know it by its less friendly official title, Experience API (xAPI). Version 1.0
emerged in April 2013, and now Tin Can is gathering considerable momentum. It is Open Source and it is generally regarded as the current and future specification for learning technology.
Rustici consulted with many learning providers, and following their feedback, Tin Can permits you to track and collect information about the whole range of learning experience that an employee goes through (both online and offline). It captures data from cross-platform sources in a consistent format. Users can simply self-record all forms of learning through, for instance:
• mentoring sessions
• courses taken, whether assessed or not
• books, blogs and articles they read
• videos they watched
• personal learning programmes in progress
• projects completed
Tin Can is really a sophisticated tracking system. It is not the ultimate receptacle of the learning information: that is delivered to a Learning Record Store (LRS) such as Learning Locker, which may be self-contained or it may form part of a wider Learning Management System.
Once there, the data is analysed and used to track and display individual or team performance and progress.
Compared to SCORM, Tin Can is:
• More secure
• Multi-source, multi-device
• Not reliant on web browser
• Able to monitor learning plans & follow-ups
And in addition to all of these steps forward, it can monitor each learner’s activities and achievements when they participate in business simulations and serious games.
As a supplier of bespoke experiential learning, delivered through the medium of business simulation, ProfitAbility does not simply rely on its trademark face-to-face simulations: we also work through the Curatr LMS (which is described as a Social Learning Platform). It allows us to design turnkey programmes and delivery systems. We use Curatr to gamify different learning activities, blended or online. The system allows participants to curate the best comments and conversations: and also vote on, bookmark and recommend the best ideas and opinions.
Like any good game, we can create levels through which players are motivated to progress. Curatr is used elsewhere to deliver Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): but ProfitAbility’s applications lie more in the ability to deliver courses to dispersed workforces, often internationally.
Tin Can/xAPI is a relatively new standard, and there is still a large legacy of SCORM-only learning systems that continue in operation. Some are working towards Tin Can-compatibility: others are stuck in the past. I am very excited about the possibilities that Tin Can provides, to permit better and as-yet unimagined new ways of learning.
Meanwhile in the very near future, we will be providing a free and exciting opportunity to experience the best in experiential learning techniques, as we immerse you and other L&D and HR professionals in two shortened business simulations. It’s at the IoD in London, on 14th September. Reserve one of the remaining places here.
Brian Helweg-Larsen is a co-founder of ProfitAbility