SCORM vs. Tin Can API

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SCORM vs Tin Can API

What is Tin Can API?

The Tin Can API has been making significant progress in saving the learning management industry from the archaic industry standard called SCORM. Created over 30 years ago, the Sharable Content Object Reference Model is still widely accepted, referenced, and used across the online learning industry today, even though it’s notorious for offering a bland learning experience. Baffled at how a software standard remains so ubiquitous even after this long? So are we. Its deep connection with the industry remains true even though most learning modules made for SCORM are often time-consuming affairs with outdated graphics and features.

You can understand why people are ready for a breath of fresh air when it comes to anything related to switching away from SCORM. The Tin Can API is the first feasible option toward a better future. At its very core, Tin Can API — also known as Experience API or xAPI, used in a Tin Can-compliant learning management system — is a middleman between older, SCORM compliant learning content and today’s more modern learning management systems. Tin Can API literally expands the vocabulary of words that you can use when passing along information between SCORM learning modules, other APIs, and learning management systems. Tin Can promises to report volumes of new information to the learning management system from learning modules made for SCORM once they are formatted to the new standard.

SCORM existed for so long thanks to its ubiquity when using learning management systems. In a time where every LMS spoke a different language, SCORM was the universal language translator between these separate systems. As long as learning content, or “modules” as they are commonly called, was SCORM compliant, it could work with a whole host of learning management systems rather than just the one or few software platforms that supported that ‘language.’ Today, we no longer need SCORM’s translating abilities. Most learning management systems have authoring tools to create their content within the LMS itself so the transfer of data is not needed. Lessonly is one of these systems that provides easy-to-use authoring tools within the same software system that gives our customers the ability to assign and track the learning.We’ve worked to make sure that no information is ever lost in translation or transmission. Tin Can API works with SCORM compliant learning objects to give more in-depth reporting to modern learning management systems. The two standards are so closely tied together that the question of SCORM vs Tin Can isn’t really applicable. Tin Can API is seen as an update to the SCORM standard, a newer version that aims to fix many of the issues that a thirty-year-old software has these days.

Is SCORM Cloud Still Relevant?

Tin Can API expanded its vocabulary of learning reporting knowledge by picking up a few words that allow it to communicate with Learning Record Stores. These LRS platforms are smaller versions of learning management systems that don’t store as much information as their older, more mature software counterpart. To keep up and track as many features as modern learning management systems, many SCORM customers had long since turned to SCORM Cloud for their training management systems. SCORM Cloud has since updated their software to include a learning record store within its offerings. This allows Tin Can API to report more detailed information to SCORM Cloud so that it can be stored and tracked within the SCORM format more efficiently.

As much of a step forward as Tin Can API is for SCORM compliant learning management systems, all the extra reporting features that come with this upgrade do not come easily. Content must be formatted from its earlier SCORM state into something that the Tin Can API can speak to more fluently. SCORM learning modules are notorious for reporting who took something and when they took it. That’s about it. If the existing content isn’t formatted to work with the more modern Tin Can API, none of the extra learning points will be tracked and reported onto the administrators looking to keep control of their content as needed. With a modern learning management system like Lessonly, this isn’t a problem with authoring tools, assessment tools, and tracking software built into a singular learning management platform. Lessonly users never have to worry about their content not being mobile accessible or responsible across multiple devices including phones, tablets, or laptops. We believe we’ve simplified the entire process by including the easy-to-use authoring tools within the same software we use to assign, track, and grade learning. If you can write an email, you can make an engaging and informative lesson within the Lessonly software — ease of usability and learner-first focus are a few of the core tenets that make up our design philosophy. Allowing us to fulfill our promise of a modern learning management systems means our clients never have to worry about pulling their lessons down from the cloud onto their desktops, laptops, or even mobile devices. Everywhere lessons can be accessed, tracking and reporting of grades and progress is included.

What Does Experience API Change?

Among a host of other improvements, Tin Can API, or Experience API, changed the wording in which learning reports were generated. By basing all of the reports around the simple sentence structure “Noun, verb, object.” At the very basic level, the Experience API will now report sentences like “Jim read this book,” or “I learned this.” Believe it or not, this simple syntax change means a lot more work for Tin Can API users. This may only be one more degree of specificity than what SCORM was reporting before, but Tin Can API allows for customization of each of the three parts of that statement. Adding in context to who Jim is, how well he learned, and where he was accessing the web page from, give many different layers of reporting, but every one of these needs to be programmed into the Experience API and the corresponding learning management system that it’s reporting to. SCORM Tin Can API is a step in the right direction, but only addresses a few of the issues associated with using learning modules made for SCORM compliant learning management systems.

SCORM Tin Can doesn’t address the issue that most learning modules made to work for that standard are still made for outdated software. These learning courses are often time-gated videos with audio that won’t let learners click to the next slide until the timer runs down so the administrator checks all the boxes on his or her compliance needs. Experience API just solves the problem that these older learning modules couldn’t connect properly to newer learning management systems that offer more reporting and tracking features. While xAPI certain improved the reporting between a module and the learning management system, but unless you give the learning modules more information to report, there is no more information to be gained. The time invested into making your outdated training modules report all the new things that Tin Can API can track could be spent better upgrading to a modern learning management system like Lessonly.

Our focus on the learner’s experience will be welcomed by your employees who have ever had to take a learning module. We encourage our customers to use as many funny GIFs, photos, and videos as they can to keep the mood light during learning to ensure that people retain the knowledge that you put in front of them. Understand that Lessonly put a lot of time and effort into giving administrators and managers the tools they need to track and quantify the learning of their employees, but we can do that while also keeping our focus on the learner. In the upcoming future of mobile learning, if content is not enjoyable for the user to digest on their terms, it won’t be learned at all. That leads to wasted investments in learning software and more time spent trying to retrain employees who had to take over for their previous coworkers because they weren’t adequately prepared to do their job.

Lessonly as a SCORM Alternative

When we started Lessonly, we decided early on that we would not offer SCORM compliance in our software. As much as the SCORM standard was supposed to solve a lot of issues associated with learning management systems, the standard was adhered to haphazardly across industries and lead to where we are today. Learning modules are full of locked down content that doesn’t allow learners to retain or study before they are quizzed on their knowledge. Lessonly was created as a counterpoint to the SCORM standard. Something more user-friendly and usable rather than the dominant force in the industry. To us, the question isn’t SCORM vs Tin Can, it’s whether or not your training software is learner-focused or not. Tin Can API is a functional stop-gap between the archaic learning management systems of the past, but doesn’t fix all the problems. Lessonly functions as the lesson creation tool as well as the learning management software from beginning to end of content’s lifecycle. By including the authoring tools within the same software as the assignment and tracking tools, learning is tracked at every stage from when it is created for a person or group all the way to when it is finished and graded. But even then, we know that learning doesn’t end after one pass through a lesson. Lessonly has gone a step further toward automating learning with scheduled assignments and recurring lessons. This helps reinforce important lessons on a quarterly or annual schedule to ensure that your employees stay sharp on the information they need to know.

In the compliance industry, SCORM content was often seen as the go-to solution, but with Lessonly’s learning automation features, compliance training has never been easier. Developers can stay up to date on their information security training by scheduling an annual lesson with a short quiz at the end. All it takes is one training schedule to ensure that your employees know what they need to know to do the best work that they can. Assign employees to certain roles, teams, or groups within your company and you can add lessons to the dashboards of those employees who need to learn the information and none of the ones that don’t. Search for Tin Can API examples of that same software and your list might be kind of short. SCORM content has long relied on time-gated modules to tell admins that their employees have sufficiently “learned” that slide before moving onto the next one. This just creates distrust between management and employees and can be accomplished in a much more conversational way. Looking through Tin Can API tutorial videos shows that this will not change much with the upcoming reevaluation of the SCORM standard.

With Lessonly, how your employees are doing on lessons can be quantified in the Gradebook to track how a singular employee or an entire department is doing on a certain topic. The Tin Can API wiki details ways that learners can now input and say that they have “learned,” but there’s no way of quantifying a smartphone picture of a book that the learner said they read. Tracking the learning of your employees becomes personalized to the people you work with when you use Lessonly instead of a SCORM compliant system.

Imagine the time saved by switching to Lessonly instead of updating your current LMS situation to work with Tin Can API. Sound like a good proposition? Drop us a line, we’d love to chat and see how we can help you and your learners do better work.