by Jonathan Shoaf
As one of the most widely used versions of SCORM, the SCORM 1.2 specification is over 10 years old. There have been a lot of changes in internet technology over those years, as well as, many changes in how professional learning is administered and tracked. Project Tin Can is a response to these changes.
Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) is leading the effort for the next generation of SCORM. Based on feedback from the community of practitioners, the next generation of SCORM will address some of the following industry issues:
- Ability to handle distributed content (that is not a part of an LMS)
- Existing SCORM specifications are complex and expensive to implement
- Ability to handle offline and long-running content
- The data tracked by existing specifications is not exposed to developers in a standard way and requires LMS expertise to access
- New programming standards have emerged that allow more flexibility in how SCORM can be implemented
- SCORM should not be tied to the web browser (i.e. could be implemented by a mobile app)
- Existing SCORM specifications are limited to a single learner mindset
- Sequencing has been a confusing part of the specification and should be handled differently
The Tin Can API will address these issues. In fact, at its core, the Tin Can way of implementing SCORM is very simple. Content that uses this API will report simple activity statements in the form of:
I Did This. Actor, Verb, Object.
Examples may be:
- Mary completed CPR Training
- Frank read The Hunger Games
- Team Edward started Assignment 2
- Susie answered "What is 3 + 2?" with 5
These activities are captured by a Learning Record Store (LRS). The LRS could be a standalone reporting tool or part of an LMS. It will collect activity streams similar to the way social media applications track activity streams. "Frank did this" could be "Frank likes John's photo."
By doing SCORM in this new way, content can in fact reside on social networks and report across domains to an LRS that is part of your LMS. Content could be a mobile phone app that learners download from the App Store and report that "Mary earned the flight expert badge playing Jet Fighter X." This frees content authors to provide content in more modern ways to learners. It frees them from the restraints of the LMS.
The project Tin Can specification, which is only meant to be a part of the next generation of SCORM, is still in its infancy. It has challenges including security/privacy complexity, verb and activity definitions, and reporting complexities in the LRS. If these challenges can be overcome, the next generation of SCORM promises to remove burdening ties to the LMS and make the tracking of learning much more flexible.