Understanding Tin Can API

Tin Can has been getting lots of people in a twist lately. Early adopters are tweeting and blogging about it and anyone who’s anyone seems to be dropping it into conversations to prove they’re at the cutting edge of learning technologies. It is certainly doing the rounds as the Next Big Thing. But ask anyone, “What is Tin Can? Explain it to me” and more often than not you’ll just get a shrug of the shoulders and a quizzical look.

This is because Tin Can API is pretty confusing to the newcomer. I can vouch for that because I am a newcomer to it myself. This blog post is my collected notes and thoughts from one day spent learning about Tin Can API. It’s become pretty clear over recent weeks to me that most people understand that Tin Can API is the next version of the SCORM standard, but few people realise that it is still only at the DRAFT stage. There is a high level of vendor ‘early adopter’ activity with technology companies implementing the draft standard but there is also a high level of vendor hype with people like Articulate touting Articulate Online as a “Tin Can API-supported learning management system”. The level of hype makes it sound more real than it is, and the race to innovate seems to have taken the standards definition squad by surprise. While these people are still working on the final revisions to the draft specification, the hype in the vendor market is leading e-learning practitioners to eagerly search out press releases and marketing material that just aren’t ready yet.

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