How Tin Can API Promotes Continuous Learning?

Today’s Learners Want More.

They aren’t satisfied with traditional ‘classroom led’ learning sessions. They are busy, surrounded by distractions and impatient to learn and improve. They value learning from their peers and managers as much as from subject matter experts, but above all they want flexibility in when and how they learn.

Satisfying this on-demand, collaborative and untethered learning culture is quite a challenge.

Making Continuous Learning A Reality

For many years formal learning has only ever been a small part of how employees increase their knowledge, but without some way of recording their informal learning activities, understanding their development needs can be quite a challenge.

Businesses are now faced with embracing a ‘continuous learning’ model that encompasses:

  • Education — workshops, formal teaching, elearning, conferences etc.
  • Experience — on-the-job learning, development plans, mentoring etc.
  • Exposure — learning from colleagues and social networks, peer feedback etc.
  • Environment — wikis, videos, social networks, games, learning portals etc.

For the employee this form of learning offers them the flexibility and variety they crave, but for the employer it throws up a few issues, the main one being tracking.

It’s all well and good having so many different forms of learning, but with so many disparate ways it’s practically impossible to keep track of every employee’s progress.

The answer is Tin Can API.

What Is Tin Can API?

Basically, Tin Can API (also known as Experience API or xAPI) makes it possible to collect loads of data on pretty much anything someone does either on a computer or in real life (e.g. attending a seminar).

It’s seen as the next generation of SCORM, which was developed about 10 years ago. It worked well, but educational content is delivered very differently these days, mainly thanks to smartphones and tablets.

Tin Can API isn’t a replacement to SCORM, but offers the opportunity to do more and to do it better:

  • Improved portability of content and data
  • Better analytics of a user’s learning experiences
  • More mobile and offline access for learning
  • More tracking of real-world activities
  • Recording both formal and informal learning activity

Because, on average, only about 20% of what we learn is done formally (and therefore easily recorded) there’s a whopping 80% that goes on informally that doesn’t get recorded.

From the learner’s perspective it’s not a big deal because they learn continuously, although it would be pretty cool to have a record somewhere of everything they have ever learned or accomplished.

For an employer Tin Can API is very powerful because it means they have 100% of the data regarding 100% of what employees learn.

It works by recording activities in terms of actor, verb, object — such as “Frank took an online quiz on UX”.

All the data is stored in a Learning Record Store (specially designed for Tin Can API) and can be embedded in or linked to a learning management system (LMS).

Using a mobile app, users enter information about what they have learned which gets recorded to a learning record store (LRS).

Is It Really Such A Big Deal?

Yes, we believe it is because it means you can now track the previously untrackable.

Everyone learns all the time so whereas before only 20% of formal learning was captured in a LMS, now all informal learning can be tracked too.

Looking at it from an L&D perspective is gives employers an opportunity to dig deeper into how employees learn informally, helping them improve their L&D approach for the future.

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