Published On: June 9, 2014By
Tin Can API

Hello? Hello?  Is anybody out there using Tin Can?

I’ve been holding this rusty Tin Can for over a year and starting to feel a little silly that I might have been taken in by the hype.  In our Top 12 ASTD 2014 Take-A-Ways post last month,  we commented on how the Tin Can hype seemed to be waning in comparison to last year.  We wanted to dig further and find out “why” and also compile case study examples of how organizations were using Tin Can.  We were surprised at what we found.  Nothing.

Are Your Tin Can API Plans Getting Rusty?

Tin Can API (now known primarily as Experience API or simply xAPI) is the new content/elearning standard touted as the successor to SCORM.  Tin Can simplifies the tracking and recording of any learning event – no matter how informal or non-traditional making it easier to use and less limiting than SCORM.

Yeah!  That should be good for something!  Something really great that we can’t do already with our LMS!

Hmmm….wait a minute, currently in LMS solutions, you can track the completion of just about any learning event from instructor-led, virtual classroom, eLearning, Word, PowerPoint, videos, podcasts, documents, web pages, Sharepoint docs, wikis, blogs, external learning events, college classes, conferences and much, much more.  The better LMSs can monitor your social LMS activities such as how many times you comment, share, answer questions or interact and set interaction thresholds for social event completion or gamification award status. LMS solutions have figured out how to do this from both a desktop and mobile experience. That’s some pretty detailed tracking.

So what else can Tin Can do that is useful for training and development professionals?  Well, I heard you can track even more informal things like reading a book, watching a movie, going to a conference, taking notes, taking a hike or learning to tango.  Wait, many LMS solutions can do all this too.

I’ve read that Tin Can makes it possible to track social interactions happening in other systems and pass it back to the LMS – that might be handy if anybody really wanted to report on that.  Seriously, is there any other measurable information that we are missing that matters?  Will all the informal stuff being formalized on a user record really help anyone?

As you can see, I’m struggling to understand the business application of this rusty Tin Can.  As an instructional technologist, I think it is cool.  As a LMS consultant helping organizations choose LMS systems –meaningless clutter.

At Talented Learning we reviewed about 25 of the world’s top LMS solutions in the last few months and asked almost every LMS vendor about their current level of Tin Can support and examples of clients using it.   Here is what we found:

Most LMSs say they support Tin Can or will support it to some minimal degree in the future.  All agree they have to have it from a marketing standpoint, but few espouse it or think the industry really needs it.  We collected only one real-life example (verbal only) of a customer using it to take and pass notes.  One.  We collected countless vendor examples of “how you could use it.”

This couldn’t be all hype that will fade away –is it?  The industry didn’t just spend millions of dollars collectively for a feature set no one wants to use –did they?  This doesn’t mean that training departments and executives might not care if you answered a question on a blog or posted a comment –does it?

We’re sure those Tin Can examples are out there and we’re just being obtuse — help us help others and send us your Tin Can story!

Send Us Your Story!  How Do You Use Tin Can?

PLEASE —  contact us with your real life Tin Can success, case studies, news articles,  relevant links or anything to show us Tin Can is being used and valued.  We’ll consolidate all the information in a non-biased way and blog the results!  Hopefully, we’ll find some great working stories and we’ll all learn something —

Is anyone out there using Tin Can?  Hello?  Hello?


Want more LMS insights? Join this on-demand webinar:

Unhappy With Your LMS? Don’t Ditch It. Augment It!

Your organization long ago settled on Cornerstone, Saba, SumTotal or another full-blown talent suite LMS and there is little chance of change. However, you’ve heard about the flexibility and appeal of modern, cloud-based learning platforms and you know your employees would benefit from this kind of learning experience.

What can you do?

Join John Leh, CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning and Stephan Pineau, Founder and CEO at Training Orchestra, as they explore “the augmented LMS.” You’ll discover:

  • What today’s learning technology landscape looks like
  • Why moving away from a traditional talent suite LMS is so difficult
  • 4 ways to augment your LMS, based on successful real-world examples
  • What to include in an effective augmentation plan
  • Specific tips to help you get started

So if you’ve lost the battle for a new LMS, join us to learn why augmenting your existing platform can be a winning alternative.


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Looking for a learning platform that truly fits your organization’s needs?  We’re here to help!  Submit the form below to schedule a free preliminary consultation at your convenience.

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About the Author: John Leh

John Leh is Founder, CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning and the Talented Learning Center. John is a fiercely independent consultant, blogger, podcaster, speaker and educator who helps organizations select and implement learning technology strategies, primarily for extended enterprise applications. His advice is based upon more than 25+years of learning-tech industry experience, serving as a trusted LMS selection and sales adviser to hundreds of learning organizations with a total technology spend of more than $100+ million and growing. John would love to connect with you on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

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