Tin Can API is a community driven software specification that is used for eLearning. It is now officially referred to as Experience API or xAPI but the old tin can name is still widely used.
The software is important in eLearning because it permits the learning content and the learning systems to interact with each other. In fact, the name Tin Can is given because the makers intended for it to be a two-way communication. This interaction results in the recording and tracking of the learning experience of students as it happens – whether it is online or offline. The learning experiences are usually recorded in what is called an LRS or Learning Record Store. This can exist independently or be a part of an overall LMS or Learning Management System.
The data that is collected by Tin Can API is only the one that matters. This data is usually quantifiable, trackable and sharable. This is to ensure that the data will not be confusing and there will be no clutter of information that is not necessary to the eLearning objectives. These include mobile learning, virtual worlds, simulations, real-world activities, social learning, experiential learning, serious games, collaborative learning and offline learning.
So how does it all work?
The whole idea is to facilitate learning from the interaction of the participants with each other. The learning also happens through the interaction between content and even beyond it. All of these interactions can be recorded by Tin Can API into data that can be analyzed. Regardless of where the learning occurs or how it happens, this software can and will record it.
Whenever an interaction or activity is being recorded, the application will send secure statements. Being an open source software, the statement can come in any form of any “noun, verb, object” and they will all be stored in the LRS. The beauty of this is that an LRS can share its information with other LRSs.
Since this is a community driven eLearning software, the use of this software is free. It allows the LRSs to share data and the statements can be sent from mobile phones, games, simulations, etc.) Not only that, the freedom extends to the participation of the LMS. That means the eLearning content is not tied to the LMS.
This software is also considered as the next generation of SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model). SCORM is considered as the eLearning standard in packaging content that is to be delivered to the LMS. The Tin Can API allows certain features that is beyond the abilities of SCORM. These are:
- Elearning beyond the web browser
- Elearning delivered through native mobile applications
- Improved control over the learning content
- Security through the use of Oauth (Open standard for authorization)
- Ability to transfer the transition from one device to the other (e.g. begin with computer then finish the lesson in a mobile device)
- Ability to track games, simulations and real-world performance
- Tracking of learning plans and goals
- Elearning that is team-based
Image courtesy of Tin Can API