Tin Can’t 1

We launched our VLE less than two months ago – so you can guess how worried/nervous I was when I started to hear more about Tin Can API. It seemed to be quite a buzz word hitting Twitter, yet I knew very little about it. All I seemed to be reading was that it was being considered the SCORM-killer – the new standard which would replace SCORM. Seeing as we’ve only just got a VLE which works on SCORM standards – it’s suitably depressing to think that less than two months after launch, we were already completely out of date.

Don’t get me wrong – everyone knows that the two minutes after a new technology is introduced, something newer comes out which starts to make what was ‘new’ suddenly look ‘old’. But you don’t want to think that a project you spent a long time embedding was over it’s date before you really got into it – so I thought I better look into it more.

So – let’s start with the positive – Tin Can API is very good at what it does. If you want to be able to track a wider range of interactions and activities outside of the conventional framework – then it’s in a league of its own. From an academic perspective, I can see the benefits. If you were in a university, and you wanted to track the way that your students researched a subject, there are real benefits. The fact that you can track activities outside of the conventional framework (students can go anywhere and look anywhere for the answers to the questions posed) is something which SCORM can only dream of.

SCORM is, and always will be limited to recording the conventional interaction (e.g. the user answered this way, they answered this question, they scored this score etc. – and more directly – the user accessed this or got this right) however Tin Can removes those boundaries. Giving the student freedom to interact exactly as they want to.

As learning theorists, or technologists – we all accept that learning happens everywhere, yet SCORM restricts our ability to “teach” to a fixed area. Tin Can API allows this to happen everywhere. As a facilitator of learning, you can expand the boundaries and the capabilities – and the opportunities seem endless.

So – why Tin Can’t? Well – the NHS isn’t ready for this freedom. Not in a conventional way anyway. As someone who has delivered training in an NHS setting for a number of years, I struggle to get simple interaction with a course. Too many users are seeking the most direct route to a “pass” – the percentage of users who want to be able to take any other route is very small. That’s not to say that there isn’t a market at all – it’s just seriously limited. The NHS still has an “aging” workforce. Almost every day I deal with the attitude of “you can’t do that by e-learning” or “my staff are here to care for patients, not play with computers”.

I don’t doubt the qualities of Tin Can API – and there may actually be areas of our teaching which could utilise these advances, but for the majority of development undertaken by my team, the majority of our users want to get stuck into a selection of multiple choice questions as quickly as possible. A number of the users don’t even want to be using a computer at all – let alone be expected to use it properly to search for the answers.

I’m sure at some point in the future, I’ll be back on the blog talking about how I’ve just set up my first Tin Can project/interaction…..but for now….as far as our e-learning development for UHS is concerned Tin (Can) Can’t do it for us!

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