Not Ready for Tin-Can, Why Not Try SCORM-Can?

Whether you are launching a new mobile learning (mLearning) or a standard web-based training application from your Learning Management System (LMS), there are advantages to Rustici Software’s new standard Experience API or xAPI (we still call it Tin-Can because we have been working with it for so long, we all know, it’s hard to rewire those pathways).

The OpenSketch team started experimenting with Tin-Can mid-2012 with version .8 and then .9.5. We really started to utilize it without partners in late 2013 with the release of version 1.0.1. The reasons were simple, Tin-Can offered better data output and rich explanations of the learners’ experiences with simulation-based assessments and highly interactive courseware.

We attempted implementations with two major LMSs on the market today and found challenges. Most of the launchers of Tin-Can activities are not yet mature enough to handle the new and very different way of serving this content, especially when it comes to content packaging and security. These LMS Tin-Can implementations also lacked the type of reporting and attempt handling features that have been honed in the SCORM activities from over a decade of serious use.

The LMS administrators we work with really like the way SCORM can be assigned and provide completion information in LMS, but the department managers want more robust information from those packages. Then it hit us - Tin-Can activity can be launched from anywhere, why not from within a SCORM package? That is when SCORM-Can was born. Here is a whiteboard illustration of how SCORM-Can works:

Whiteboard illustration of how SCORM-Can works

There was some JavaScript to create in order to get information about the learner from SCORM and pass it to Tin-Can. The configuration file, which contains connection information for the LRS, must also be contained within the SCORM package and referenced by the JavaScript that sends the statements. We also created logic to connect to a different Learning Record Store (LRS) based on learner information from SCORM or from the domain the SCORM package was launched to make it more portable.

We now have had thousands of completions of very complex, simulation-based assessments, and other courseware, with many customers across the United States. It has been great for the users to get the data from the LRS with such granularity and LMS admins/managers are happy with the SCORM completion and basic score data that SCORM can provide.

The best of both worlds does come with a few cautions though:

  • Ensure that the learners’ web browsers, and web proxy where applicable, are configured to allow cross-site scripting for the LMS and LRS.
  • Ensure the design of each statement collects the data you need and can be extracted from the LRS in the way you need.

These are easily overcome with forethought and planning, and we highly recommend this hybrid approach.

SCORM-Can can provide a great bridge between the SCORM learning objects we are used to using, and the need to experiment with or utilize Tin-Can/LRS statements to get more information. Getting the best of both SCORM and Tin-Can makes SCORM-Can a valuable tool in your eLearning toolbox.

By John N Just, Ed.D – Senior Director, Custom Solutions & Technical Innovation at Open Sketch
Follow John on Twitter: @johnjust
For more info on Tin-Can, click here:
For a discussion about how Open Sketch can help you with your next elearning initiative click here: