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Experiential eLearning tracking – Tin Can API explained

14 August 2015

by Christopher John (guest blogger)

This week, we have another blog post by our good friend Christopher John. Chris is the E-learning Team Leader, based in the Cardiff School of Social Sciences. In this post, Chris gives an introduction to the Tin Can API, for those of you who are interested in ways of collecting data from your learners and tracking progress, and for those of you that are familiar with SCORM. Please bear in mind that Tin Can is currently not a feature within Learning Central itself.

What is the Tin Can API?

The Tin Can API, sometimes known as the experience API or the successor to SCORM is a specification for broad experiential data collection that can be used across technologies including, but not limited to, eLearning. For eLearning, Tin Can provides a standardised way to collect data on how learners engaged with content beyond the score based tracking offered by SCORM.

What does Tin Can API tracking look like?

Tin Can API tracking takes the form of flexible statements using an Actor, Verb, Object structure which is subsequently stored in a Learning Record Store (LRS) which can be independent of a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Blackboard.

Example Tin Can API statements

Actor (I) Verb (Did) Object (This)
Christopher John Experienced
Christopher John Re-tweeted @dewiparry_LT Thank you for the great input today during our #Panopto discussion and demo. Really enjoyed all the interaction #HE2030
Christopher John Watched

Benefits of Tin Can API tracking

Statement freedom

The flexibility of Tin Can API statements means you have creative freedom over the information you track.

Workflow freedom, Historical freedom

Using an LRS (Or multiple LRS) instead of an LMS means that learning tracking is not limited to (Or tied to) the learning environment.

Device freedom

image of devices

The Tin Can API can be used across technologies (JavaScript, Java, PHP, Python, .NET), you could for example generate Tin Can API statements from the use of an educational mobile app downloaded from an appstore.

Tin Can API tracking in action

There are a number of useful prototypes you can view on the website.  Alternatively, if you want to dive into the code right away you can download a simple JavaScript (Backbone) Tin Can API wrapper I have created on GitHub.

To use the wrapper you will need access to an LRS, if you don’t have an LRS you can get one when you register for a free SCORM cloud account.

Add the LRS settings shown below to the app.js file then run the www contents of the repo on a web server and the wrapper will generate an ‘experienced’ verb statement for the URL of the webpage and store the statement in your LRS.  Feel free to take apart, perhaps try adding some new verbs.

Tin Can API wrapper settings

lrsendpoint LRS address and application name
lrskey Authentication key for your LRS address and application name
lrssecret Authentication secret for your LRS address and application name
lrsusername Username to be used in statements (Actor)
lrsmbox Email to be used in statements (Actor)

Example Tin Can API LRS reporting

API LRS reporting

Useful websites

For further information, please feel free to contact:

Christopher John
E-Learning Team Leader, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University