Epic Solutions Architect and Tin Can working group member Andrew Downes gives his Tin Can predictions for 2014…
I predict this…
Officially released in April 2013, Tin Can has gained a lot of traction already. It’s already supported by the majority of leading authoring tools and the list of LMSs that include support is growing. Open source and commercial projects, tools and websites are popping up all the time and at Epic we’re now regularly getting clients asking us about Tin Can without us having to bring the topic up first. But what’s coming up for Tin Can in 2014 that you need to be aware of?
No change to the specification
After years of work, the Tin Can working group has reached a point where we’re pretty happy with the standard as it is. We’ve released several versions that have been battle tested in the real world. It’s now time to leave the standard alone and we’ve committed not to make any updates or changes for the foreseeable future. That’s great news for you, because you know you can develop for Tin Can without the goal posts changing.
As you start to work with Tin Can or purchase Tin Can products, you need assurance that what you’re getting really does meet the Tin Can standards. Epic can work with you to provide Tin Can conformance testing today, but sadly not everybody is an Epic customer. 2014 will see the development of a set of open source tools for testing LRS conformance. There’s no deadline for completion of these tools, and it’s possible the project may run into 2015, but watch this space. There are no plans as of yet to create conformance tools for Tin Can content. The theory is that this content can be tested using a conformant learning record store (LRS) or two. If the content works in a couple of LRSs that have been certified conformant, there’s a good chance it’ll work in any conformant LRS.
An open source LRS
There are at least four projects underway at the moment to develop an open source LRS and its likely that at least one of these will reach some level of maturity in 2014. This LRS is likely to be released in a functional state, but will lack the level of performance you might expect from a commercial product on first release. You’ll also find you can get more security and reporting features from a commercial product at this point in time. If low cost is more important than performance, security and reporting, then it may be worth waiting for one of these open source solutions to develop. If not, now’s the time to look at the commercial LRS solutions available.
At Learning Technologies 2013, Epic showed some designs for a prototype LRS which initiated a lot of interesting conversations. One such conversation was with a global retail business, which turned into an actual LRS project which is currently in its final delivery stages. While this prototype project was limited to implementing the parts of the Tin Can API specification that met this client’s unique requirements, we are now looking for additional clients to share in this exciting project to help build out the functionality and meet the remainder of the specification as we head into 2014. If you’re looking to buy an LRS or considering making your own, please do get in touch. We can develop the LRS to meet your requirements for a one-off fee, plus can offer hosting, support and maintenance for an annual fee if needed.
Work is afoot within the Moodle world on adopting Tin Can. There are people actively working on building LRS functionality into Moodle, and others on launching Tin Can e-learning content in Moodle. On the latter point, I had my own Tin Can launcher accepted into the official Moodle plugins list, and we will be developing that further at Epic throughout 2014. It’s an open source plugin so please feel free to contribute improvements, bug reports, language conversions, etc if you are able to. Expect much more Tin Can adoption within the Moodle community throughout 2014.
More adoption, more innovative solutions
2013 saw Tin Can adopted by authoring tool and LMS vendors, so expect this to continue in 2014. We’ll still see a lot of SCORM in 2014, but more and more of you will begin to look what Tin Can offers. We’ll also start to hear more and more stories of how Tin Can is being used in a variety of innovative ways to deliver much, much more than we could even have imagined doing with SCORM. So these are my predictions for Tin Can in 2014. What will you be using Tin Can for next year? Please get in touch! You can also find more of Epic’s Tin Can resources in our Knowledge Base, including our guide to designing Tin Can statements and designing tracking for real world learning.