The Tin Can API (Experience API ) is the next generation evolution of the SCORM elearning standard, but it does far more than simply improve SCORM.

Although the immediate benefit for the health care organization I work for will come from the elimination of some of the technical limitations of SCORM, the main point is the thoroughly transformative nature of Tin Can. It will take years to demonstrate how deep the rabbit hole goes. But I can tell you the direction it is heading right now:

We’re out of the learning management business and into the big-data business.

The infrastructure for figuring out “what really works” is now here. The infrastructure for relating actions to outcomes is here. Assuming, of course, infinite access to all possible sources of data everywhere, we could now ask questions like:

  • “what are the actions of high-performing teams with good patient outcomes”
  • “what does competence really mean with respect to this procedure or skill?”
  • “what exactly needs to be done to get there? How much practice is necessary?”
  • “what performance support methods are actually being used to help people do their jobs?”
  • “what are people with X characteristics interested in?”
  • “who else might be interested in those same things?”
  • “what are people having trouble understanding?”
  • “what are some interesting patterns that we never suspected?”

Because there are enormous business, privacy and technical challenges to getting some of the most useful data sources onboard, one of our main missions now is evangelizing and incentivising possible sources to contribute to that data stream.

The enterprise learning management system now becomes something of a sideshow to the main event which is located in that place where people really do most of their learning, i.e. everywhere BUT the LMS.

Although I’m sure we’ll continue to run an enterprise learning management system for years to come, every part of what we do needs to be re-examined for it’s main strength, and we need to ask if those functions ought to be in one system anymore, or would be better delivered by a more modular approach.

In my department’s case, the learning management system’s main strengths include the ability to push required learning to an incredibly granular audience, using thousands of combinations of attributes, and an instructor-led course registration system. In healthcare, at least, required learning will be part of the landscape for the forseeable future, but exactly how it is delivered and how fast it evolves is about to change.