Project Tin Can is an exciting and bold step for a new specification that will enable simple & agnostic communication between real life learning activities and a Learning Record Store (LRS). An activity is reported to an LRS in the form of a statement as simple as “Ali attempted the quiz” to as complex as “Russell completed the game scoring 98% and succeeded in English according to the iPhone app.”
Now, imagine for a second, the possibilities for implementing any new mobile, informal, and social strategies or learning tools with the peace of mind of knowing that they all generate these statements. Then, envision all of it recorded and presented in the form of awesome analytics to help you design even better stuff, holistically.
“everybody should have democratized access to actionable analytics based on learning records compiled from anywhere”
As you are reading this, please consider that none of this is possible without you. Adoption will be slow without the support of the learning & development community, and it is not a practical implementation if it doesn’t meet the needs of the learner or business. Before diving into the LRS, we should establish a better understanding of what the eLearning world looks like today without our beloved Tin Can.
Using ubiquitous computing to enable learning has been the topic of many discussions and studies, started by Mark Weiser who coined the term in 1988. A ubiquitous learning environment is defined as “any setting in which students can become totally immersed in the learning process,” and a “setting of pervasive or omnipresent education or learning,” where the learner may not even be aware of the learning process.
Most learning & development environments today would clearly fail any “ubiquitous computing test” (if there even was such a thing) because of the sole use of tools like the Intranet and Learning Management Systems (LMS) - but who is to blame when there isn’t an adequate process or standard to capture all learning activities across an entire organization? Naturally, most training and structured social interactions occur in a constrained and unnatural fashion, where learners consume “content” due to limited delivery and tracking mechanisms. Some would argue that since the content is made available via mobile devices and tablets, then learning is ubiquitous where in fact, learning has always been ubiquitous until we interfered with the wrong technology. Time has changed, technology has advanced, and eLearning is not enough.
I want to make it clear that I am not denying the need for the LMS or formal training as part of a learning environment, but rather pointing out the need for better technology to allow learning to naturally occur wherever it may occur, on any device, whenever it is needed, while meeting the needs of the business, in a non-invasive manner.
Learning should not be limited to a particular physical or virtual environment, people should not be forced to design and deliver content or activities due to technology restraints, and everybody should have democratized access to actionable analytics based on learning records compiled from anywhere.
Here are the top 3 reasons why you will want a cloud LRS:
Learning occurs everywhere, not solely in an LMS. Online & offline conversations, simulations, instructor led training, mobile apps & games, watching videos, eLearning, intranet interactions, and any other activity where somebody learns or experiences something. The Tin Can API makes it easy to communicate or report the details of these interactions and experiences wherever they may occur to a centralized location. The LRS provides the capability to record, organize, and understand it all better.
Simple reporting is no longer enough. Quiz completion, scores, and a timestamp are not sufficient measures of success for learning. Tin Can statements can come from anywhere and they have context; systems, people and interactions, can all report details of an activity to an LRS. You need high fidelity, contextual, real-time analytics, accessible to anybody with the right credentials, providing answers to the questions you might not be asking.
The public cloud is powerful. Database maintenance and design is not easy and IT resources are expensive and scarce. You need centralized, reliable, fast, secure, and hassle-free storage for all learning records in your organization. Automatically maintained and scaled for you in the cloud, seamlessly upgraded and highly available. Let somebody else with the right expertise manage the underlying infrastructure.
At Saltbox, we are building an enterprise class LRS, to help learning & development organizations capture and understand all learning activities with beautiful and democratized analytics. We would like to thank the ADL, Aaron Silvers, and Rustici Software for their hard work on the Tin Can API. They are doing some amazing work that will extend beyond traditional learning with the support of the L&D community.
We are extremely excited and look forward to sharing more with you as we continue our development efforts at Saltbox! If you are interested in learning more about the Saltbox Cloud LRS (we call it Wax), or would like us to contact you with updates, please visit www.waxlrs.com.