Getting Started With Tin Can in 5 Steps

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We had a great time at DevLearn 2012, and although most of what happened in Vegas should stay in Vegas, I’d like to share some. As always, we met some great learning professionals doing some amazing real world work. I really appreciated attendee openness and willingness to embrace new technologies, especially one that flips our world upside down - the Tin Can API.

“There is no better time than right now to take the plunge into Tin Can, because it can solve real problems”

Tin Can Alley was filled with people asking some great questions about how this standard is different than SCORM and how it will benefit them. I think I learned more about various Tin Can affordances than the attendees asking the questions because I got a better understanding of how it can enable better learning experience design, less constrained by technology and more personalized for the learner.

All great conversations. What really excited me was when folks would ask, “How do I get started?” At first, I just answered “not sure” or “it depends.” I started to advise people to “start small” and after thinking about this on the flight home, I realized that this was exactly how we developed Wax LRS at Saltbox - iteratively and in small bits. We didn’t just build a Learning Record Store overnight with complex learning analytics, nor do we have it exactly right today. What we did do was take the plunge.

If you are interested in leveraging the Tin Can API to help you solve a design problem for your organization, just start small. There are a lot of great Tin Can enabled tools available, but if you want to build a custom Tin Can enabled experience, here is what you need to get started in 5 steps:

  • Frustration about a technology constrained design process.
  • The guts and scrappiness to take on a small project that is funded solely by your sweat equity.
  • Select a Learning Record Store like Wax LRS to store the new learning data.
  • Identify a few key learning events as triggers for a Tin Can statement to be generated from a system of engagement or other tool/application that your audience uses (mobile, social, informal). Find a few key actions or experiences that you could never track or understand before.
  • Partner with a capable developer with basic programming skills. Have them read the spec and “wire up” the statement generation (it will take them a few hours to understand it and a few days to implement it). Have the statements sent to your LRS (this is configured in the settings page in Wax LRS)

Congratulations, you just took your first step to solve a real problem using the Tin Can API. Let me make it clear that this may seem oversimplified but it is a bold first step and it may not be a final product, but it is an agile way to iterate on a solution to your problem.

If you are ready to get started, feel free to contact us at Saltbox. We would be happy to help you along.

There is no better time than right now to take the plunge into Tin Can, because it can solve real problems. Be bold and start small today, then iterate.