Five Reasons to Call It the Experience API

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I have been in the eLearning industry for about six days now and have already become involved in the learning debate. How could I not? With names like Experience, Tin Can, and SCORM 2.0 floating around describing the same API, it’s easy for anyone jumping in to be confused. After doing some research on the matter, I have come to the conclusion that Experience is my prefered term, and here is why:

ADL’s Official Name

The official authority on this matter, the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL), has named this new standard the Experience API. They did this for good reasons too. The intended purpose of the API is to ”provide access to learning experiences”. Experiences. That is the purpose. It’s almost impractical to change the government’s official, and logical name for the API.

Tin Can API began as a code name for the API project. This name, though adopted by the community, reminds me of my 7-year old self stringing 2 cans together which seems to undermine the real potential that the API can achieve. SCORM 2.0 is just renaming the previous standard, but this name has not received much support and is hardly in the debate at all (so I won’t bring this up again).

Local & Global Adoption

Though both names have had traction, learning and development leaders have held on to the xAPI name striving for its final adoption, and they have good reason to! Simply put, Experience holds more meaning for them. At least this is what I have heard based on discussions.

This steadily growing group of industry leaders connecting to the meaning of this name signals now is a unique opportunity to adopt the name Experience. With global adoption beginning to grow, there are also some potential problems with the name Tin Can in its translation and meaning. The imagery of strings attached to a can lose meaning and it’s hard to translate in other countries, whereas Experience is universally understood.

Descriptiveness & Meaning

Experience is more marketable due to its descriptive name, depth of meaning, and relationship to the L&D industry. I have just finished Marketing 455 (Entre-Marketing), and from that I can tell you it does not matter what the developer thinks the name should be, it matters what the customer wants it to be. In this case industry professionals should name it, and based on my findings, they prefer Experience.

Momentum of the standard is not in marketing alone; it’s in adoption and use cases. The value is what enables the adoption. Experience adds the value back in the name (and as stated previously, it adds value across borders).

Learning is a Verb

Or at least that is what Aaron Silvers believes. I agree. A learning experience is a natural action, a way to transform thinking, which in turn transforms behavior. This cutting edge eLearning technology deserves to be named accordingly. Experience is a verb. Tin Can is a noun.


The best part is, you can save yourself some characters on Twitter when you only have to tweet #xAPI. I like that.

Which name do you prefer? Please share in the comments below!