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The parallels between television and elearning are abundant. I mean, who doesn’t love sitting down on a Friday night to watch the best elearning they couldn’t get to all week?

Really, though, there are plenty of legitimate parallels, and one of the things I like is watching elearning evolve in similar ways to television/movies, albeit a few years behind.

One fashion in which that evolution has occurred is the actual delivery mechanisms.

1. Video Industry

1. Elearning Industry

film-reel
“Let’s go to the movies!”

People gathered together in a movie theater to see the film of the day. It was a compelling shared experience, and allowed each participant to see something they hadn’t before. For the studio, this provided scale that far exceeded that of a stage play. For many attendees, though, this meant that seeing the movie was incredibly expensive or completely impossible. And one crying baby could ruin the experience for everyone.
instructor-lead-training
In Person Training

Like the movies, people gathered in a single location to learn together. Unfortunately, this meant that everyone had to be gathered together in the same place, at the same time, and probably at great expense to the company providing the training. Rather than teaching each person individually, the subject matter expert could teach several people at once. For many learners, though, this meant that the training was either inaccessible or hugely inconvenient. And one cry baby could ruin the experience for everyone.

2. Video Industry

2. Elearning Industry

vhs
“Blockbuster”

“I want to watch Goonies tonight. At 7:45pm. And eat pizza. On a couch.” It required a trip to something called a “video store”, wherein you hoped to find the specific movie in stock that you wanted to watch. And that was a real risk. The beauty of it, though, is that if they had your movie, you were in control. Start time? That’s up to you. Location? Your choice as well. And the world was your oyster as far as what you were eating and drinking and sitting on. Several beloved standards helped this work. VHS, Betamax, Laserdisc, DVD… these standards allowed us to buy machines for home that knew how to play whatever movie we brought home.
scorm
SCORM Package Delivery

Yes, learners could now watch content in an LMS when and where they wanted. This was a big leap. Barriers of travel and cost were substantially reduced. But getting a specific piece of content into your system wasn’t really possible until SCORM allowed for it in the early 2000s. With the advent of SCORM, learners were now able to consume widely varied content from their desk at work or at home. And subject matter expertise was available at a scale that was inconceivable in the instructor led training world.

3. Video Industry

3. Elearning Industry

itunes
iTunes

One online store with all the movies and tv shows and all I have to do is click a button!? When streaming became a reality, we no longer had to leave the house to acquire the content, and we didn’t have to worry about whether someone else had claimed that movie first. There were just so. many. options. And finding a movie to watch became less of a problem. Instead, finding the right movie to watch was a challenge. How do you curate an massive pile of movies?!

content-consolidator
Content Consolidator

Companies like Skillsoft and Mindleaders before, and Open Sesame today, have collected massive libraries of content from which companies and learners can choose. Finding a relevant piece of content gets easier all the time, and it can be procured at a known price in a matter of minutes. Compatibility has become less of a concern (although Skillsoft’s OLSA standard isn’t exactly that). Learners and companies alike have access to great quantities of quality content, and subject matter experts have a easy and convenient way to get it to them.

4. Video Industry

4. Elearning Industry

netflix
Netflix

Today’s Netflix is fundamentally different from prior delivery models in several ways:

Netflix’s “all you can consume” model allows a customer to pay one price per month and watch lots of varied content at their leisure. Viewers can try a show with no risk, move amongst them freely, and watch as much as they want. Shows can be released in their entirety on a given day, rather than strung out over months. Advertisement is no longer a part of the equation.
Netflix also provides their own content. They are creators as well as distributors. Shows like House of Cards, Bloodlines, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt show a care and crafting that isn’t necessarily present in commodities acquired from other providers. Netflix has a clear incentive to create groundbreaking content. If they build remarkable content, then their customers will stay and new ones will join in.
Netflix has every reason to make their user experience better. If their app is easier to use than NBC’s, then Netflix benefits, and they get more viewers, customers, and money.
content-controller
Content Controller

Invested content providers who can centralize their content have distinct opportunities from other providers.

They can correct, analyze, and assess their content in a way that others can’t. By centralizing the content, they can see how it’s being used across clients. They can assess questions and their efficacy, they can discover and correct mistakes, and they can evolve content directly.
Providers can manage versions and deployments much more effectively.
Providers can explore possibilities like offering a subject matter expert to multiple clients via online chat or something similar.
More than anything, though, it puts the content provider in a closer relationship with the learner and the customer. Rather than throwing a piece of content to the wind and hoping, the content provider has visibility and a manner in which they can affect the relationship.

Content Controller is the next-generation method of delivering content. It’s the elearning equivalent of what Netflix is to the video industry, and we’d love to talk to you about it. Learn more at the Content Controller web page, and get in touch with us if you have questions.

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On August 13th, 2015, we launched a heavily revised version of tincanapi.com. Andrew Downes has been working away, as he does, creating new content. Rather than direct it all at the blog, though, he’s been rethinking and restructuring the core site and sharing his insights for first-timers, learning designers, learning product vendors, and organizations. There are countless other updates laid out below. Please spend some time with them.

Many readers of the site, though, will likely notice a significant change to our handling of the name… tincanapi.com. Years ago, Mike shared our perspective on the name, that we were going to call it Tin Can API. For some, this has been a contentious issue. With the new site, we’ve made the site behave as we have been personally for a long time. We call it whatever you call it.

On the site, you’ll notice a toggle in the upper left. If you prefer to call it Tin Can, do so. If you prefer xAPI, that’s great too. Whether you visit tincanapi.com or experienceapi.com, the site will present everything to you using your prefered name.

It comes down to this: arguing about an API’s name simply isn’t productive. We have far more important things to accomplish together.

So please, enjoy the new content. Go build a brilliant activity provider. Make some statements. Or ask us for help if you need it.
 


 

Here are the new sections of the site:

Understand

 
The existing Tin Can Explained page gives a really helpful introduction to Tin Can if you’ve never heard of it.  We’ve brought this section up to date a little and added some pages around the different components of the new enterprise learning ecosystem that Tin Can enables. We’ve also added pages targeted specifically at organizations, learning product vendors and vendors of products outside L&D.

Get Started

 
By now, if you haven’t heard of Tin Can and got a basic understanding, you’ve probably been living on mars. These days, the question we get asked most isn’t “what’s Tin Can?” but “how do I get started?” If that’s your question, then good news – we’ve created a new section just for you!

The get startedsection includes pages targeted at product vendors, content authors and organizations. It includes guides to help you see Tin Can in action, get a Learning Record Store (LRS) and run a pilot project in your organization. There’s a collection of pages to help you think about moving on from SCORM, too.

Design

 
We already had a bunch of resources for developers, but not much really aimed at learning designers. We’ve added a page outlining the impact of Tin Can on learning design, including reflections on a handful of learning models and theories in the light of Tin Can. If you’re thinking more at the strategy level, we’ve got a page on incorporating Tin Can into your learning strategy, too.

At a practical level, there’s a guide on statement design, an introduction to recipes for learning designers, and an assignment for you to try out what you learn from the new pages we’ve written.

Developers

 
The developers section was already crammed full of resources. We’ve tidied these up to make them easier to find and created an interactive statement explorer page to help you understand the structure of the statement.

The statement generator we created a few years ago was due for an update and ADL recently published a new more comprehensive statement generator. We don’t believe in reinventing the wheel, so we’ve taken the ADL tool, made it orange and included it on the site.

To help you put all these resources into practice, we’ve created a series of challenges for developers to try out writing code for Tin Can.

Webinars

 
The previous webinar list contained embedded YouTube videos for all our webinars. We’ve got so many webinar recordings now that it was getting hard to find webinars on specific topics so we’ve created a new categorized webinar list. Each of the webinars is now on its own page, making it easier to share the recording with other people.

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Well, not really, but it’s the closest thing that the e-learning industry has to offer in the area of “prestigious awards for doing awesome things”.

Brandon Hall Group Awards Tin Can API Watershed LRS SCORM Engine

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mLearnCon 2013 is happening right now, and we thought this would be a good time to write about some related topics:

Mobile learning. M-learning. Native apps. Tablets. Smart phones. Offline e-learning. HTML 5.

These are all terms that we’ve been hearing a lot about in the e-learning community, but where do we really stand with all of these different things, especially when talking about trackable and standards-conformant learning?

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The floodgates are open. It’s time to celebrate. The Tin Can API, version 1.0, is here today.

It was almost three years ago when ADL asked the e-learning community to help them with research to create a new, simpler, more powerful e-learning standard. E-learning standards are what we do, so of course we jumped at the opportunity.

tin-can-art-final

The result was Project Tin Can, which resulted in the Tin Can API. We wrote the first version of the API, version 0.8, then handed it over to ADL and a vibrant open community.

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