I’ve never been a big fan of SCORM as a standard. Whilst I can easily buy into the need for such a standard to exist, it’s always bothered me that we’ve been forced into reverting to type whenever SCORM comes into the debate. The philosophy forces one into creating packages of sequenced content for learners to play through. It’s like my worst nightmare of a classroom session; a fixed lecture where you get tested for rote retention.
Enter Tin Can. For those of you outside the loop, Tin Can is the name given to the latest iteration of the SCORM family. It’s not a progression of the SCORM standard, it’s a complete change in the underpinning philosophy. And it’s pretty exciting, which isn’t an emotion I often associate with SCORM.
There is a familiar side to Tin Can – that which allows content to talk back to a Learning Record Store (LRS). That’s not overly revolutionary and isn’t enough to redefine the standard on its own. What is much more like it is the “Statement Generation” end of the standard.
Let me give you an insight into the power of Statement Generation. At it’s most basic, Tin Can produces statements about what a learner did: “Joe completed the Activity”. So far, so familiar. But extend this outside of Courseware, into everyday working life; “Joe checked-in at the call centre”. And now, use it in a more social context: “Joe was insightful about Performance Management”. I can do the latter because Joe can contribute to a knowledge environment and his contribution can be rated by his peers. And using Tin Can, I can know this.
Using this sort of technique Tin Can aligns itself well with the notion of Big Data in the workplace. Talent Management systems are lining up to try and change the way we do business by offering a depth and detail of analysis about workplace performance that we’ve not seen before. But, for me, there is still a challenge in how this data gets collected in the first place. Surveys, 360’s and other feedback tools have a place, but they aren’t frequent or detailed enough to really capture the picture of who ‘I am’. Tin Can experiences could offer this level of detail. And because the statements can be generated behind the scenes and reported back to a central place, there’s no overhead in doing it. We’re all going to get tracked a lot more in the future, but it won’t be about completing courses, it will be about how we go about doing our jobs on a day-to-day basis.
In short, I think Tin Can offers a glimpse of the future; a part of a long chain of systems and technologies that underpin the 2020 workplace. With players like Oracle acquiring talent management companies like Taleo, we’re seeing a clear appetite for data companies to take this challenge on. I’m backing Tin Can to help us take our next smallest steps towards this future.