why_care_tin_can2

Why Should I Care About Tin Can – Part 2

Part 2, Making Tin Can work for you.

Now that you know how learning tracking standards have evolved (see part 1), and now that you have a Learning Management System (LMS) with a built-in Tin Can Learning Record Store (LRS) (if you don’t yet, try EZ LCMS free for 15 days), let’s take a look at the many ways you can start tracking learning information and events using Tin Can.

Two Distinct Programs:

Tin Can communication and tracking requires two separate parts, or “systems”. The “Listener” and the “Communicator”. In most traditional systems, the “Listener” is the LRS (sometimes built into the LMS) and the “Communicator” is the online course, class or device you are using.

The LRS is generally a “passive listener”, sitting there on your server waiting to receive a message from your “communicator”. In SCORM, the “listener” and “communicator” usually came from the same source/server/system and gave the impression of one single “system”. With Tin Can, you generally CAN load your course/class/application on the same system as the LRS/LMS, but you don’t have to. Generally, the LRS will not actively DO anything. It will not SEEK OUT data.

Frequently, people will misunderstand Tin Can and the LRS and think “I have a Tin Can LRS now, I can track anything, anywhere.” While this is technically true, the LRS does not do all the work. The “Anything, anywhere” has to be a course or application or “anything” that does some of the work as well. Using a Tin Can LRS will not enable you to track who views a simple HTML website. The LRS will “listen” and if your HTML website is set up as a “communicator” that sends Tin Can formatted information to the LRS, then it WILL track page views.

Tin Can communication is a two-way street, and it requires a “listener” AND a tool to transmit information. Think of your Tin Can LRS as the HOOP on a basketball court, and your training content or application as the players shooting the ball through the hoop. Any player of any size from any location can shoot the ball, but no points are scored unless someone is putting the ball through the hoop. Having a Tin Can LRS is only half of the Tin Can communication process. You need a course or system or application that is shooting the ball.

Basic Tin Can communication:

Tin can uses statements that are modeled after normal speaking language. A tin can statement typically has a Noun, a Verb and an object, like “Jane Doe – Completed – New Employee Orientation”. These statements can go much further than your basic training statements. Other examples of Tin Can statements can be:

  • Jim – played – a learning game
  • Sally – viewed – a website
  • Jackie – searched – for HR documents
  • Don – read – a user manual
  • Logan – watched – the introductory video
  • Beth – created – a new task

JSON communication:

The technical way that a Tin Can “communicator” sends a message to an LRS “listener” is through a JSON statement. A JSON statement is a technical format or standard (similar to XML) for transmitting information. The Tin Can LRS has an “Endpoint” where any time of learning content or device can “post” these JSON statements. A typical, basic Tin Can Statement that the “communicator” would send to the “listener” would look like this:

{

“actor”: {

“name”: “Jane Doe”,

“mbox”: “mailto:jane.doe@example.com”

},

“verb”: {

“id”: “http://adlnet.gov/expapi/verbs/experienced”,

“display”: { “en-US”: “experienced” }

},

“object”: {

“id”: “http://example.com/activities/personal-protective-equipment”,

“definition”: {

“name”: { “en-US”: “Introduction to Personal Protective Equipment” }

}

}

}

The “communicator” would post this JSON statement to the Tin Can Endpoint, and the Tin Can LRS would then process it and store the data accordingly.

Using Tin Can:

Most online course development tools like Articulate and Captive are already set up to export content that uses the Tin Can standard. These will generate online courseware that is already set up to be the “communicator” in the Tin Can scenario. However, if you publish your course from a third party tool to the Tin Can standard and upload that course into your Tin Can compliant LMS, you are really not doing anything you could not already do with SCORM.

The real magic of the Tin Can standard is exposed when you create a program, application or device that captures learning where and when it happens, and sends that information to your LRS endpoint behind the scenes automatically.

Want to know when someone reads the help manual for your product? Build your help manual in a website or mobile app that sends statements to your LRS endpoint. Want to know who completes the safety checklist? Build a Tin-Can enabled checklist application. Want to track attendance at a conference? Build an iPad “roster/signup” app that sends Tin Can statements. With the open standards of Tin Can, the possibilities for capturing learning where and when it happens really are endless. It just requires a little bit of technical know-how to create an application that can send Tin Can JSON statements to the endpoint of your LRS.

Taking it one step further:

You have probably already realized that having a basic Tin Can LRS that simply takes in and spits out data is next to useless. You need to be able to harness that data and turn it into useful information that can be applied to curriculums, certifications etc. The best kind of Tin Can LRS is one that is tightly integrated into a true Learning Management Platform, like EZ LCMS. The EZ LCMS Learning Management System has a built-in LRS that not only tracks every Tin Can statement it receives, but applies that data to training curriculums, learning paths, certifications and re-certifications, performance reviews and remediation and even achievements and badges.

The EZ LCMS LRS stores all learning data it receives and then processes it automatically to find where that data fits into a learners enrollments, learning progression and achievements. Learning events are stored on a learner’s transcript, course completion and certification is granted, and gamification achievements are automatically applied based on the Tin Can data that the EZ LCMS LRS receives.

Additional resources:

Check out a cool experiment where Minecraft is “modded” to send Tin Can Statements to the EZ LCMS Learning Record Store, and applied to course completion.

Read more about the nitty gritty of the Tin Can Specification.

Try EZ LCMS Free for 15 days.

why_care_tin_can

Why Should I Care About Tin Can – Part 1

Part 1, the history of electronic training standards

This is part 1 in a series of articles about how you can put the Tin Can API to work for you. Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon.

Before we dig into what Tin Can is and how you can use it, let’s first look at the history of training content communication, and why Tin Can is so important. As you know, your training content and your training system must to be able to communicate with each other. They need to speak a common language that they both understand. Just like the development of spoken languages around the world, the language that training content and training systems speak has evolved over time. Early on, in the “Cave Man” days of electronic training, most folks creating computer-based training products and system created their own language that suited their own specific needs and requirements. Each “Clan” in each “Cave” made their own series of electronic grunts and whistles and were able to successfully achieve basic training communication and tracking. This worked fine in many cases, until you needed to move your data to another location, or use your content on a different platform (or move to another cave).

As time went on, standards or “Specifications” began to emerge, with the idea that training content and training systems all over the world would begin to be able to communicate with one another using a single common language. One of the earliest specifications to take hold was the “Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee” standard, or AICC as most of us know it now. This group of industry experts put together the first widely used “Language” used by training content and training systems to communicate with each other. The AICC specification was well thought out, and generic enough to be used as the common language for electronic training communication for quite some time, and is even still used today by many training systems and products. AICC might be thought of as the first common alphabet in the evolution of our electronic training language.

As the needs and requirements for training data and collection advanced, and the systems and platforms used for training delivery and data collection became more complex, a more sophisticated language was needed. Additionally, trainers began to realize the efficiency that could be achieved with training portability and “reusability” and began to require that their training products and the language that they spoke enable this efficiency. For example, if your company’s manufacturing department has already built an online training course on “Personal Protective Equipment”, why should your packaging department have to create the same course again? Why can’t the manufacturing department simply “re-use” the existing online course, combined with their own specific training products? And thus, the first Sharable Content Object (SCO) was born. The Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative was created with the primary purpose to create a new, more sophisticated language for training products and systems that would enable training products to run properly and communicate natively inside of any compatible training system on any platform, and to be re-used globally as needed.

The language that the Advanced Distributed Training initiative created was the Sharable Content Object Reference Model, or SCORM. SCORM was a “reference model” or language designed from the ground up to enable any training product to communicate effectively with any training system. SCORM was very successful, and did a good job of evolving with the times, and stood as the practical standard for training communication for more than a decade. SCORM was released in a number of versions and most online training products still use SCORM today.
In recent years however, due to the evolution of mobility and mobile devices and electronic platforms, many trainers have found SCORM to be somewhat limiting. For example, SCORM generally requires that a training course and the training platform are collocated in a single location. Training developers no longer simply required that their training product be able to communicate properly with any training system. They began to require that their training products communicate with any training system, anywhere, on any device, at any time. To meet this need, a new language was required.

This new language is the Tin Can API. The Tin Can API is a new training specification or “language” that comes with lots of exciting and liberating new capabilities. The Tin Can language provides the ability for any training product or event from any source or platform to communicate effectively and verbosely with any Tin Can Compliant training system. With Tin Can, any learning event, be it a live class session, a one-on-one “shop talk” on the shop floor, a user looking for help on a mobile app, can all be tracked in a Learning Record Store, or LRS. In the real world, training can and does happen anywhere, any time, and with Tin Can, you can now listen to and observe it happening, no matter when or how it is happening.
Think of Tin Can as a large radio receiver, set up to capture all kinds of learning event data from any source that can send it. This receiver can receive information from mobile phones, tablets, online webinars, live classroom activities, as well as the usual online training products and materials. Your Tin Can Learning Record Store is the “device” that listens to all of the information being received by your giant Tin Can Radio Receiver and writes it all down.

In essence, with the new Tin Can Learning Language, training products no longer are limited to making simple pre-defined statements like “Bob took the PPE course and passed with a score of 100%”. With the new, robust Tin Can language, your training products and events are free to say anything relevant about the training experience like “Sally attended the PPE seminar” or “Joanne experienced a corporate welcome video” or “Don accessed the manufacturing job aid on his mobile phone” and more. Tin Can has stepped in to rewrite the rules about how learning information and data tracking can take place. Where SCORM was the rigorous, specific language of re-usable training content that has gotten us to where we are today, Tin Can is the new and improved learning language that allows us to capture training when and where it happens, now and into the future.

However, though Tin Can is a new and very exciting tool to capture learning events and information, it is not enough to simply “write it all down” in a big, unwieldy database of tasks. Somehow, that information needs to be turned into relevant learning data that can be examined, processed, reported on and applied to things like achievements and certifications. It is usually not enough to simply “capture” this information, we need to do something with it. That is where you can benefit from having a full featured Learning Management System (LMS) like EZ LCMS. EZ LCMS, with its integrated Tin Can LRS can turn your mountain of training data into useful learning information when applied to users, enrollments, certifications, learning paths and much more. Any old LRS can capture and display training information in its native form (think garbage-in-garbage-out), but it takes a sophisticated Learning Management Platform like EZ LCMS to turn your Tin Can “Data” into usable, beneficial, viable learning information that will help your company grow and evolve as a true learning-centric organization.

Stay tuned for part 2 of “Why should I care about Tin Can” which will discuss how you can put Tin Can to work for you, what a Tin Can language statement looks like, and what you get from an LMS platform that truly understands Learning. An feel free to check out EZ LCMS free for 15 days!

overdue

How to manage Overdue enrollments in EZ LCMS

One of the hardest things to stay on top of in many Learning Platforms is overdue training assignments. EZ LCMS makes this process simple, by providing targeted reporting and student communication methods built specifically for managing overdue enrollments.

All training activities in EZ LCMS allow you to assign a number of days in which the enrollment in the activity expires. This means that the student has a set number of days from the day they are enrolled, to complete the activity. Once that number of days from enrollment has passed, the enrollment is considered “overdue”.

Read more

ezlcms_scheduled_reports

Automated Scheduled Reporting in EZ LCMS

A Learning Management System should be a tool to make the process of tracking training easier, not just another added daily task or responsibility for your team members and managers. So why should you have to access your Learning Management System every day just to check progress? Why not have your employees’ training progress delivered directly to you? With EZ LCMS, you can!

Using the Manager’s or the Reporter’s Scheduled Custom Report capability in EZ LCMS, you can build a sophisticated custom report based on date-ranges, completion status, custom user and group criteria and specific content and have that report delivered straight to your inbox on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

ezlcms_scheduled_reports

The process of setting up a scheduled custom report requires only two easy steps.

  1. Create a custom report be defining exactly what information you want to see. You can select specific courses, groups, users and date ranges. You can also select custom user criteria values that you have defined like location, department, zip code, job role etc.
  2. Save the report as a saved custom report and define when you want it delivered. You can have the report delivered to you daily, on certain days of the week, or a certain date every month. You can also define what format you want the data in, either embedded in your email, in a PDF attachment, an MS Excel spreadsheet or even a flat-text file for import into another application.

Once your scheduled custom report is established, you can sit back and let your training progress reports come to you. These scheduled custom reports can be set up by administrators and reports, and also by your managers, so your managers can manage be up to date on their employees’ training status every day, without ever having to log in to the LMS.

The scheduled custom report is just another way EZ LCMS is making Learning Management easier. Try it for yourself with a Free 15 day trial.

 

timeline

Track your training success with the “Achievement Timeline”

With the all new, social media inspired “Achievement Timeline” on the Learning Management transcript page, students, managers and administrators can get a “quick-look” at how the student is progressing through their training. The achievement timeline displays training events that the student has completed in an easy to read, sequential time-based timeline.

timeline

Similar to familiar social-media timelines, the EZ LCMS achievement timeline organizes your training success into sequential blocks for ease of use and understanding.

Content Administrators can customize the course icon, details and features, making for a visually interesting and informative way to monitor a student’s progress.

timeline2

Check it out for yourself with the EZ LCMS 15 Day Free Trial.

blog_cert

Automate Your Certification Process

One of the most tedious tasks when managing training is creating and keeping up with certifications and certificates. In many cases, certificates are created manually, printed out and hand-delivered or “snail-mailed” to the recipient.

EZ LCMS automates the certificate and certification process, making it completely painless. In EZ LCMS, you upload your own custom certificate image, and choose which items to display.

You can choose to display:

  • Student Name
  • Course Name
  • Completed Date
  • Group(s) that the student belongs to
  • Credits awarded
  • Time spent in course
  • Score received
  • The date that the certificate expires
  • Other Custom criteria created by you, such as office location, branch, etc.

blog_cert

Once your certificate is created, you can dynamically assign it to one or more courses in your catalog, and your certification process is completely automated. When a student completes your course, they will be prompted to print their certificate. You can even choose to have the certificates automatically emailed to the user in PDF format when they complete the course!

To Automate the certification process even further, you can set up a “certification expiration” period for your course. For example, if you indicate that a certification is good for 12 months, when the certification expires, the student will automatically be re-enrolled in the course and notified of their requirement to re-certify. No that’s painless.

Learn more about Certificates and much more by trying EZ LCMS free for 15 days here: http://www.ezlcms.com/index.php/free-trial/

EZ LCMS Manager Dashboard

Help your managers manage training!

So here is the scenario. You are the president of a widget factory, and all four of your “widget painters” came down with the chicken pocks on the same day. So you go to your Shift Manager and say “Who here knows how to paint widgets?” Which of the following answers would you prefer to hear?

a) “Heck, I don’t know, let’s ask them. Hey, anybody out there want to do some painting?”
b) “Um, I think Jimmy and Gina did it once when Albert got the Bird Flu, and I think Sally got assigned to the paint machine once by accident.”
c) “Let’s log into the training platform and see who has completed the ‘Widget painting’ program.”

Most likely you would choose C (I would hope). Let’s just say, if you did not choose C, you can stop reading now.

For the rest of you, you recognize not only the value of having a training system, but the value of having managers who use the system to train their team, and track which employees have which skills.

To be fair, most managers have enough on their plate, and you can’t provide them with a training system that is cumbersome and complicated. You can’t give a manager a tool that makes their job harder. It’s just not a good idea.

EZ LCMS provides managers a beautifully simple architecture for managing employees, performing and tracking training, and running reports to see who is trained in what. No muss, no fuss, no complicated configuration. Just a simple interface to do what they need to do, when they need to do it.

EZ LCMS Manager Dashboard

So if you are trying to bring your organization from an “answer A” organization to an “Answer C” organization, consider EZ LCMS, the easy-to-use, all-in-one platform for creating, delivering and tracking training. Try it free for 15 days at http://www.ezlcms.com/index.php/free-trial/ .