Learning Analytics and TinCan / xAPI: The basics

TinCan xAPI

Two current trends in technology-enhanced learning systems that are now starting to gain exposure and adoption are Learning Analytics and the SCORM upgrade/replacement, TinCan, also known as xAPI.

Learning Analytics is the application of marketing-style analysis to data generated by learners. It aims to capture what tasks a learner has performed and build profiles of activity and end results in order to try and see what kinds of behaviour and activity lead to learning success. Additionally, it seeks to flag up learners who are perhaps struggling with work, which might offer a teacher or trainer the chance to intervene with more support.

Learning Analytics does have numerous issues around things like capture of data and privacy-protection, and many organisations and leaders are still debating the ethics and policies that should guide its implementation. However, it does seem like an efficient and effective way to capture and analyse more about learners.

TinCan / xAPI is based on and extended from the popular SCORM course specification, breaking free from the confines of a closed delivery system such as an LMS. It allows practically any type of interaction, both on and offline, to be recorded against a user’s learning record. For example, using the simple language-like syntax of “John read a research paper”, or “Mary took test 1 with a score of 10”, TinCan can capture data which can then be analysed using a variety of different models to discover things like content or activity effectiveness. The data retrieved is then stored in a Learning Record Store (or LRS), which can be incorporated into the LMS.

In combination, these two methods of data-capture and analysis offer a new method to gain insight into the way that learners learn and what kinds of activities and events benefit or hinder learning. This means reduced costs for you when developing learning content, as the most effective activities and content types for your audience can be easily discovered. It also brings better outcomes for learners, as those who are struggling with content can be identified and given extra support, while those who are not challenged enough can be presented with more challenging work to do.

Find out more about Learning Analytics and TinCan, or about implementing an LRS within your organisation: contact us today for advice.