I suppose it’s time to post this, which I drafted back in November 2012:
Those of you who are following me on various socially-inclined service sites will likely have picked up on my recent interest in the Tin Can API. In a nutshell, “Tin Can captures the activities that happen as part of learning experiences“. I’m interested in this for several reasons, most of which have to do with getting learning analytics closer to the actual learning activities and lessening the reliance of proxies as evidence of “learning”. But I think there’s a more insidious reason for my interest: I’ve been doing exactly this sort of tracking for over a decade with Knowledge Forum and other systems I’ve worked with. While the learning analytics crowd and educational data mining folks are going gaga over web server logs, the systems that I work with are designed to capture these events and insert a record into the database that maintains the learning content. In other words, I’ve been working with a Learning Record Store for all these years. Sure, the vocabulary that I used was constrained (e.g. “user reads note”, “author builds-on note”, “author references note”, “author annotates note”) but that just allowed me to optimize the storage engine.
I don’t mean to sound at all dismissive about the Tin Can API (recently renamed to the “Experience API”) — it’s terribly important and exciting and I’m happy that the Learning Analytics community is finally getting wind of it!