Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2012 - (Page 11)

emerGING teChNoLoGIes | gary woodiLL MoST Learning TakeS pLace around inforMaL SiTuaTionS Tracking inforMaL Learning wiTh Tin can ost trainers use a learning management system to launch and track online learning courses and materials. They also know that most employee learning takes place around informal situations, but don’t have a good way to track and report on this type of learning. With the introduction of an emerging standard called Tin Can, there is now a way to track informal learning. Tin Can is an extension of the SCORM standard for tracking e-learning courses, maintained and updated in the past 10 years by the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative of the U.S. Department of Defense. The problem with SCORM that Tin Can addresses is that LMS communications is mostly one directional between learners and their LMS. The name Tin Can reflects the desire of its developers to have communications in learning tracking systems be two-directional or even multi-directional. Up to the mLearnCon conference in June, a total of 11 vendors had committed to adoption of the Tin Can approach for their software. Many more are likely to follow. It is important to note that both SCORM and Tin Can applications track “learning activities,” not learning itself. Learning takes place in a person’s brain (or within the networked storage facilities of “extended minds”), and does not automatically result from simply participating in an activity, whatever the intention of the activity’s designer. That is true for all learning management systems and e-learning courses - we can only assume or infer that learning has taken place based on a person’s participation in specified learning activities or the results of specialized activities called assessments. But, learning occurs in many different ways, most of which are not prescribed in a formal way by an institution or training department, and/or launched and tracked by a learning management system. Informal learning events can range from learning from accidents that happen to long discussions over a glass of wine. Any non-institutional experience that results in a relatively permanent change in the behavior or understanding of a person about any aspect of human existence can be an informal learning event. tracking informal Learning Most informal learning is simply not tracked and reported. It just becomes part of our repertoire of knowledge and skills. But, in M our society, organizations are generally run by managers who like to see reports, preferably with numbers that describe the results of the activities of the organization. This data, in theory, can then be used to make decisions about the direction and activity level of the organization. Because of the desire for managerial control, many organizations want to track evidence of informal learning in addition to the data that is being collected about formal learning activities. There is currently three ways to collect and track such data: the reporting of learning activities by learners themselves, monitoring by third-party observers, or by using software agents connected to sensors. At first glance, it appears that Tin Can does not take into account many of the unique affordances of mobile learning, such as the importance of location, orientation, time and haptic feedback. But, Tin Can allows for levels of complexity in its statements that may cover this concern. Its developers acknowledge that many aspects of learning experiences can happen outside a Tin Can-based system. What Tin Can provides are standardized and comprehensive ways to make statements about learning outcomes so that they can be aggregated, categorized and shared. Of course, most LMSs do a lot more than this, launching courses, giving assessments, and plotting career paths for each employee. But, from the perspective of what training managers want - good reliable data to use in their reports to senior management - Tin Can will provide additional data to report on learning, without the massive architecture and cost of most LMSs. Tin Can is not meant to replace SCORM, but to expand the picture of what is going on with employee learning. There are other issues in the development of Tin Can to date, but to the credit of the developers, they are listed on the website as weaknesses to be resolved through more discussion. What a refreshing change from the hype of many vendors, who gloss over problems and pretend that their software can do anything. Dr. Gary Woodill is CEO of i5 Research and senior analyst, Float Mobile Learning. Email Gary. 11 Training Industry Quarterly, Fall 2012 / A Training Industry, Inc. magazine /

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2012

Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2012
From Where I Sit: Learning Technology Market Segments
Table of Contents
Ad Index
Guest Editor: Supporting the Business of Learning
The Coherent Enterprise
Tracking Informal Learning with Tin Can
Can Your People Trust You?
5 Critical Skills to Survive Tomorrow
Expert Education: Training, Technology & SMEs
Cloud Transition: More to Consider Than Just Security
My Training Dashboard? Which One?
5 Gaming Elements for Effective e-Learning
Let's Get Multi-Platform Training Right
Casebook: Colorado Secretary of State's Office
Tracking Trends: Technology: Supporting Key Initiatives
Tweet Suite
Company News
Closing Arguments: Must-See Technology

Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2012