SCORM and X-API are two e-learning protocols that collect and share digital content. The former, whose full title is Shareable Content Object Reference Model, allowed the standardisation of communication between e-learning content and host platforms during the last decade. Although renovated with several versions over the years, SCORM appears to have reached the end of its trajectory, thanks mainly to its inability to adapt to mobile devices. Indeed, it is inextricably linked to javascript and therefore web browsers, requires a persistent internet connection and is equipped with a limited vocabulary that is ill-suited to the new applications of modern e-learning. A new protocol, or rather an API, has been developed to make up for these shortcomings and overcome the limitations of SCORM, adding powerful new features: Experience API. Experience API or X-API (initially known as Tin Can) is a new implementation by ADL, the American government agency tasked with regulating e-learning. X-AP is strongly oriented towards the mobile world and can easily be integrated in native mobile device APPs. It also does not require a persistent internet connection, which is no small matter in the mobile world. As for the vocabulary used, X-API ensures ample choice. Indeed, any type of information can be communicated from platform content, adopting the simple SUBJECT-VERB-OBJECT paradigm. With SCORM, our e-learning content can simply state that “Carlo has completed the lesson” with Tin Can it is possible to express complex content such as “Carlo is located in New York” or “Carlo has increased his leadership”. A lot of information can also be considered superfluous during the initial design phase, but collecting it means making it available, while omitting it means losing it forever. X-API’s flexibility makes it ideal for tracking informal learning, classroom sessions and “on-the-job training”. It can be adapted for events, meetings and integrated with certification systems such as “open badges“. X-API is also currently used in contexts for which it was not designed, such as “The Internet of Things”, in which smart sensors of objects communicate with a central hub, often through this very protocol. X-API’s aim is to exceed SCORM and be applicable to the multiple fields of e-learning, but its high level of flexibility easily leads to an increase in management complexity and a massive quantity of tracking data. Therefore, it is necessary to use its potential in a specific and disciplined manner for it to be truly successful and become the real replacement for SCORM protocols. This topic was discussed in posterLab no. 32: “from SCORM to the TIN CAN”. Lucio Monterubbiano

written by: Lucio Monterubbiano , 27 September 2016

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