Training & Learning Architecture (TLA):
 Project Tin Can



Project Tin Can has concluded. Its successor is the Experience API (xAPI) project.

Through a 2011 Broad Area Announcement (BAA) with Rustici Software, ADL researched an implementation approach to Next Generation SCORM as if there were no previous generation of SCORM. That is, ADL sought to answer the question: if we were to start from scratch with the web infrastructure that exists today, how would we implement distributed learning that is interoperable and reusable?

The answer was simple but powerful – “I did this.” The idea of describing learning experiences as “actor verb object” can describe traditional learning content as well as other forms of content not normally tracked. So whether “Jack completed the Chapter 5 Algebra exam” or “Jill experienced Fighter Pilot Training Simulation #17,” what happened can be tracked easily, but can also be re-aggregated with other learning experiences to create something larger and possibly more meaningful.

The original BAA for Project Tin Can is over, but the results of Project Tin Can remain a major component of Next Generation SCORM, and ADL welcomes more community input as we move forward with the Experience API.

Research Summary

As a part of the Phase I development of Next Generation SCORM, Project Tin Can was itself a multiple-phased process.

Requirements Gathering:

Information was gathered and compiled from a variety of sources consisting of:

  • Interviews with key players in the distributed learning industry
  • Contact with customers of Rustici Software
  • The 103 white papers published by LETSI about SCORM 2.0
  • Existing requests from the ADL Community
  • The Tin Can User Voice Forum

The most interesting of these was the Tin Can User Voice Forum, where participants could voice concerns and spend “points” on features for the Next Generation of SCORM to be implemented or on solutions to shortcomings of the current versions of SCORM. There was a great deal of participation on this forum. Results were compiled and similar topics were merged to determine the most prevalent issues to be addressed in Next Generation SCORM.

Creation of the Model:

From analysis of the community input, the model that was agreed upon was:

Actor, Verb, Object


“I did this”

This model allowed for both ease of implementation and increased power – both directions that the user community wanted to see the Next Generation SCORM move in. It is capable of moving across platforms and experiences. In fact, it was based on social media sites such as Facebook.


In order to vet the model and show how it could be useful, prototypes were created. The two main functions of the prototypes were the Learning Record Store (LRS) and the Experience Application Programming Interface (xAPI).

The Learning Record Store is an abstracted out tracking application that has historically been associated with the Learning Management System (LMS). The LRS serves as a processing center for all Actor, Verb, Object sets. It can combine these statements into something meaningful and expose them through interfaces.

The Experience API is a set of functions that communicates with the LRS through a variety of calls. The API can be implemented in a variety of platforms that were all prototyped through the BAA to show interactivity between content and the tracking system. Legacy SCORM Content, Games, Mobile, and GPS were all areas in which the Experience API was successfully deployed.


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