Tin-can API in LearnDash or Sesei WP plugin

So, out of curiosity...

Has anyone re-published an Articulate Storyline lesson that was previously being hosted and tracked using SCORM for the Tin-can API and tested it out in either the new LearnDash LMS (formerly Wordpress LMS), or the Sensei WP plugin from WooThemes?  

Seems none of these two new lite-LMSs support SCORM. Can't say that I blame them either.  Would be nice to have a really cheap LMS alternative that a client could manage as easily as a WordPress site.

Thanks in advance as always,

Alex

32 Replies
Steve Flowers

Hey, Alex - 

I haven't yet tested LearnDash's Tin Can API features (gotta install it first) It's on my plan for the weekend after this coming weekend. Will be sure to report back on the experience. I have high confidence that LearnDash's API support will work well (it's using WaxLRS). Sensei doesn't support SCORM or Tin Can.

Todd Thornton

Just an FYI- Write down the password when you create the WaxLRS. There's not a password reset inside the plugin or on the main Wax site. (You have to be on your own login page for the password reset to appear)  

In terms of the LearnDash plugin, it installed fine for me and I haven't had any issues yet, but haven't really done much except poking around a little and watching a couple of the getting started videos. The functionality appears (as you might expect from a 1.0 release) very basic. Turning Wordpress into an LMS has a lot of potential, but (IMHO) it's a very very long way off from replacing even the most basic LMS systems.

I hope they do well and don't want to sound too negative. I've thought for a long time there was a market for combining the simplicity of Wordpress with a few LMS features. I mainly wanted to play around more with TinCan and was curious to see the progress over the next year which is why I went ahead and purchased the plugin. (It's only $69 bucks right now) I have not looked at the Sensei plugin so I have no idea how the two compare. 

Todd 

Alex Santos

Great suggestion Todd, and I wholeheartedly agree with you-

"I've thought for a long time there was a market for combining the simplicity of Wordpress with a few LMS features."

On occasion, I have been asked by prospective small clients with employee counts in the 50 - 200 range for a "cheap & easy to use" system to track the training of their staff and host a few compliance related online courses.  This client profile is generally not looking for too many bells and whistles, and is an ideal prospect for a "lite-LMS".  I don't even mention the term learning management system or LMS in their presence.  

Would love to hear more of your experience with it once you've had more time to play around, though for $69 bucks its kind of like that impulse buy at the grocery story.  

Thanks again, and I will report back as well once I've had a chance to install it and kick the tires a bit.

Best,

Alex

Justin Ferriman

Hi all-

First, thank you for the constructive feedback and honest review of where we stand with LearnDash today - this entire project is certainly going to be a process, particularly with Tin-Can.

I thought I would lend a little insight into our next steps with tin-can in relation to WordPress, and how it relates to Articulate.

The first priority for LearnDash was making it available.  I know this sounds kind of obvious, but we were getting stuck in an endless development pattern.  In the end we wanted to get Version 1.0 to a stable place and in the community’s hands so that we could enhance the offering based on user feedback.

The tin-can stuff is where it gets really exciting though.

We have been working closely with SaltBox, among others, to prepare LearnDash for tin-can api, and we are rolling this functionality out within phases.  Phase I (which is about 95% complete) is integrating the learning record store in the backend of LearnDash so there is one place for admins to point and see their tin-can statements.  The one item we have left to do here is make it single-sign-on (SSO), which will address some of the points mentioned above.

Phase II is really cool...

We are currently in the process of injecting tin-can code into the plugin itself. What this means is that as users (participants)interact with certain functionality of the plugin, it will automatically fire off tin-can statements to the LRS.  We will start off this functionality in a targeted manner, and then expand it accordingly once it is refined.

Phase II-B  is just as exciting, especially as it relates to Articulate.

We are working concurrently to integrate a wrapper for LearnDash that will allow you to easily upload and launch your Articulate Storyline courses from the LearnDash backend. If you publish your course to tin-can, and if specify the integrated LRS as your end-point for statements, then you’ll have a very intuitive, data driven learning management system… all supplemented by the flexibility of WordPress.

Phase III is still being defined, but it will likely entail the expansion of the components of Phase I and II.

My apologies for being long winded here… by all means feel free to ask any questions.

Regards,

Justin Ferriman

Founder, LearnDash

Justin Ferriman

John Craine said:

Justin, is there a time frame for when we might expect each of these Phases to drop?


Hi John-

Time frames are always tricky since I have found that software can be a finicky animal.  That said, we are currently adding organic tin-can code to the core code of the plugin. I think it isn't unreasonable to say two-more weeks and then a little bit of testing.

Todd Thornton

@mark The video link and a password are provided when you register. 

@justin I would suggest opening up at least the introductory videos and making them available on your website. I purchased without a demo, but I suspect most would not.

@bruce Not sure if you are referring to TinCanApi in general or this particular plugin, but I think they are somewhat related. I'm attending an ASTD Middle TN Chapter day of learning event on Feb 21st in Nashville where Andy Whitaker of Rustici is doing "Layers of the Tin Can Onion". I'm assuming (dangerous I know) this will be a version of their technical webinar modified for a more general e-learning crowd. Have not attended before and don't know whether the chapter records/posts video after the fact, but will report back if I see cameras.  

Todd

Bruce Graham

Thanks Todd.

I am just very aware that this is an area that is growing FAST, and as a "non-tecchie" I am struggling to keep my understanding current and correct - despite many attempts to!

At some point, non-tech audiences in corporations will need to have this explained, and I even find the Rustici explanations hard sometimes.

Bruce

Steve Flowers

Hey, Bruce - 

For "less technical explanations" of Tin Can API in general, here are a few resources. The cartoon sequence is pretty clever.

http://floatlearning.com/2012/11/the-tin-can-api-a-non-technical-analysis/

http://floatlearning.com/tincancartoon/

My explanation and use-case descriptions for senior leadership of my org isn't really that technical but contains org specific contexts and language so it might be tough to follow:

http://androidgogy.com/2012/12/11/tech-people-and-systems/

Kevin Thorn and David Kelly gave a presentation at ASTD's TK13 last week in San Jose. Here's a description of that session and the slides:

http://davidkelly.me/2013/01/what-is-tin-can-and-why-should-i-care-resources-shared-at-astdtk13/

Justin Ferriman

Steve Flowers said:

Hey, Bruce - 

For "less technical explanations" of Tin Can API in general, here are a few resources. The cartoon sequence is pretty clever.

http://floatlearning.com/2012/11/the-tin-can-api-a-non-technical-analysis/

http://floatlearning.com/tincancartoon/

My explanation and use-case descriptions for senior leadership of my org isn't really that technical but contains org specific contexts and language so it might be tough to follow:

http://androidgogy.com/2012/12/11/tech-people-and-systems/

Kevin Thorn and David Kelly gave a presentation at ASTD's TK13 last week in San Jose. Here's a description of that session and the slides:

http://davidkelly.me/2013/01/what-is-tin-can-and-why-should-i-care-resources-shared-at-astdtk13/


Very good resources with a pretty solid explanation of Tin Can.

Todd Thornton said:

@justin I would suggest opening up at least the introductory videos and making them available on your website. I purchased without a demo, but I suspect most would not.


Version 1.0 end-user demo is up at http://platinumlms.com ... also includes admin panel specific screenshots.  Note that the"tin-can" component is a little more difficult to grasp from the demo, but we're working on a way to demonstrate the reporting capabilities and will soon add more admin pictures detailing the new advancements we have in this area (including one-click upload of Articulate Storyline packages published to tin-can)!

Bruce Graham

Steve Flowers said:

Hey, Bruce - 

For "less technical explanations" of Tin Can API in general, here are a few resources. The cartoon sequence is pretty clever.

http://floatlearning.com/2012/11/the-tin-can-api-a-non-technical-analysis/

http://floatlearning.com/tincancartoon/

My explanation and use-case descriptions for senior leadership of my org isn't really that technical but contains org specific contexts and language so it might be tough to follow:

http://androidgogy.com/2012/12/11/tech-people-and-systems/

Kevin Thorn and David Kelly gave a presentation at ASTD's TK13 last week in San Jose. Here's a description of that session and the slides:

http://davidkelly.me/2013/01/what-is-tin-can-and-why-should-i-care-resources-shared-at-astdtk13/


Thanks Steve - finally got to looking at these, it's slowly getting clearer.

"CGC Skywalker" - LOL

Bruce

Todd Thornton

Thought I'd update this thread as I just returned from TinCan session yesterday. Apparently they are shooting for an official 1.0 release (think it's .95 beta right now) sometime late spring and it appears several of the larger LMS vendors (I'm not privy to names) will probably announce support during/right after the official release of the spec. 

In our session we had a pretty good discussion on the value of user generated statements (clicking a browser bookmark to indicate your read something) vs auto generated. (simulation where your choices were recorded automatically as you made them)

 In my opinion, the large content providers have very little incentive to allow auto generating statements. (Google is using their own tracking to deliver ads on YouTube so I can't see them allowing that) If you want to track people outside of your own content, a "device" solution needs to be created. (IMHO- If it can be) 

My example was an app that's running in the background on your phone/tablet and everything you do will generate statements automatically. I'm calling it "training mode" for lack of a better phrase. If it's not easy for end users, I just don't see them doing it and with an app, you could log in/out or maybe have a "secret" mode where statements would stop temporarily. I realize this sound "big brotherish" but if the goal is to bring in outside content, and then give credit/track that access, I'm not sure how else you'd do it because I don't believe there's any way companies tracking/using analytic data to deliver advertising/products are going to allow that data to be released to users/companies where it theoretically could used by other groups. 

Todd 

Joe Deegan

Great conversation! The best option that I've tested so far that I'm surprised to not see mentioned here is the SCORMCloud plugin for wordpress.  I've only done some preliminary testing with the primary goal of getting storyline modules to work on mobile devices.  From the small amount of testing I've done it seems like a great option that is capable of both SCORM and tin can through Wordpress.

Anyone out there have more extensive experience with the SCORM Cloud plugin?  Any pro's and con's compared to LearnDash?

Steve Flowers

I think the biggest difference might come down to price and reporting features. SCORMCloud is charged by the registration. It's a pretty good pricing scheme but could balloon quickly with many registrations. An LRS like Saltbox (what LearnDash is setup to use) runs by the statement. This could also balloon if you're looking at a lot of statements. I think it comes down to your requirements and what you'd like to have access to (reporting-wise). Both are good setups. I'd expect to see LOTS of competition on that front soon, including some great open source LRS options. When that happens, I'd expect competition to drive prices down pretty far with a premium on services and distinctive features.

Todd Thornton

@bruce  In a word, yes. If you have information under your control about user habits and you are making money off that information to allow someone to take it would really be a silly business decision.

@joe Scorm Cloud is pretty good, but they charge by "registrations" and that's defined as an attempt by a user. If you have a 3 hour course that's one Scorm package it would make sense because picking back up or continuing is still counted a 1, but I am continually breaking down content into smaller and smaller pieces so for me 3 hours of content, might be 20 different/distinct pieces of content that's not bundled together and that's counted as 20 registrations. In other words, it would cost me as much for a SCORM cloud account per month as I pay for two different high end dedicated servers at two different data farms. 

I believe future solutions might be based differently. Saltbox is not "delivering" content, but pricing "per record" for the TinCan LRS. Of course if it's cheap enough how you calculate the price doesn't make as much difference. (At least not to me)  

John Craine

@Todd - I have had significant and ongoing dialogs with Scormcloud in recent weeks. Scormcloud charges a monthly fee that allows a certain number of registrations. A registration is defined by a user signing up for a course. It has nothing to do with attempts. Once a user has registered for a course there are no additional charges for later access. However, you are correct in your assessment that courses consisting of multiple modules could quickly eat through your monthly quota. Perhaps it would be worth discussing a custom pricing scheme with them.

@Joe - the Scormcloud WP plugin is a great option. It allows for single sign on and will give you reporting from your admin panel. Alternately you can embed their report widgets onto a protected page on your WP site. Currently, Scormcloud provides little to no reporting for Tin Can. You can see the statements in your account but there are no further analyses yet available. If you package for SCORM then you have access to a full range of performance reports that are awesome.

It's been a rocky road for us getting Storyline content to launch reliably on iPads from the Scormcloud system. Popup windows start and then shut down for no reason (note- we have this issue with other SCORM players too including Moodle). The sessions are recorded in Scormcloud but from a user standpoint it would be quite frustrating. The Articulate iPad player is a possible option but it does not report SCORM out to any system but Articulate Online. It can report Tin Can statements to Scormcloud, but again, there is no data analysis available, just the raw Tin Can logs. I'm hoping that Scormcloud gets these issues resolved because their option is suitable for many of my clients.

Todd Thornton

I'm guessing you'll see a new type of mini-lms system appear with Tin Can support by the end of this year. The LearnDash plugin will be getting an upgrade in the next few days so I think so it's progressing quickly, but Wordpress was not really designed for step by step/structured training. Yes you can create custom menus and do some things with tagging, but I doubt "corporate" types could be persuaded to move all their training to Wordpress so my best guess is you'll see a bare bones LMS system that essentially uses TinCan statements as the equivalent of a grade book. 

One thing i forgot that Andy from Rustici mentioned was they see different layers of using the data in the future so for instance you could have one niche provider supporting a plugin to better "visualize" the underlying statements.  You could have another specialize in mapping statements to the most effective learning practices/resources, etc. I could even see a company giving away a basic reporting system for free to attract a large user base and then charging for premium plugins/apps. 

Todd

Justin Ferriman

Great conversation on TinCan... lots of solutions are coming available which is great.  Just thought I would throw my two cents in given LearnDash's use of TinCan.  We recommend the WaxLRS integration and created a backend plugin for easy login from the WP site, but that's not a requirement (you can choose any LRS you wish).  The TinCan integration we have in place sends statements based on users accessing the course/lesson/quiz pages created by LearnDash.  We are looking to expand this even further, including organic TinCan statements sent from our quizzing functionality.  The extension (which is free) also allows for one-click upload of Articulate Storyline courses published to TinCan (also one-click upload for Articulate Studio '09, but naturally TinCan "stuff" won't be recorded since you can't publish to TinCan, just the basic statements that are sent from the lesson pages).

It's exciting to see how everything is taking shape - enjoying the back-and-forth here as well.

-Justin

Founder, LearnDash

Pankaj Agrawal

Alex Santos said:

So, out of curiosity...

Has anyone re-published an Articulate Storyline lesson that was previously being hosted and tracked using SCORM for the Tin-can API and tested it out in either the new LearnDash LMS (formerly Wordpress LMS), or the Sensei WP plugin from WooThemes?  

Seems none of these two new lite-LMSs support SCORM. Can't say that I blame them either.  Would be nice to have a really cheap LMS alternative that a client could manage as easily as a WordPress site.

Thanks in advance as always,

Alex


Alex,

Make sure you take a look at GrassBlade xAPI Companion. its an Experience API plugin for Wordpress:

http://nextsoftwaresolutions.com/grassblade-xapi-companion/

It works with Tin Can packages from Articulate, iSpring, Lectora, DominKnow and more.

- Pankaj