Tin Can: missing the optimal audience?

A post pulled together from different thoughts I drafted commuting in the last week

It might just be down to my media sources of choice but it seems Tin Can is continuing to only really make major waves in corporate learning and development.  This is perhaps understandable considering the relative importance of SCORM to different learning industries.  Indeed, at one stage, whilst SCORM was the first thing Learning Management Systems for corporates needed the likes of Blackboard and Moodle struggled to provide robust SCORM players to their customers.  As schools and 16+ education providers created many of their own resources this was not as big an issues as for L&D departments handling elearning packages from 3rd party vendors and importing multitudes of external ‘off-the-shelf’ content.  Things have changed though and combinations of OER, badges and TC potentially could really transform the landscape.

Whilst I can see uses of Tin Can in the corporate environment, it is of course being seen as a way to acknowledge the 90% of the 70/20/10 model, I wonder if the most useful implementation would actually be with younger online learners.  Whilst accreditation is important in the corporate environment and online testing is often dominated in firms by compulsory training around compliance, health and safety, IT skills, etc. the accreditation element of Tin Can could be far more useful for schools.  For example, rather than setting a pupil a worksheet with questions to complete, a school teacher could setup a task where learners must show their learning path by submitting their activities via Tin Can.  This could show what they have read and done to learn the topic.  It is this use of resources which can now be revealed to the teacher and avoid the ‘doing homework to get teacher of my back’ syndrome.  Its all a bit 1984 but tracking your students could open up a whole new way of looking at what ‘schooling’ entails.

Lets take an example.  I remember when at school we would be asked a question about a topic.  The teacher knew we would effectively be limited to the school library’s resources.  We might be adventurous and find a CD-ROM, related TV/radio show or even venture to the public library but that would be about it.  In some cases the teacher would end up with multiple copy jobs either copied from a textbook or encyclopedias.  Today it is of course Google and the risk that any activity will simply be met with a cut and paste job from the web.  Whilst TurnItIn and the like can indicate where this has happened it does not reveal the learning path.  References/bibliography in traditional work was a hint towards this path but could also raise as many questions as answers.  For example, I remember one of my MA essays, which happened to be the only one I ever had marked by the head of the department, had something like “you couldn’t/shouldn’t have read this much – this is a dissertation length bibliography”.  Now what I had done was to have skimmed through a considerable batch of resources, as the question asked for an evaluation of different options (related to search engine mechanics) I went through a number of old resources to try and understand why the evolution happened and how Google (AskJeeves and maybe some others) worked in the way they did.  I even found an article on Ceefax/Teletext which had a huge amount of similarities to the hopes attached to the Internet (learning anywhere, breaking education barriers, etc).  Tin Can then could provide a capturing of what someone does for an assignment and a bibliography becomes either redundant or simply a list of the references actually quoted in the paper.

To me this offers a more manageable and clear use case than corporate learning where ‘informal’ may be something worth capturing and sharing but volume vs relevance will be a difficult balance.  Would my line manager want to know about every YouTube video I watch?  If we are just talking about the good ones why are we not already sharing those experiences via team collaboration sites?  One aspect is automation versus manually logging an activity, simply speaking you need to be enforcing manual (i.e. a student fails the assessment if they do not log a relevant path) or automatic (potentially too much noise).  In either case I would see more use for a teacher in the data than a manager or L&D department.

What will of course surprise some teachers is that, to an extent, this is nothing new.  Many Learning Management Systems (aka VLEs etc) have offered tracking of accessing resources from the system, for example accessing links supplied by the teacher.  Indeed this might be news to some corporates who have been stuck in the SCORM/course model and not appreciated the full range of, albeit bespoke/proprietary, options in the LMS marketplace.  The potential with TC will be to build on this to track multiple sources in an open way.

What we should be looking to use Tin Can for is to harvest the learning paths of individuals, in corporates this might be harvested by knowledge management to highlight the best ways for learning but in schools it offers much more – how are people using resources, what search techniques need improving in the learners, how are they synthesizing (rather than copying and pasting resources), etc etc.  If we map this to models such as the SCONUL information literacy model it offers even further possibilities for assessing ‘core’ skills.  Overall, hugely interesting times and new ways to consider what learning design means in a hyper connected world.

I’ve recently installed the WordPress application on my phone so I might start posting rougher notes again.

Vetiquette – the new Netiquette?

I recently attended the CIPD’s HRD Exhibition and amongst the free seminars was one which covered Vetiquette.  Now the presenter seemed to think that everyone would have heard of this, but I must admit not remembering it if I had.  Indeed a Google search shows that unless you start adding some ‘-vet’ and ‘-pet’s it is not a term with a particularly big footfall.  The basic idea in the talk was that Netiquette was somewhat out-of-date as it came out of early web discussion boards and email; vetiquette relates to the modern web of video conferencing, multimedia collaboration, etc.  I did not think too much about this until this weeks BSN MOOC grouped Netiquette within digital citizenship.  How much citizenship and literacy overlap are probably a matter of opinion but it made me take another look at vetiquette…

Safari books online has Vetiquette as the below:

VEtiquette, is coined to represent the special subset of behaviors required in a virtual team and to explore the difference in context that virtual work creates that makes special attention to such behavior particularly importantVEtiquette, which stands for “virtual etiquette,” is required in work that is typically real time and synchronous. Vetiquette guides team members’ behavior as they collaborate virtually either while speaking or writing using Internet, mobile, or video technologies. It can be summarized as, “Be effective, or don’t be heard.” This extra attention to virtual interaction matters because the effectiveness of the team depends on it.

Thus for the Blended Schools MOOC we perhaps can consider the need for vetiquette in fostering young people’s belief to be effective/heard but not pushy/rude when online.  This is personally interesting for me as my workplace performance reviews in the past have identified a need to be more assertive in getting my ideas across.  This is perhaps my oh-so-polite Britishness coming through in online environments or might simply be that I find the behavior of others too pushy and ‘tone myself down’ as a result.  As we all move towards a globalized world this will be increasingly important and it is difficult to get the balance right across borders.  It can also be easier to pick a level of appropriate virtual behavior with someone if you have met them in person.

When I did draft a netiquette policy for a previous job I included both the traditional ‘net’ and ‘et’ issues, as well as those identified as ‘vetiquette’.  I guess I really saw all of it as ‘netiquette’ within information/digital literacy.  There is a little bit about what I did on this presentation but in general:

  • The policy was drafted by looking at existing netiquette policies from around the web.
  • It was not really enforced, instead it was embedded in training resources for teachers and students.  It was up to individual instructors how they might adopt, adapt and enforce it with their own students.
  • One would hope that as time passes people will be increasingly confident in this area and the need to train people in vetiquette will be something for schools rather than the 16+ education providers.  Thus it is great to see it being considered in the BSN MOOC (see last two blog posts for more on this).

Today’s Blended Teacher: The Blended Schools MOOC – Week 1 – Pie in The Sky

I am currently picking up bits from the BlendedSchools.net MOOC, currently being run via a combination of Google+ and a SoftChalk course.  I have seen BlendedSchools present at events and thought it was an interesting idea for them to offer such a course for free, in addition to their traditional services including offering of professional development.

So far, most of my interest has been in seeing the US-centric conversation’s similarities with the UK including concerns about school systems delivering the highest quality education.  Much of the Google+ discussion in week 1 seems to have centered on the limits of professional development in the US.  However, the main issue, that teachers see personal development as a set number of hours/days a year, would be the same as the UK’s approach via inset days.  This is not to say this is unique to teaching, I once attended a trade union health and safety course to be shocked that most people wanted to drag the day out as an escape from their day jobs.  Even in the banking sector there seems to be a need to encourage staff to realise learning does not end with school/college/university graduation, within the wider L&D agenda.

This week’s MOOC ‘create’ activity offered a number of options the below is my response to:

The Pie in the Sky

This activity is ideal for theorists or for pre-service teachers who do not yet have their own classrooms.

Write a blog post describing an ideal blended classroom in the year 2013.

You may post this blog using any tool you would like. If you want to build your blog using Blended Schools Networks’ BSNshare blogging tool, you can view the tutorials above for instructions.

  • What sort of content is delivered online? What is delivered face-to-face?
  • Which assessments use the Internet? Which assessments do not?
  • What benefits does this environment have for students?
  • What sort of resources are being used in the classroom?

My Pie in the Sky

I have mentioned on blogs and in conference discussions in the past my belief that we need to totally overhaul the predominant model of British K-12 schooling.  In the USA, and elsewhere, we have seen the growth of online K-12 schools.  What I would see as ideal in UK, in 2013, is a ‘hub and spoke’ approach.  The responsibility for learning will be shared between pupils, parents and teachers.  Large amounts of knowledge work will be completed electronically via video, reading and other asynchronous technologies.  Students will then congregate in synchronous learning ‘hubs’ which are both virtual and physical.  Physical hubs could make use of unused shops and other buildings to offer students across the community access to the latest technology, such as 3D printers, whilst most learning is undertaken remotely from home, public libraries and other low-tech study centers.  The ratio of study center to student would partly be determined by the area’s technology, if high speed home internet is easy to establish there would be less need of hubs.

Formative assessment and tracking technologies, such as the Tin Can API, ensure students are ‘attending’ school via appropriate learning outcomes, not bum on seat time.  This also allows for learning time to start later in the day (as recognized by science, teenagers need to sleep later than some other ages groups) and be more flexible for those who have major extra curricula interests such as acting and sport careers.

As with any ideal blended learning solution, the focus would be on valuable synchronous communication to develop student capabilities in communication, timekeeping and problem solving whilst allowing them to learn at their own pace at other times.  Reflection, through blogging, would be a key aspect aspect of this model, ensuring the key attribute of understanding the importance of lifelong learning is achieved.

Reflecting on some recent Tweets & Google+ Shares

Whilst I log some of my personal development here I do not intend to consider everything I do, including reading.

Instead I will often share my reading via other networks.  Why?


  1. Most of my professional reading is via Google Reader.  I previously setup the option to push ‘shares’ in Reader to Twitter.  When Google+ launched this stopped working.  If I see something particularly interesting I will still share it in my ‘Work Related’ circle…just in case anyone is interested.  Its easy to do and at least allows my Google+ profile to have some use.
  2. Websites.  If something leads to me having a question or is something I think my Twitter followers might be interested in (especially if it is from a source they might not read) I will share there from time-to-time.


  1. I do not tweet often, usually limiting it to live tweeting of events – with more in-depth reflections later in blog posts.
  2. Reflection on some particular tweets:

“Virtual classrooms are a response to austerity” http://soc.li/MIjMeod  “Virtual learning cannot replace the learning…of a classroom” …wow some old arguments there. Sounds like someone needs a friendly Learning Technologist to show them how. Also ignores student demand.

This was really just a reaction to The Globe and Mail (a paper I used to read now and again) choosing to publish what effectively seemed to be some ranting about a workplace…without much evidence of a justified argument.

#bett_latw great presentation on global l&d, another arguing for curation over creation.

The official hashtag for BETT Learning At Work was quite quiet so I tried to post a few summaries for anyone following.  The rising importance of curation was a theme – as picked up prior to Learning Technologies/BETT.

Opening talk of #BETT_LatW reminded me of the silly Idiocracy movie, suggestions of attention problems and obesity in the future world.

The presentation was excellent at considering the brain and the science behind learning.  This post was a little bit of fun as I doubt the Baroness would be a fan of the movie.

Leaving #lt13 exhibition – good catchup but nothing hugely new. Or did I miss something? Or a sign of things bedding down and maturing?

The Learning Technology and BETT shows seemed to suffer from multiplication of different hashtags.  Therefore, not many people may have seen this – I did get one reply confirming my feeling.  Other posts confirmed that people are concentrating on the learning outcomes rather than tech for tech’s sake.

Some #lt13 exhibition delegates VERY keen. Perhaps the security staff were just doing what they’ve been trained to do?

This was me being a bit bitchy – which is rare I would say.  I was simply blown away by how rude people were being to the Olympia staff  – would opening five minutes late really make much difference?  Do you have to be the first person in the lift?  I’m still presuming/hoping the worse culprits are not Human Resources professionals.

@ldnoverground part suspended. No crystal palace service.

Apologies to any Twitter followers that my rule of keeping it professional (with most personal/private stuff elsewhere – i.e. Facebook) is starting to slip.  If only because what was the East London Line now seems so badly served by London Overground information services.  I find Twitter hugely useful for getting around London when there are problems and will try to contribute.

Quick bit of reflection on the #6TrendsLD webinar yesterday… http://bit.ly/T05Ili

Finally, for now, a tweet which was a rare bit of advertisement for this site.  I’m still torn between if this site should aim explicitly to be useful for others or just be my random thoughts, if anyone reads this far do let me know what you think!

5 Trends for L&D in 2013 (#6TrendsLD) Webinar…Could a corporate library service be the answer?

Donald Taylor yesterday went through five trends for Learning and Development that acted as a nice lead in to the upcoming Learning Technologies Exhibition I blogged about last time.

Don’s 5 themes were the below:

  1. Globalization & big picture changes
  2. Integration
  3. Data
  4. The role of L&D
  5. Performance

It was point four which perhaps interested me most.  The suggestion was that the LPI Capability Map and survey results are suggesting a skills gap in the areas where L&D focus can be seen as moving towards (and away from course delivery)…

  • Curate (find/filter/interpret/share)
  • Community management
  • Performance consulting
  • Research
  • Networking and influencing

Now I do not think these are really unique to L&D, but they are interesting to me considering I have come to L&D from an information/education background.  Indeed at the most basic level you may well say that resource management and building a community around the recommended materials are what libraries have always been about.

There are parallels for others too, including marketing professionals who will be experiencing similar ideas in needing to manage a social network around the brand rather than standalone marketing campaigns, which might be seen as the traditional equivalent of a L&D learning event.  Other aspects would be generic to any industry – everyone should research where they are in comparison to colleagues, competitors, etc. with appropriate networking and influence for their department to achieve its aims.

The decline of corporate libraries is well documented, elsewhere they have survived through a focus on competitive intelligence, knowledge management or sector/client research.  The question then is does the current L&D landscape mean investment in a ‘library’ service could be worth an organization’s time and money?  The answer – perhaps not a library but certainly a clear manifestation of supporting learning via different mediums, suggesting different ways for people to develop in the way the business needs.

Finally, how best to do this?  It might be that a learning management system with embedded social features – treating people (and communities of practice) as a resource alongside courses, reading, videos, podcasts, etc etc. or other similar platform?