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Tin Can in Moodle at iMoot 2014

This post was written by Andrew Downes and first appeared on the Epic blog on 18th June 2014.

moodle logoThe Moodle community has no shortage of conferences, and annual events known as Moodlemoots are held in many Moodle-using countries around the world. iMoot is an international version of the Moot and is hosted online using Moodle and Big Blue Button.

This year I presented at iMoot on the topic of Tin Can in Moodle. I gave an introduction to Tin Can for those who were new to the standard and then outlined four different ways Tin Can could be integrated into Moodle, or in fact any LMS. You can find the full presentation at the bottom of this post or on SlideShare, and I’m told the iMoot organisers will post the webinar recording on YouTube at some point in the next few months. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you already know what Tin Can is, so let’s dive straight in to talk about how it can be integrated into an LMS.

1. Launch Tin Can e-learning

Perhaps the simplest way to build Tin Can into an LMS is to use it to launch Tin Can-compliant learning activities. The learner is taken from the LMS to the e-learning and data is tracked back to an external LRS. User details and details of the LRS to be used for tracking are passed from the LMS to the e-learning.

I’ve produced a prototype plugin for Moodle that does just that. It needs more effort to get it production ready, but it broadly works. It’s good enough for demoing the concept at least.

2. Pull Tin Can data into the LMS

Another possible integration point is to pull data from an LRS into the LMS. This might be data from learning activities launched from the LMS or other learning experiences. This data can be used in reports, social learning activity streams and adaptive learning pathways.

I’ve created an early prototype block for Moodle that displays Tin Can statements back to the user. My launch plugin also consumes Tin Can data by checking for a specific experience for the current user when deciding whether or not to mark the activity complete. This can then be used to unlock other activities or to award Open Badges.

3. Track other LMS activities

Tin Can tracks any learning experience, not just e-learning. Moodle 2.7 introduced the new log plugin type with Tin Can specifically in mind. Using a log plugin we can hook into Moodle’s Events API to send data about any user action. I’ve prototyped this with a simple plugin that tracks quiz submission back to an LRS.

4. Embed the LRS within the LMS

One final way of integrating an LRS and LMS is to put the LRS inside the LMS. There’s a lot of work involved in this though, and with a number of great LRSs available, I just don’t think it’s worth the effort.

Instead, we can integrate an external LRS with the LMS. This allows the LMS to take advantage of all the features of the external LRS. Any development time that would have been spent building an LRS within the LMS can be invested in the areas outlined above instead.

How are you planning to implement Tin Can in your LMS? Please let us know!