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Mobile eLearning Systems - The Standards and Strategies Involved

Wireless broadband and mobile computing capabilities have changed the way we work and learn. Conference calls, collaboration platforms, cloud computing, laptops/tablets and on-demand videos have enabled many of us to work from home-based offices and to advance our formal education from remote locations.  Universities in particular are being transformed digitally by these technologies.
Peter Rogers
Principal Mobility Architect
Cognizant

In this article Peter Rogers, Principal Architect for Mobility at Cognizant shares his insights on the technology and standards behind mobile eLearning platforms.

One of the main challenges for eLearning systems is having a great mobile user experience, and this is largely due to the in-browser nature dictated by SCORM.  “SCORM stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. Sharable Content Object indicates that SCORM is all about creating units of online training material that can be shared across systems. SCORM defines how to create ‘sharable content objects’ or ‘SCOs’ that can be reused in different systems and contexts. ‘Reference Model’ reflects the fact that SCORM isn’t actually a standard. ADL didn’t write SCORM from the ground up. Instead, they noticed that the industry already had many standards that solved part of the problem. SCORM simply references these existing standards and tells developers how to properly use them together.” [http://scorm.com/scorm-explained/]

The upside is that SCORM is one of the very few standards (or collections of standards) that exist in the eLearning space. What App developers really want however is to produce their own native UX as opposed to having to wrap non-mobile-first web content inside a UIWebView / WebView.  This is where a new standard called the Tin Can API comes in, allowing for a totally custom mobile-first UX to hook up with a remote learning record store (LRS) in order to record learning activities and achievements.

“The Tin Can API removes the need for an Internet browser. This opens up a lot of possibilities for how users experience your content, and what your content can be. Creating native mobile apps, simulators, and serious games that conform to the Tin Can API is easy. Just make sure that your software is set up to send statements to an LRS, and that your system is connected to a network (or at least occasionally connected)” [http://scorm.com/project-tin-can-phase-3-removal-of-the-need-for-an-internet-browser/]

The Mobile App uses the Tin Can API to send secure messages to the LRS in the form of “noun verb object” or “I did this”.
  • bob attempted ‘HTML 5 Beginners Course’
  • user 1 experienced ‘Gamification Level 1’
  • user 2 completed ‘Gamification Level 2’ with score 2000
“The concept of Learning Record Store (LRS) is a new one that goes hand in hand with the Tin Can API. The future of e-learning will require a repository (LRS) for learning records that can be accessed by an Learning Management System (LMS) or a reporting tool. As learning activities are experienced via the Tin Can API, activity streams are sent to and stored in LRSs.” [http://scorm.com/tincanoverview/what-is-an-lrs-learning-record-store/]

You can use a public LRS for test purposes (http://tincanapi.com/public-lrs/) but for a permanent solution then you need to create a SCORM Cloud Account (https://demo.tincanapi.com/pdl/#/pdl/sign/up).

It is easy enough to create an eLearning system that presents learning material but the challenge is to make the mobile user experience compelling and fun, and most importantly to record and assess the actual learning achieved. The use of the Tin Can API can enable both of these two goals and with public LRS being accessible then I highly recommend that all educational developers try this out.

Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Editor
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
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Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies
Recommended Strategy Book Code Halos
Recommended iPad App Code Halos for iPads

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

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More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is the Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant, a writer, speaker and SAP Mentor Alumnus. Follow him on Twitter @krbenedict. He is a popular speaker around the world on the topic of digital transformation and enterprise mobility. He maintains a busy schedule researching, writing and speaking at events in North America, Asia and Europe. He has over 25 years of experience working in the enterprise IT solutions industry.

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