What is Tin Can API and LRS?

Tin Can API or xAPI is “a brand new specification for learning technology that makes it possible to collect data about the wide range of experiences a person has (online and offline)” (http://tincanapi.com/overview/). API, in case some readers are confused, stands for Application Programming Interface and is simply a way to obtain information from a source location and pass on that information to trusted partnering applications.

The Tin Can API is able to consistently capture data about a student’s learning activities from a variety of technologies. Because of Tin Can’s simple vocabulary inherent in the coding, diverse systems are able to communuicate with each other in a secure manure by interacting with Tin Can API’s stream of user activity data.

A Learning Record Store (LRS) on the other hand, works with the Tin Can API and is a new system that stores learning records. According to their website:

“As Tin Can-enabled activities generate statements, they’re sent to an LRS. The LRS is simply a repository for learning records that can be accessed by an LMS or a reporting tool. An LRS can live inside an LMS, or it can stand on its own.” – http://tincanapi.com/learning-record-store/


I see the Tin Can API and LRS working together to create a complex set of data about student learning not primarily for the institution but for the ownership of the students themselves. Students will increasingly need data on their learning to prove that they did in fact engage with various digital learning tools as they were instructed. The LRS will potentially record all their activity in a course down to how much time they spent reading a particular article or doing an online quiz. The flexibility of the Tin Can API to record almost any activity on these platforms is what is most appealing for a Learning Ecosystems architecture approach to Higher Ed learning technology.

Here is a slide show presented by one of my colleagues regarding xAPI or Tin Can API integration with WordPress: