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cmi5 is ready to go in SCORM Cloud

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Categories: Spec Effort, Tin Can, TinCanAPI.com

Posted 14 February 2017

 

Today we’re excited to announce support for a new specification in SCORM Cloud- cmi5, which is something that doesn’t happen all that often in its history. Along with making cmi5 support readily available in SCORM Cloud, we’ve also added support for cmi5 to some of our other products including SCORM Engine and SCORM Driver.

Obviously, supporting a variety of specifications is a huge part of what we do well at Rustici Software. More than anything, though, I think it’s important for us to be conscious of, and to explain well to all of you, when and why we add support for a particular specification.

So, what is cmi5?

cmi5 is technically a profile of xAPI which means it piggy backs on top of things already well defined in xAPI, but adds specificity in others. For cmi5, this means that certain xAPI statements are required, and launch is handled in a very specific way.

For me, it’s the launch piece that’s so important. From xAPI’s advent years ago, there have been issues with launching content. In the earliest days, we at Rustici Software defined a very simple launch specification that several content vendors picked up on. It was good enough for the time being, but it wasn’t really good enough in practice.

So, over the last couple of years, many people including Bill McDonald (as Chair of the working group) and Art Werkenthin and others at RISC have put a lot of energy into considering how their AICC work could be applied to launch in the xAPI world. The result is that we have a good solution for launching content via xAPI.

Why it matters

Years ago, as we at Rustici Software and others around us started evangelizing xAPI, we made some mistakes. We talked about all of the things that could be enabled by xAPI, the things for which it was necessary but not sufficient. Over the last year or two, we’ve really started to fill in the gaps to make it sufficient as well. And while launch isn’t the dreamiest of capabilities for which xAPI is a solution, it is absolutely fundamental.

If content launch is ultimately going to transition from SCORM to xAPI, cmi5’s support for launch will be a requirement. And further, so many other activities actually benefit from having a well defined, implemented, and adopted specification for launch. So for now, we’re excited to share that Cloud now offers vendors and others a great place to test cmi5 based launchable activities. We hope this helps spur the development of many xAPI/cmi5 adopters.

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We’ve launched a new services group.

 

 

Some Background

For years, we have relied on our products to be the solution to a number of complex problems facing companies that use learning standards. If you’re building an LMS or authoring tool and you need AICC or SCORM or, more recently, xAPI, we have a product that can do the heavy lifting. That’s been our bread and butter.

But we also have insights from years of thinking about experiential data and hearing how customers report on it. And we know that the problem isn’t always solved at the immediate boundary of our products.

It’s those considerations that brought our services group to life.

What We Do

We help vendors and organizations consider how to use learning standards to accomplish their goals. These goals include delivering the learning material to their people and selling their products to discerning buyers.

We work on problems related to the learning standards AICC, SCORM, and xAPI.

In the case of xAPI, the newest of the standards, the off-the-shelf solutions are less mature. Listening carefully and collaboratively helps us build better products, but it also helps us get you the right solution now.

Of course, we haven’t stopped thinking about AICC and SCORM.

Where You Come In

We want you to ask us a question. You can learn more about how we’re responding to the questions we’ve already heard here. These are things we anticipate. Maybe something on this list prompts a question you were getting ready to ask. So, ask away– we’re listening and ready to help.

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Semantic Interoperability

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Categories: Best Practices, Ideas, Recipes, Registry, Standards, Tin Can

Posted 24 January 2017

 

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You’re going to hear us talk a lot about semantic interoperability this year. So we might as well present a working definition.

Semantic interoperability is when information—the meaning behind captured data—is 
portable and well understood by any subsequent system requesting and reviewing it.

 

Why will we be talking about it a lot? Because without semantic interoperability, the Experience API (xAPI) has a limited future.

For us, semantic interoperability in xAPI will be achieved when there is a generally accepted information model. We expect profiles to help with this a great deal. There’s a strong possibility that collaborative work between ADL and IMS could help a great deal.

Then: Too Many Constraints

Consider SCORM, the usage of which remains widespread in LMSs everywhere. The CMI data model leveraged by SCORM is closely linked to its information model. There is a finite set of data that can be recorded about the types of learning experiences common to online training, and summarizing information from that data is a relatively straightforward exercise. So straightforward, in fact, that practitioners have long cared primarily about a big four—score, completion, satisfaction (i.e., pass/fail), and duration. SCORM makes requesting and understanding the big four easy.

Now: Too Much Flexibility

xAPI, on the other hand, is fundamentally a communication protocol applied as a specification for elearning. In xAPI, apart from a few familiar holdovers from SCORM (the big four, native support for interactions), there is no limit to what can be captured about a given learning experience. One could literally choose any verb available in any language. Or one could create a new activity definition to describe any type of experience.

Can you imagine how difficult it would be to report on data with so few constraints? We can. Because we’ve been trying.

Needed: Leadership

Even when there is consensus that a concept has sufficient value to merit a profile, there can be difficulty. Take video, for instance. Not only is there a profile in our Registry, there’s also a Community of Practice still working on a version. If there are multiple working versions of what data to capture, then how is a reporting system attempting to derive meaning about “video” supposed to do so?

We think the answer right now is: leadership. The concept of Registry has utility to semantic interoperability in xAPI, and we have a feature roadmap for it. Still, we recognize the difficulty in a single industry participant to establish credibility and trust.

What would alternatives look like? We think ADL could assert an information model. As a subtle alternative, ADL could host a collaborative process with some authority. This might look like the establishment of a baseline with a community process similar to how the specification itself operates now—managed workflow in GitHub supported by regular calls.

Expect to hear more from us on this topic because we think it’s critical to the future success of xAPI.

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More of the same

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Categories: Announcements, Ideas, News, Standards

Posted 2 February 2016

 

Welcome to week one of the post-acquisition Rustici Software world. I just thought I’d take a moment here to discuss one of the reasons we agreed to sell Rustici Software to LTG, because it’s not all about the money.

Mike and I were seeking investment funding for Watershed, but we really weren’t on the lookout for anything related to Rustici Software. It was a profitable business, I know very well how to run it, and we have several sets of work that give us cause for optimism. LTG, however, saw the value in both Watershed from an investment point of view and Rustici Software from a market and profitability point of view.

After LTG’s first visit, Mike and I asked ourselves two questions.

  • Did we believe that we would be able to maintain our strange and highly-valued culture through an acquisition? Having a place we want to come to work has always been a fundamental requirement for us.
  • Did we believe that we would be able to serve our customers in the way we always had?

Throughout the negotiations, due diligence, and these two long days as an LTG company 😉 we’ve consistently believed that we could do both of those things and still do. LTG is not an LMS provider like some of our prior suitors have been. We always used to worry that an acquisition of that sort might include aggressive interactions with our customers. With LTG, we’re going to continue to be agnostic, supportive of the standards, and generally the same company we always have been. We’re excited about it, and excited about continuing to support our customers and the industry in general in exactly the same way.

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Big news from Rustici Software

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Categories: Announcements, News

Posted 29 January 2016

 

Today, I want to share a piece of news that’s really exciting for us. As of this morning, Rustici Software has been acquired by Learning Technologies Group plc (LTG), a publicly listed learning technologies agency made up of specialist digital learning businesses. As a part of LTG, we’ll have the opportunity to work with the other Group companies in creating the next generation of technically-focused learning solutions.

LTG has a great deal of learning expertise and serves organizations worldwide. LTG’s portfolio includes LEO, a pioneering learning technologies firm, the multi-device authoring tool gomo learning, games with purpose company Preloaded, and Eukleia, an e-learning provider to the financial services sector.

As part of LTG, we’ll continue offering exactly the same services we do today to an ever larger group — not only will we provide our world-class e-learning standards support to LTG companies and their customers but as part of the Group, we’ll also have the platform to reach new global audiences.

This has no impact on the xAPI/Tin Can API. We’ll still continue to work with ADL and the e-learning community to foster adoption and advancement of the specification.

For our Rustici Software customers, the story is simple. The very same people will be providing to you the very same services in the same way. Our ability to serve our customers in the way we always have is something we feel really strongly about.

We’re excited to have the opportunity to work with the fine folks at LTG, and to continue to serve the e-learning industry in an even bigger way than before. We’re also excited because we’re spinning off Watershed at the very same time. Watershed will continue to push forward with their exploration of learning analytics and LRSs, and has also received a significant investment from LTG as part of Watershed’s Series A funding round. Mike and I, as CEO of Watershed and CEO of Rustici Software respectively, are both excited about where the two companies are headed.

If you have any questions or need more specific information regarding the acquisition, please let us know. Any inquiries or requests for additional documentation should be sent to info@tincanapi.com.

Tim

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