A quick intro to AICC for e-learning

A quick intro to AICC for e-learning

Anyone who’s been working in the e-learning industry over the past few years has probably come across the name “AICC” before. It's actually been one of the key concepts throughout the history of online training and education.

Short for "Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee", AICC is the aviation industry’s specification for all e-learning content. Here’s a quick guide to get you up to speed on what this specification means and why it’s been such a mainstay in the world of e-learning.

The history of AICC

In the late 1980s, the aviation industry was at the cutting edge of e-learning and computer technologies in general. AICC was formed to promote advances in e-learning while also reducing the costs of digital training. By the early 1990s, the group had developed the world’s first e-learning specification for LMSs (or learning management systems).

The main benefit of AICC’s specification is that it enables e-learning content to be hosted and delivered across any compatible learning platform. AICC-compliant LMSs can therefore be used to distribute any unit of developed e-learning content that is also AICC-compliant. It may sound like a no-brainer now, but the 80s and early 90s were basically like the Wild West when it came to cross-platform compatibility.

The advances made by AICC in those days have greatly shaped our thinking about e-learning software design ever since. The AICC standard itself has spread far beyond the aviation industry and is now used widely by learners in virtually every sector, whether they know it or not.

AICC compliance for e-learning

AICC has created detailed guidelines and recommendations (called AGRs) that define what it means for developed content to be AICC-compliant. The best-known of these are probably AGR-006 and AGR-010.

AGR-006 governs all computerized training content, no matter how it’s delivered (could be over the internet, intranet or even on disk, as would have been fairly common in the 1980s and 1990s). Meanwhile, AGR-010 refers specifically to web-based learning content (e-learning).

If your e-learning content is developed in a way that complies with these two recommendations and guidelines, it means that it will work on most LMSs, since most LMSs are also AICC-compliant. Today, you don’t even have to worry about it most of the time, since your content authoring tool will automatically package your content in an AICC-compliant format.

Is AICC still relevant for e-learning?

AICC guidelines and regulations form the basis for SCORM and other specifications for e-learning that came after it. Today, new specifications like xAPI are capable of features that developers in the 80s and 90s could never have imagined. So, is AICC still relevant in today’s advanced e-learning world?

AICC officially disbanded at the end of 2014, but its legacy survives. However, many major organizations still rely on AICC-compliant technologies to power their e-learning activities. So, while SCORM and xAPI, along with other new specifications, have continually improved on AICC standards, it’s important to remember the pioneering spirit and vision that AICC brought to the e-learning industry.

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