SCORM versus xAPI, cmi5 and AICC


SCORM vs xapi

Since it is a “reference model” rather than an individual standard, SCORM is designed to overarch various existing specifications. Some refer to SCORM as a “best of breed” solution because it incorporates the best features of other common specifications, providing far greater flexibility for sharing content across systems. Let’s look at how SCORM compares with or relates to some other common specs and standards out there today.


Experience API (xAPI), also known as Tin Can API, has sometimes been described as a successor to SCORM. It’s the newest e-learning standard out there and it provides some key benefits compared with SCORM. The main attraction is perhaps its versatile tracking capabilities for all kinds of learning applications, including non-LMS-related learning events and activities.


Whenever xAPI content is launched from an LMS, xAPI uses a profile called cmi5, which specifies which components are needed to establish compatibility. The cmi5 profile defines critical components from packaging to credential handshake to consistent information models.


Much of the run-time communication used in SCORM is based on AICC, a standard that is widely used in the air travel sector. Just because a system is AICC conformant does not mean it is SCORM conformant, and vice versa.

Achieving SCORM conformity

You might be surprised to hear that SCORM conformity can be achieved in a relatively short amount of time if you work with a skilled developer. The real challenge is ensuring that, once conformity is achieved, your content is truly compatible with other SCORM conformant systems. After all, the ability to quickly and easily share content across systems is the main benefit of using SCORM.

Each LMS implementation has its own ins and outs when it comes to how it interprets the specifications. There are many factors to be considered to achieve full interoperability. If your ultimate objective is to widely distribute learning content, it’s definitely advisable to work with a qualified developer who’s experienced with SCORM implementation. Despite the complexity involved in achieving widespread compatibility, the benefits will be worth the extra investment of labor hours.

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