The Only Primer You’ll Need On eLearning Standards: SCORM, xAPI, And AICC

The Only Primer You’ll Need On eLearning Standards: SCORM, xAPI, And AICC
Summary: Choosing the right way to package can be confusing. This quick look at AICC, SCORM, and xAPI/Tin Can API shows why one of each these eLearning standards is the clear choice over the others.

Choosing The Right eLearning Standards 

A healthy eLearning plan is dependent on a Learning Management System that can read, run, and report on learning content with agility. Thankfully, several standardized systems have been developed for packaging learning content. With so much technical jargon and many seemingly random acronyms thrown around in the eLearning space, choosing the right standard for your learning content may seem like a complicated task. First you need a basic understanding of what these eLearning standards do.

What’s An eLearning Standard, And Why Should I Care?

These standardized systems create a way for learning content to be packaged (and later unpacked) and read by a Learning Management System (LMS). A good analogy is a movie file stored on a DVD. These files work on any DVD player, regardless of the manufacturer, because the film industry developed and adopted a standard to deliver these digital video files. Every manufacturer of DVD players uses this standard to ensure easy playback. Everybody, from the producer to the end consumer, wins.

Learning content standards bring this practice to the eLearning industry. Course authors can develop learning content in a particular modality and contain it in a standardized file package to later be uploaded to a Learning Management System.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the three major eLearning standards for learning content; AICC, SCORM, and xAPI (aka Tin Can API) and find out why we at Docebo suggest one over the others.

The Early Days Of AICC

The Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee created the first standard learning content packaging system that offered interoperability between a Learning Management System and online learning content. Although originally created for aviation industry training needs, the AICC designed their standards system for general purpose needs as well.

Although the AICC laid the groundwork for a learning content standard, it failed to keep pace with emerging technologies. Every new device or operating system presented challenges to the AICC standard.

SCORM Simplifies eLearning

Released in 2000, SCORM, or Sharable Content Object Reference Model was developed to fill the holes created by weaknesses within the AICC standard. SCORM standardized the way a Learning Management System read and presented learning content. SCORM users can produce learning content in many forms including text, video, audio, or a combination of these mediums. Once contained in a SCORM package, these files will integrate with a SCORM compatible Learning Management System, such as Docebo.

Like AICC, SCORM has also been recently limited by emerging technologies. Although it provides an easy way for a Learning Management System to read, run, and report on learning content electronically, its functionality stops there. As learning moves away from the classroom and into the real-world environments of the learner, thanks to emerging social and mobile tools, SCORM has fallen behind. SCORM provides no way to track offline learning opportunities. As experiential and informal learning is increasingly supported by learning technology, this weakness will become more apparent to Learning Management System users.

xAPI/Tin Can API Allows Learning To Happen Anywhere

Built with the premise that learning happens anywhere, xAPI was developed three years ago and has quickly become the new standard for delivering online training content. xAPI is the next evolution of SCORM: it has all the functionality of SCORM with the added ability to track learning progress offline.

With blended learning strategies growing in popularity, this ability to track any learning activity regardless of environment is a necessary tool in ensuring the quality of learning content and programs. xAPI also keeps up with mobile learning by allowing learning content to be accessed on mobile devices. Learning content is no longer bound to the confines of a web browser, and can be adapted to fit any screen or device.

Choosing A Standard For The Future

Although Docebo integrates with all three of these eLearning standards, we strongly suggest using xAPI because of its ability to support a blended learning strategy. Informal and experiential learning are invaluable tools that need to be incorporated into a healthy learning strategy. Packaging your current learning content with xAPI ensures your learning strategy can move forward with a blended learning plan in the future.

The best Learning Management System offers plenty of flexibility for delivering, tracking and reporting on learning content. xAPI is the only learning object packaging system that allows for this flexibility. As your learning plan evolves, xAPI will ensure your learning content is up to date. Choosing anything other than xAPI limits the viewability and mobility of your learning content.

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