Online trainers and educators who have spent a considerable time creating and distributing courses always have a burning topic for tea breaks: Which is better: SCORM or Tin Can API?

Both SCORM and Tin Can define how information is exchanged between e-learning and learning management systems and then securely stored in a learning record store (LRS). While many e-learning professionals would vouch for SCORM, being the older standard, there is no dearth of experts supporting Tin Can as well. Although both SCORM and Tin Can are e-learning standards to measure the impact of online courses, there are many myths around both. SCORM has dominated the e-learning world until now, but the question is, will Tin Can bring a paradigm shift in the e-learning industry, and can Tin Can render the SCORM-compliant LMS obsolete?

What SCORM Can Do

Before SCORM came into picture in 1999, content developers, instructional designers and e-learning managers had a difficult time with data interoperability issues. In other words, courses created on one LMS didn’t work on another, leading to wasted time and efforts. Thanks to SCORM, course developers can create e-learning courses with one authoring tool and deliver them to any number of learners on a different platform, as long as it also conforms to SCORM standards. They can also incorporate tools like quiz and survey developers.

What SCORM Can’t Do

SCORM lacks advanced reporting features. A SCORM-compliant LMS can only reveal course completion and assessment scores but can’t tell you much about specific questions or the learning that happens outside the LMS environment. If a learner, for instance, watches a video or reads a piece of text on the web to supplement his or her learning, SCORM can’t track it.

SCORM also requires a very fast internet connection and large amount of server storage space, works only when courses are launched in a browser, and can cause slow download times.

What Tin Can API Can Do

Unlike SCORM, a Tin Can API can track learning experiences outside the LMS environment. All such experiences follow a standard “actor verb object” format (i.e., “Roger watched the video ‘Everything You Need to Know About SCORM’” or “Julie bookmarked the article ‘What You Don’t Know About Tin Can API’”) and are securely stored in the LRS. Therefore, Tin Can is able to comprehensively track learning, whether formal or informal.

What Tin Can API Can’t Do

A common misconception is that Tin Can API can dramatically change the course content and appearance. SCORM and Tin Can are merely protocols that define how your LMS and content interact and exchange information with each other. A Tin Can-compliant system simply stores learning experiences in an LRS to improve reporting or help you create better courses in the future.

Choosing the Right Option

There is still no clear winner when it comes to choosing an option between SCORM and Tin Can API. Choosing the right standard boils down to your goals and factors such as the number of learners and the need for advanced reporting. If you have basic course creation and testing needs, SCORM can do the job. But if you need details about learners’ progress and performance, and to future-proof your e-learning content, you might need Tin Can.