With the increased use of learning management systems (LMSs) and other software platforms for learning, it’s important to standardize their integration to ensure effective communication among systems. Several technical standards have emerged with different benefits and applications, including the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM); the Tin Can API, now known as the Experience API (xAPI); and the Aviation Industry CBT Committee (AICC) standards.
SCORM is the de-facto industry standard for guidelines that describe how e-learning programmers should write their code so that it operates well with other e-learning software. These standards allow developers to create online training elements called shareable content objects (SCOs) that can be used in different systems and different contexts. With a common packaging scheme and run-time behavior, as well as metadata that enable SCOs to be sequenced into customized courses, SCORM means that content is reusable, interoperable, durable, affordable, adaptable and accessible.
The AICC developed its integration standards for the aviation industry. Since aviation training relies heavily on simulations and other visual content, AICC standards work well with videos and images. With AICC standards, learning content can be located on a different server, and information can be transferred securely using HTTPS. However, data using AICC standards can be more difficult to organize, and some content developers find that AICC is more limiting than SCORM when it comes to newer technology.
With the introduction of Web 2.0 technologies, SCORM and AICC are no longer sufficient for the adaptive learning increasingly demanded by training organizations. xAPI is considered the next generation of standards, allowing LMSs to automate the customization process by identifying individual learners and choosing content for each one from a large repository of SCOs. While xAPI doesn’t replace SCORM or AICC, it does collect data about learners’ on- and offline experiences and enables the integration of new technologies for interactive, adaptive and multi-modal learning.
xAPI uses a common language to describe learning activities with a specific sentence structure: Actor, Verb, Object (i.e., “John completed compliance training,” or “Jane passed the test.”) Encompassing all learning activities, xAPI means that content is not limited to SCOs; it can include mobile learning, simulations, virtual worlds, serious games, experiential learning and social learning. Each time the learner completes an activity that the organization needs to record, the application sends a secure xAPI statement to a learning record store (LRS), which either exists independently or within an LMS. That LRS can then share the data with other LRSs when necessary.