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Is it time to move from SCORM to xAPI?

Since the turn of the millennium, SCORM has been the most widely used standard by learning professionals across Australia. However, the introduction of xAPI (formerly Tin Can API and then Experience API) has disrupted the market, especially in the last few years. However, while many learning professionals are aware of both platforms, there also seems to be some confusion surrounding their strengths and capabilities.


Essentially, if you’re currently using SCORM, there’s no need to feel as though it will not serve your purpose. Until recently, SCORM has been the standard for most online courses, and it can most certainly track completions, passes and fails, time spent on learning, and report a single score.  Essentially, it’s adequate for users who want to launch and gather data on relatively simple online courses.

However, while SCORM has served L&D professionals well, it’s limited in that the protocol doesn’t provide the detailed, rich data on your learners that xAPI provides. As a newer technology, xAPI is optimised to gather intelligent data on a variety of devices (such as smartphones), and it:


Importantly, unlike SCORM, xAPI’s simple vocabulary allows different systems or devices to securely communicate, capture and share learner activities, and the device or app being used only needs occasional connectivity to record data, which means learning can now move to mobile devices or remote locations. This enables you see the “whole picture” by recording and reporting every learning experience, no matter where or how it happens.

At the heart of xAPI, when learner activity is recorded, the application sends statements in the form of “Noun, verb, object” to a Learning Record Store (LRS). For example, “John completed induction training” or “Annette failed customer service test”. Unlike SCORM, it also provides data on how the course was taken, and allows users to self-report on their achievements, build portfolios and record their contributions.

According to various thought leaders and analysts, xAPI, amongst other things:

  • Is more reliable: it’s less susceptible to errors and can work on a wide range of devices or browsers.
  • Provides richer data: it has greater technical detail and delivers a detailed snapshot of learner performance and progress.
  • Is evolving: while SCORM has remained largely unchanged, xAPI continues grow and change to adapt to new technologies.

xAPI also offers solid security, it allows you to retain complete control over your content, and no LMS is required.

Regardless of every organisation’s unique needs, most are now adopting technology to deliver at least part of their training initiatives. According to Josh Bersin in The Disruption of Digital Learning, the new world of micro and macro digital content is putting pressure on L&D professionals to build an architecture that teaches people what to use, and when.  Like many other analysts, he agrees that the LMS is clunky and doesn’t really consider the importance of continuous learning.

Bersin says, “LMS systems tend to be very hard to use, there are often thousands of courses to look for, and most employees simply find them of limited value (except for mandatory or compliance training). As I talk with companies all over the world I hear a continuous story that employees simply do not use the LMS unless they have to. Companies spend millions of dollars on these systems and to find that employees don’t use them is a painful process.” 

When SCORM dominated the market, it could only track what people did in a traditional course aligned with the LMS. These days, however, it’s now widely recognised that everything that employees do at work is a learning experience. This is why xAPI is so beneficial, as can track so many different activities on so many different platforms, and it’s not invasive.

It’s a genuinely exciting time for learning professionals across Australia, because the introduction of xAPI is now allowing organisations to unlock greater information about their learners’ behaviour, and then implement strategies to directly improve their unique performance. 

Our  xAPI eBook provides a deep understanding of what is happening in the local market in this space and how this technology is shaping the future of the learning environment .   


Our award-winning team has built engaging content that leverages xAPI, and if you’d like to discover more, please talk to us today.  |  P +61 2 8302 6300



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