SCORM vs xAPI: Which Is Suitable for Your Elearning Business?

Choosing a technical standard is an important aspect of your eLearning content. And, just as we mention it, SCORM is likely the first thing that comes to your mind. It is indeed a very powerful tool in the online learning market but there is yet another one which leaves no stone unturned in catering to the requirements of businesses and that is, xAPI. While both of them are similar in nature, they are essentially different protocols and alternative methods for achieving similar outcomes. 



We understand how muddling it can be for you to choose between the two, hence we suggest you to first evaluate your business requirements. To help you make an informed choice, we have shed light on what exactly are they and the advantages offered by both of the tools. Read on to find out! 


What Is SCORM and Why Should You Use It? 

SCORM, which stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model is a universal standard compatible with learning management systems. It tracks four aspects of the learners’ experience:

  1. If they have completed a particular module
  2. The amount of time spent on a module 
  3. If they passed or failed
  4. The score they received for the complete module 

This ability of SCORM to communicate is referred to as interoperability which has made it a successful choice for most marketers for decades now. 

SCORM is easy to apply to modules with built-in authoring programs like Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline. No high-end coding knowledge is required for it. This technology is widely used as it has been in the market for quite a long time and is supported by LMSs. With SCORM LMS, content can be created once and further used across different devices and situations without modification. Thus, allowing content to be delivered more effectively and efficiently to users and that too at lower prices. 

What Is xAPI and Why Should You Use It? 

SCORM was developed a decade before and now, times have changed and so have the requirements of educators. So, xAPI was developed. Formerly known as Tin Can, it is an open-source API which comprises some additional functionalities to SCORM and lifts various restrictions of the previous tool. The extra features provided by xAPI include simplicity, extra security measures, the ability to run courses outside of LMS, better support for offline and mobile learning, and potentially more detailed reporting. 

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xAPI or Tin Can offer a plethora of benefits to both course providers and users. Firstly, it opens up a world of possibilities and flexibility. xAPI is not bound to only elearning modules, you can embed it in various websites, mobile apps, resource games, course library, etc. Unlike SCORM, items with xAPI coding are not restricted to just LMS and can be hosted at different software with data being transferred initially to the LRS as the only requirement. 

Moreover, xAPI can store data offline which means that a learner can complete his/her module without any internet connection. This makes the online learning process even more hassle-free as users need not undertake to learn only when their device is connected to the internet.   

Furthermore, the sequencing component of SCORM standard allows you to set rules for how long a learner has to stay on a certain section before moving on and also how much total time they need to spend on the entire course. Although it is not guaranteed that they would wait until the time runs out, you can at least control content flow and track minimum hour requirements. 

Additionally, xAPI allows you to collect and analyze data on any aspect of the learner’s experience, i.e. they can easily track their overall performance, obtain module-wise reporting, and drill-down data even further to track all desired information. You can then use this data to identify the high performing and low performing areas like what additional tools you should offer, which formats of the training are appreciated by learners and which one has a scope of improvement. 


Choose the Best One for Your Business

First things first, despite Tin Can being the successor of SCORM, the results achieved from both these standards remain very similar. Whichever standard you choose, the content of your elearning course and end results won’t be much different. Both the protocols allow learners to launch courses, bookmark them, complete them, answer quizzes, and generally track progress. 

And, this is more or less the ultimate goal of an elearning course. It’s the process, i.e. the ‘how and what’ which will look different. 

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However, as we see, SCORM has been one of the most preferred choices of marketers and it will continue to serve your needs if you’re looking for basic complete/incomplete, pass, fail data and not anything more detailed. As xAPI is gaining traction and popularity, there aren’t any signs of SCORM getting eliminated in the near future.

However, if you wish to attain detailed reporting and information, gather data from platforms other than LMS, are concerned about security, then you must opt for xAPI. It is a successor to SCORM as it eliminates its various drawbacks and offers more advanced features to educators. As with most technical features or additions, xAPI typically requires more time, resources, and money to set up and test before getting started. But, it’s just a one-time investment as you only need to set up the LRS once during your first xAPI project. 

So, now that you’re aware of the benefits and drawbacks associated with both these tools, evaluate which suits you the best and fulfills the requirements of your business after weighing the pros and cons wisely. You can opt for SCORM if you’re looking to fulfill basic requirements, else find top xAPI LMS and maximize your profits.  


Once you’ve decided for yourself and successfully created an elearning course via any of the two standards, don’t forget to share your experience with us in the comments section below! Your insights can be really helpful. Happy creating!