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Comparing eLearning Standards SCORM and xAPI

May 5, 2023

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Below are bullets that summarize SCORM vs xAPI.

  • SCORM is a widely-used eLearning standard, developed in the 1990s, offering content packaging, basic tracking, and LMS compatibility.
  • xAPI, introduced in 2011, provides more comprehensive data collection, platform/device flexibility, and uses a separate Learning Record Store (LRS).
  • SCORM primarily tracks online learning activities, while xAPI captures both online and offline experiences.
  • xAPI allows better data management and integration through the LRS, while SCORM relies on the LMS for data storage.
  • SCORM enjoys widespread adoption and compatibility, whereas xAPI may require additional resources for implementation.
  • Organizations should consider their eLearning goals, available resources, and future growth when choosing between SCORM and xAPI.

As eLearning continues to evolve and expand its reach, the demand for standardized and reliable methods to track and manage learning experiences grows. Two of the most prominent eLearning standards, SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) and xAPI (Experience API), are often compared due to their respective features and capabilities. This article explores the key differences between SCORM and xAPI to help you make an informed decision when selecting the most suitable standard for your eLearning needs.

SCORM: The Tried and True Standard

SCORM, initially developed in the late 1990s by the US Department of Defense, has been a staple eLearning standard for over two decades. SCORM provides a framework that allows eLearning content to be created, delivered, and tracked in a consistent manner. It is widely used and recognized for its stability, ease of implementation, and compatibility with various Learning Management Systems (LMS).

Key features of SCORM:

  1. Content packaging: SCORM allows developers to package eLearning content into a single, shareable file that can be easily uploaded to any SCORM-compliant LMS.
  2. Tracking and reporting: SCORM enables the tracking of learners' progress, such as course completion, time spent, and assessment scores.
  3. Compatibility: SCORM-compliant content can be seamlessly integrated into any SCORM-compliant LMS, ensuring a smooth user experience.

xAPI: The Emerging Contender

xAPI, also known as Tin Can API, was introduced in 2011 as a more flexible and advanced alternative to SCORM. Developed by the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, xAPI focuses on capturing and storing learning experiences across multiple platforms and devices, enabling a more comprehensive view of a learner's progress.

Key features of xAPI:

  1. Rich data collection: xAPI goes beyond SCORM's tracking capabilities by collecting detailed data on a wide range of learning activities, both online and offline.
  2. Platform and device flexibility: xAPI enables the tracking of learning experiences across various platforms and devices, offering a more comprehensive view of the learner's journey.
  3. Learning Record Store (LRS): xAPI stores learning data in a separate system called the LRS, which allows for better data management and integration with other systems.

Comparing SCORM and xAPI

  1. Tracking capabilities: While SCORM is limited to tracking basic learning activities such as course completion and assessment scores, xAPI provides a more comprehensive and flexible tracking system, capable of capturing a wide range of learning experiences.
  2. Offline tracking: SCORM is primarily designed for online learning and does not support offline tracking. xAPI, on the other hand, can track offline learning activities, offering a more holistic view of a learner's progress.
  3. Data storage: SCORM relies on the LMS for data storage, whereas xAPI utilizes a separate LRS, allowing for better data management and integration with other systems.
  4. Compatibility: SCORM enjoys widespread adoption and compatibility with various LMSs, making it an easy choice for many organizations. xAPI, though growing in popularity, may require additional resources for implementation and integration.


Both SCORM and xAPI offer unique advantages when it comes to eLearning standards. While SCORM provides a reliable and easy-to-implement solution, xAPI offers more advanced tracking capabilities and flexibility across platforms and devices. When choosing between SCORM and xAPI, organizations should consider their specific eLearning goals, available resources, and future growth to determine the most suitable standard for their needs.

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