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eLearning Standards: SCORM, AICC, xAPI, cmi5, And IMS Cartridge

1 February, 2024

As the prevalence of eLearning continues to rise, it becomes crucial to grasp the principles that regulate this form of training. These standards serve as a blueprint for developing compelling and impactful online courses, guaranteeing their accessibility and compatibility across diverse platforms and devices.

Within this handbook, we will delve into the realm of eLearning standards and their pivotal role in shaping the landscape of online training and education.

What is eLearning?

eLearning, short for electronic learning, is a modern educational approach that utilizes digital technology to deliver instructional content and facilitate learning experiences. Unlike traditional classroom settings, eLearning allows learners to engage with educational materials through electronic devices such as computers, tablets, or smartphones, enabling flexibility in terms of time, location, and pace of learning.

eLearning takes various forms, including online courses, interactive modules, virtual classrooms, and multimedia presentations. It can encompass a wide range of subjects and skills, catering to diverse learning needs. The use of multimedia elements, such as videos, animations, and interactive assessments, enhances engagement and comprehension.

One of the key advantages of eLearning is its accessibility, enabling individuals to acquire knowledge and skills from virtually anywhere with an internet connection. This approach has gained significant popularity in both formal education and professional training, offering a convenient and adaptable alternative to traditional learning methods.

Why Are There Different Standards of eLearning?

The existence of various standards in eLearning is driven by the need to establish consistency, interoperability, and quality across the diverse landscape of online education. Several factors contribute to the emergence of different standards in eLearning:

  • Technological Diversity: Different eLearning platforms, tools, and devices have varying technical specifications and capabilities. Standards help ensure that educational content remains accessible and functions effectively across this technological diversity.
  • Interoperability: With the multitude of learning management systems (LMS) and authoring tools available, interoperability becomes crucial. Standards provide a common framework, allowing different systems to work together seamlessly and share content without compatibility issues.
  • Accessibility: eLearning standards play a vital role in ensuring that educational content is accessible to individuals with disabilities. Guidelines for accessibility help create courses that can be navigated and understood by learners with diverse needs.
  • Quality Assurance: Standards serve as benchmarks for the development and delivery of high-quality eLearning content. They establish criteria for instructional design, assessment methods, and overall learning experiences, contributing to the effectiveness of online courses.
  • Global Reach: As eLearning transcends geographical boundaries, standards become essential for creating content that is culturally neutral and suitable for learners worldwide. Compliance with international standards facilitates a broader and more inclusive reach.
  • Continuous Evolution: The field of eLearning is dynamic, with technological advancements and pedagogical insights emerging regularly. Standards are adapted and updated to incorporate these changes, ensuring that eLearning practices remain relevant and effective over time.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Certain industries and educational institutions may have specific regulatory requirements for eLearning content. Standards help meet these compliance needs, ensuring that educational materials adhere to established guidelines and regulations.

Understanding and adhering to these standards is crucial for educators, instructional designers, and eLearning professionals to create courses that are effective, inclusive, and technologically robust, ultimately enhancing the overall quality of online education.

xAPI (Tin Can)

Experience API (xAPI) represents a significant advancement in eLearning standards, offering flexibility and depth in tracking and reporting learning experiences. While it presents certain implementation challenges, its benefits in terms of adaptability and data richness make it a valuable tool for modern educational environments.

What is the Experience API?

The Experience API (xAPI), also known as Tin Can API, is a data specification that enhances the tracking and reporting of learning experiences in the field of eLearning. Developed by the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, xAPI provides a more comprehensive and flexible framework compared to traditional eLearning standards, such as SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model).


Implementing xAPI standard  requires compatibility with the following key components:

  • LRS (Learning Record Store): An essential element of xAPI, the LRS is a database that stores learning experiences and statements. It serves as a central repository for collecting and analyzing data generated by learners' interactions with educational content.
  • Statements: In xAPI, learning experiences are recorded as statements. These statements consist of three parts: an actor (the learner), a verb (the action performed), and an object (the target of the action). For example, "John completed the online course on xAPI."
  • Endpoints: xAPI utilizes web-based endpoints to facilitate communication between learning systems and the LRS. These endpoints allow for the secure transmission of learning statements from various sources to the central repository.

xAPI Benefits and Limitations


  • Flexible Tracking: Unlike traditional standards like SCORM, xAPI is not limited to tracking activities within an LMS. It allows for the tracking of learning experiences across a wide range of platforms and devices, including mobile learning and offline learning.
  • Rich Data: xAPI captures a broader range of data beyond completion status, providing detailed insights into learners' interactions, achievements, and behaviors. This richer dataset allows for more robust analysis of the learning process.
  • Adaptability: The flexibility of xAPI makes it suitable for diverse learning scenarios, including simulations, games, and informal learning experiences. This adaptability is particularly advantageous in modern, technology-driven educational environments.


  • Implementation Complexity: Integrating xAPI may be more complex compared to traditional eLearning standards, requiring careful consideration of technical requirements and compatibility with existing systems.
  • Learning Curve: For users accustomed to older eLearning standards, transitioning to xAPI may involve a learning curve. Training and familiarity with the new framework are essential for effective implementation.
  • Data Security: As with any data-driven system, ensuring the security and privacy of learner data is critical. Organizations implementing xAPI must implement robust security measures to protect sensitive information.


Cmi5 is a forward-looking eLearning specification that builds upon the capabilities of xAPI, offering improved interoperability, sequencing, and support for various learning scenarios. While it presents certain challenges, its benefits make it a compelling choice for organizations seeking a modern and adaptable eLearning solution.

What is cmi5?

Cmi5, short for Computer Managed Instruction version 5, is an eLearning specification designed to enhance the interoperability and data exchange capabilities in online learning environments. Developed by the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, cmi5 is built on the Experience API (xAPI) and addresses some of the limitations of previous eLearning standards like SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model).


To implement cmi5, certain key components are essential:

  • LRS (Learning Record Store): Similar to xAPI, cmi5 relies on a Learning Record Store as a central repository for storing and managing learning activity data. The LRS captures statements regarding learner interactions, achievements, and experiences.
  • Content Packages: Cmi5 utilizes content packages that are structured in a way that supports the sequencing and navigation of learning activities. These packages contain the necessary information for the LRS to track and record learner progress.
  • Launch Mechanism: Cmi5 incorporates a launch mechanism that enables seamless communication between the learning content and the LRS. This mechanism facilitates the exchange of data related to a learner's interactions with the content.

cmi5 Benefits and Limitations 


  • Enhanced Interoperability: Cmi5 improves interoperability between different eLearning systems, allowing for smoother communication and data exchange. This is particularly advantageous in environments with diverse learning technologies.
  • Sequencing and Navigation: Unlike some earlier standards, cmi5 supports sophisticated sequencing and navigation of learning content. This enables the creation of more dynamic and personalized learning experiences.
  • Mobile and Offline Learning: Cmi5 accommodates mobile and offline learning scenarios, providing flexibility for learners to access and complete courses in various contexts.


  • Learning Curve: Implementing cmi5 may require a learning curve for those accustomed to older eLearning standards. Training and familiarity with the specification are crucial for successful adoption.
  • Resource Intensity: Depending on the complexity of the content and the infrastructure in place, implementing cmi5 may demand more resources compared to simpler eLearning standards.
  • Transition Challenges: Transitioning from other eLearning specifications to cmi5 may pose challenges, particularly if existing content and systems need to be adapted to align with the new LMS standard.


SCORM has been a foundational standard in the eLearning industry, providing a structured approach to content packaging, delivery, and tracking. While it offers several benefits in terms of interoperability and tracking, its limitations, particularly in supporting highly interactive content, have led to the development and adoption of more flexible LMS standards, such as xAPI and cmi5.

What is SCORM?

SCORM, which stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model, is a set of technical standards for e Learning content. It is widely used to ensure compatibility and interoperability between different Learning Management Systems (LMS) and eLearning content. SCORM explained, and it defines a framework for packaging, delivering, and tracking educational content in a consistent and standardized manner.


To implement SCORM runtime environment, certain key components and requirements are essential:

  • Content Packaging: SCORM-compliant content is typically packaged in a specific format that includes a SCORM 2004 manifest file outlining the structure and organization of the learning materials. This packaging ensures that the content can be easily imported into and run on different SCORM-compatible LMS.
  • API (Application Programming Interface): SCORM relies on a set of API functions to enable communication between the eLearning content and the LMS. This API allows for tracking learner interactions, recording progress, and reporting back to the LMS.
  • Metadata: SCORM content includes metadata, providing information about the course, such as its title, description, and learning objectives. This metadata helps LMS systems organize and present the content to learners.

SCORM Benefits and Limitations 


  • Interoperability: SCORM ensures interoperability between different eLearning systems and content. This means that SCORM-compliant courses can be easily shared and deployed across various LMS platforms.
  • Reusability: SCORM promotes the creation of reusable learning objects, allowing content developers to build modular pieces of educational material that can be used in different courses or contexts.
  • Tracking and Reporting: SCORM provides a standardized way to track and report learner progress. This feature is crucial for administrators and educators to monitor performance and assess the effectiveness of the educational content.


  • Limited Interactivity: SCORM was designed with a focus on tracking and packaging, and as a result, it may have limitations in supporting highly interactive and dynamic learning experiences, such as simulations or complex branching scenarios.
  • Technical Rigidity: SCORM specifications have been in place for many years, and the LMS standard may not easily accommodate emerging technologies or evolving pedagogical approaches.
  • Dependency on LMS: SCORM's effectiveness is contingent on the LMS's support for its specifications. If an LMS does not fully comply with SCORM standards and specifications, it can lead to compatibility issues and hinder the seamless delivery of eLearning content.


AICC has played a significant role in shaping the eLearning landscape, particularly in its early stages. While it offers interoperability and flexibility, its aging technology and potential complexity have led to the adoption of more modern LMS standards like AICC vs SCORM, xAPI, and cmi5 in the ever-evolving field of online education. What is AICC and SCORM?

What is AICC?

So what is AICC format? AICC, which stands for Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee, is an LMS standard that originated in the aviation industry. Developed in the early 1990s, AICC was designed to facilitate the development and delivery of computer-based training in a consistent and interoperable manner. Over time, it has been adopted beyond aviation and is used in various industries.


To implement AICC guidelines, specific requirements and components are necessary:

  • Communication Protocol: AICC specification  relies on a communication protocol that enables the exchange of data between the course content and the learning management system (LMS). This protocol defines how the content communicates its status and progress to the LMS.
  • Course Structure: AICC SCORM compliant courses typically have a specific structure that includes elements such as navigation controls, assessments, and content organization. This structure ensures that the course can be effectively delivered and tracked within AICC-compatible LMS platforms.
  • LMS Integration: AICC is dependent on LMS support. To effectively utilize AICC, an LMS must be configured to interpret and respond to the communication from AICC-compliant content.

AICC Benefits and Limitations 


  • Interoperability: AICC emphasizes interoperability between different learning systems. This allows organizations to create content that can be easily shared and deployed across various AICC-compatible LMS platforms.
  • Flexibility: AICC elearning provides flexibility in terms of content development, allowing instructional designers to create courses with specific navigation structures and assessments tailored to their educational objectives.
  • Industry Adoption: AICC has a historical legacy in the aviation industry and has been adopted in other sectors. Organizations in these industries may choose AICC for its compatibility with their specific needs and existing infrastructure.


  • Aging Technology: AICC, being an older standard, may face challenges in accommodating modern technologies and evolving pedagogical approaches. It may lack support for features commonly found in more recent LMS standards.
  • Limited Media Support: AICC may have limitations in handling diverse media types and interactive elements, restricting its ability to deliver highly engaging and interactive learning experiences.
  • Complexity: AICC may be perceived as more complex to implement and manage compared to newer LMS standards. This complexity can pose challenges for organizations seeking simpler and more streamlined solutions.

IMS Common Cartridge

IMS Common Cartridge serves as a valuable standard for packaging and exchanging educational content, promoting interoperability and content portability. While it offers several benefits, users should be mindful of variations in support across different platforms and evolving standards in the eLearning domain.

What is an IMS Common Cartridge?

IMS Common Cartridge (CC) is a standard developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium to enable the packaging and exchange of digital content and assessments in eLearning environments. The goal of elearning IMS Common Cartridge is to enhance interoperability and simplify the process of importing and exporting educational content across various learning management systems (LMS) and platforms.


To implement IMS Common Cartridge, certain requirements and features are integral:

  • Packaging Format: IMS e learning uses a specific packaging format that encapsulates educational content, assessments, and associated metadata. This format ensures that the content is portable and can be seamlessly imported into different LMS that support the standard.
  • Metadata: Educational content packaged in IMS Common Cartridge includes metadata, providing information about the learning resources, objectives, and structure. This metadata is essential for organizing and presenting the content effectively within different LMS.
  • Standards Alignment: IMS Common Cartridge aligns with other e Learning standards such as Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) and Learning Information Services (LIS), promoting a comprehensive and interoperable ecosystem for educational technology.

IMS Benefits and Limitations


  • Interoperability: IMS Common Cartridge enhances interoperability by allowing educational content to be packaged in a standardized format, making it compatible with different LMS that support the standard.
  • Content Portability: The standard enables content portability across various eLearning platforms, reducing the effort required to adapt content to different systems. This is particularly advantageous for educators and content creators who may use different LMS.
  • Simplified Distribution: IMS Common Cartridge simplifies the distribution of educational content by providing a common format for packaging. This streamlines the process of sharing content among educators and institutions.


  • Variable Support: While IMS Common Cartridge is widely adopted, the level of support may vary among different learning platforms. Some LMS may have limited or varying degrees of support for specific features of the standard.
  • Complexity for Advanced Features: Implementing advanced features within IMS Common Cartridge, such as complex assessments or interactive content, may require additional consideration and expertise, potentially introducing complexity in certain scenarios.
  • Evolution of Standards: The eLearning landscape is dynamic, and as technology evolves, the standards landscape may also change. IMS Common Cartridge needs to adapt to stay relevant and address emerging requirements.

Wrapping Up

At this point, you should have a better understanding of which eLearning standard aligns with your requirements or those of your organization. Regardless of the standard you opt for, selecting an authoring tool that seamlessly publishes to your chosen standard is essential.

The DrivEd LMS offers the capability to publish courses in a variety of eLearning standards, including AICC, SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004, xAPI, and cmi5, all readily supported. To commence your authoring journey with DrivEd, simply register for a complimentary 14-day trial.

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