SCORM vs. xAPI: the debate is unending! TinCan, xAPI, or experience API is the front-runner to supersede SCORM in the eLearning market. It’s worth noting right now that this isn’t a foregone conclusion, but we believe it’s fair to say it’s the consensus. Let’s look at how and why this is happening. That and what are the implications for ourselves, our learners, and the industry as a whole. We will also discuss the final verdict — SCORM vs. xAPI: which one is ideal for your firm? Let’s get started!

SCORM: Where Does It Stand Today?

Since its inception in 2000, SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) has gone through various iterations, the most recent of which was released in March 2009, more than a decade ago. SCORM offered an excellent, universal, and incredibly versatile reporting and recording standard that ensured interoperability across most platforms for the eLearning business at the time.

SCORM, on the other hand, has always been a limited beast, owing to its complexity, which the modern computing world has little tolerance for. The standard was also created in the early days of eLearning design when extremely linear content and quizzes were the norms. SCORM is increasingly unable to consistently and usefully record learner data due to UX-focused designs that allow free mobility across content and testing or non-quantitative testing.

Several new standards have emerged throughout time. Although IMS CC and LTI have gained popularity in academia, they have had minimal impact in the business world, with most organizations still using SCORM 1.2 or 2004 reporting. Things are starting to change now, and as more firms understand what’s possible, SCORM’s time in the spotlight may be coming to an end.

Where Does xAPI Come Into The Picture?

In layman’s terms, xAPI is a standard that allows users to track, store, and share their learning experiences across platforms and situations. Learning does not occur just through a learning management system (LMS); thus, data should come from various sources other than the LMS.

Using the xAPI, authors and managers of online learning programs can better understand how users learn both online and offline. The data is more complete since it can follow the user’s learning across many scenarios and platforms.

History of xAPI

Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL), a US Department of Defense-funded project, collaborated with Rustici Software and a vast community of SCORM users to create xAPI. The project was given the moniker ‘Project Tin Can’ to honor the two-way nature of the partnership between the ADL and the community when it first began.

The goal was to create the next generation of SCORM, a system failing to keep up with changes in technology and user learning habits. The initiative combined ten years of collective learning with ten years of technological innovation. Even though the project was renamed Experience API (xAPI), it is still known as Tin Can API.

xAPI enables authors and managers to examine how users interact with online learning programs in greater detail. The activity statements collected in an ‘I did this’ (also known as an actor-verb-direct object) statement, and a variety of contextual data that the course author can specify are the records generated by xAPI.

These activity statements are then gathered from multiple sources and saved in a Learning Record Store (LRS). The LRS is analogous to an LMS’s SCORM database in that it provides a place where users can locate all of the data they require, ready to be interpreted.

Is xAPI Taking Over SCORM?

To understand why SCORM is losing in the battle between SCORM vs. xAPI, you must first comprehend its nemesis. The latest reporting standard on the block is xAPI. It first appeared in April 2013, but it took some time to acquire traction in a slow-moving business. In reality, xAPI provides full reporting to eLearning designers in terms of statements about the learner and their actions without an LMS. The standard is also cross-domain, which eliminates another SCORM constraint. Without using a web browser, xAPI allows recording team learning and course completion. These developments will offer xAPI the upper hand in an increasingly mobile-centric environment.

Another significant advantage is that, unlike SCORM, xAPI can keep numerous scores for a student in a single object, but SCORM can only retain the most recent single score. This ability provides a much clearer picture of learner performance to enterprises. Non-traditional video and social learning materials can also be better tracked with this functionality.

Benefits of xAPI
Better understanding of your data

xAPI allows data to be collected from various online and offline sources. In prior systems, data collection was limited to the LMS, providing only a partial picture of how learners interacted with the content. A significant distinction with xAPI is the ability to measure learning on mobile devices, which account for nearly 40% of all learning. Learners can interact with information on one device and then continue where they left off on a different device. Offline learning, such as real-world performance and team-based eLearning, can also be tracked.


Because xAPI can collect data from a variety of sources and combine it into a single learning record, you can receive a comprehensive picture of learning activity. It is possible to develop a holistic picture of learning that identifies strengths and shortcomings. This enables the identification of critical learning interventions as well as the tracking of individual accomplishments that can lead to teachable moments.

Transfer of information

Data saved in the LMS may be retrieved and transferred quickly within the LMS and to other reporting systems. This feature enables data sharing within your company to be simple.

Bringing learning and performance together

Games and simulations, real-world performance, e-learning on mobile and desktop platforms, learning plans, and goals may be tracked using the xAPI. The information gathered allows you to link systems at a high level and analyze data, allowing you to spot trends that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Your company will be better able to respond swiftly, deploy learning interventions before problems arise, and recognize internal trends.

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Management and development of talent

You can use xAPI to figure out who in your organization or firm is most suited for a specific function. When learning and development are linked to performance and talent management, rising stars can be identified early and developed inside the firm, ensuring their success in their roles and the retention of their talent.

Greater understanding of your customers

Every firm can benefit from gaining a better understanding of their target audience’s thoughts and feelings. xAPI can assist with this process in a variety of ways. An company may track a user’s behaviors across many devices and contexts with xAPI, including applications, portals, websites, phones, and PCs. You can watch how customers interact with your product, tool, or program from beginning to end.

You can collect statements of interactions, activities, and results using the xAPI, and then send them to your LMS. After that, you can look for trends in the data. For example, you could identify regions where more users leave the program or have troubles, while also determining which tutorials boost user involvement. Developers can evaluate alternatives to issue areas based on such information. Overall, this will lead to a higher level of product satisfaction.

Data security

It is a security approach that allows information to be sent between the LMS and trusted sources. This information is crucial to your business, and it frequently contains sensitive information. xAPI also aids in the architecture and defining of statement, state, learner, activity, and objects, which are the vehicles through which a learner activity provider conveys experiences.

Improved learner assets

Organizations can use the Experience API to analyze the impact of learning on organizational goals. The data clearly demonstrates which aspects of the learning program need to be enhanced for future learners, which sections are working effectively, and which areas the organization should concentrate on.

SCORM vs xAPI: Which One Is Better?

SCORM was a system that helped to transform the face of eLearning by allowing content to flow freely between different LMS and allowing data to be tracked. However, as eLearning evolved, a new system was required. New learning devices had appeared, more information about users’ learning habits had become available, and it was time to create a new system.

The critical distinction between xAPI and SCORM is that xAPI provides for tracking learning activities across many settings, not simply on the LMS. xAPI is quickly gaining traction as the emerging industry standard, challenging SCORM for e-learning supremacy:

  • Because it is a newer technology, xAPI can integrate mobile and offline learning in a way that SCORM can’t.
  • Creators can use xAPI to track, assess, tailor, and improve users’ learning experiences in a much more responsive and sophisticated way.
  • Unlike SCORM, which solely tracks desktop LMS activity, xAPI collects data from a variety of sources, both online and offline, and consolidates it into a single learning record store (LRS). This results in a more comprehensive data collection that indicates where and how learning occurs, as well as where it does not. On-the-job performance and learning experiences can be related.

High-performing personnel, for example, can be researched and the data used to reverse engineer success. Other employees can be trained to do the same by analyzing how those people achieve, and interventions can be triggered inside this system to spot concerns before they become significant.

SCORM vs xAPI: The Latter Is Clearly The Winner!

xAPI is a more recent standard that integrates with most of the technologies preferred by learners today. Most employees use mobile devices to access course materials, and SCORM does not capture this information. The data collection is now broader, more detailed, and more informative due to the better integration. Due to a better understanding of learner behavior, additional insights can be gained, and changes can be implemented.

More businesses are adopting xAPI, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. xAPI will be a vital tool for e-learning creators as data-driven learning continues to flourish as an industry. Choosing xAPI allows you to take advantage of a continually growing technology, whereas SCORM is not.


What happens next is a fascinating topic, and anyone who claims to know the answer is, in my opinion, lying. However, I anticipate that within the next two years, there will be a significant transition away from SCORM, driven by rising demand for data in the business sector and a focus on learner experience in the L&D industry. To summarize, now is the moment to be bold, review your SCORM library, and begin the conversion and replacement process. The good news is that modern writing tools have made the transition as simple as republishing your course. LMS providers are catching on to the move as well, with TinCan or xAPI now being treated equally to SCORM.

The opportunities opened up by xAPI are vast; a new standard allows us, as designers and developers, to create content that puts the learner, not the limits of the software, at the center. We now have access to the realms of non-linear learning, serious games, and behavioral tracking. As the evolution of our sector, this debate is far from ended; survival requires constant evolution. The dinosaurs didn’t make it, and now it’s time for SCORM to follow suit!

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