eLearning System and Content Standards

Rohit Sankhe / No Comments

One of the benefits of elearning is the ability that it gives to learning & development administrators to monitor learning by learners. One can not only track the progress of learning by learners but also analyse the response of the learners to the content. But for this to happen, the eLearning content and eLearning system need to communicate with each other. Multiple standards evolved over last 2 decades to faciliate this communication. The most popular standards have been AICC and SCORM. Following is a quick overview on these standards:


AICC standard was the first such standard and was developed by Aviation Industry CBT Commitee. AICC, an international association of training professionals, was formed in 1988 to develop guidelines for aviation industry to evaluate, develop and deliver Computer Based and Web Based Training.  AICC came up with the 1st interoperability specification CMI001 for Learning Management Systems (LMS) in 1993, which were revised subsequently many times as the technology evolved. The last specification, CMI-5, was released in 2010. Although AICC, was fairly popular, over the period its adoption declined due to larger acceptability SCORM standard. Interestingly SCORM was derived from an updated version of CMI001 in 1999. AICC in December of 2014, announced its closure and passed on its documentation of CMI-5 to the ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning), the body that has developed SCORM.


SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) was developed by ADL, an institution part of US Department of Defense (DoD) formed in 1999 by a presidential order in order to meet following objectives:

  • Identify and recommend standards for training software and associated services purchased by Federal agencies and contractors.
  • Facilitate and accelerate the development of key technical training standards in industry and in standards-development organizations.
  • Establish guidelines on the use of standards and provide a mechanism to assist DoD and other Federal agencies in the large-scale development, implementation, and assessment of interoperable and reusable learning systems.

SCORM is is a collection of standards and specifications for web-based electronic educational technology i.e. e-learning. It defines:

  • communications between client side content and a host system (called “the run-time environment”),
  • how content may be packaged into a transferable ZIP file called “Package Interchange Format.”

SCORM is XML based and has its roots in AICC. Though Various versions of SCROM: SCORM 1.0 (released in Jan 2000) SCORM 1.1 (Jan 2001), SCORM 1.2 (Oct 2001) and SCORM 2004 (Jan 2004, Jul 2004, Oct 2006, Mar 2009),  were developed and released, SCORM 1.2 even today remains to be one of the most popular and widely followed standard.

 x-API or Tin-Can

ADL released x-API (Experience API) or Tin-Can in 2013. x-API or Tin-Can, which addresses many issues associated with SCORM and is a webservices based standard.

We will see SCORM and x-API specification in more details in later blog entries especially for the benefit of technology professionals.


If you are a learning and development professional responsible for eLearning initiative within your company, following are some of the key recommendations that you should follow while :

1. Please make sure that your system as well as content (and also authoring tools) are compliant with at least SCORM 1.2 standard.

2. Please also make sure to define your reporting/MIS requirements before you start building particularly your eLearning Content. Based on the reporting requirements, the content needs to be coded with the appropriate SCORM specified code, so that the necessary data can be communicated to the LMS by the eLearning Content at run time. This data is stored by the LMS to generate the required MIS/reports.

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