SCORM and xAPI: Everything You Need To Know

Over the last decade, we’ve seen how online learning has become more popular thanks to the integration of the internet into education. Whether it’s for math class or onboarding employees, eLearning has become a preferred option for teachers and trainers alike. These activities are based on eLearning specifications, like SCORM and xAPI. But first, what exactly are they?

What Is SCORM? 

If you’ve been reading on eLearning, one term you might have encountered is SCORM. Also known as Shareable Content Object Reference Model, SCORM acts like a blueprint in the sense that it provides instructions on how to create online learning activities. This standardizes online learning and allows anyone to easily use this set of instructions. 

What is xAPI?

Also known as Tin Can API, xAPI (Experience API) is an online learning software specification that tracks the different types of learning experiences for learning systems. It started as Project Tin Can back in 2013, with its name symbolizing two-way conversations. Today, xAPI is one of the most popular eLearning specifications. 


Think of xAPI as some sort of report card that you get in school. It talks about the classes you took and how well you did in them (or not). Similarly, xAPI does this, but with computer activities. Experience API helps teachers see what a student learned and if they met the learning outcomes. From this information, trainers and teachers can adjust their teaching strategies as they deem fit for their lessons. All they have to do is export an xAPI package and upload it to a Learning Management System (LMS). Using xAPI helps them understand their students’ needs and personalizes their learning experience. 

SCORM vs xAPI: What Are the Differences?

When exploring the field of eLearning, xAPI and SCORM are two standards that you often encounter. And especially for the less acquainted, these can often be misunderstood. There’s a stark difference between the two, which primarily lies in their purpose.


By definition, you might have an idea that these two eLearning concepts are more different than they are similar. In fact, some believe that xAPI was a replacement for the dated SCORM, but in reality, they serve different purposes. SCORM focused on quizzes in eLearning courses, while xAPI tracks other activities, both online and offline. That includes playing games and interacting with others. SCORM does not have these activities because it’s considered more outdated than xAPI. 

What Are the Advantages of SCORM?

That’s not to say that SCORM is a useless eLearning specification. Despite being older tech, many still add SCORM to their products and platforms because it’s affordable and reusable.


For many trainers, choosing SCORM to use SCORM-compliant software can help reduce costs. This saves a lot of resources in the long run, allowing you to focus on learning. 


Besides being affordable, SCORM is reusable. It’s as simple as exporting a SCORM package and publishing it to your LMS. Because of this, it can be used in different LMSs. And, you can revise it to your liking. For example, if you find a course to be too long, you can shorten it. 


What Are the Disadvantages of SCORM?

Of course, SCORM has its downsides. For example, it’s considered outdated by some. Besides that, SCORM is also difficult to use. Let’s get to know more about its disadvantages.


With many innovations in eLearning, old technologies can be easily rendered obsolete, especially when you have better options. For other types of learning, SCORM is considered outdated. You’re limited to true-or-false questions and multiple-choice questions, so these might not always meet your learning objectives. 

Difficult to Use

Another downside of SCORM is that it’s difficult to use. Once you publish your course, you don’t have the option to revise it. And yes, that includes minor typos. If you’d like to make any changes, you’ll have to publish another course that reflects these changes. To add to this, others have struggled to understand how SCORM works. 


What Are the Advantages of xAPI?

A modern eLearning specification such as xAPI boasts many advantages. Here are some of the reasons why xAPI is frequently used in eLearning.

Data Collection

Experience API isn’t limited when it comes to data collection. Data points such as the device used, number of clicks, and screen orientation are collected, which could help in personalizing learning experiences. 

Tracks All Kinds of Activities

One edge that xAPI has over other eLearning specifications is its ability to track all kinds of activities. Whether it may be blended learning, mobile learning, or team-based learning, xAPI can track them all. 

What Are the Disadvantages of xAPI?

While xAPI is a newer eLearning specification, it has its own limitations as well. A challenge when using xAPI involves its integration with other systems – it might not always be as seamless as you’d want it to be. This is because not all LMSs implement xAPI similarly as some have implemented support for basic xAPI standards, leaving a lot of elements to be open to interpretation. 


In Conclusion

Thanks to innovations in technology, we’ve seen the development of learning specifications like SCORM and xAPI. White both have made significant impacts on eLearning, and each has its own downsides. SCORM might be a bit more obsolete for some, while xAPI could also have its challenges integrating with other LMSs. Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that because of these specifications, the learning landscape has changed forever.

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The Author

Faisal Sheikh

Faisal Sheikh

Faisal Ur Rehman is the content editor of and Faisal is a Passionate blogger. He has been sharing his knowledge and expertise on Various Topics through articles.

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