For businesses and academic institutions, eLearning has started to become the norm. More and more businesses are utilizing eLearning experiences to train new employees, and academic institutions are increasingly using eLearning to help students learn in the most efficient and pedagogically sound way.
As a result, Learning Management Systems (LMSs), such as Moodle and Totara Learn, are more popular than ever. But any Learning and Development (L&D) professional or educator will tell you that simply administering eLearning via an LMS isn't enough. L&D professionals and educators need ways to analyze learner performance behaviour and data to create the most effective eLearning experiences possible. Enter SCORM and xAPI software.
What is SCORM?
If you interact with LMS regularly or are interested in utilizing a SCORM compliant learning management system, chances are you've seen the acronym SCORM before. SCORM stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model.
Essentially, SCORM is just a set of technical standards intended for use with eLearning programs. Using SCORM, L&D professionals and programmers are able to create eLearning experiences that are compatible with a variety of LMS. SCORM can also allow educators and L&D professionals to acquire knowledge of learner behaviour and performance.
If you're having trouble wrapping your head around what a SCORM compliant LMS looks like, think of it like this: When you have a device that uses a USB, you can plug that device into any USB port in your house. In other words, USB plugs and ports are almost always cross-compatible across devices, regardless of their manufacturers. Although companies could choose to make different USB ports, they mostly decide to use the same standards for USB plugs and ports because doing so increases consumer convenience and satisfaction. SCORM is essentially the USB plug and port specifications for eLearning software, allowing eLearning courses designed with SCORM to be plugged into and used by multiple LMS.
SCORM or xAPI?
There are a few great benefits of using SCORM:
- It's well-developed and federally backed. SCORM was initially created by the American Department of Defence in the 1990s, and is in its fifth iteration, lending it some staying power. (Read our article: Everything you need to know about SCORM)
- It interfaces well with old operating systems (OS). If you rely on older OS such as Windows ‘95 to deliver your eLearning experiences, SCORM is a safe bet.
- It's easy to use. The reason that SCORM has been largely adopted by the eLearning industry, despite not being an open standard, is its accessibility. Finding L&D professionals who know how to work with SCORM is easy, and so is using SCORM yourself.
However, if you really want to use learner behaviour and performance data to its fullest potential, investing in Experience API (xAPI) software is probably a better bet. xAPI is essentially the latest evolution of SCORM and greatly expands on SCORM's capabilities. (To learn more, here is another article about xAPI: What is xAPI and Why Should You Deploy It?)
Unlike SCORM, xAPI is capable of generating "actor-verb-object" statements. These statements might look something like this when typed out:
"Student John Wayne (email: mailto@firstname.lastname@example.org) took English test #135 at 10:00 AM, and got 17 out of 19 questions correct, marking him in the 93rd percentile of the class. Answers 5 and 17 were incorrect. John Wayne spent more time answering question 5 than any other question by 23 percent. Question 5 was the most incorrectly answered question on the test across the class and took the longest for students to answer by 35 percent on average."
This type of highly detailed learner behaviour and performance data is incredibly valuable to L&D professionals and educators.
The ability to generate "actor-verb-object" statements is only one of the many benefits of xAPI. The advantages xAPI has over SCORM are numerous, and if you're interested, the makers of xAPI and SCORM listed a detailed comparison.
Essentially, if you want to get the most out of your eLearning experiences, xAPI will be more useful to you than SCORM in practically every scenario. If you're interested in investing in xAPI, then you'll also need a tool capable of analyzing xAPI data and translating it into actionable, useful information. Lambda Analytics is the most sophisticated xAPI data analysis tool on the market, enabling L&D professionals and educators to create the most effective eLearning experiences possible.
Lambda Solutions specializes in eLearning. We can help you get started with your LMS. To learn more about what we can do for you, contact our eLearning experts.