Why we chose xAPI over SCORM for elearning tracking

The experience API. It’s like SCORM, but better.

For years, SCORM was the go-to standard for data recording and reporting with regards to elearning.  Many elearning professionals (myself included) feel it has become outdated, and that there are better, more comprehensive ways to connect with the activities of our students.

The Experience API  (xAPI) is the new standard we should be looking at to track and report.  It’s like SCORM, but better.  the xAPI can do the same things as SCORM and then some!

What is the Experience API?

The Experience API (or xAPI, also sometimes called Tin Can API) is a new specification for learning technology that makes it possible to collect data about the wide range of experiences a person has (online and offline). This API captures data in a consistent format about a person or group’s activities from many technologies. Very different systems are able to securely communicate by capturing and sharing this stream of activities using xAPI’s simple vocabulary.  Here’s a basic example:

…and in human terms…

What’s the difference between xAPI and SCORM?

While the xAPI can do everything SCORM can, there is a LOT more that can be tracked, online and off.

CRITERIA SCORM xAPI
Track completion
Track time
Track pass/fail
Report a single score
Report multiple scores
Detailed test results
Solid security
No LMS required
No internet browser required
Keep complete control over your content
No cross-domain limitation
Use mobile apps for learning
Platform transition (i.e. computer to mobile)
Track serious games
Track simulations
Track informal learning
Track real-world performance
Track offline learning
Track interactive learning
Track adaptive learning
Track blended learning
Track long-term learning
Track team-based learning

DATA:  xapi.com

What can you do with the xAPI that you can’t with SCORM?

The short answer is, a lot.  Let’s have a look at the 70/20/10 model.  This model is not just scholastic, it also deals with workplace and social activities.

The 70/20/10 Model for Learning and Development is a learning and development model that corresponds to a proportional breakdown of how people learn effectively; based on a survey asking nearly 200 executives to self-report how they believed they learned.

In this survey respondents reported the following learning tendencies:

  • 70% from challenging assignments
  • 20% from developmental relationships
  • 10% from coursework and training

Older learning specifications like SCORM focused very much on formal training, and specifically online formal training, so that’s even less than 10%. They painted a very limited picture of the learner. By contrast, xAPI is being used to track and support all of the learners learning experiences, including social interactions and on the job development.

What will we do with this data?

Data is collected and stored in our private LRS (Learning Record System).

This data will be helpful to students because they can see what they are achieving, and where they may need some improvement.

This data will be helpful to teachers, as they can better customize their classrooms to the way students learn.

This data will be helpful to us at 3A, as we will be able to continue to customize, personalize, and better our content/ content presentation to suit the needs of an ever-changing learning industry.

By James

I'm the creator of the 3A Hospitality English Program and Co-Founder of 3Aenglish.com. I lived and taught in China for a few years and am currently back in BC, Canada. Thanks for joining us here, I hope we can learn some cool new things together!