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PUBLISH DATE: Jun 17 2021
UPD: Mar 26 2024
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E-Learning Standards Introduction: AICC vs SCORM vs xAPI

Read this article if you want to learn more about the standard of learning on the internet. Here, we will try to distinguish between AICC, SCORM, xAPI, and many other elearning standards.   

Developing an educational software solution is like writing an academic book. Being a good writer isn’t enough for you to publish a textbook, for example. The same concerns developing educational software solutions. Hiring a software development company isn’t enough. You need to make your product compliant with standards.

If you still don’t have an answer to the question ‘What is a learning standard?’, then this article is for you. Here, we will also have a look at different types of educational standards to consider when developing an edtech solution. 


At first, let’s define SCORM. SCORM stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model. It is a set of standards for educational technology products. The goal of the SCORM set is to give developers guidance on how to write code for an edtech solution. If you stick to SCORM standards, your software will be compatible with other elearning solutions. In other words, SCORM aims for edtech interoperability. It bridges the gap between the technical specifications of online content and learning management systems (LMSs). By the way, our recent article reveals how your fears can be resolved with a powerful learning management system. Check it out to see whether LMS can bring benefits to your case.

SCORM allows your users to import different types of content into the solution and prevents them from facing system bugs or errors. There are several editions of SCORM technology standards. To choose the right one, you have to define the type of educational content that your LMS is expected to support. Or choose what type of content you want to produce in your edtech solution. Do you need help with answering these questions clearly? Look for a software development company with expertise in the education industry and ask them for assistance.

SCORM Versions Timeline. Source:

What benefits will SCORM compliance give you? First of all, SCORM is all about accessibility. With SCORM, your educational solution becomes accessible to a larger audience. They can upload, share, and manage content in one system having no fear that it will not be supported by the software. Second, SCORM is flexible. SCORM comprises preliminary technical standards. Implementing them in your software doesn’t limit your software’s functionality. You can adjust it to the needs of a particular organization or tailor specific instructions. More than that, you can use them multiply since SCORM is also reusable. It reduces delivery costs for your company and saves your time.

SO: SCORM isn’t an obstacle on your way to successful sales. On the contrary, SCORM helps you make sure that your educational solution is compatible with other types of edtech software. It gives you the chance to reach a wider audience and earn more users. And if you want to learn more about SCORM and its application, watch this video by SCORM’s Director of Sales.

SCORM 1.2 VS 2004

SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004 (4th edition) are the two most used models of SCORM on the market. They’re a de facto standard concerning LMS format. 

SCORM 1.2 is an older model with less advanced features. At first glance, it may seem less advantageous than SCORM 2004, but the model actually has its strong benefits. Above all, it’s extremely lightweight and creates no barriers to integration. As a result, SCORM 1.2 is highly popular among the majority of the education tool vendors on the market. More than 90% of them support this format not only due to its long history of existence but also due to the lack of unnecessary features and additional versions that complicate adoption. 

Ultimately, the users also have to somewhat pay for the simplicity. Firstly, the model has problems with progress tracking. SCORM 1.2 is highly limited in this regard: for example, it’s impossible to see the course completion status and engagement with different learning materials simultaneously. Secondly, SCORM 1.2 has very limited capabilities for accessibility. Lastly, it has a very simple memory format that prevents the creation of complex quizzes.

SCORM 2004 exists to solve all the presented problems for SCORM 1.2. It has better accessibility and, more importantly, improved tracking of user progress and better capabilities for creating advanced quizzes. At the same time, the adoption of this platform is worse than in the case of SCORM 1.2.

What’s the reason for this phenomenon? Why is the platform less accepted? In our opinion, the answer is simple: on the one hand, it’s slightly younger, making its adoption an uphill battle against the entrenched SCORM 1.2; on the other hand, it provides many additional features that make the integration of SCORM 2004 into various LMS systems more complex. In short, it fails in terms of compatibility in many cases: SCORM 1.2 has its share of problems, but it works great as a common standard.


SCORM has a significant number of positives that you should actively consider. What are those? 

1) Interoperability: SCORM-compliant LMS format is among the most popular pathways for course creation. As a result, the majority of the Learning Management Systems feature full-scale support for this platform. Why is this vital? You can create your course once and then transfer it between different Learning Management Systems. SCORM is the best way to “immortalize” your course because it removes the need for content creators to rewrite content with the evolution of software.

2) Tracking and reporting: SCORM in all its versions has great tools for tracking student progress and reporting it to the teachers. Even the somewhat outdated 1.2 model has an excellent module variety for reviewing student performance. Consequently, the platform is a great tool for collecting a significant amount of information aimed at promoting data-driven education.

3) Scalability: SCORM is notable for the large number of courses created for it. As a result, schools seeking to expand the diverging courses in their curricula can use the existing solutions by other teachers to create full-scale learning programs. 


SCORM also has some significant downsides you should actively consider if you’re using this system. Here are some of the core problems:

1) Complexity of usage: the usage of SCORM requires teachers to know how to program in JavaScript and XML. Consequently, the barriers to entry for SCORM are quite significant. Many teachers without technical expertise may require input from outside specialists, greatly raising the price of using this platform.

2) Limited flexibility: SCORM has very specific standard requirements that push teachers to create courses with similar structures. Consequently, the more original frameworks of teaching may be unsupported within this platform.

3) Technology dependence: SCORM depends on XML files and JavaScript. When these technologies become outdated, you can expect SCORM to lose its viability. The limitations of the presented technologies also impact the platform because they often take up too much space. Consequently, better solutions may appear with time, requiring less reliance on ZIP file formats for projects that are too large.

When to use SCORM

SCORM is a great option when you want to create a course that fits the following requirements:

1) Compatibility with government regulations (SCORM-compliant courses are accepted by many governmental organizations);

2) Interoperability and ability to share between different schools: SCORM courses are very easy to share between different platforms;

3) Structured learning: despite certain limits, SCORM is nonetheless a perfect way to create a course with a clear structure for the learners.

SCORM helps you make sure that your educational solution is compatible with other types of edtech software.


What is AICC? AICC is an early learning standard that was created in 1988. AICC stands for Aviation Computer-Based Training Committee. The main goal of AICC was to standardize the materials and technology for training airline workers. Though, this technical standard may be used for elearning courses in any industry.

The primary value of AICC is this learning standard helps elearning courses and LMS communicate with each other. The other benefit of using AICC is that it doesn’t only have flexible deployment configurations but has also proved to be secure. 


AICC (Aviation Industry Computer-based Training Committee) has significant positives that make its adoption in certain corporate training sectors a very rational choice:

1) Established standard: AICC-compliant content is notable for being a well-established standard on the market. It was created in 1988 for the aviation industry. As a result, it has been enjoying one of the longest periods of development in the education sector. This means that the standard has adaptations for almost every learning need imaginable. 

2) Great flexibility: the long development of AICC led to the creation of many modules that enable highly diverse and complex courses. To a great extent, AICC is one of the most flexible options in terms of structure and content. The aviation industry often requires advanced visualization for its learners. AICC enables such multimodal learning, promoting a wide variety of options for the course creators. 

3) Strong tracking capabilities: AICC also has high-quality tracking capabilities for its users. Once again, the standard was created with aviation in mind, where even a minor gap in knowledge can be dangerous. Thus, the standard allows one to very proactively track the actions of the learners. This is essential for an organizational reason: the standard helps focus on web-based learning content that incorporates minute details.


AICC is also notable for including a significant number of long-term problems. It has the following issues:

1) High complexity: you need to spend significant amounts of time learning how an AICC-compliant LMS works. AICC has very detailed specifications that require a lot of expertise. Consequently, the newcomers to this somewhat outdated standard may need significant amounts of time to understand it.

2) Low interoperability: AICC is a tool that comes from the aviation industry standard and was adopted by some businesses during the following decades. Its problem is limited adoption: outside of business environments within high-stakes fields, AICC isn’t being used en masse. As a result, you’ll likely have major problems with transitioning from this standard to newer platforms.

When to use AICC

We recommend using AICC in the two following scenarios:

1) Legacy systems: if you’re using many legacy systems or work with partners that are resorting to them on a wide scale, AICC can be a strong option.

2) Industry-specific requirements: certain industries fully rely on AICC. Consequently, you may need a full-scale standard sometimes.

3) Complex course creation: AICC features great tools for complex courses. Thus, it makes sense to use it if you want to create something advanced. For example, it’s great for learning how to use various types of complex machines.

AICC helps elearning courses and LMS communicate with each other. 


What is xAPI? xAPI is the specification called Experience API. It allows developers to gather information about users’ experiences online and offline. With its help, you can share learning experiences between multiple systems. Also, you get data from many technologies and practically interpret the stream of users’ learning activities. After a user makes some actions at your app or on your learning website, xAPI sends statements to a Learning Record Store (LRS). This store is like a database that can be used as a source of analytics for our LMS or can be shared with other LRSs.

xAPI ensures simplicity and flexibility. xAPi compliance makes your product free of older restrictions. You have full freedom of workflow as your data is not dependent on LMS. You can choose to track only the activities that are important for you. Businesses implement xAPI in elearning software, simulation, or gamified learning. Also, it is used in virtual classroom learning or collaborative learning. 

xAPI. Source:

SO: xAPI allows you to learn from your learners’ experience. Such a benefit is useful if you develop an edtech startup and want to know more about your users. Using xAPI makes your marketing efforts more effective. It ensures quality support and maintenance of your solution. You can get the xAPI specification here on your own, or ask our team to integrate xAPI into your edtech solution.


xAPI is an evolution of what SCORM 1.2 and 2004 offer. Here are some top positives it provides to the learners and teachers:

1) Great tracking: xAPI is capable of collecting the widest amount of information in comparison to all other platforms. In this regard, you can look into user clicks or, for example, even screen orientation. This is a perfect way to decrease cheating and ensure better data collection.

2) Compatibility with different learning styles: xAPI is highly compatible with different learning approaches due to having many interactive elements for a modern learning developer. It’s great for offline learning and blended methods. As a result, xAPI is much more flexible than mostly web-based training platforms like SCORM. 

3) Personalization: xAPI data collection is so strong that it enables the creation of complex personalization paths for the learners via training content. In this light, you can adjust content delivery and ensure the most robust progress of the students.

4) Speed and stability: xAPI was developed with speed and stability in mind. The platform is much more stable than all other competitors on the market, while offering higher performance to an average content provider.


xAPI development also has some major problems, which touch upon limited compliance. Here are some of them:

1) Development complexity: xAPI is notable for its complex integration of various APIs and other data collection tools. They may be virtually inaccessible for the majority of teachers. Consequently, the development of a xAPI learning program is likely to require an investment into a robust programming team if you want to create some pre-made content.

2) Compatibility and integration: xAPI is a relatively new platform that isn’t as popular as SCORM or IMS Common Cartridge. Consequently, you’re likely to see long-term problems with its adoption in different spheres of education. In practice, this means that xAPI is going to lock you into the ecosystem of the existing products surrounding this platform.

3) Data security: xAPI collects a lot of data. This means that any data leak can be genuinely dangerous for the involved users of the platform.

When to use xAPI

xAPI is the best platform when you need to create an e-learning course with a strong data-centric approach. For example, it’s a potent choice for all personalization tasks. xAPI is the strongest option for data collection currently present on the market. It’s also strong at creating content packaging for complex courses in general. Its capabilities may be lower than in the case of AICC. Nonetheless, xAPI is easier than it and offers more functionalities than SCORM.

xAPI allows you to learn from your learners’ experience. 


TPACK is more than a set of common elearning quality standards and high-level requirements of primarily technical significance. It is the whole framework used for managing educational processes. TPACK stands for Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge. According to TPACK standards, there are three kinds of knowledge that should be considered in online education. These are technical knowledge (TK), pedagogical knowledge (PK), and content knowledge (CK). The goal of TPACK is to apply these types of knowledge while teaching and learning with technology. When developing an edtech solution, you should check whether your software is suitable for teaching. Make sure that it gives your employees the essential tools and means of realization of different kinds of knowledge.

TPACK. Source:

So: TPACK model ensures that teachers have a space for realizing their pedagogical, content, and technological expertise in your solution. It allows for objective evaluation of teaching and learning tools. With TPACK compliance, you set the right pace and quality of management processes inside your edtech platform.

TPACK ensures that teachers have a space for realizing their pedagogical, content, and technological expertise in your solution.


Okay, we’ve already discussed the technical side of edtech demands. But what about the non-technical one? This is where ISTE elearning standards come into play. They were developed by Society for Technology in Education. The latter is one of the most progressive organizations in the sector of teaching technology. On their website, you can find a lot of useful information about the tandem of education and technology. The society members put a lot of effort to educate their readers on the importance of tech competence for teachers and students. They promote online teaching, develop education technology standards, build educational frameworks. Also, they discuss principles for edtech selection and work, research tech trends applicability in teaching. This is how ISTE describe their goal:

We help educators around the world use technology to solve tough problems.

We may distinguish between several types of ISTE technology standards. These are standards for teachers, students, coaches, education leaders, computational thinking, etc. Below, for example, you can learn more about the essential conditions to effectively integrate technology in learning developed by ISTE. As for the benefits, the ISTE-based edtech solution guarantees that users get an effective learning experience and environment. Teaching and learning practices implied in the product’s functionality are powerful enough to ensure your learners’ positive outcomes. Being an ISTE-aware educator is a real necessity in today’s digital world.

Essential conditions
NETS-S. Source:

SO: ISTE elearning standards optimize the education interaction that occurs via your software. If you plan to develop an edtech solution and want to impress your users, make it compatible with ISTE educational technology standards. Having a profound experience in edtech, Keenethics may help you ensure that your software aligns with ISTE online learning standards. It will positively impact your reputation and increase users’ trust and confidence in your product.

ISTE standards optimize the education interaction that occurs via your software.

Do you need people with a deep understanding of edtech demands and standards?

Do you have questions about edtech standards? Contact Keenethics anytime. We will review your project’s idea and give you answers.


If you plan to develop an online course platform or a virtual learning system, you are probably going to invite teachers to collaborate. iNACOL standards will come in handy in this case. iNACOL standards refer to K-12 online learning standards. These are National Standards for Quality Online Teaching that ensure the highest quality of national education delivery. The standards were developed by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning to provide educators across the country with quality guidelines for online teaching and learning. There is a checklist comprising eleven standards (A-K). Below, you can see the example of standards and their application. In the description of these standards, you can find info about the required teacher knowledge and abilities. You can use this set of standards to differentiate your solution from competitors. 

Standard G
The National Standards for Quality Online Teaching. Source:

So: iNACOL standards help you make sure that the teachers working with you are experienced in online teaching. They ensure that your users get access to powerful education. Your students will value the fact that their education is in safe hands. Check the standards here to make sure that the interaction on your platform will unfold in accordance with iNACOL demands.

iNACOL standards help you make sure that the teachers working with you are experienced in online teaching.


Tincan is a specification known as Experience API or xAPI. Above, we described this standard in detail.  


Cmi5 is a completely new standard for learning management systems developed by ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative).  Briefly saying, Cmi5 involves a set of rules which provide all the capabilities of SCORM and xAPI simultaneously. Why is it beneficial to use cmi5? Cmi5 allows offline mobile learning, enables studying outside an LMS, provides a better user experience, and is easier to implement. 


HACP stands for the HTTP AICC Communication Protocol. As Docebo indicates, AICC standard presupposes using HACP “to permit the exchange between course content and the platform”. This method works with an HTML form to transmit information to the platform. The platform, in turn, transmits data back to the course as a text string. 

AICC vs SCORM vs xAPI: Comparison

It’s time for conducting an analysis of all elearning standards mentioned. So, let’s take a closer look at AICC, SCORM, and xAPI. 

AICC benefits and downsides:

Security. AICC is more secure due to its support of highly reliable HTTPs data transfers between the very content and the learning management system. 

No updates. AICC won’t have any updates since the AICC group was disbanded a couple of years ago. 

SCORM benefits and downsides:

Easy content creation. SCORM authoring tools allow creating content easily since most of them are user-friendly. 

No offline learning support. Learners won’t be able to take a course offline because SCORM courses can’t work without an Internet connection. 

xAPI benefits and downsides: 

Flexible learning histories. xAPI allows Learning Record Stores to talk to each other and share various data. Learner experiences can come after one organization or LRS to another.

Performance metric setup. The difficulty lies in creating performance metrics and estimating advances via multiple learning activities. 

In Conclusion

Having an edtech idea in mind is not enough for your product to be really effective. You have to carefully review various edtech standards and make sure that your solution is compatible with them. If you’ve already hired a software development company and are in the process of building your solution, ask them to ensure compliance with edtech standards. The Keenethics team is always glad to answer your questions and help you with standard implementation. Just get in touch with us and enjoy a pleasant chat with our Head of Engagement!

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