When it comes to designing eLearning courses, you have a number of decisions to make: course length, types of media to include, and so on. But, before you begin designing your course, you need to think about what compliance standards it will follow to ensure it runs efficiently on your learning management system (LMS).
While you don’t have as many options to choose from as, say, characters for your next animated video, you do have choices. You might think your decision is limited to AICC vs. SCORM, which are the two most popular standards. But there is a third option: xAPI. To help you make the right choice, let’s take a look at each option, what it offers, and how you can make content that’s in line with each. This animated video helps overview the differences:
What is AICC?
AICC refers to the group that created it, known as the Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee. The committee formed in 1988 to standardize training materials for airline workers. Five years later, they had created the first specifications to make sure eLearning content would function properly on learning management systems.
Despite the name and origin, AICC standards aren’t specific to the aviation industry. They simply exist to help creators keep costs down by ensuring that courses work when moving from one platform to another. As long as the eLearning course is AICC-compliant, it will work on any AICC-compliant LMS.
As the oldest of all the standards, AICC has been losing support since the committee disbanded in 2014. AICC also won’t receive any additional updates, which means it’s now considered outdated. But it’s been around for so long that many organizations still use it for legacy reasons, and most platforms can still accept AICC-compliant content.
Although considered outdated, AICC has one major advantage over newer standards: Many pros in the industry think it’s more secure.
To be considered AICC-compliant, your content needs to follow at least one of nine guidelines and recommendations. If you’re interested in learning more about AICC compliance, you can find the full guidelines here.
What is SCORM?
After AICC came SCORM, short for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. It’s an eLearning standard that L&D pros use to build and design online courses and LMS platforms.
Developed by the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative in 1999, SCORM was meant to account for AICC’s deficiencies. At that time, AICC courses were largely shared via CDs or floppy discs, and the internet boom and the increase in digital media had created a compliance gap.
Like AICC, SCORM guidelines were meant to reduce the cost of eLearning courses by making them work with more learning management systems. Today, SCORM is the most commonly used technical specification within the eLearning community, which means if your courses are SCORM-compliant, they’re compatible with most LMSs.
For your course to be SCORM-compliant, it needs to be packaged into a special file called the “imsmanifest.xml.” That tells the LMS how to handle the content inside, providing instructions on what the courses are called, how they will open, etc. It also needs runtime communications to give the LMS commands, like “track the quiz score for this course,” to make sure the course is properly executed.
SCORM requires authoring tools to package files correctly. There are several options available, with their own pros and cons.
There are several versions of SCORM, from SCORM 1.0 to SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004. But SCORM 1.2 is the most widely used. If you’re planning on following SCORM standards, stick to 1.2.
What is the difference between AICC and SCORM?
On the surface, AICC and SCORM look fairly similar. Both are eLearning and LMS standards that aim to increase cross-platform compatibility. But there are a few key differences.
- AICC uses HTTP to communicate with your LMS platform.
- AICC can be more complicated to implement in an LMS, requiring numerous steps.
- AICC has been sunset.
- SCORM can be simpler to load in an LMS, only requiring that the course and its files be packaged in a zip folder (along with the “imsmanifest.xml” file mentioned earlier).
- SCORM is widely used.
The battle with AICC vs SCORM appears to be a clear victory for the latter, with AICC being phased out over time. But there’s also a third option: xAPI.
What is xAPI?
Released in 2013, xAPI — also known as Tin Can or Experience API — is one of the most modern standards for creating eLearning content and LMS platforms. It was developed to address the limitations of SCORM.
Unlike SCORM — or AICC — xAPI isn’t limited to capturing learning experiences inside an LMS. It can track a user’s activity in additional platforms, such as customer relationship management (CRM) tools or employee performance systems.
xAPI-compliant systems communicate through “noun, verb, object” statements. These statements track data about learning activities and tell the system what happened using a templated response, such as “User completed course 1.” That information is then sent to a Learning Record Store (LRS), which can share the information with another LMS or LRS, ensuring functionality across multiple systems.
xAPI is more flexible because it doesn’t require a constant internet connection, which allows learners to complete activities online or offline. It also doesn’t require a web browser, so creators can administer courses through mobile apps.
Comparing SCORM, xAPI, and AICC
When it comes to AICC vs. SCORM vs. xAPI, all have played a pivotal role in the history and development of eLearning and LMS platforms. But the three also have different pros and cons and represent different advances in technology.
Though still frequently used, AICC has become an outdated standard.
- AICC is the second most used compliance standard for eLearning courses.
- It is believed to be the most secure of the three because of HTPPS.
- It’s a legacy standard that won’t be updated, and content creators are beginning to leave it behind.
- It can’t be used to track progress offline.
SCORM is the most popular standard, but it does have some technological disadvantages.
- SCORM is the most widely used standard.
- Because of SCORM’s popularity, courses that follow SCORM will be easier to sell because they’re more likely to work with LMS platforms.
- SCORM is easy to follow, requiring only the xml doc and proper zip file format. All of this can be done with a simple authoring tool.
- SCORM authoring tools are widely available.
- SCORM does require an LMS, meaning it can’t be used in stand-alone apps like xAPI can.
- It can’t be used to track progress offline.
The newest kid on the block, xAPI offers modern advantages, but it isn’t widely supported.
- xAPI can be used outside of LMS platforms, giving it a versatility the other two standards lack.
- Courses can be used to track progress offline, while the others can’t.
- It operates without a web browser.
- xAPI is the only option capable of a native mobile learning experience.
- Because xAPI is the newest option, it isn’t as widely supported as the other two, which means there are limited options for authoring tools and learning management systems.
It’s clear that AICC’s days are numbered because it’s no longer supported, and content creators are leaving it behind. This leaves you with two viable options for designing your eLearning courses: SCORM and xAPI. You can be up and running quickly with SCORM, or you can opt for the most up-to-date technology with xAPI. For help making the choice, read Near-Life’s comparison of xAPI and SCORM.
How to make videos compliant with SCORM and xAPI
Whichever compliance standard you choose, most eLearning courses can benefit from incorporating video content. Video evokes emotion, allows complex topics to be covered quickly, and makes them easier to understand.
Vyond’s online animation software allows you to create animated videos to add to your eLearning courses. Vyond is easy to use and is available at a monthly price, it saves you the cost of a dedicated design and animation team, and it can be customized to fit your brand.
And because animated video is a media type, it doesn’t have to follow compliance standards. You can simply include animated video in your xAPI course or bundle the mp4 file in with your SCORM course zip file.
See for yourself how Vyond can improve your eLearning courses by signing up for a free 14-day trial.
AICC vs SCORM vs xAPI: The choice is yours
Every eLearning standard brings something different to the table. While AICC is considered the most secure and is still widely used, it’s mostly around due to legacy reasons. The standard won’t be updated, which means it’s not necessarily worth the time investment to make your eLearning courses AICC-compliant.
On the other hand, SCORM and xAPI both have a lot to offer. SCORM is widely used and will work with most LMS platforms. And xAPI offers modern features and more flexibility but isn’t as widely supported. Before you choose, think about how you want to use your eLearning courses and speak with any stakeholders in your projects.
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