Track and trace Learners results. What do SCORM compliance, AICC, XAPI and CMI5 mean?

Do you want to buy a LMS or an authoring tool and are you wondering what the best option is for tracking the results of your learners? Or are you just confused by all the abbreviations like: SCORM, AICC, XAPI, and CMI5? Here is an overview that will help you out.

SCORM and SCORM compliant

SCORM is a standard in e-Learning that makes it possible to track and trace the results of your learners in a Learning Management system (LMS). A course is SCORM compliant  when it meets the requirements of the standard set by the ADL. It makes it possible to create an e-Learning course in any authoring environment and run it in any SCORM compliant LMS and report your learners results to that LMS.

SCORM compliant

How does SCORM work?

How does SCORM work?

The basic set up of a SCORM compliant course is simple, here is how it works:

  1. You create a course in an e-Learning authoring tool (like easygenerator) or in a LMS
  2. You publish the e-Learning course as a SCORM package (something like save as SCORM)
  3. You upload the SCORM compliant course in your LMS and invite your learners
  4. All results of your leaners will be stored in your LMS

Which results will be stored?

If a course is SCORM compliant it can store almost everything:

  • End result of a course (failed passed and end score)
  • Questions answered correct or incorrect
  • Which answers where given
  • Which pages are viewed
  • How long a page was viewed
  • Total time spend
  • Score per Learning objective
  • Incomplete results and progress (so the learner can resume a course later)

You name it, it can be registered and stored.

Does SCORM compliant always means the same

No it doesn’t. SCORM has a compulsory part (basically all the results) but also elements that can be added optionally. Bookmarking (the storage of incomplete results) and results per learning objective are optional. This means that if you want to buy an authoring tool or a LMS you should check if they support the elements that you need!

And there is a second but: reporting. If the results are stored in the database of your LMS it does not mean you can get them out in an easy way. That depends on the reports the LMS is offering. Some LMS have very complete reports or allow you to create your own. If you want to make sure that the LMS does what you need, just check the reporting function!

SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004

Yes there are two version of SCORM: SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004. The latest version is SCORM 2004 but both are still in use. In fact the oldest version (SCORM 1.2) is the most popular one. So what is the difference? In fact if you just want to have a report on your learners results both will do. They have the same reporting elements for that. The main difference between the two is that SCORM 2004 adds options for complex navigation and sequencing. If you need that, choose make sure both your authoring environment and your LMS are both SCORM 2004 compliant. If you just need the learners results SCORM 1.2 will do as well.

SCORM and XAPI / Tincan

The latest version of SCORM dates back from 2004 (although there where updates). That is a decade ago, it is ancient. In the meantime we have seen the rise of mobile learning (with smart phones and tablets) and the world of learning has changed fundamentally. Is there noting more up to date? Yes of course there is. We now have XAPI, formerly known as (project) TinCan. It can do what SCORM can but there are major differences.

SCORM and XAPI compared

So what is new, what is the difference? The big limitation of SCORM is that it can only track and trace your learners results if your learners are learning within your LMS. One of the big trends in e-Learning is that e-Learning is becoming more informal and is moving to the workplace and to mobile devices. In short people are learning more outside a LMS than in a LMS. XAPI allows tracking and tracing from anywhere. So you should choose an authoring tool or a LMS that supports XAPI. This makes it possible to publish your course or quiz on a website, a blog, in an app on a smart phone. XAPI will still track and trace the results.

Tracking experiences

But there is more. XAPI is short for ‘eXperience API’. An API is a technique that allows software to exchange information. XAPI is not created to capture formal learning results, it is meant to exchange and capture learning experiences. That makes a big difference. When you are performing a task for the first time, you will learn. That is something that happens in the real world and not within the boundaries of a LMS. SCORM cannot help you here, but XAPI can. It allows the learner to record this learning experience and the result. It is stored in a database that is called a Learning Record Store (LRS).  XAPI reports through statements that have a specific structure: I (actor) did (verb) this (activity). So a statement could be: Kasper Spiro wrote a post on XAPI. In fact I did and you can read it here.

What does this mean to you? Not that much yet I’m afraid. Almost everybody loves the idea of tracking learning experiences from everywhere. But how do you use it in a way that is simple and that it adds value to your learning. That is more difficult. It is for Vendors like easygenerator or other authoring tools to come up with simple and useful applications of the XAPI.  An example is that easygenerator will add the ability to add assignments to your courses. These assignments need to be performed in the real world. In the assignment the learner will have an option to report on the result of this learning experience by simply filling in a simple field. We will use XAPI to store and report that. It will be in our product somewhere in 2015. In short, if you want to be future proof, make sure your authoring tool and LMS both support XAPI.


As said SCORM is ancient. There is a new standard in development that will be the next generation of SCORM. It is called CMI5. It uses the technique of XAPI, but it will add default statements to track and trace the learners results in a formal e-Learning course. They are recreating SCORM based on XAPI. It will be more flexible in the sense that you can track and trace learning results outside an LMS, but it will be only useful for formal learning activities like a course, a quiz or an exam.


And yes there is yet another standard in the e-learning world. It comes from the aviation industry and it is called AICC. In fact this standard is older than SCORM, it dates back to 1993. But it is mainly used in the Aviation industry and some technical industries. You can consider it as a competitor of SCORM. The good news is that both Scorm and AICC will merge into CMI5, the new XAPI based standard.

Do I need SCORM?

That really depends on your requirements. The big advantage of SCORM is that you can use an external authoring tool, so you don’t have to create your courses in a LMS. The big advantage of that is that your courses willnot depend on your LMS; You can use them in any LMS. When you want to switch from LMS or publish your courses on the web, that is possible from most authoring tools. Courses created in a LMS are locked into that LMS. If you leave that LMS you will leave all your courses behind, creating a real undesirable ‘vendor lock in’.

If it is just for the tracking and tracing of results you do not need SCORM. Easygenerator for example is an e-Learning authoring tool, but it offers also the possibility to publish the courses to one of its servers and to track and trace the results from your learners.

My first visit to China:The keyword is control

This week I was in Beijing for the launch of the Chinese edition of Easygenerator. It was my first visit to China and I will try to reflect on all the impressions I had; not on eLearning but on the country.

Kasper Spiro presenting on the e-learning conference in BeijingWe launched Easygenerator at an e-learning conference in Beijing. I had the honor of being one of the keynote speakers. I talked about trends in e-Learning in Europe and the USA. One of the trends is that the learner is taking control over his own development, and the learning department is losing control. The word control was probably the keyword for the week; both in my speech and in my China experience. The government in China controls a lot of things. I knew that I would not have access to Facebook, Twitter and Google because they are blocked by the Great Chinese Firewall, but it goes much further than that. China is not a socialistic plan economy anymore and it is obviously not a democracy. I would describe it as a controlled society. The government clearly indicates boundaries where you have to operate within. Within these boundaries you do have ‘freedom’, although that freedom is mostly economically defined.

Tiananmen Square and the access gate to the Forbidden city

Tiananmen Square and the access gate to the Forbidden city

This became most clear when we visited the Tiananmen square. The square is located in the center of the city. The Forbidden city, Mao’s tomb and a bunch of important buildings are located there. We know the square of-course as the place that played a key role in the democracy movement of 1989, ending in the Tiananmen massacre. Now more than ever this square is the symbol of China. If an incident would occur here, it would show that the government doesn’t have complete control. The square is fenced of completely, you can only access it from one of the four corners via a pedestrian tunnel. In those tunnels you are checked as if you are entering an airport.

The firemen at Tiananmen Square

The firemen at Tiananmen Square

On the square there is a lot of police. I also noticed that people in civilian clothes are standing watch, they are equipped with a fire extinguisher and a shield. All I can come up with is that this is due to the incident in 2001 when 5 members of the banned movement Falun Gong set themselves afire in front of the entrance to the forbidden city. The police has a strange habit by the way. They always have their flashing lights on, making sure you will notice them and stressing the fact that you are being watched. When I walked passed the square I asked my Chinese companions: “Are these security measures still necessary, is the government still afraid for a new upraise like in 89?” That was clearly a question I was not suppose to ask. After some hesitation they explained that nobody ever talks about the events of 89, but that at the same time everybody knows it. This is an indication that the control of the government extends into the minds of people (but of course that is also the case in our society).

China has a very different and also much more ancient history than Europe or the VS. The written history dates back to 2100 BC. And even then they had an emperor and and a long lasting dynasty. The last dynasty ended in 1911, it was followed by The Peoples republic of China; so no democracy at all in 4000 years of history. In the West we always asume that democracy is the best way to organize your country, but if you just look at the numbers you can have some doubts if it is the most effective way; the economic growth in 2014 in China was 7.3%, compared to the US (2.5) and Europe (1%). I found it very interesting to talk to people who do have this very different background. The cool thing was that in these conversation it was not a contest (who has the better solution?) but an exchange of thoughts. It is clear that we can learn a lot from each-other. The other thing I concluded was that China will not try to copy our capitalistic model. The will look at it, take the things they like, but apply it in their own manner. China is not a copycat, they will do it their way.

In a way Beijing is a city like any other. 20 million people, a lot of traffic-jams and bad air. But if you visit some of the relics from the past it is something else. I had the opportunity to visit both the ‘Forbidden city’ and the ‘Summer Palace’. At both places the old emperors would dwell. And these places are incredible. I did not have enough time to really see a lot but already I do not have words to describe it. So I will just share some pictures and videos.

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#LSCON John DiMarco creativity 101: Integrating high level cognitive objectives in learning

Great session about using creativity and focusing on the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. I wasn’t able to capture all learning activities for each level of Bloom’s during the session. I will update the mind map when his presentation is available.


#LSCON Nick Floro, the future of elearning in 2015

An incredible amount of trends and tips. There is something for everyone here.




#LSCON #ECOCON Keynote @MFurdyk: The future of learning

This was another awesome keynote. I have to confess that I had never heard before of Michael, but he is an impressive guy. He created his first website as a teenager and sold it when he was 17 and became a millionaire. But that is not what impressed me. He decided to put a part of his money and energy into TakingItGlobal. A not for profit organization he started with Jennifer Corriero aimed primarily at youth to raise awareness and discussion on a number of global issues and encourages youth to take action that affects their local and global communities. To do that at the age of 17! That is special. From their website:

“Our Vision: Youth around the world actively engaged and connected in shaping a more inclusive, peaceful and sustainable world.
Our Mission: TakingITGlobal empowers youth to understand and act on the world’s greatest challenges.”

Impressive. It makes you think and wonder, what did I do for meaningful things with my life. On top of that he gave us a great keynote. With insights and also a lot of great practical examples and apps. He shared his presentation through learning exchange, If you are not a member, here is my mind map.

mindmap Furdyk

#LSCON @marcjrosenberg: The training to competency myth

Marc presented the journey to competency. Key message: the level of competency determines what kind of learning facilities people need. Competency is not a fixed thing, you need to take the levels into account. I added a photo of one slide, because I could not capture that in my mindmap.

IMG_0150 IMG_0146 

#LSCON session @bbets: From content to curation, moving your strategy beyond creation

Good session. His key message is content is only the start of a leaning process. he uses a Lego metaphor: Focus less on the blocks (content) and more on the learning. Here is the mind map.

IMG_0144 IMG_0143

#ecocon #lscon session @JD_Dillon: How Kaplan build a smarter learning ecosystem

A great presentation on the 5 year journey Kaplan took from old school training to an integrated ecosystem. Inspiring story with great lessons to be learned and practical tips as well. Here is the mind map.


#LSCON and #ECOCON day one

The end of the first day of LSCON and Ecocon. Time for a first retrospective.

Tom Wujec
The highlight of today was the opening keynote by Tom Wujec. I wrote a post earlier on this presentation, but it made me think a lot. So I checked him out in more detail. Here is a link to his Marshmallow challenge. My research did not help me much, so for now the conclusion is: He tells us everything will change and that means that we are educating people for jobs and roles that do not exist today. Therefore there is litle sense in training them in the job skills and knowledge. We need to get them ready for a life of life long learning, enabling them with skills for that. On top of that the role of the computer will increase dramatically forcing us to focus on the creative side of things.

Panel and ecosystem

Both the panel on performance support and the ecosystem session I attended were interesting. But there was much more to this day.

I started the day with a morning buzz session of LINGOs. The organization that helps great people doing even greater things, they support 80 NGO’s with eLearning facilities and knowledge. I’m an ambassador for them. We as learning community should support them as much as we can. You can meet them at LSCON (they have a table close to the registration desk) chek in and see what you can do. Not on Orlando, check out their website, especially their volunteer section.

I had a whole bunch of other meetings, some business meetings with which I will not bore you. But I also spoke with Bill Brandon about publishing some articles in the Learning Solution magazine. We came up with some nice ideas. But again, you can do this as well. You can write for the magazine or the twist blog or just publish your content at the new Learning exchange platform that was launched today by the guild. Don’t be shy, your experiences are valuable to other members, so start sharing!

jjj mkkk

#LSCON session, Catherinne Lombardozzi: scaffolding learning in the ecosystem

Cool session. Practice vs theory. The theory of ecosystems will tell you that you have to facilitate the learner providing them with all the resources and tools they need to do their job. Catherine has a very practical view. She thinks that you will just overwhelm the learner with information. She sees an ecosystem as a fish tank, an artificial environment set up for a specific purpose. A ecosystem is a scaffolding method for learning. She also has a list of 7 pillars that you need for a succesful participation of the learners.

I do have mixes feelings about her approach. On the one hand it does feel like a practical approach and a great first step in the world of ecosystems.mbut on the other hand it feels like you are patronizing your learners.




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