Author: Rashmi Kulkarni

Posted On Aug 13, 2014   |   4 Mins Read

eLearning has come a long way from its starting days of instructor led teaching to self paced learning courses using diverse multimedia elements. It plays a vital role in educational and training requirements right from pre-schools to giant organizational learning programs.

Over the years, the eLearning domain has witnessed utilization of various standards that assure interoperability, reusability and accessibility. Some of the notable standards are SCORM, IMS, IEEE-LOM, Dublin Core, Ariadne Metadata, AICC etc. And now, new entrants such as Tin Can, also known as the experience API (xAPI) and CMI-5 have started to create a buzz.

This blog intends to shed some light on the comparative analysis of SCORM, Tin Can and CMI-5 standards.

It will not be an exaggeration if we say that the SCORM standard was dominating the eLearning domain since the last 10-15 years. It had undergone various phases of evolution resulting into many versions including v1.2, SCORM 2004 2nd, 3rd and 4th edition.

However, SCORM 2004 continued experiencing a decline in its adoption over the period. With the advent of the digital world, today’s learner is more connected whereas SCORM is still an isolated browser based standard, centered on a Learning Management System (LMS). These limitations along with the high level of complexity drove the need for a new standard.

Tin Can, a new project by Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) is vying to overcome the failures of SCORM 2004. It is based on the core need of simplicity and provides flexibility by lifting many restrictions of existing eLearning standards. Another important characteristic of restful web service based Tin Can API is that it is actually technologically ‘agnostic’. It’s ability to run courses independent of an LMS provides some future proofing against technological shifts. Since development of Tin Can is an ongoing project, there will be a lot more to unwrap.

Given below is a feature comparison report of SCORM and Tin Can which demonstrates that Tin Can is the next generation SCORM.

Progress tracking – Time, Score
Tracking , Completion status, Bookmarking
LMS independent
Browser independent
Mobile app support/Cross domain Limitation
Informal Progress tracking
Team based, interactive Progress Tracking
In sync with e-learning ecosystem dynamics
Sharing Analytical Data through detailed tracking
Tracking performance along with Learning

Another standard, which is evoking interest in the eLearning ecosystem, is CMI – 5, a new specification from AICC, which uses Tin Can as its foundation. Being the next generation of Content-to-LMS interoperability specification, it will provide runtime data tracking, data sharing between content, digital data recording and a means to transfer course lists. It is intended to replace the existing AICC and SCORM specifications.

Though it is fairly early for the new breeds of eLearning standards, Tin Can API and CMI-5 , they seem to be a perfect fit for the following eLearning trends which are likely to grow roots in the coming years:

  • Mobilization of eLearning – In January 2014, CNN Money, an American TV channel, reported that mobile devices garnered 55% of Internet access with 8% browser and 47% traffic from mobile apps. This surely ensures that there is a lot more to come which will change the dimensions of eLearning.
  • Gamification of eLearning– Gamification is the application of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context which caters to the demanding needs of capturing attention, improving cognitive functions and enriching cradle-to-grave learning experience.
  • Tracking of eLearning content– Enhanced tracking of eLearning material to analyze learner data to gauge effectiveness of learning

One of the main challenges these standards will experience is, achieving sufficient uptake to replace existing ones. However, as mentioned in the above trends, eLearning industry has very little choice other than to keep pace for a much needed transformation aligned with a rapidly changing environment.