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When creating a new training program, it is important to choose how you are going to track the performance and results produced from the eLearning content. Is xAPI, also known as Tin Can API, or SCORM the best for you? While it can be overwhelming at first to determine which will fulfill your learning needs, once you understand the specific protocols SCORM and xAPI follow the decision should be easy to make.
Let’s dive into these alternative methods to help you select the one that is right for your company.
SCORM is a technical specification that tells you how content must work together through different Learning Management Systems (LMS). It allows you to run any module with SCORM coding on the LMS of your choice. This ability to communicate, known as interoperability, has made SCORM the eLearning industry standard.
SCORM tracks four aspects of the learner’s experience: if they completed the module or not, the amount of time they spend in the module, if they passed or failed, and a single score for the entire module.
While this tracking level has been sufficient for decades, what should one do if they want to track more in-depth information? Or if they need to give learners the ability to complete their training without an internet connection? Thankfully, the solution already exists, and it’s called xAPI.
The Experience API, or xAPI, lets you record nearly every learner activity. For example, it can track which buttons the user clicks, how long the learner spent reading a page, which videos they viewed multiple times, and what answers they selected on quiz questions. xAPI automatically sends all this data to a Learning Record Store (LRS) that you can access anytime. You can make a custom LRS, or you may be able to set up one inside your LMS, depending on the LMS capabilities.
xAPI can also store data offline, meaning learners can complete a training exercise without an internet connection, such as while they’re flying on a plane. After they land and connect their device to the internet, the data will automatically transfer to the LRS.
As mentioned, SCORM is the trusted industry standard. It is user-friendly and easy to apply to modules created in authoring programs such as Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate. High-level coding knowledge is not required to use it, and almost all LMSs support it. It allows for tracking basic information such as learner completion and whether they met the criteria to pass an assessment. It can also track how much time a learner spent on a particular module. However, unlike xAPI, SCORM does not support offline learning or learning completed outside the LMS. The metrics are also limited only to what the LMS can capture.
The most significant benefit of xAPI is its tracking ability within and outside the LMS. It does not restrict today’s modern workforce that prefers learning on the go to formal learning platforms. xAPI also easily tracks informal learning. Suppose an employee is flying to a client site and has downtime. They can utilize the flight duration to complete an activity offline, and the Learning Record Store (LRS) will store the data until the learner re-connects to the internet.
xAPI can track many training methods, from simulations to blended learning to serious games. Modern learners prefer modern learning methods, so you need to ensure they have technology that provides metrics irrespective of the training method. Just keep in mind that SCORM and xAPI cannot alter the way your course looks. Don’t expect either of these technologies to make your content more engaging and interactive. To do that, you have to conduct a Training Needs Analysis and use sound instructional design principles chosen by eLearning experts.
In a nutshell, SCORM will be sufficient to create an extensive repository of learning objects and track learner performance within an LMS. However, if you need to record learner experiences outside the traditional LMS (online or offline) and monitor group learning, you will want to invest in xAPI.
Your decision will affect the durability of your systems and the content. While SCORM is the most widely used standard in eLearning, xAPI offers the opportunity to personalize and enhance your learners’ experiences.
At Designing Digitally, Inc., we create learning solutions that are designed with built-in tracking to ensure you can measure the effectiveness of your training. We help you grow your employees through learning and development that works.
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