Package & track elearning: why companies need both AICC & xAPI

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Companies and organizations involved in elearning need learning content to be compliant with some requirements, i.e. with regards to the way content is packaged and tracked within the training program. AICC and xAPI (Experience API, or formerly Tin Can) are among the most important standards for LMS’s: whilst AICC LMS have been around for a while, the xAPI is relatively recent. Companies and organizations today need both standards: this post explains why!

Are elearning vendors ready for SCORM AICC & xAPI ?

AICC is a well known industry standard: it was born in 1989 and it has had broad acceptance in the last year. But saying “1989” sounds like we’re talking about the ice-age, especially in IT. So why is AICC still important for elearning adopters?

AICC: the reasons behind its long shelf life

There are two good reasons behind the long-lasting success of AICC. The first one is all about its tracking system: the way this system works is that it allows companies and training administrators to have the learning content in a location that does not necessarily have to be the learning management system used to play it.

And this first reason drives us to the second one – due to the ability to keep content on its own server, a lot of big course elearning vendors still have a huge catalog of courses which are using this standard and reuires compliant AICC LMS.

Those catalogs are extensive but also really expensive to update, and this is why these elearning vendors are not able to adopt new technologies in short timeframes – as switching to a new standard would mean a complete revision of all the training content hosted on the catalog.

This is the reason why we have recently added AICC support to the Docebo learning management system (check out this article). All the organizations currently running AICC elearning courses can now use Docebo, hassle-free.

From Tin Can to xAPI: a core called LRS

What we used to know as “Tin Can” is now called xAPI. It is the new, up and coming standard in the elearning industry, and it has a good chance to grow even more in terms of adoption, and in comparison with other standards, for at least two reasons:

  1. Like AICC, xAPI is able to perform tracking within an LRS that is not in the same place as where the content is
  2. Unlike SCORM and AICC, by using xAPI companies are able to track whatever information they need, with no more limitations related to a specific set of possibilities

(The “authority” behind the still-a-work-in-progress AICC standard has moved its efforts to xAPI and has discontinued evolving the AICC standard).

Whilst this is all definitely cool in elearning terms, you might be asking yourself right now, “wait a sec, LRS, what’s that?” It is a new concept introduced by xAPI, and it stands for Learning Record Store. In simple terms, the LRS is the place where all the tracking information is actually stored (e.g. content your users are viewing) and it acts like a huge data collector from which you can later extract all the saved data.

This new tool opens two scenarios on the elearning market: a pure-LRS series of vendors and LMS vendors who decided to build an internal LRS, of course integrated with the LMS itself. This second way is the one we chose at Docebo.

xAPI and new analytics scenarios

In the short term, the main advantage you have using xAPI is the collection, in a single place, of everything you want and need (as you can choose to store things like learning activities, classroom activities as well as user interactions with company software).

It’s still too early to predict how the market will be in the years to come, but we can say that having all this data in a single place – and in the exact way you need it – will be disruptive in terms of statistical analysis and reporting about training projects.