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The Difference Between SCORM and xAPI

The Difference Between SCORM and xAPI

SCORM and xAPI | 3 minutes to read

SCORM and xAPI are a set of rules that allow an activity, like a course, to talk to (or send information to) a learning management system (LMS) or a learning record system (LRS).


SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) governs how your courses, created in a tool like Articulate Storyline, and an LMS communicate with each other. The communication is only between the course and the LMS. In addition, the language SCORM defines for communication between your course and the LMS is constrained to a limited vocabulary of “Complete/Incomplete,” “Pass/Failed” or a quiz score.

Here are some additional limitations of SCORM.

  • SCORM relies on a web browser, so you can’t track learning or job performance experiences outside of a web browser using SCORM (e.g., a driver’s education simulation).
  • SCORM relies on a constant Internet connection, so you can’t track disconnected content.
  • SCORM content must play via an LMS, so you can’t track content that is not launched from the LMS. For example, if you want to track how learners interact with a YouTube video that is on the web, it must be uploaded to the LMS.
  • SCORM only tracks a single learner, so you can’t track team-based learning.
  • SCORM only tracks a course or assessment, so you can’t track things like an in-person simulation that uses a defibrillator training application.


xAPI (Experience Application Programming Interface) makes it possible to collect and send data (in a consistent format) from a wide range of experiences a person has online and offline. For example, you can track activity from platforms like talent management systems, help desk applications and YouTube. Communication is no longer limited between the course and the LMS as with SCORM. By using xAPI statements in an actor-verb-object format and an LRS, eLearning developers can track a greater variety of learner activities and experiences.

In addition to tracking completions, time, pass/fail and single score reporting, xAPI allows you to track these experiences (“SCORM vs the,” n.d.)

  • Report multiple scores
  • Detailed test results
  • No LMS required
  • No Internet browser required
  • Track serious games
  • Track simulations
  • Track informal learning
  • Track real-world performance
  • Track offline learning
  • Track interactive learning
  • Track adaptive learning
  • Track blended learning

Take Away

In a nutshell, the main difference between SCORM and xAPI is that SCORM tracks basic completion information within an LMS and xAPI tracks more detailed, rich experiences and activities online and offline.


Rustici Software. (n.d.). SCORM vs the Experience API (xAPI).(n.d.) Retrieved August 24, 2020, from



Rema Merrick is the owner of Enovate Learning LLC. She’s been an instructional designer and eLearning developer for over six years and holds a MS in Instructional Technology. She is the volunteer founder and moderator of the group, Instructional Design Project Peer Review Group. When she’s not developing training, she’s running outside on her local trail, taking a yoga class or traveling


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