scorm versus xAPI for microlearning

Microlearning is hot! The use of short, bite-sized learning moments has proven to be highly effective for quickly acquiring and applying knowledge and skills.

When it comes to exchanging learning results, the question arises as to which technical standard for data exchange works best for microlearning.

In this article, we will delve deeper into xAPI and SCORM, both important technical standards used in e-learning to enable communication between learning technologies and learning resources.

What is SCORM?

SCORM stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. The framework creates and packages e-learning content, making it easy to share and use in various learning management systems (LMS).

The key components of SCORM are:

  • Content Packaging: SCORM specifies how e-learning content should be organized and packaged in a single ZIP file, including multimedia files, HTML files, an XML-based manifest, and metadata.
  • Runtime Communication: SCORM defines a set of rules and protocols for communication between e-learning content and the LMS during runtime. This includes tracking learner progress, recording assessment results, and providing navigation controls.
  • Metadata: SCORM uses metadata standards to describe and provide information about the e-learning content, such as title, description, author, learning objectives, requirements, and technical specifications.
  • Sequencing and Navigation: SCORM enables the content to define sequencing and navigation rules, allowing the LMS to control the flow and progress of the learning experience based on learner interactions and performance.

With SCORM, you can share, reuse, and integrate e-learning content developed with SCORM-compliant authoring tools without compatibility issues. It promotes interoperability and enables consistent tracking and reporting of progress and performance across different systems.

What is xAPI?

xAPI stands for Experience API, also known as Tin Can API. xAPI is designed as a more modern and flexible successor to SCORM.

xAPI emphasizes capturing a wide range of learning experiences, both online and offline, and uses a simple “statement” format to record these experiences. Each statement consists of a subject (the learner), a verb (the action), and an object (the learning goal or activity). For example, “Floris completed the module on ethical conduct.”

Some features of xAPI are:

  • Flexibility: xAPI allows for capturing learning experiences that occur outside traditional e-learning platforms, such as mobile apps, simulations, games, and physical activities. It is not limited to a specific learning technology platform.
  • Tracking of Offline Activities: xAPI can capture offline learning activities, such as on-site training, practical experiences, and self-study outside the LMS.
  • Enriched Data: xAPI enables capturing extensive data about learning experiences, including scores, duration, assessments, responses, contextual information, and more. This provides more detailed insights into learner performance and engagement.
  • Real-time Tracking and Analysis: xAPI allows for real-time tracking and analysis of learning experiences, enabling organizations to provide immediate feedback, measure performance, and make adjustments to the learning process.
  • Data Integration: xAPI can be integrated with other systems, such as LMS platforms, Learning Record Stores (LRS), and analytics tools, enabling seamless exchange and combination of data for comprehensive reporting and analysis.

The use of xAPI enables organizations to capture and analyze a broader range of learning experiences, gaining valuable insights and optimizing the learning process.

Usage in e-Learning

Both SCORM and xAPI are widely used in e-learning to facilitate communication between learning technologies and resources. While they have similar goals, there are some important differences between SCORM and xAPI:

Technical Architecture

SCORM is based on a detailed and standardized data model. It uses an LMS as a central host, and communication occurs through a client-server model. SCORM primarily tracks course completion, scores, and learner progress.
xAPI is designed as a more flexible and comprehensive specification. It employs a more streamlined architecture than SCORM, capturing events (statements) in a subject-verb-object format. It stores these events in a Learning Record Store (LRS) and can collect data on various types of learning experiences, both online and offline.

Data Collection

SCORM primarily collects structured data such as scores, progress, and completion status. It focuses on tracking performance within a course or learning module.
xAPI provides a broader ability to collect and capture data. It can gather and record both structured data and unstructured data in the form of experience statements. It can also track a wide range of learning activities, such as video viewing, participation in simulations, attending conferences, and more.

Flexibility and Interoperability

  • SCORM was developed at a time when e-learning primarily revolved around course-based content. It offers good interoperability between different LMS systems but has limited flexibility in capturing other learning experiences outside of courses.
  • xAPI is designed to provide more flexibility in capturing learning experiences and can be used in a wide range of learning technologies and environments. It can gather information about both formal and informal learning activities and share data between different systems, such as LMS, LRS, simulations, games, mobile apps, etc.

In Which Cases is SCORM Better and When xAPI?

The choice between SCORM and xAPI depends on the specific needs and requirements of the e-learning project. SCORM and xAPI each have their strengths and are suitable for different situations.

SCORM is often used for:

  • Traditional online courses focused on tracking, monitoring, and managing learning objects. The emphasis is on structured data such as scores, progress, and completion.
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS) that are specifically built around SCORM compatibility. Many LMS systems have built-in support for SCORM.
  • Limited data collection. If you only need basic data like completion, score, and time spent and do not require extensive or unstructured data capture, SCORM may be sufficient. SCORM is less suitable for capturing complex learning experiences.

xAPI is often used in the following cases:

  • Flexible learning experiences: If you want to capture learning experiences that go beyond traditional courses, such as interactions with simulations, games, virtual reality, mobile apps, social media, etc., xAPI offers more flexibility. It can track and capture a wider range of learning activities.
  • Unstructured data: If you need to capture more detailed and unstructured data about learning experiences, such as specific actions, interactions, performance, and experience statements, xAPI is more suitable. xAPI provides the ability to capture events in a flexible and comprehensive manner.
  • Integration and interoperability: If you want to integrate different learning technologies and systems and share data between systems, xAPI is better suited. It can collect information from various sources and share data with a Learning Record Store (LRS), enabling interoperability.


Both SCORM and xAPI are proven techniques for interoperability and compatibility between different e-learning systems. With both techniques, content creators and developers can create and distribute learning modules that can be seamlessly integrated into various LMS platforms.

When considering the application within microlearning, xAPI offers a more advanced and comprehensive approach to tracking learning experiences. SCORM follows a more traditional and standardized approach.

xAPI is more flexible and provides more opportunities to collect essential data that enhances the learning experience. Compared to SCORM, xAPI offers more advantages to fully leverage the power of microlearning.

LesLinq’s Choice for xAPI

LesLinq has chosen to use xAPI for data exchange. This technique is flexible, modern, and offers the best interoperability and compatibility with other systems. xAPI can track and capture a wide range of learning activities and provide insights into learning experiences. In short, it is a powerful technique for a powerful microlearning solution like LesLinq.

More information?

If you’d like to learn more, contact Chris Hof at 0682 077 845 or send us an email. Would you like to see more of our new solution? Schedule an appointment for a demo.