Scorm vs Tin Can (xAPI)

The decision about which content standards to use when producing corporate elearning content will affect the longevity of your content and systems. Whilst SCORM is the most widely used digital learning standard, xAPI opens up a wealth of opportunity for tracking, personalizing and improving learning experiences. We take a look at how they compare…

Scorm vs xapi image

Both SCORM and Tin Can – now more commonly known as xAPI – are communications protocols for tracking learning related activity. They provide a framework and structure to pass data and information between learning content and technologies. But the extent and flexibility to which they SCORM and xAPI are able to do this differs significantly.

What is SCORM?

SCORM (which stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model), was originally developed in 1999.  Back then, elearning content could only be used on one system because different technologies didn’t have a way of speak to one another to pass across information reliably. So, a new protocol was established for tracking learning activity… SCORM.

To explore SCORM in greater detail, check out our detailed guide: What Is SCORM?

SCORM didn’t age well

As a content standard for corporate elearning, SCORM was revolutionary in enabling organizations to deliver and track learning taking place within the LMS. But, today learning happens everywhere – and SCORM doesn’t offer a way to capture this information.

the modern learner

Enter Tin Can (xAPI)…

What is xAPI?

xAPI is a corporate elearning software that collects data tracking and monitoring of the activities of learners. Since its release in April 2013, the Experience API (also known as xAPI or Tin-Can) has knocked SCORM off its long established perch. This API offers a consistent format to capture data.

Like SCORM, xAPI is a protocol for tracking learning related activity. The key difference is that xAPI allows you to track learning in almost any context, not just in the LMS.

xAPI enables the recording, tracking, personalizing and improving of learning activities, both on and offline. It offers a more nuanced picture of how people engage with blended learning experiences. And, xAPI can also be used to make direct links between people’s learning experiences and their on-the-job performance.

As well as being better defined than the SCORM API, xAPI also uses newer technologies. This makes it easier to use, more accessible to developers and more robust.

A real-life example of xAPI: Personalizing training for improved Sales performance

Imagine you want to improve the performance of your sales team by improving close rates. You’d want to know what makes the high performers so successful, and how you can train others to do the same. xAPI can help!

Understanding how to use xAPI gives you the key to unlocking an improved understanding of training success and learner progress. Using xAPI you could pull together data from a range of different sources into your LRS (Learning record store), for example:

Together, these pieces of data can paint the bigger picture, helping you to identify specific training needs. For example, you could trigger a learning intervention based on a rep losing three sales in a row. xAPI helps you to catch potential issues early on.

Check out 3 more examples of xAPI being used to deliver learning with real-life impact.

Two big benefits of xAPI compared to SCORM

  1. xAPI better reflects modern learning experiences that happen anywhere, at any time
  2. xAPI gives richer insights that will allow you to identify and understand learner behavior, and how your learning content is performing and can be improved.

What can you track? xAPI vs SCORM

As mentioned, xAPI enables you to capture a far richer picture of learning taking place than SCORM. The table below gives you an overview.



A single score
Multiple scores
Detailed test results
Games & simulations
Informal learning
Real-world performance
Offline learning
Interactive learning
Adaptive learning
Blended learning
Long-term learning
Team-based learning

Leveraging xAPI in your learning team

xAPI opens up a world of possibilities for delivering people-centered elearning because it gives you the opportunity to much better understand learning behavior and the effectiveness of learning experiences.

Are your learning technologies xAPI enabled?

Modern digital learning technologies, like Elucidat’s authoring platform, are built with xAPI at the heart in order to enable integration with other systems and to support customers in taking a data driven approach to learning. This will enable you to connect the dots and perfect your digital learning strategy.

Making sure your team has the right tools for the job is fundamental.

What would you love to know about your audience?

The chances are you could be getting a whole lot more insight about your learning programs and delivering a whole lot more impact than you do right now.

So, get together with your team and start discussing what additional insight you’d love to have about your learners and learning programs. It’s likely that xAPI can help!

Do you want to make data-driven learning part of your team’s day-to-day?

Download the free Everyday Guide to Learning Analytics – by Lori Niles-Hofmann and Kirstie Greany