SCORM is the most widely used eLearning standard. If an LMS is SCORM conformant, then it can play any SCORM content, and conversely any SCORM content can be played in any SCORM conformant LMS. This interoperability makes everybody happy, and saves everyone a lot of time and money.

SCORM has served us well, but it really doesn’t capture the entire picture of eLearning.

Learning is happening everywhere, not just in traditional SCORM courses inside traditional LMSs. xAPI lets you record any learning experience, wherever and however it happens. xAPI gives you the ability to see the whole picture. While xAPI Statements can capture all kinds of data, it becomes challenging for systems to extrapolate and analyze that data in a meaningful way without a defined vocabulary and instructions

cmi5 bridges that gap by having xAPI’s tracking flexibility while maintaining the structure of SCORM that learning technologies and systems have relied upon.

So what are the differences between SCORM, xAPI and cmi5?

The chart below sums it up pretty well.

Defined content launch

SCORM and cmi5 have defined instructions for content launch. xAPI does not include instructions for launching content in an LMS. 

Track “anything”

SCORM is constrained to a defined set of data elements. xAPI and cmi5 allow for developer-defined data elements.

Normalized reporting

cmi5 establishes rules for statements to include learner session identifiers so that statements can be more easily grouped for normalized reports.

Mobile applications

SCORM cannot track mobile applications natively and is limited to a browser context. cmi5 and xAPI allow mobile access to an LMS through a web browser directly using the LMS, mobile application embedding a web browser or a mobile application using native UI components. 

Distributed content

All SCORM content must reside on the same server or domain as the LMS. Content can be located anywhere with cmi5.

*While xAPI doesn’t define a content packaging standard, it supports the concept of a learning activity residing anywhere.

Data portability

SCORM data is collected and stored within the LMS. With xAPI and cmi5, data can be shared across systems.


Any learning data can be captured with xAPI and cmi5. The LMS uses a conformant LRS to support both. With an LRS, you can build a learning ecosystem beyond the LMS and easily connect to other systems.

Normalized completion criteria

cmi5 establishes interoperable rules for determining completion/mastery of learning activities. xAPI has no defined satisfaction criteria.

Multiple lesson support

cmi5 packages allow for multiple AUs in a defined hierarchy with criteria for progression, much as SCORM does with multiple SCOs.

More cmi5 and xAPI benefits

cmi5 focuses on being more extensible, robust and adaptable to today’s technologies than SCORM, including having all the xAPI benefits and tracking modern technologies while maintaining interoperability across systems. Read about cmi5 benefits.

xAPI opens up a world of data that can be shared with, and received from, other tools, which everyone benefits from. View the benefits of xAPI.

Want to learn more about the standards?

If you have questions about when to use SCORM, cmi5 or xAPI, we’re here to help. Ask us anything. Really.