Why SCORM is More Popular than xAPI

Despite SCORM being quite a dated technology, it still dominates the e-learning market. However, I think this says more about xAPI/Tin Can API than it does SCORM.

There are many reasons for SCORM‘s continued dominance that deserve discussion, but in my opinion the one often overlooked component is the marketing efforts (or lack thereof) for xAPI. It really is a great example of better technology not realizing its potential because it lacks a comprehensive marketing direction.

First off, it can’t be overlooked that xAPI has two names (xAPI & Tin Can API). The “xAPI” moniker is the shortened version fo “Experience API”. So yeah, more confusion.

People may brush this aside but as a business owner myself I really can’t imagine trying to push a product that has two different names. It doesn’t make any sense. As a result, this naming conflict has immediately split the e-learning industry. It makes xAPI even more confusing to corporate decision makers.

SCORM went through a number of iterations over the years and developed a strong brand presence. This should have been leveraged.

It could have been as simple as calling xAPI something like “SCORM 2.0” or “SCORM xAPI”. Branding problem solved. Instead of competing against the SCORM “brand name”, we’d be leveraging it to progress a better e-learning standard.

Unfortunately our industry grossly underestimated the SCORM market presence when choosing the naming convention, and it became even more convoluted when two names came about because of political reasons.

I don’t see SCORM going anywhere due to the stranglehold it has in our industry. At this point it’s all about educating organizations about the advantages of xAPI and how it can do everything SCORM does, and then some.


Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Twitter | LinkedIn

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