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.

Author

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 | Clarity | LinkedIn

1 Response

  1. I agree that the name confusion for xAPI confuses. Since a private company was hired by ADL specifically to improve marketing and adoption of xAPI that it would be more consistent.

    However, I think not calling it SCORM 2.0 or some form thereof was very intentional. The experts will be quick to tell you that xAPI is NOT the next generation of SCORM. It’s scope and functionality are entirely different. They wanted you to know that unlike going from SCORM 1.2 to 2004, this was not just a few added features; it was something new and different.

    Still, I see more and more people checking into xAPI and inquiring about moving over to it. But it’s comparable to the move to Rapid Development Tools – many managers were convinced they needed to do it but were not entirely sure why or what it really meant.

    I think the writing is on the wall that within the next couple of years SCORM will still be part of a learning management strategy, just not the whole strategy. xAPI will be a big part of it as well.

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