While designing and developing digital content, the learning management systems (LMS) must comply with specific eLearning interface standards. The eLearning interface standards ensure that the content can be accessed using various devices and deployed on multiple systems. Both Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) and Tin Can API/Experience API/xAPI are widely used eLearning interface standards. SCORM is a mature eLearning interface standard, while Experience API is often described as the successor to SCORM.

Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)

SCORM is currently more widely used than other eLearning interface standards. SCORM was developed by the US military as an eLearning interoperability standard to keep eLearning courses portable and interoperable. At present, SCORM is the most preferred international standard for designing and developing digital courses. As a collection of standards and specifications, SCORM defines the way digital courses must be designed to work seamlessly with SCORM-compliant LMS.

According to Scorm.com,

SCORM, which stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model, is a set of technical standards for eLearning software products. SCORM tells programmers how to write their code so that it can “play well” with other eLearning software. It is the de-facto industry standard for eLearning interoperability. Specifically, SCORM governs how online learning content and Learning Management Systems (LMSs) communicate with each other.

In addition to keeping eLearning materials interoperable, SCORM helps administrators to improve the quality of the eLearning materials by recording a slew of important information.

  • Course progress
  • Course completion status
  • Number of times a course is accessed by learners
  • The amount of time spent by a learner on each screen
  • Assessment scores along with points and percentages

Tin Can API/Experience API/xAPI

Experience API is a new-age eLearning interface standard developed by a private company – Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL). Experience API was designed with the objective to address some of the major shortcomings of SCORM. It is often described as the eLearning interface standard that will succeed SCORM. Tin Can API records and tracks a slew of information that helps administrators to understand the learning behavior and assess the learning experience of learners.

According to Wikipedia,

The Experience API (xAPI) is an e-learning software specification that allows learning content and learning systems to speak to each other in a manner that records and tracks all types of learning experiences. Learning experiences are recorded in a Learning Record Store (LRS). LRSs can exist within traditional learning management systems (LMSs) or on their own.

Experience API is designed with features to track and record learning experiences occurring on various devices – desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. Also, it tracks a wide range of learning activities.

  • Offline learning
  • Mobile learning
  • Gamified learning
  • Experiential learning
  • Collaborative learning
  • Responsive learning
  • Simulations

Now that we have an understanding of both the Scorm API and the Tin Can API, let’s try to understand the difference between Scorm vs Tin Can API.

SCORM vs Tin Can API: A Brief Comparison


The design goal of SCORM focuses on making learners access web-based content from varying sources using a single LMS system. It primarily tracks online content and activities. Many learners these days access eLearning content offline. SCORM was not developed with features to track offline content and activities as it communicates with the LMS. But Experience API was designed based on the theory that learning can happen anywhere. It tracks content and experience by communicating with a learning records store (LRS) instead of a learning management system. An LRS can be used as a standalone program as well as embedded in an LMS. Hence, Experience API, unlike SCORM, can track additional activities and experiences.


While comparing SCORM and experience API, one will feel like comparing a landline phone with a smartphone. Both eLearning interface standards deliver a number of common features like completion tracking, time tracking, pass/fail to track, and single score tracking. But Experience API, unlike SCROM, delivers additional features that help administrators to track platform transition, multiple scores, serious games, offline learning, mobile learning, blended learning, adaptive learning, team-based learning, long-term learning, advanced simulations. The additional features make many LMS developers switch from SCORM to Experience API.

Mobile Learning

A large percentage of learners these days access eLearning content on their smartphones. Also, they explore ways to save data charged by accessing the eLearning content offline. Unlike SCORM, Experience API tracks learning experiences occurring outside the LMS and without internet connectivity. Hence, the digital course creators can use Experience API to create a wide range of eLearning content that learners can access on smartphones without using a browser. At the same time, learners can acquire knowledge and collect additional resources from varying online sources using their smartphones.


Experience API will not make SCORM obsolete in the near future. The training providers will opt for SCROM while using LMS to deliver and manage eLearning content. Likewise, SCORM makes it easier for educational institutions to build a robust digital library of learning objects, using existing eLearning content in multiple contexts, and monitor the performance of individual learners. At the same time, the educational institutions should choose Experience API to monitor employee performance, track offline activities of learners, allow learners to switch devices, and monitor activities and experiences of groups of students.


Version 1.0 of Experience API was released in 2013. But xAPI has been evolving consistently since its initial release. The most recent version 1.0.3 of Experience API was released in October 2016. But the last major version of SCORM was released in 2004. That is why; the most recent version of SCORM lacks the capability to track offline and mobile learning experiences of students. That is why; the number of LMS developers switching from SCORM to Experience API has been increasing steadily.

In addition to being the de facto eLearning interface standard, SCORM is also supported by a higher number of LMS than Tin Can API. But Tin Can API is considered as the successor to SCORM. In addition to addressing some of the major shortcomings of SCORM, Experience API records and tracks a set of additional learning experiences. The LMS must be compatible with Experience API to remain relevant in the longer run.

Now that you have got the idea of SCORM vs Tin Can API, let us know what do you think by putting comments.

About Mintbook:

At Mintbook, we provide a highly flexible and scalable LMS platform to take care of all your learning needs. The users also have the option to integrate the multilingual LMS with a robust digital library consisting of the content in many languages.