SCORM And AICC Standards – A Comparison

The e-learning bourse is bursting at its seams with LMS softwares, each one trying to create its own niche in the cut-throat competition. Creating your own solution through an assortment of learning objects from different courseware is often the easier option than getting an LMS tailor made for your e-learning needs. This has become possible because of LMS’ that conform to specific standards such as AICC or SCORM.

AICC stands for Aviation Industry CBT (Computer Based Training) Committee, and was formed with an intention to recommend technical specifications for interoperability of the aviation industry content. These standards as defined by the aviation industry have a wide usage both inside and outside the aviation community. AICC is simply a procedure for communication between an LMS and a CBT unit. With both the CBT authoring tools and LMS’ conforming to AICC standards, CBT authors only develop content while tracking and reporting solutions can be developed independently. This standard makes delivery of content possible either through browser based delivery or custom client delivery.

In a way, AICC is the mother of SCORM, since SCORM invariably includes some of its specifications, lately with the addition of some IEEE standards. AICC is now striving hard to update its specifications to appeal to aviation stakeholders as well as to cater to a wider audience, apart form the aviation sector. As the mother of all standards, it is still vouched for by a few vendors, but is losing its sheen in the wake of SCORM encroaching its space, particularly after the US department of state started openly supporting SCORM.

An ellipsis of Sharable Content Object Reference Model, SCORM is a set of applications that allows interoperability, accessibility and reusability for learning modules to be commenced and retrieved by any other LMS using common web browsers. It is the brain child of Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative supported by the government and enjoys sponsorship from the government, industry and education sector. Defining the inter-relationship of various course components, data models, and protocols to allow easy sharing of learning objects, SCORM is the integrated list of standards hailed by varied international specification bodies such as AICC and IEEE. It forms an integrated and homogeneous list of specifications that can be used by e-learning developers. The verification of conformance is done through a test suite.

Comparison between SCORM and AICC
Both SCORM and AICC can be classified as an information exchange procedure about the learner. They both carry the same type of data comprising of the scores, status, bookmarks, and the time spent in the tutorial by the student. The difference lies in the medium of information exchange. For a learner, it hardly matters if the LMS is SCORM or AICC compliant. But, it surely makes a difference to the administrator.

AICC compliant learning modules are structured, and the navigation and tracking back to the LMS is controlled by the learner. Hence, the course content cannot be easily broken up into digestible packets. In contrast, SCORM provides easily manageable learning objects that can be shuffled independently. The LMS helps in navigation between the sharable content objects, while the learner navigates within a single sharable content object. This allows the administrator to create many courses form the SCORM compliant ones by mixing, matching and omitting these sharable learning objects as per need.

The course developer benefits from a SCORM compliant course because of its ability to develop, package and reuse learning objects. Thus, a course developer can purely focus on developing learning objectives while the creation of various courses can be easily done, by simply sequencing them.

Speaking of likeness, SCORM being largely based upon AICC standards, they are similar on many counts, if one ignores the fact that AICC is a bit unclear. Nonetheless, it allows you to have a separate server for the content. SCORM is now unanimously accepted in the e-learning circles. It uses XML to define the course information. With the newer version of SCORM storming the market, it now has a better interoperability.

Impact on e-learning solutions developers
If an organization keen on developing e-learning solutions wants to actually squeeze out the last drop from its investment in content development, it is imperative that the content must be easy to maintain and easily accessible through a range of LMS’. Any LMS should ideally offer a great deal of choice in content development tools. This not only ensures flexibility, but also makes its deployment easier, today and forever. Content development tools that comply to unanimously agreed standards seem to be the only way out.

If you are an LMS vendor or a buyer, the concept of an AICC or SCORM conformant LMS would not be difficult to buy. Vendors will find increased sales of such products, while the buyers will benefit from the compatibility of the learning modules to any learning solutions platform. With AICC standards, having given way to SCORM standards, the choice is obvious.