AICC vs SCORM: Definitions and differences

We’ll provide a quick guide to get you up to speed on AICC. We’ll also explain why it’s such an important concept in the world of e-learning.

By Kasper Spiro on Dec 12th

aicc e-learning

Originally posted December 12, 2017

Anyone working in the e-learning industry has more than likely come across the term “AICC”. Short for the “Aviation Industry Computer-based Training Committee”, AICC is a learning technology specification that helps e-learning courses and systems communicate with each other.

What is AICC for e-learning?

In the late 1980s, the aviation industry was at the cutting edge of e-learning and computer technology. By the early 1990s, it had developed AICC as the world’s first e-learning specification for learning management systems (LMS). Its aim was to promote e-learning while at the same time reducing the cost of digital training.

The main benefit of AICC was that e-learning content could now be hosted and delivered across any compatible learning platform. As a result, AICC-compliant LMS were now able to distribute all types of e-learning content as long as they conformed with AICC standards.

This may sound like a no-brainer these days, but the 1980s and early 1990s were a bit like the Wild West when it came to cross-platform compatibility.

The progress made in those early days as a result of AICC has continued to shape thinking about e-learning software design ever since. The standard itself has spread far beyond the aviation industry. It provided the basis for later specifications. So it is still used by learners across all sectors, whether they’re aware of it or not.

AICC-compliance for e-learning

The AICC specification created a set of detailed guidelines and recommendations called AGRs. These defined what compliance looks like.

The best-known examples are probably AGR-006 and AGR-010. AGR-006 governs all computerized training content, regardless of whether it’s delivered over the internet, the intranet, or even on a disk as would have been fairly common in the early days. Meanwhile, AGR-010 relates specifically to web-based learning content. All e-learning that conforms with these two guidelines will work on any AICC-compliant LMS.

These days, you no longer have to worry about conformance. Content authoring tools will automatically package your content in a way that’s at least AICC-compliant.

What is SCORM?

SCORM is a standard in e-learning that makes it possible to track and trace the results of your learners in an LMS. A course is SCORM-compliant when it meets the requirements of the standard set by the ADL. It makes it possible to create an e-learning course in any authoring environment, run it in any SCORM-compliant LMS, and report your learners results to that LMS.

What is the difference between AICC and SCORM

SCORM and AICC are learning technology interoperability standards that help e-learning courses and LMSs communicate with each other. These standards resolved the vendor lock-in issue that forced LMSs to have their own proprietary content. So, basically one had to use the vendor’s tool to create content that worked with that vendor’s LMS. To resolve this, SCORM/AICC were released to ensure that that content will work on any LMS.

Here are the differences at a glance.

SCORM:

  • Uses Javascript to communicate with an LMS (APU adapter).
  • Is easier to use and has a simpler process to upload e-learning courses to LMS (.zip file).
  • Compliant content is easy to make and doesn’t require programming skills.
  • Allows you to define the rules to pace and control the learner navigation with the course.
  • Can handle tracking the basics like course completions, time spent in courses and assessment scores.
  • 1.3/2004 is the latest version and has a larger adoption in the industry despite its limitations.
  • Offers LMS-only deployment.

AICC:

  • Uses HTTP messages to communicate with an LMS which enables better data security.
  • Has a multi-step process to upload a course to LMS.
  • Is complex and not straightforward to authors without programming background.
  • Is limited when it comes to metrics and tracking.
  • Has become an outdated standard and is losing the support from authoring tools.
  • Offers flexible deployment.

Is AICC still relevant for e-learning?

AICC’s guidelines and regulations formed the basis for SCORM and all other e-learning specifications that came after it. Specifications like xAPI and cmi5 include features that developers could never have imagined 30 years ago. So, is AICC still relevant in today’s e-learning world? It certainly is. Although officially disbanded in 2014, AICC’s legacy survives. Many major organizations still rely on AICC-compliant technologies to drive their e-learning activities. Although SCORM, xAPI, and others have continued to improve standards, let’s definitely spare a thought and a quick thank you to all those early pioneers who introduced AICC to the e-learning industry.

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About the author

Kasper Spiro is the CEO of Easygenerator and a recognized thought leader in the world of e-learning. With over 30 years of experience, he is a frequently asked keynote speaker and well-renowned blogger within the e-learning community.

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