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Cmi5: What is it and why do you need it? Cmi5 vs. SCORM

Just when you thought e-learning technology couldn’t get any more sophisticated after the roll-out of Experience API (or xAPI), along comes cmi5. But what is cmi5, this new specification, and do you need it? Let’s find out. 

Kasper Spiro
cmi5 lms

What is cmi5?

The world of e-learning roughly knows two standards: SCORM and xAPI, which was initially named Tin Can. But xAPI offered so many possibilities, that it needed a set of rules to be able to have focus and impact. That set of rules is what we now call cmi5. Short for “computer-managed instruction”, it is able of tracking learners results, just like SCORM.  

cmi5 vs SCORM

SCORM and xAPI are probably the best-known format options for tracing and tracking learners’ results. Developed in 1999, SCORM provided the first protocol for tracking learning activity across platforms. SCORM-compliant content became trackable across any LMS that supported it. A big problem with SCORM, however, was that courses could only be done by students located in the area of the servercmi5 solves that: learners don’t have to be in the same location to take a course – they don’t even have to be online. cmi5 can track sources outside the LMS, like apps, social learning, and more. The same goes for tracking their learning. They can take courses offline, and cmi5 will send data to the LMS once there is an internet connection. 

cmi5 vs xAPI

Like SCORM, xAPI is a learning protocol that allows you to track learning-related activity. Unlike its predecessor, it can track learning in pretty much any context. xAPI’s ability to follow informal learning and capture activities outside the LMS made it particularly popular with L&D teams. It provided them with a detailed picture of a learner’s experience. But although xAPI allows you to collect an enormous amount of data, it isn’t structured enough to decide what type of content should go inside an LMS. This is precisely where cmi5 now takes the stage. Cmi5 is a set of rules that adds more structure to xAPI and for LMS. 

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The benefits of cmi5

Cmi5 combines the capabilities of SCORM and xAPI to offer a more complete specification. Acting as the bridge between LRS and LMS, cmi5 has several major advantages. 

Learn more about the differences between LRS and LMS.

Next-generation framework

Cmi5 was designed on the back of xAPI with the latest generation of e-learning in mind. This makes it more lightweight, efficient and scalable. Using superior technology, cmi5 can be used across different platforms, browsers, and devices. 

Simplified specification

In so many ways, cmi5 picks up where SCORM and xAPI left off with a simpler model for data tracking. Thanks to cmi5’s inter-operability, content creators no longer have to worry about compatibility between different learning units and LMS. True to its name, cmi5 creates a truly seamless, computer-managed experience. 

Global access to content

SCORM specifies that all content must be hosted along with the LMS on the same domain. This makes it less than ideal for sharing content across different geographic locations. Cmi5 provides a more global solution. It allows you to import course structures onto the LMS while the material may be hosted elsewhere. Once you have a content delivery network in place, learners have easy access to content wherever they are. 

Conclusion: cmi5 is the best of both worlds

Despite making SCORM look like a thing of the past, xAPI has its limitations. Especially when it comes to determining which content to contain in an LMS. But by combining the structure of SCORM with the tracking capabilities of xAPI, cmi5 provides the best of both worlds. It adds a powerful dimension to your LMS. 


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About the author

Kasper Spiro is the Co-founder and Chief learning strategist 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.