cmi5: What it is and why you need it

Right when you thought e-learning technology couldn’t get any more sophisticated after the roll-out of Experience API (or xAPI), along comes cmi5.

By Kasper Spiro on Nov 28th

cmi5 lms

Originally posted February 21, 2018.

Short for “computer-managed instruction”, cmi5 is a specification for e-learning and tracking. It bridges the gap between learning management systems (LMS) and learning record stores (LRS).

An upgrade from SCORM and xAPI

SCORM and xAPI are probably the best-known format options for tracing and tracking learners’ results out there.

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.

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 and how it differs

Cmi5 combines the capabilities of SCORM and xAPI. Rather than having to choose between the interoperability of SCORM and the flexibility of xAPI, cmi5 offers both.

Acting as the bridge between LRS and LMS, cmi5 has several major advantages:

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.


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 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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