Just What Are SCORM and AICC?


If you’ve been involved with elearning design and development, then you’ve probably been introduced to a number of acronyms and initialisms: CBT (computer-based training), WBT (web-based training), LMS (learning management system), RLO (reusable learning object), and more. But what about SCORM and AICC?

Elearning software uses technical standards to determine how online learning content and LMSs interact with each other.

SCORM and AICC are probably the most unrecognized acronyms of them all—and the hardest to explain. Let’s take a moment to break them down.

Elearning software uses technical standards to determine how online learning content and LMSs interact with each other. This creates interoperability between modules published using these standards and compliant LMSs.

The basic concept of these technical standards is that you can build a compliant module in an authoring program, post it to a compliant LMS, and voilà! All of your content, data, and protocols show up as a functioning elearning module! This often happens without your knowledge because they are included as authoring program features.

The two most common technical standards are AICC and SCORM.


Understanding AICC and SCORM Elearning Standards

What Is AICC?

The Aviation Industry CBT Committee (AICC) is an international non-profit association of technology professionals. When a course is AICC-compliant, it means that it complies with at least one of the nine AICC Guidelines and Recommendations (AGRs). You do not have to be developing courses for the aviation industry to use this technical standard.

What Is SCORM?

SCORM stands for “Sharable Content Object Reference Model.” It was developed by the United States Department of Defense through the Advanced Distributed Learning initiative, which was established in 1997. SCORM content (modules) and systems (LMSs) are accessible, durable, interoperable, and reusable.

Okay, So What Does This All Mean?

Let’s look at an analogy to better understand the importance of technical standards.

Compact discs (CDs) were manufactured using a set of standards. When you purchased a CD, you knew it would play in your old CD player regardless or the type or brand you had. You could put that CD into the player in your car or your laptop, and it would play. If these standards didn’t exist, CDs wouldn’t have been able to play in just any CD player. They would have had to be formatted differently to fit each type and brand of player.

Standards like SCORM and AICC ensure that elearning courses and LMSs communicate properly with each other, just like standards for CD formatting ensure that all CDs work across CD players.*

The leading elearning authoring tools (Adobe Captivate, Articulate Studio, Articulate Storyline) allow for publishing to fit SCORM and AICC. Most LMSs accept courses published in both.

Visit Advanced Distributed Learning to learn more about SCORM.

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*Source: Example adapted from scorm.com

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