Recently, we took part in LTDX and participated in 2 live panel discussions covering the what and how when it comes to learning ecosystems. Thankfully, I had some help from our sister companies where we covered the gamut from content creation to learner experience, distribution, delivery, and ultimately, measurement. Below are some of the Q&As that came up during these sessions, specifically around the core learning tech that often runs behind the scenes of a healthy learning ecosystem.

How do you integrate various business units to connect under one structured learning framework, considering their different competency needs and LMS preferences?

Taking inventory of the systems, tools and requirements for all stakeholders is important to address early in the design of your ecosystem. Before you can talk about integration, you need to know what tools are in play and their role in your overall framework. When it comes to integration, determine what elements are shared across LMSs or business units. Often this is content that multiple business units might share and the results or data collected by each LMS that might need to be shared across other systems. Compatibility across systems is important to make sure content can be played in each system and that the data output is consistent.

In a flexible learning ecosystem, what is the relationship between xAPI and SSO? Do we still need SSO to ensure learners can access all different systems with a single login?

Yes—Single Sign On (SSO) or some type of user authentication is still necessary. SSO is highly recommended to make it as easy as possible for learners to access the right tool and training at the right time to help remove any barriers for learner adoption. xAPI is the standard used to track and capture activity from the systems users are accessing.

Related to xAPI, SSO is going to play the role of identifying the learner or “Actor” in the xAPI statement. It’s important to keep in mind that the learner identifier or persona might vary across systems (e.g. email address or user ID). xAPI includes the concept of Agent Profiles to help solve for this.

Is xAPI now taking hold as the current industry standard for digital learning media, or is SCORM still the dominant standard across most ecosystems?

This is a question we hear often. xAPI is certainly gaining adoption across the learning industry as more tools and courseware are leveraging the flexibility that xAPI offers, particularly when it comes to data collection and transmission. However SCORM is still very prevalent and relevant in the eLearning space. It is the standard most commonly supported by the content and systems today and continues to serve a purpose for certain types of training.

We encourage you to use the right tool for the job, which includes the standards. Consider how users will access the content (e.g. launch from an LMS) and what data you need to collect. For example, if you have an existing SCORM-based compliance course that your LMS handles, there might not be a need to convert it to xAPI (or cmi5—more on that in a bit). If you simply need to know who has completed the course and how they answered certain questions, SCORM can do the job. But if you want to capture more detailed information or need to move the data into another system like a learning analytics platform, xAPI is a better path.

If you want to dive deeper into this topic to determine when to use xAPI vs SCORM, our ‘Between Two Standards’ webinar is a great place to start.

What is cmi5 and how does it compare xAPI? Where does it fit in the learning ecosystem?

I was so happy to see this question as awareness of cmi5 continues to increase! First off, cmi5 is a specification profile for xAPI that is intended for use when launching xAPI activities from an LMS. cmi5 originated from the AICC and was transferred to ADL in 2014. ADL currently acts as the steward for supporting and continuous development of cmi5. Rustici Software is currently developing tools and a test suite with ADL to aid in the adoption of cmi5, known as Project CATAPULT.

When it comes to learning ecosystems, cmi5 will play an important role to help bridge the gap between SCORM and xAPI. It allows the best of both worlds—the flexibility and expressiveness that xAPI supports, but with the structure and rules needed when delivering or launching xAPI based activities through more traditional platforms, like an LMS.

What are some of the common elements of a learning ecosystem? Can you clarify the abbreviations and acronyms?

We use a lot of acronyms in the world of eLearning, so it’s always good to remind folks what they stand for. Here are a few of the acronyms I mentioned in my presentation for easy reference.

  • LMS—Learning Management System
  • LCMS—Learning Content Management System
  • LXP/LEP—Learning Experience Platform/ Learning Engagement Platform
  • TMS—Talent Management System
  • HCMS—Human Capital Management System
  • LRS—Learning Record Store

While we’re at it, I’m also including the Standards related acronyms.

  • SCORM—Sharable Content Object Reference Model
  • xAPI—Experience Application Programming Interface
  • cmi5—Computer Managed Instruction
  • CATAPULT—cmi5 Advanced Testing Application and Player Underpinning Learning Technologies

Want to learn more?

If you want to dig into the details of building out a learning ecosystem, check out some of our handy resources or reach out.

Tammy knew what SCORM was several years before joining Rustici Software, and she’s not even a standards geek. She’s the Managing Director and leads our company with a passionate commitment to caring for our people and customers. She’s also an Iron(wo)Man many times over.