Introduction to e-learning standards: What are they and why are they important?

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If you’re new to the world of e-learning, chances are you have come across the term “e-learning standards” or more concrete acronyms like SCORM, ADL, and AICC. While they might seem intimidating to someone who is unfamiliar with their meaning, it’s essential to understand them if you want to create high-quality e-learning content. 

Below, we explore what e-learning standards are, along with their purpose and some of the most common standards in the industry.

What are standards?

In order to understand what e-learning standards are, it’s first important to look at what a standard is in general. A standard can be defined as a norm or pattern that establishes the correct way of doing something

Standardization is not a new concept; the Romans standardized the bricks they used for constructing buildings so that different manufacturers could be integrated into their constructions. Nowadays, standards exist for all kinds of things, from manufacturing shoes to education, and they can be applied to any industry, including e-learning. 

What are e-learning standards?

E-learning standards are a set of guidelines that must be applied when developing online training content. In other words, they are the rules to follow when creating e-learning courses in order to make high-quality content that achieves real results.

However, there has never been a uniform approach to their usage, despite the fact that many organizations already use them. This means there many different standards exist within the e-learning industry which is why they can be so complicated to understand. In order to select the standards that best apply to your company, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some of the most commonly used. 

What are the objectives of e-learning standards? 

E-learning standards aim to make sure different platforms, technologies and content work seamlessly together. By adhering to these standards, the online teaching and learning process becomes more effective, accessible, and scalable. E-learning standards have many purposes, including interoperability, reusability, durability, accessibility, and scalability. 

  • Interoperability

Achieving interoperability means that different online education platforms and systems can work and interact seamlessly together. This makes educational resources easy to share across different platforms and means training managers don’t have to sacrifice functionality or quality in the process.

  • Reusability

When learning materials are designed and developed following certain standards, they can be structured in a way that allows companies to reuse them in different contexts. Reusability maximizes time and resources, by covering a range of learning objectives with the same content. 

  • Durability

E-learning standards also aim to guarantee that content lasts over time. This involves ensuring that learning materials are compatible with future updates and emerging technologies to ensure it’s relevant in years to come. 

  • Accessibility

Another key objective of e-learning standards is accessibility, which means providing educational content to everyone, regardless of their abilities or limitations. Standards like WCAG ensure that content is accessible to people with hearing, visual, motor, or cognitive impairments.

  • Scalability

Lastly, scalability refers to how well systems and platforms can adapt to growing demand. Scalable software and content should be able to extend beyond its original scope to accommodate more learners.  

Common e-learning standards: An overview

Currently, there are various e-learning standards compatible with different course creation platforms and learning management systems. Each of them has its pros and cons which is why your choice should be based around your organization’s specific training objectives. 

AICC

The Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (AICC) is a significant reference for compatibility between content and learning management systems. Although it originated in the aviation industry to standardize technologies and materials used for employee training, it defines how learning content communicates with the LMS. Despite having been around for a while, AICC is still used in many organizations on account of the security and flexibility it offers.  

xAPI

Experience API, also known as Tin Can API, is another important standard in the e-learning world. Developed by the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative of the U.S. Department of Defense, xAPI allows tracking and recording of student learning experiences across various contexts and devices. xAPI is flexible, modern, and compatible with mobile, social, and real-world activities.  

LTI

Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) was developed by IMS Global Learning Consortium to enable the integration of external tools and applications within an LMS. LTI facilitates the connection and data exchange between different learning platforms, allowing educators and students to access additional resources and third-party teaching tools without leaving the main LMS environment.

SCORM

Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is one of the most popular and widely adopted e-learning standards. Like xAPI, it was also developed by ADL and defines technical specifications and rules for creating online learning content compatible with different LMSs. The main objective of SCORM is to facilitate the reuse of educational content across different platforms. This standard tracks and stores data about student experiences, including when they accessed content, how much time they spent, and their scores, in any compatible LMS. If you want to know more about SCORM, check out this article

Is it essential to work with e-learning standards?

E-learning standards play a crucial role in the success of online education. As we have seen, they can enable more effective and accessible learning experiences for both training managers and students. If you aim to develop high-quality content with these advantages in mind, working in line with e-learning standards is an essential consideration.  

Now that you understand what e-learning standards are and are familiar with some of the most common ones, it’s time to start creating outstanding e-learning courses. isEazy offers innovative e-learning solutions for any training need. Find the perfect tool for your project or combine them for extraordinary results.

Sara De la Torre

CONTENT CREATED BY:

Sara De la Torre

Content Marketing Manager at isEazy

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