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Harvey Singh
Harvey Singh

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An Introduction to cmi5: Implementing the Next-gen eLearning Interoperability within the LMS

cmi5 is a new standard for eLearning content and LMSs (Learning Management Systems) that simultaneously provides the capabilities of xAPI and SCORM.

It was developed by the Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (AICC) and the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative as an alternative to the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) set of specifications.

cmi5 uses a similar methodology applied by SCORM in determining how resources of an Online Learning Platform are imported, launched, and tracked within LMSs.

At the same time, it deploys xAPI as the communication and data layer while implementing controlled vocabularies. Controlled vocabularies are necessary for the interoperability between Learning Management Systems(LMSs) and LMS-like systems.

This article will be using some acronyms and jargon that are likely to confuse many uninitiated readers.

So, before we continue focusing the spotlight on cmi5, we would briefly describe some of the acronyms and jargon.

Here it goes:

SCORM: The Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) was initially released by the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL)  in 2001. It underwent a significant revision in 2004 and is one most used for LMS to content communication.

xAPI:The ADL released the Experience API (xAPI) in 2013 as the first component in ADL's Training and Learning Architecture. xAPI is used to communicate data about learner activities within both online and offline learning without course content or any learning experience.

xAPI is simple, extensible yet powerful specification that facilitates the ability to share learner activity data across systems

Learning Management System: An LMS is a software-based platformthat expedites the management, delivery, and measurement of e-learning programs. It is one of the critical components of an e-learning strategy.

E-Learning Interoperability: This refers to how digital learning tools intersect with other components outside a particular e-learning environment. Now that some terms are easier to understand, read on to find out why cmi5 was developed.

LRS: A Learning Record Store (LRS) may be built within a Learning Management System or it may be a separate system that stores all the learner activities tracked through the xAPI such as course view or completion and much more.

Why was cmi5 developed?

Cmi5 was developed to achieve the following:

Interoperability: This is one of the main reasons for its development. It was created to work in the same manner across LMS systems that support it. It supports the ability to import only the course structure and not the actual content. 

This allows the content to be located behind a firewall or as an app on a mobile device, among other options. This is a critical improvement over ADL’s previous, widely used, specification called SCORM.

Extensibility: cmi5 enables unlimited data tracking. It also supports extensions since it is also based on xAPI.This way, users can share data across several Assignable Units in addition to tracking videos, pictures, and audio clips and much more

Mobile Support: cmi5 was designed for mobile support; hence it's a base communication mechanism that is built to handle mobile devices, and learning resources provisioned through mobile apps.

What does cmi5 Affords Users?

Here are some of the benefits you get from cmi5:

  1. You can store content defined data
  2. It supports the sharing across content
  3. You can assess a content-defined launch mechanism
  4. You have assessed to distributed content

How does the cmi5 specification work?

The cmi5 specification contains xAPI Profile, so it inherits the requirements mandated by the xAPI specification in addition to those included in the associated xAPI Profile.

As such, cmi5 contains a simple course structure which permits the sequencing of learning activities. It outlines the roll-up rules that decide how a digital learning activity intersects learners' performance with other learning activities (LMSs, for example).

The use of xAPI specification in cmi5 is key to the way cmi5 functions because they define how performance metrics can be standardized and generally interpreted by other systems. Fully grasping the significance of xAPI to cmi5 operation will require a short detour to describe the xAPI specification.

The xAPI specification is a data representation of a learning activity stream mostly made up of Statements or machine-readable actor-verb-object triplets. It is designed to enable the collection and storage of performance information from a wide range of learning activities.

This is mostly done by depending on further usage constraints and definitions from xAPI Profiles instead of domain vocabularies.

How cmi5 Enables Next-generation Implementation of e-Learning Interoperability within the Learning Management Systems

The cmi5 specification enables interoperability within LMSs in the following ways:

Controlled vocabularies: The cmi5 specification is comprised of an archive of sorts that contains defined verbs that include learner actions that apply to all learning activities. They develop the messages in the SCORM runtime environment before being communicated back to the LMS.

The cmi5 specification permits the use of xAPI verbs that are delimited to the tracking of data by an organization chooses to track.

Content portability: It can also define how to launch and interact with content by creating a means of packaging, launching, and bookmarking learning experiences.

Extensibility: In today's digitized world, learning activities are no longer limited to browsers; neither are they stored in centralized repositories that are connected to the LMS. The cmi5 course structure format can store different content and learner interactions. This capability is further enriched by those of the xAPI specification that it is built on.

Consequently, the extensibility of cmi5 allows for a spectrum of unrelated learning activities, augmented and virtual reality applications, and other forms of instrumented activities to be sequenced into a software of instruction.

The cmi5 specification facilitates interoperability in the delivery of distributed content by utilizing a launch Uniform Resource Locator (URL) that has parameters for web services communication.

The URL can function without a browser, while the content can be located in diverse domains and delivery platforms. LRS systems are responsible for storing and retrieving cmi5 statements. This is because cmi5 conformance must include conformance to xAPI too.


Implementing cmi5 specification in next-generation e-learning will allow for the introduction of granular insights into learning and development by evaluating more detailed learning outcome data.

The cmi5 specification has xAPI-based data model that provides a tool for tracking learner performance across an assortment of learning activities. Its data model also allows learning-related decisions to be made based on performance, as against a single pass or fail data point.

Besides, it is also comprised of rules for content launch, authentication, session management, reporting, and course structure definition. The implementation of cmi5 will allow the synthesis and analysis of hitherto challenging visualizations.

Instancy Learning Management System (iLMS) enables you to import and launch Cmi5 and Experience API-based content, pull data from the iLRS dynamically, and view learning progress reports and dashboards. To set up a demo, please click

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