What is AICC Compliance

A Guide to AICC Compliant eLearning: Best Practices

The Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (or AICC), was a nonprofit organization formed to help aviation industry trainers leverage technology.

In 1993, it convened to develop a common technical standard to drive training course development. This was an important step that enabled a company’s learning management systems (LMS) to communicate with course content and accelerated the standardization of digital training content. The AICC technical standard was soon applied to and adopted by trainers and learning and development teams across a wide array of industries and sectors.

What Are AICC Standards?

Before we go any further, let’s take a step back: What exactly is a technical standard to begin with? The compact disc, or CD, is a good example. CDs were manufactured according to a common technical standard, which allowed all CDs to be played in any CD player. This ensured devices and CDs spoke the same “language” and could communicate with each other.

Just like a CD, trainers need their online training content to seamlessly communicate and interact with their company’s LMS. For example, AICC communicates with an LMS via HTTP messages and using the HTTP AICC Communication Protocol (HACP). Standardization enables trainers to easily design an AICC-compliant learning module within their authoring tool and upload it to an LMS that their employees can access instantly, anytime, anywhere, and with any device. To be considered AICC-compliant, a given training course must be designed in accordance with at least one of the nine AICC guidelines and recommendations.

By the end of the 20th century, interoperability was still a problem in the training industry, despite AICC. The lack of “reusability” was also a concern; if you had a graph that you wanted to feature in multiple courses or modules, you had to upload it and format it separately each time, which was a terribly inefficient process.

In the late 1990s, the United States Department of Defense thought these issues were of such importance that it funded the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative. ADL would build on AICC’s work, developing common coding standards and specifications exclusively for the online training sector.

In 2001, their work culminated in the development of SCORM, or Sharable Content Object Reference Model. A technical standard governing development and delivery of online training courses and content, SCORM allowed for easy reuse of “shareable content” (think video and animation) and soon became the most popular technical standard throughout government and across multiple industries. SCORM provided a more rigorous standard that addressed AICC’s weaknesses, emphasizing interoperability, reusability, and efficiency.

AICC Today

The original AICC may no longer be the go-to standard but it won’t disappear anytime soon. In fact, it remains an important consideration for companies that are looking to invest in an LMS to administer their training programs. If some of your company’s training manuals and materials were originally formatted for AICC, then be sure to select an AICC LMS that is also SCORM-compliant. In order to be considered SCORM-compliant, eLearning courses must meet key standards; for example, they must be designed to integrate seamlessly with JavaScript Application Programming Interface.

The most prevalent technical standards in online training are probably SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004. Nonetheless, AICC isn’t going away anytime soon. As long as there are legacy training materials in circulation, companies will have a need for AICC-compliant courses and an AICC-compliant LMS. In the long run, however, it will likely be replaced by SCORM or an even newer standard.


So what are the key differentiators when looking at AICC vs SCORM?

One of the big differences between is that SCORM-compliant content can be easily reused, copied, and transferred to other pages and eLearning modules. For example, if you have a training program featuring 10 courses and would like each course to have the same leadership video at the introduction, you don’t need to separately add the video to each course. Instead, you can simply insert the video into the first course and copy it into the other nine courses.

Another difference between AICC and SCORM is how they interact with your learning management system. As mentioned above, AICC communicates by sending HTTP messages to your LMS while SCORM uses JavaScript. While AICC employs HACP, SCORM relies on an application program interface (API) to facilitate communication between training content and the LMS. When you export SCORM content from eLearning software, a zipped folder of files and information is packaged for uploading and recognition by the learning management system that delivers it.

AICC may now be considered old school but it still has a role to play in eLearning. In fact, because it uses HTTPS to transfer data to an LMS, it is considered the more secure option. On the other hand, one of the downsides to AICC is that, unlike SCORM, it doesn’t allow trainers to track employee progress and course completion rates. Creating and uploading SCORM-compliant courses tends to be easier and requires little to no programming or technical knowledge. And unlike AICC, most LMS providers accommodate SCORM content, which makes it easier to transfer or integrate systems. While SCORM allows self-directed learning and customized learning paths, it does not allow employees to learn out of sequence once they have begun a path. Another disadvantage is that SCORM doesn’t allow offline learning; you need an internet connection and an LMS in order to launch it.

Preparing for the Future

Over time, SCORM became the de facto technical standard for members of the eLearning community. But today it shares that stage with Experience API, or xAPI (formerly known as Tin Can), which can integrate data culled from users’ offline and online training experiences.

The compliance successor to AICC is known as CMI-5. When AICC disbanded in 2014, the ADL Initiative assumed responsibility for sustaining CMI-5. What will the fate of AICC training be? Some users consider it a dead standard, but as long as companies continue using legacy training materials, it won’t be obsolete. If your company fits this profile and is investing in an LMS, make sure that your LMS is both AICC- and SCORM-compliant.

Book a demo today to learn how the World Manager LMS makes it easy for your trainers to upload AICC- and SCORM-compliant content and courses. Contact Us today!

Disclaimer: This information is meant to provide general guidelines and should be used as a reference. It may not take into account all relevant local, state or federal laws and is not a legal document. Neither the author nor World Manager will assume any legal liability that may arise from the use of this information.

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