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cmi5 Specification

The cmi5 specification was created by the Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee and the ADL Initiative to provide an alternative to the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) set of specifications. The cmi5 specification replicates SCORM® functionality, with the intention of replacing SCORM as the de-facto format of online courses and traditional computer-based training by leveraging the technology benefits of Experience API (xAPI). Cmi5 will play an important role in DoD modernization by facilitating progress from SCORM-based learning management system (LMs)-centric courseware to a distributed learning “ecosystem” that delivers diverse learning opportunities across a range of federated platforms.

Cmi5 impact on the Total Learning Architecture (TLA)

Advanced technologies allow individuals to access learning across numerous organizations, instructional methodologies, technology platforms, and activities. While LMSs continue to be used throughout formal training and education settings, curricula often incorporate many new digital technologies and experiences. The ADL Initiative’s TLA effort defines a set of specifications and standards for connecting these various experiences to one another and throughout an individual’s lifelong continuum of learning.

From a modernization perspective, the cmi5 and xAPI specifications are among the many interdependent components needed to enable the “future learning ecosystem” concept, defined by the TLA. These specifications are used within the TLA to share data in standardized ways with other learning systems, including across various LMSs, competency management systems, third-party certification authorities, or other learning and development systems. The cmi5 specification is used to normalize the data coming from multiple disparate learning experiences in the TLA the same way an LMS uses it to track learner progress from different course activities. As a learner navigates throughout their continuum of learning, the cmi5 specification aligns the definition of key learning events that are associated with any learning activity by using distinct verbs that correspond to specific events.

cmi5 Specification and xAPI

Cmi5 enables the packaging and delivery of distributed learning resources that sit outside of a web-browser (e.g., mobile apps, offline content). It uses xAPI as the communication and data layer but implements controlled vocabularies, which are required for interoperability between LMSs and LMS-like systems. Cmi5 contains a vocabulary model and xAPI Statement patterns that are encapsulated as an xAPI Profile. Beyond the xAPI specification, the cmi5 specification also defines specific interoperability rules for content launch, authentication, session management, reporting, and course structure definition. This is necessary because, while the xAPI specification defines communication between a learning experience and a Learning Record Store, it does not define how online courses are structured or the communication between the learning content and the system hosting that content. Nor does the xAPI specification include authentication protocols to connect the learner to the learning content.


In order to transition into operational use throughout the DoD, a minimally viable cmi5 player reference implementation and a software conformance test suite for cmi5-based content is needed. DoD has not yet acquired cmi5-based content because (a) there is a lack of LMSs and authoring tools that support cmi5, and (b) there is no software conformance test suite for validating whether courseware adheres to the cmi5 specification.

The ADL Initiative is spearheading the cmi5 Advanced Testing Application and Player Underpinning Learning Technologies (CATAPULT) project to facilitate the adoption of the cmi5 specification by making tools available to the DoD to test and validate cmi5 courses. The cmi5 Player serves as a reference implementation for DoD stakeholders. It will be designed as a minimum viable product for prototyping and will allow for effective testing and demonstrating cmi5 courses. The cmi5 Conformance Test Suite software will enable the testing of cmi5 content and software systems that implement the cmi5 data specification, and will provide for independent validation and serve as a predecessor to certification. This project will also support the transition of existing SCORM content to cmi5 content by creating courses to be used as an exemplar implementation. Best-practice documentation will accompany the software and content. The ADL Initiative will make available these free resources, sample courses, and best-practice documentation tailored to DoD adoption of cmi5 for individual use by both DoD components and contractors.


cmi5 Best Practices Guide: From Conception to Conformance
Miller, Brian; Rutherford, Tammy; Pack, Alicia; Vilches, George; Ingram, Jim



Understanding and Applying cmi5 in an xAPI Solution 1:31:02 – May 2021