If you’ve ever participated in or helped create an eLearning course, you might be familiar with the term “SCORM” or Shareable Content Object Reference Model.” Have you ever thought about what the term means and how it relates to eLearning and LMS?
The term plays a significant role in both LMS and eLearning. This aswers the question ‘what is SCORM’ and explains what SCORM means to these learning platforms.
What Is SCORM?
Shareable Content Object Reference Model is what SCORM is abbreviated as. It is a method of configuring an e-learning course so that it may be used with any LMS (as long as the LMS is SCORM-compliant, of course). In the same way that DVDs are standardized so that any DVD player can read them, SCORM establishes the uniform set-up that allows e-learning to be read by any LMS. This is analogous to how DVDs are manufactured.
SCORM is responsible for regulating three distinct aspects: run-time, sequencing, and content packaging.
How a piece of material is physically delivered is determined by how it is packaged and presented. SCORM is a standard that outlines the precise manner in which educational material should be organized within its file so that it may be effectively launched, understood, and tracked.
The run-time communication or data exchange outlines how the learning object “conversates” with the learning management system. Instructions like “request the learner’s name” and “inform the LMS that the learner got 85% on this exam” are sent between the learning material and the module.
The content creator is provided with the option to define rules for how the learner (or end-user) navigates through and between distinct SCOS, thanks to the sequencing requirement of SCORM (or content modules.) These sequencing rules are written in XML, and they provide training administrators and course creators with the capabilities to:
- Maintain a record of and keep an eye on the student’s development.
- Develop several modes of navigating for students.
- More important learning modules must receive greater attention
- Make a return to unmastered modules automatically
What Is SCORM Compliance?
Compliance with the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) indicates that an eLearning software solution or piece of online learning content may be used by several users simultaneously. If your material is SCORM compliant, you can submit it to any learning management system (LMS) that is likewise SCORM compliant.
You will have an easier time integrating and accelerating training programs if you use a learning management system (LMS) that is SCORM-compliant, employee training software that is SCORM-compliant, and SCORM authoring tools.
On the other hand, not all methods of education are created equal. Understanding what SCORM compliance is and how to attain it for your eLearning content is very necessary to develop learning and development programs that are more effective and productive.
Shareable Content Objects, more often known as SCOs, are the individual trackable components of e-learning. These components can range from whole courses to a single page. It simply refers to a piece of content that may be separately published and monitored by a learning management system.
SCORM specifies the format that should be used for the “Package Interchange File,” sometimes known as a ZIP file, which is used to transport e-learning content. This type of file is referred to as a SCORM file. This file must be organized per the structure required by the SCORM standards. Additionally, it needs to include the core files that enable it to communicate effectively with the LMS.
Updated Versions of SCORM
The SCORM standards are generally backward-compatible since each new version builds upon the previous ones. The features and options you hope to integrate between eLearning content and your LMS will determine which version of SCORM you need.
You can ensure that the content you create can be used in your LMS by familiarizing yourself with the various versions of SCORM that are still in use today. Three distinct versions to remember include:
1. SCORM 1.1
In January 2001, the ADL Initiative released SCORM 1.1 as the first implementable specification for eLearning vendors, building on the framework established by SCORM 1.0. Organizations may still need to support SCORM 1.1 if they work with specific older systems. While later SCORM versions have expanded to cover more ground, this one never caught on and only addresses the most basic requirements.
2. SCORM 1.2
This version of SCORM, first released in October 2001, is the one that sparked widespread industry adoption. The concepts of packaging and metadata were introduced in SCORM 1.2, which are critical to the goal of eLearning content interoperability. There is no indication that the major LMSs will stop supporting this version soon.
3. SCORM 2004
The ADL Initiative adopted a more incremental approach to updating the standard with the release of this version in January 2004. The ADL Initiative has released multiple editions of this version since 2004, with the third and fourth editions seeing the most adoption. Importantly, SCORM 2004 added technical specifications for the course navigation and sequencing.
Especially among enterprise-level L&D managers, achieving SCORM compliance is often a technical hurdle. Nonetheless, this isn’t just an IT problem that prevents us from focusing on how to improve our programs strategically. The use of eLearning tools that are SCORM compliant can have tangible effects on a company’s bottom line.
What Are the Advantages and Setbacks of SCORM?
Among the many significant advantages of SCORM are:
- If your e-learning is SCORM compatible, you’ll discover that nearly any LMS can read it. SCORM is now the most extensively used protocol. There is no need to spend extra effort on customization if you stick to SCORM standards for your e-learning.
- SCORM enables information to be developed once and distributed without modification to several platforms. This is extraordinarily powerful in terms of effectiveness, scalability, and savings.
- Creating and publishing your SCORM course is a breeze since many eLearning solutions are set up to allow you to do it with minimum technical experience.
- As was previously established, SCORM provides a robust set of tracking tools that provide content producers with crucial information on the individuals utilizing their training. And you may adjust the pace of the learning process as needed. You may control the length of time students spend on a certain interactive feature and so better manage the entire learning process.
One of its key drawbacks is that SCORM is becoming more out-of-date. Although it is frequently used, the most recent version (2004’s) capabilities are severely restricted.
Because of these constraints, a newer standard, xAPI (also known as Tin Can), was created. Newer technologies are utilized, and, most importantly, learning may be monitored outside of a traditional LMS. You may collect a wealth of additional information on the learning of your users, such as how they engaged with the content, how they performed in various activities, and how all of this related to their actual performance.
Now that we have established a foundation, how do you select SCORM-compliant software?
Creating SCORM requires a SCORM-compliant authoring tool and a SCORM-compliant learning management system. An authoring tool is used to make e-learning that complies with SCORM standards, and then the LMS makes the materials available to students. Both of these aspects are relevant to the success of an online course.
SCORM Compatible Software Authoring
A SCORM-compliant authoring tool allows you to build e-learning that, once published, will automatically package itself in a format compatible with SCORM. This is a must-have if your e-learning will be hosted on a learning management system (LMS).
Here are just a few examples of the many available authoring tools (you can view a comprehensive comparison of SCORM-compatible authoring tools here):
- Elucidat’s goal is to make it simple for managers to develop and roll out new training programs via the cloud, and as such, it is entirely web-based.
- To create e-learning materials in HTML5, Evolve is a web-based authoring tool. Training modules created with this instrument may be accessed from any system, platform, or device. For first-time authors, the software’s simplicity and speed make it ideal.
- Adapt is a free, open-source application for making SCORM-compliant, mobile-friendly HTML5 content.
Choosing SCORM-Compliant eLearning Course and LMS
Now that you better understand what SCORM and SCORM compliance entails, we need to back up slightly.
Though “SCORM compliance” is sometimes used as a catch-all phrase, there are, in reality, three distinct tiers of SCORM support. As such, a learning management system (LMS) may be:
- Conforming with SCORM
- In Compliance with SCORM
- SCORM Certification
Most consumers won’t understand the difference between compliance and conformance unless they’ve read the requirements in detail, as an online course will function, and data will be collected regardless. It’s worth noting that a SCORM conformant or certified LMS will enable many CMI components.
What Is CMI?
“Computer Managed Instruction”, otherwise known as CMI, lists the steps given to the learning management system to control the workflow and manage how the material is used and distributed. The list of CMI components is analogous to a video game’s list of character skills at each stage. In the context of online education, it refers to the set of instructions given to the LMS and the information gleaned from its use.
We’ve already established that “compliance” is a catch-all phrase that may describe various solutions with varying degrees of effectiveness. But what does it mean for an LMS to be SCORM-compliant when you get into the finer details?
Typically, this program allows for minimum communication between classes and the LMS. All the fundamentals for starting up a connection, saving your work, and closing it down are included. Although the term “basic” may imply inferior quality, hundreds of “level one” solutions are suitable for the vast majority of users.
There is greater potential for in-depth analysis of data collected by SCORM-conformant LMSs due to their support for a broader range of CMI components. You can get down to the question and answer level with evaluations published in SCORM 1.2/2004. Although not all LMSs provide this degree of functionality, that does not automatically make them non-compliant.
Connecting SCORM Compliance and Your LMS
The question then becomes how to determine if a certain LMS is compatible with your SCORM-compliant material. To begin, you must determine the SCORM version that may be used with the LMS. The Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) has evolved into several forms. SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004 are the current standards in use.
If the learning management system (LMS) only supports SCORM 1.2, then developing SCORM 2004 e-courses is pointless, and vice versa. Although they have a similar structure, these two formats employ dissimilar CMI components. Let’s check out the most crucial ones first.
Statuses in SCORM 1.2 only exist in one flavor: completed. The reporting capabilities of SCORM 2004 have been upgraded. Finished (track your progress) and Successful are two separate values (test score).
An LMS that is conformant to SCORM standards is also compatible with them. No external body has verified it, although the provider has very certainly verified it themselves.
To ensure the highest quality of SCORM compatibility, look for an LMS awarded the SCORM certification seal. Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL), an independent organization, checks for compliance on its behalf. Its engineers employ specialized testing tools to verify nearly every scenario where SCORM courses might be useful.
SCORM 1.2 completion statuses include completed, passed, failed, browsed, not attempted, and incomplete. SCORM 2004 separates completion and success statuses, with the success markers highlighted as passed, failed, and unknown. The completion statuses fit the same criteria as SCORM 1.2.
Data Storage Limits
The maximum size of suspended data is capped in each SCORM version. Since the standards were developed over 20 years ago, their creators did not anticipate big courses containing several hundred slides with quizzes and other interactions.
Cmi.suspend data is the maximum amount of data that a course may send to an LMS, which is different from the size of an e-course. If this number is surpassed, the LMS will stop monitoring the status of the course entirely.
Questions to Ask When Verifying SCORM Compliance
- What SCORM releases are suitable for use? Is there a certain edition that was more popular?
An LMS may be compatible with all SCORM versions, although it may perform better with one version over the others. Even though all SCORM editions are supported, the LMS may, for example, promise optimal performance only for SCORM 2004 (3rd ed.).
- To what SCORM Runtime Environment (RTE) version does the LMS adhere?
Certain “1st tier” data model components are crucial and are generally accepted as the standard. These are the most typical components:
Measures of success and completion are recorded in the cmi. completion status and cmi. success status fields, while the cmi.score is calculated using the scaled completion status.
cmi.session time \scmi.location \scmi.exit
Here are some examples of the second tier:
The third layer of the data model includes the columns entry, mode, and credit. Their goal is to give students the best possible educational experience.
- Does ADL endorse this LMS? If that’s the case, whatever parts of the SCORM API are supported?
- When did SCORM become a part of the learning management system?
The fewer flaws there are and the more basic its operation, the longer it has been adopted.
- Does this learning management system support Rustici Engine (previously SCORM Engine)? Is a SCORM file player available for download, or is it built in?
An LMS would benefit from a custom player with a menu bar and exit option. However, many LMSs, including some of the best available, lack this capability.
- In what ways does course viewer information get sent to the LMS?
- Do online classes in the LMS launch in a separate tab or window? When there are too many pop-ups, the experience suffers, and people become disoriented. They’re in trouble (particularly if it’s a timed test) if they can’t locate a certain opening promptly.
- Is there a mobile-friendly option for adjusting the size of the course’s content?
If this characteristic is missing, the data may be inaccurate. When consumers appear to be inactive, such as when they spend a long time zooming in and out of a large non-adaptive slide on their iPhone, the courses will transmit more data packets.
- Is there anything more that has to be downloaded to use the LMS?
- How does one go about troubleshooting LMS issues, assuming they arise?
The goal of this inquiry is to ascertain whether or not the supplier has made preparations for the loss of data, the occurrence of an emergency, or any other contingency.
Examples of SCORM Compliant LMS
LearnUpon is another feature-packed SCORM LMS. Create online shops to sell your material in addition to the standard functions like providing eLearning courses and monitoring student progress. Its most unique feature is its ability to establish several LMSs for educating diverse audiences that may be managed centrally.
Docebo positions itself as a comprehensive learning management system from content creation to course distribution. You may design your own lessons or pick from premade, off-the-shelf options and assign them to your students. Docebo’s artificial intelligence-powered features, such as its virtual tutoring, auto-tagging, and content recommendations, set it apart from the competition.
Skilljar is an external SCORM-compliant LMS that facilitates training for all parties involved in a company’s operations. It gives you everything you need for mass consumer and partner acquisition, engagement, and retention. It is compatible with various e-learning materials, including SCORM and AICC packages. The LMS also provides tools for evaluating students through in-course quizzes and the distribution of completion certificates.
The Bottom Line
This should clarify the answer to “what is SCORM?”. Regarding e-learning platform compatibility, SCORM 2004 is the top dog. It is guaranteed that virtually any learning management system (LMS) will be able to read and understand your eLearning package if you follow the SCORM 2004 guidelines. Unfortunately, it has very few customization options. xAPI’s popularity is rising as the demand for more detailed reports on students’ actions increases alongside the growing interest in novel approaches to education.
What Is SCORM? FAQs
Do all learning management systems adhere to the SCORM standard?
The vast majority of learning management systems can play SCORM files, although there are a few outliers. When it comes to SCORM packages, some learning management systems (LMSs) only support exporting the data to a file but not importing it.
When it comes to SCORM, whose version is the norm?
The most used forms are SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004, and SCORM 2006.
Is there anything else that can replace SCORM?
Newer eLearning standards such as xAPI (Experience API, formerly known as Tin Can) and cmi5 have replaced SCORM. These formats make it easier to operate from mobile devices and provide you access to in-depth analytics.
Help! I need to deploy a SCORM package.
You can access and examine a SCORM package in one of two ways. Either in a web browser or a learning management system (LMS) with a SCORM player. If you’re using a SCORM package, you’ll need to unzip it and look for a file with a name like index.html or story html5.html.
How can I modify an existing SCORM bundle?
A SCORM course can be modified at any moment by opening the course’s source (project) file in a SCORM-compliant authoring tool.