SCORM – Why does it matter and why do you need it?

Imagine this situation.

You want your content to be interactive and fun, yet you also want to have control over how the learner consumes content (“First read this, then watch that, then take a quick test, etc.”), and you want to keep track of their progress and score.

You want to do this cost-effectively without too much fuss over content development, and deliver the course from your existing Learning Management System in an efficient, easy manner.

You’d like to buy some of your courses from off-the-shelf content providers, but you may like to create custom courses in-house for certain topics.  You want the previously mentioned features to be available to you in both these cases.

Just creating HTML5 interactivities won’t do.  You need an easier, more “interoperable” solution which everyone agrees on, and the content library publisher is able to give you content in a standard format at bulk rates.  You want to be able to take the externally-sourced content as well as the internally-built course should be deployable and usable in a standard way.

The answer to that need comes from a five-letter acronym – SCORM.

What is SCORM?

A report by LinkedIn sums up a survey it conducted, with learning and development professionals as respondents, and found that 45% of them spent approximately half of their time curating and building online content in pursuance of their L&D strategy. However, online training content cannot exist in silos; rather it has to work in synchrony with the learning management system, desktop storage, and knowledge bases. Therefore, it becomes important to bring all content formats together so that there is smooth communication among all the eLearning products. This is where SCORM compliance plays a crucial role. 

SCORM is an acronym for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. The de-facto industry standard for eLearning interoperability, SCORM defines a set of standards for developing eLearning products, and also the data models and communication methods to ensure coordination between the learning management systems (LMSs) and eLearning software. Put in other words, it sets the technical standards for programmers to write code in a way that synchronizes well with all eLearning products. It is therefore a tool that enables smooth communication between online learning content and LMSs.

Most eLearning companies use the standard to develop SCORM- compliant content because it is interoperable. It can then be uploaded on any LMS that is also SCORM- compliant. This combination can greatly help you to accelerate your learning and development programs.

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Guidelines for SCORM compliance

In order to be compliant with SCORM standards, your eLearning content should be: 

  • Put together in a ZIP file and described in an XML file
  • Javascript should be used for communication
  • XLM rules should be used for sequencing 

SCORM also defines standards for sequencing, run-time, and content packaging.

Content packaging: It provides instructions on how SCORM content has to be transferred via ZIP files. It also lays guidelines on the use of metadata to ensure that the content is searchable and discoverable by the end users.

Run-time environment: SCORM describes the data model and API to standardize communication between the eLearning content and the LMS. This helps to ensure that the courses launch seamlessly on the LMS and that you can access accurate engagement data.

Sequencing: The rules for sequencing are given in XML and describe how the end learner will navigate through the different content modules. Besides, they all describe how content authors and managers will track and monitor the learning progress.

Online corporate training and the education sector are witnessing immense growth year after year. As enterprises and academic institutions increase their investments in eLearning, complexities in the LMS, local storage, and knowledge base may cause barriers to implementation and use. This is where SCORM compliance gains importance – the framework sets technical standards to ensure smooth integration of online courses with the LMS, leading to increased productivity from the end-users. SCORM has evolved over the years, and today, SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004 3rd Edition are the most widely used versions.

Here are some of the benefits of SCORM:

Interoperability: The primary goal of SCORM is to ensure smooth integration between the online courses and the LMS. If you are developing eLearning content, it is likely that your client would want to integrate it into the LMS.  Similarly, if you have an LMS, your clients would want to import their courseware from a number of sources. Now, if SCORM is implemented in both the courses and the LMS, the integration would be a smooth process. Therefore, SCORM will greatly increase the efficiency of your organization by reducing the need for technical support and improving the end-learner experience. SCORM is the only standard for interoperability of eLearning content. Therefore, it has become a prerequisite to selling eLearning products. In fact, today, most procurement proposals for eLearning content and LMS specify the need for SCORM-conformant products.

Increase your sales: The number of avenues of sales for your eLearning products greatly increases when they comply to SCORM. This is because your eLearning content has a limited audience if its access is limited to certain LMSs only. Similarly, if your LMS is non-compliant, it can play only the content that is designed for it. It goes without saying content that can be played on any LMS and an LMS that can deliver any type of content will have more audience and, consequently, more market demand. So by joining the SCORM bandwagon, you greatly improve your market potential.

Reusability: SCORM also offers the flexibility to incorporate instructional components in multiple applications and contexts. You can store, locate and access the eLearning products from one central location and ensure access from all other locations. Then again, SCORM content is highly adaptive which means you can customize the instruction to the organizational or individual needs. The smooth integration between the eLearning products also minimizes the need for external support, which makes course development and delivery more cost-effective and affordable. Also, SCORM compliance ensures that your eLearning products can withstand technology evolution without costly redesign, recoding, and reconfiguration.

In conclusion

As an enterprise committed to L&D training or an academic institution transitioning to online learning, it makes sense to invest in SCORM-compliant products. SCORM is an industry standard that sets the framework to develop eLearning products such that they are interoperably reusable, and can withstand technology evolution without the need for extensive redesigning, recoding, and reconfiguration.

If you are developing SCORM-compliant eLearning content, you can greatly increase your market reach if its access is not limited to a dedicated LMS. Similarly, if your LMS is following the standards, it can deliver any type of content rather than what is tailored to its features and capabilities.

For more information, please get in touch with us now!

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Mike Harman

Mike Harman

Mike is the SVP Business Development at KITABOO. He has over 30 years experience in achieving consistent top-line revenue growth and building mutually beneficial relationships. More posts by Mike Harman