What is SCORM?
When evaluating the different types of learning management system (LMS) available for your company, perhaps you’ve come across SCORM. If you’re new to the learning technology space, you’re going to hear terms like “SCORM” and “SCORM-compliant LMS” tossed around quite a bit.
But what is SCORM? It’s an acronym that stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model.
Why the demand for SCORM? By the end of the 20th century, interoperability was still a problem in the training industry. Trainers, it turned out, had an unmet need: to share and easily transfer content between multiple LMS. In the late 1990s, the U.S. government funded the Advanced Distributed Learning initiative, which was tasked with coming up with coding standards and specifications for the training industry. In 2001, their work culminated in the development of SCORM.
SCORM emphasized reusability of content, interoperability, and efficiency. Without these standards, trainers today might not be able to take content from one LMS and put it into another. They’d have to reinvent the wheel each time, a process that was both costly and inefficient.
Different Versions of SCORM
The most prevalent technical standards in online training are probably SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004. If you’re in the market for a LMS, it’s important to understand their differences so you know which standard is most appropriate for your particular needs. In practice, when a co-worker or client mentions SCORM, you tend to assume they’re probably talking about SCORM 1.2. That’s because an overwhelming majority of new content that is uploaded to a LMS is SCORM 1.2. That being said, SCORM 2004 offers more features and advanced reporting capabilities.
What are SCORM Compliance and SCORM LMS? During the infancy of the LMS, when the industry was just taking off, ensuring compatibility across platforms was a huge barrier. There was a need for SCORM compliant content that would be operable and compatible with any SCORM-compliant LMS, also known as SCORM conformant LMS.
How to Make LMS SCORM-Compliant
In other words, if your company has a SCORM-compliant LMS, it can rest easy knowing that its content will be accepted by the majority of platforms; non-SCORM compliant content, on the other hand, could be rejected.
When you’re using a LMS authoring tool, SCORM format is important. If you’re exporting content out of your authoring tool, be sure to save it in the correct format, whether it’s SCORM 1.2 or SCORM 2004. In practice, you will rarely hear folks talk about a SCORM-compliant LMS; instead they will specifically ask if you are SCORM 1.2 compliant and/or 2004-compliant.
Benefits of SCORM-Compliant LMS
A SCORM-compliant LMS gives trainers the tools to create content that is engaging, immersive, and interactive. Developing SCORM-compliant courses is generally easier than other standards; in fact, you don’t need a technical or programming background to create stellar content. Also, since most LMS providers are compatible with SCORM, uploading content or adding technical integrations is a walk in the park.
But in the final analysis, SCORM LMS is all about the data; this is its strong suit. SCORM allows trainers, equipped with an LMS, to track employee progress and course completion rates. Consider this: the Sharable Content Object, or SCO, has to have a way to communicate with the LMS, or it couldn’t report what your employees have accomplished or haven’t. If a student stops before completing a course, then the SCO will report it to the LMS. The next time the student logs into the LMS, it will send data to the LMS, enabling it to remember where the student left off. A significant amount of data can be transferred from the SCO to the LMS for reporting and analysis.
Potential Drawbacks of SCORM-Compliant LMS
While a SCORM LMS allows self-learning and personalized learning paths, it does not give employees the flexibility to learn out of sequence once they have initiated a learning path. Also, a SCORM LMS doesn’t allow offline learning; you need a wireless connection in conjunction with an LMS in order to launch it. Another disadvantage is that SCORM may be considered a relatively old technology in an industry that is experiencing rapid growth; over time, new standards will surface and replace old standards. That’s the law of technology!
Although a SCORM LMS is great for tracking learner progress, it is less effective at tracking social and experiential learning and other development that occurs outside of the platform. But, make no mistake: while it may not be able to track a learner’s full spectrum of behaviors, what it can track, measure, and report on is substantial. Here are just a few examples:
- Quiz and test results
- Most viewed pages and total time spent on each
- A per-module score
- Memorize learner progress
- Report a final grade or score, so you know at a quick glance whether your learners completed the course and whether they passed or failed
By using SCORM to monitor and track data, trainers can gain real insight into how their employees are absorbing and interacting with your content.