What is SCORM?
When discussing LMS platforms, it’s usually not long before the term SCORM enters the conversation. While SCORM is as at the forefront of content development, there is still a huge misconception within the business community as to what SCORM conformance actually indicates. In this article, I will discuss what SCORM conformance means, and what you need to know that isn’t included in the SCORM reference model.
A Simple Explanation of SCORM
SCORM is an acronym which stands for “Shareable Content Object Reference Model”. It is maintained by ADL, and you may visit the ADL website if you are interested in a more in-depth technical review of SCORM.
But what does Shareable Content Object Reference Model really mean? In laymen’s terms, SCORM is a guideline which LMS and content developers may follow and allows the Courseware to communicate to the LMS in a predefined manor. The theory is that Courseware only needs to communicate some basic information to the LMS and the ideal is that any courseware developed with the SCORM reference model can be easily ported to any LMS without modifying the courseware in any way.
It’s important to understand that SCORM only facilitates the passing of information between courseware and LMS. Within that information passing, there is some limited logic on courseware navigation and sequencing. Generally, you can think of SCORM content as always being driven by the courseware. The LMS becomes a passive delivery framework which really has no control over the behavior of the content it’s displaying. This is a departure for experienced LCMS administrators, who are used to more integrated control of the courseware by the LMS.
Misconceptions regarding SCORM
Purchasing SCORM conformant courseware means the courseware is guaranteed to work as the course author intended.
All SCORM courseware includes a final test and/or sends the users response to test questions to the LMS. Every SCORM package behaves the same.
In reality, SCORM conformant courseware may not contain any gradable items. At its most basic level, a SCORM package may contain a solitary HTML file. LMS administrators may falsely assume that purchasing SCORM compliant courseware ensures all courseware will provide transcript data to the LMS. As mentioned above, SCORM does not dictate any requirements on the content to be delivered. If a course package delivers an evaluation, it’s only optional that the SCORM package will communicate the user’s score or responses to the LMS. Generally speaking, course authors will want to enable this feature; however it’s dangerous to assume that all courseware will implement the same options. Reviewing the functionality within the courseware is an important part of reviewing and purchasing SCORM courseware. Savvy courseware purchasers will want to know what information the courseware will pass to the LMS in addition to reviewing the look and feel of taking the content.
The SCORM reference model has become very popular in the LMS/LCMS community because it helps solve a common problem. There is definite cost savings incentive for business to ensure their courseware and LMS are SCORM conformant. Historically, moving content from one LMS platform to another could be a very expensive endeavor. Also, course authors would need to ensure that their courseware was playable by many different LMS platforms. Essentially, it should reduce the cost and provide some freedom to pick and choose LMS platforms and courseware titles. While this is true, courseware purchasers must still understand that SCORM conformance does not insure a standard experience for their LMS users.