A robust Learning Management System is a vital component of employee training across many industries, from healthcare to manufacturing. The advantages that a well-designed LMS can bring are numerous, including:
- Consistent training for global workers
- Streamlined and improved service on an organizational level
- Enhanced effectiveness in content quality and delivery
Many organizations invest a lot of time and resources into their LMS. But there is a unique challenge that occasionally arises: how can companies convert written or visual content (such as PDFs, videos, etc.) into functional eLearning courses? Are there any standards or guidelines for the transference of educational content from one platform to another?
The answers to these questions can be answered by SCORM.
What is SCORM?
SCORM stands for “Shareable Content Object Reference Model.” It is technically not a single set of standards; SCORM is a collection of standards and specifications for eLearning technology, and serves as a guideline or reference point for how developers can successfully use different standards in combination with one another.
The SCO, or “Shareable Content Object” in SCORM defines the smallest possible unit of training in an online course. This could be a module or page, and is technically considered the smallest piece of content that is both reusable and independent within the context of a lesson or training program. Each LMS generally lists the SCO as separate items in the course’s table of contents, and tracks them as distinct entities.
Moreover, SCORM defines both communication methods between client side content and the LMS’ host system, as well as how content is packaged into ZIP files known as “Package Interchange Formats.”
Since its launch in January 2000, SCORM has come packaged in 3 basic versions:
- SCORM 1.1. Considered by many developers as the “prototype” version and is not widely adopted today.
- SCORM 1.2. Launched in October 2001, fixed many of version 1.1’s bugs, and gained acceptance across the board. It still is supported by every major LMS, and vendors continue to supply material that meets the guidelines set out in 1.2.
- SCORM 2004. A partial extension of SCORM 1.2, which also includes S&N (Sequencing and Navigation) guidelines. S&N standards allow for a wider range of content interaction types, and an increase in SCO reusability.
How Does SCORM Work?
At its core, SCORM is concerned with regulating two vital aspects of a Learning Management System: content packaging and data exchange.
Data exchange is often referred to as Run-Time communication. It defines and regulates how the content within an e-course communicates or “talks” with the LMS itself as the program is running. For example, data exchange protocols allow the LMS to track a user’s score for a particular module by communicating the number of correctly answered questions compared to the total number of questions delivered.
SCORM’s data exchange capabilities allow for a wide variety of rich interactions between the learner and the delivered content. Of course, SCORM 2004 offers more capabilities in this regard than the earlier versions of the model.
Why is SCORM Important?
SCORM is an important tool for developers and vendors of eLearning content for a variety of reasons. Some advantages from utilizing SCORM’s methodology include:
- Flexibility. SCORM’s flexible, yet solid framework allows for a variety of formats to successfully operate across different LMS platforms. In addition, learners often are given the freedom to bookmark their progress when they need to take a break, and navigate to applicable modules when a specific need arises.
- Reusability. SCORM allows course developers to create content one time, and then reuse that content in several applications without heavy modification. This ability to “plug and play” content is helpful on multiple levels: for instance, within an organization there may be several eLearning platforms that differ from one another according to location.
- Consistency. The very nature of SCORM constrains learners to follow a fixed pathway throughout the e-course in question. In addition, SCORM-based content can ensure the legitimacy of test scores and prompt learning facilitators and managers to focus further training on specific gaps in learner knowledge. This ensures a consistent learning experience for all workers. In turn, this promotes consistency on an organizational level, whether in the realm of customer service, manufacturing processes, or other business operations.
What Should I Ask My Course Provider?
- Are the courses published in a SCORM compliant format?
- What version of SCORM?
- Are the courses developed with HTML 5 (ie not in Adobe Flash)?
- Are the courses mobile (tablet and phone) friendly?
- Can you send a sample course to test?
How Do I Make My Content SCORM-Compliant?
Now that you understand the necessity of using SCORM as a foundational element for eLearning coursework, the next logical question is: “How can I make my educational content SCORM-compliant?” While there are several options from which to choose, the good news is that there is a instantaneous, convenient way to convert your content into a SCORM-compliant eLearning material: Scormify.
- It meets all SCORM standards so that your content will work in any LMS
- It offers responsive design so that your e-courses will look their best in any browser or device
- Allows you to style your courses as you see fit via CSS and SaaS
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