Understanding SCORM in under three minutes



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4 mins

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SCORM is a set of technical standards that govern all learning management systems (LMS) and their content. These standards dictate how information is passed between input and output and are based on user interaction. SCORM ensures content is readable and responsive across a variety of learning management platforms

What is SCORM?

Shareable Content Object Reference Model — known by the acronym ‘SCORM’ — is a universally accepted set of technical standards used in learning management systems (LMS) to display digital content, and render subsequent content based on user interactions.

Every LMS needs to be SCORM-compliant, whether the platform is on premise, cloud-based or open-source.

How does SCORM work?

SCORM uses three models which work together to deliver content across LMS platforms.

  • The content aggregation model (CAM) packages up learning materials into the SCORM format which contains information such as the sequence content should be launched in. CAM manages how content is imported and launched
  • Run-time communication delivers the content and tracks engagement based on predetermined data exchanges
  • Sequencing determines how learners navigate the course and also works on interactions (such as clicking ‘pause’ or ‘next’) to determine the subsequent set of events — like progressing on to the next stage

These models work in synchronicity throughout the delivery of all learning activities and are based on the information contained in a ‘manifest’ file.

Related: curious to find out the latest acronym, buzzword, or terminology in the eLearning industry? Explore our A– Z of eLearning terminology

Fast facts about SCORM compliance

It’s important to know that SCORM — in all its technicality — is something very few of us will need to truly understand. All LMS platforms need to be SCORM compliant — you’d be hard-pressed to find one that isn’t. While SCORM is still used by the majority of businesses, some experts predict cmi5 and Tin Can (xAPI) to be the successors of this fundamental model.

SCORM was first released in 2000 – version 1.0 — and was only a draft outline of the standards. This version has become irrelevant in modern applications but formed the foundations of the model which is now in its fourth iteration: SCORM 2004. The latest generation of SCORM is Experience API (xAPI), but SCORM 1.2 (the xAPI predecessor) is still supported by LMS’s.

SCORM is not the only standard for learning management platforms; in June 2016, cmi5 was launched as a companion to xAPI, providing users with added flexibility. Cmi5 was also the first standard to introduce Assignable Units (AUs) — which track and manage user data, feeding back to the LMS. These technologies are not as widely adopted as SCORM, but this preference may shift in the future.

You can convert non-SCORM learning content to SCORM format; whether it’s a PDFMicrosoft Word document, or even an HTML file, it’s a (relatively) straightforward process and worth the effort if the content is valuable.

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This article was first published on Digits.co.uk – a Ciphr Company.