If you’re currently exploring the vast eLearning market in search of a Learning Management System (LMS) for your organization, you may have seen the phrase “SCORM compliant” referenced as a must-have feature. It is true that SCORM is the de facto standard for content interoperability in eLearning and that SCORM compliance is an important LMS feature to be aware of in your evaluations prior to implementing an LMS. However, there are of course some additional details you will need to understand in order to make sure a SCORM-compliant LMS supports the versions and features of SCORM that may be important in driving your learning programs forward.
What is SCORM?
First, let’s take a moment to understand what SCORM is. The Shareable Content Object Reference Model, or SCORM, is essentially a standardized content format that allows eLearning material to be implemented and re-used in a compatible and consistent way across platforms. This includes functionality to present content, guide learners through dynamic or adaptive material and to track progress and assessment statistics in the host LMS.
What Does it Mean to Be SCORM Compliant?
In terms of SCORM compliance, this simply means that any organization can enjoy the benefits of using SCORM for eLearning so long as their chosen LMS is compliant with the published SCORM specifications.
Understanding how to work with a standardized protocol may sound complex, but it’s really no different than the way we use most technology. Think of email, for example. We send and receive emails to other people and organizations all over the world. It does not matter if we use Outlook, Gmail or Thunderbird, because behind the scenes we are all using the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) standard to send and accept mail. Using SCORM for eLearning content has a similar benefit. While not quite as universally supported as SMTP, just about any LMS admin should be able to import and configure an instance of SCORM content – called a SCO – if their site is compliant.
As with most technologies, there are quite a few different versions of the SCORM standard that have been released over the years as the functionality has been iterated on and improved. So, when we say “SCORM compliant”, we may be compliant with one version of SCORM, but not a later one. Adding to the confusion, some versions have been widely adopted and supported while others have failed to gain traction. Luckily, in the eLearning space there are only two main versions of SCORM that you should be sure to understand.
Released in Fall 2001, SCORM 1.2 was broadly adopted and is still the most commonly used version today. This was the first version to successfully offer a robust and dependable standard with all the critical SCORM functionality needed for most eLearning deployments. SCORM 1.2 should be supported by almost any LMS or content authoring tool. eLearning content creators continue to publish in this format to target the widest user base, and various LMS instances continue to support it for both new content and backwards compatibility. Given longevity, popularity and critical mass that SCORM 1.2 has achieved, expect it to be a viable format for years to come.
SCORM 2004, The follow-up to SCORM 1.2, introduced some improvements, most notably the ability for content authors to sequence multiple SCORM courses together into a larger series of linear or adaptive topics. There were several versions or “Editions” of SCORM 2004 released, starting with the first edition in 2004 up until the final 4th Edition in 2009. The 1st Edition was not fully implemented and should be avoided. The 2nd and 3rd Editions are the most common but are still not nearly as widely adopted as SCORM 1.2. In general, if an LMS supports SCORM 2004 it should support up to the latest 4th Edition for the best compatibility and feature support.
Choosing a SCORM-Compliant LMS
When choosing a SCORM-compliant LMS, there are several versions of SCORM to be aware of. SCORM 1.2 is the most popular and extensively used version and offers functionality that supports most common eLearning scenarios. If your LMS is SCORM 1.2 compliant, you can be confident that it is compatible with the majority of SCORM content available. SCORM 2004 has more advanced functionality but has not been as fully adopted in the industry. It comes in several Editions that vary in usability and SCORM 2004 users should seek an LMS that supports the latest 4th Edition of the standard to ensure they are getting the best functionality and compatibility.
SCORM is the de facto standard for plug-and-play eLearning content. It is dependable, reusable and offers a robust feature set for presenting digital learning, allowing eLearning content creators to author and publish in a format that they know is supported.
To learn more about SCORM or other open standards, contact eThink to speak to one of our experts. To see eThink’s fully-managed and SCORM-compliant LMS solutions for Moodle™ or Totara Learn, request an individual demonstration.