The demand for high-quality eLearning material is on the rise. SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) regulations ensure that this demand is met by making eLearning courses more accessible.
The SCORM guidelines ensure that eLearning courses can be accessed on most learning management systems. Building SCORM-compliant courses can help you in the event you end up having to switch to a new LMS or if you want to sell courses to people using any number of LMS platforms.
Before diving into the specifics of SCORM and how it can help you, it’s important to understand what SCORM is.
What Is SCORM?
SCORM stands for “Sharable Content Object Reference Model” — a set of specific technical standards for building online learning management systems and training course content.
SCORM helps programmers design learning management systems (LMSs) in a way that content from one LMS can be uploaded and played in another LMS. It also dictates how content for the LMS is built, ensuring the content and LMS communicate properly.
While SCORM isn’t legally required, it is widely used because it ensures a smoother experience for customers looking for eLearning courses and for companies building LMS platforms.
What Is The Purpose of SCORM?
So, what is SCORM actually used for and why was it developed? SCORM was developed by the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (ADL), a group created by the Department of Defense in 1999 in response to the boom of the internet and the growing presence of LMSs and eLearning modules online. At the time, many companies were making courses that were shared via CDs or floppy disks. These courses were often coded using proprietary tools and would only work with the company’s platform.
As LMS platforms took off, the government noticed that a lot of eLearning materials would only work on one platform. The courses available to companies and organizations were dependent on whatever LMS they used.
SCORM compliance was born out of this need to make courses more accessible. Instead of only working on one LMS, courses can be accessed on a wide range of systems, so long as both the content and the LMS are SCORM compliant.
Who Should Use SCORM Guidelines?
If you’re creating eLearning modules, there are some compelling reasons to stick to SCORM guidelines, depending on your reasons for making courses.
- If you create internal training for a company: In the event that you switch LMSs, you’ll still be able to launch and track the courses you’ve created (assuming you switch to a SCORM-compliant LMS). If you’re not following SCORM and your company switches LMSs, you could be stuck starting from scratch.
- If you sell courses to third parties: SCORM-compliant courses can be sold more easily since they’re accessible on a wider range of platforms. This gives you access to a potentially larger customer base.
SCORM isn’t a cure-all for eLearning development, but if you’re in either of the above camps, you should be giving SCORM serious thought.
What Does SCORM Compliance Look Like?
To make SCORM’s mission of cross-compatibility possible, any media involved in a course is packaged into a special file, called the “imsmanifest.xml.” This file essentially tells the LMS how to handle the content within, giving instructions on what the courses are called, how they will open, and so on in the LMS.
The manifest file is only one half of the SCORM process. The other part of the equation in SCORM development is runtime communication. Runtime communication is how the course “talks” to the LMS when it’s been opened. This communication allows the course to give the LMS commands and ensure the course is executed properly.
For example, these commands can be things like, “track the quiz score for this course” or “save user’s progress when they exit.”
The manifest file, along with any other files included in a course (animation files, audio data, etc.), are then packed into a .zip file. This file is then unpacked by the LMS, much like a CD drive reads and unpacks the files on a disc when it’s inserted in a computer.
Upon being unpacked by the LMS, the manifest will then tell the LMS what to track. Some common elements that are tracked include:
- Test answers
- Course completion tracking
- Time spent on a course
- Pages viewed
- Course pass or fail
Tracking the above course stats can enable you to make courses that perform better, help learners get the information they need, and, in the case of internal training, benefit your entire company.
Do I Need Another Tool to Produce SCORM-Compliant Courses?
Some LMSs will have an integrated course builder that allows you to make content that’s immediately ready for SCORM. But, if you want to use third-party tools to create content and then import that into your LMS, you’ll likely want to use a SCORM authoring tool or a SCORM wrapper for older files.
A SCORM authoring tool will allow you to take the components of your eLearning course and output them in a SCORM-compliant file.
If you have older files that you want to make SCORM compliant, you can also use a SCORM wrapper. A wrapper will enable communication between the older file and the SCORM-compliant LMS. For more information, read this useful resource from iSpring.
Is Vyond SCORM Compliant?
Vyond Studio is a video creation tool, not an LMS, so SCORM compliance doesn’t apply to our platform. eLearning professionals, however, can easily add Vyond .mp4 videos to their SCORM-compliant courses. For more information on including video in SCORM courses, check out this resource on adding video to Lectora courses.
Pros and Cons of Using SCORM
Nothing is perfect, and that includes SCORM. There are a few downsides to following SCORM.
- Costly authoring tools: SCORM compliance requires proper authoring tools, unless your LMS has built-in authoring, to create the SCORM .zip file. Some of these tools can be costly to use.
- Learning curve: If you’re not already using compliant authoring tools or programming in SCORM, it can take time to learn. This can slow your production process and cause some headaches early on.
The cons of SCORM shouldn’t cause you to write it off, though. SCORM has a few primary perks that can make building compliant courses worth the time investment.
- Compatibility: SCORM compliance ensures courses work on any SCORM-compliant LMS platform.
- Save money: SCORM compliance can save you money. If you decide to migrate to another LMS platform and you’re following SCORM with your courses, you’ll be able to effortlessly migrate to a new platform without any additional programming or revisions to the courses.
- Make money: The option to move from one LMS to another also frees you up to sell your courses to more third parties, if you wish. If you’re in the business of creating eLearning courses for other companies, being SCORM compliant can keep your options open and give you a larger potential audience.
If you feel you’re a good fit for SCORM, don’t put it off. The above perks can help you now; putting off SCORM will only put you at further risk of a compatibility nightmare or block out a potential customer base.
Boost the Value of Your Courses with SCORM Compliance
The perks that come with SCORM are clear for eLearning professionals. Nobody wants to find that the courses they put so much effort into building are no longer accessible in a new LMS. Similarly, if you’re selling courses, SCORM will only help you grow your audience.
You spend a lot of time creating your educational courses. SCORM can help you find the largest possible audience for the courses you’ve spent so much time and effort building.
Once a video is created in Vyond, many trainers and course designers deploy their animated MP4 videos into SCORM-compliant platforms like Articulate Storyline, Lectora, and Adobe Captivate.
Start creating videos with Vyond, free for 14 days.