What is the SCORM, the key-standard for e-learning interoperability

In this article we will try to explain what is the SCORM and all the benefits you can achieve if your e-learning content and your LMS platform complies with it

 

WHAT IS THE SCORM: DEFINITION AND HISTORY

SCORM is an acronym standing for “Shareable Content Object Reference Model” and refers to the main standard defining the characteristics of learning objects in terms of use, traceability and storage. 

Learning objects, or shareable content objects (SCO), are the atomic element of e-learning: they consist of a set of pages and/or test covering a specific learning task, with determined objectives that the student is requested to achieve and be measured on. 

For it to be exchanged and used independently from the LMS platform (Learning Management System), a learning object must have specific features which, from 2000 on, are described by the SCORM. This standard was originally created by the American Advanced Distributed Learning department (ADL) for military training and was then adopted in all markets that involve digital learning methodologies.

 

THE SCORM STRUCTURE

The SCORM Content Package is a compressed file which can have .zip or .pif extension. The Package Interchange Format (.pif) was specifically created for this standard, but is in fact very similar to the more traditional .zip format, commonly used for compressed files.   

The Content Package not only contains the SCO itself, but also a series of information regarding its structure, metadata description and operation within the LMS. As per the learning object, the SCORM does not specify a file format: it can be any format – such as HTML, Java or Flash, to mention the most common ones – provided that it has specific characteristics that make it SCORM compliant.

 

1. METADATA 

Within the SCORM package, each SCO is accompanied by a large number of predefined descriptive fields, some of which must be compulsorily filled out, in order for the LMS to index and search for it. All the information contained in these fields – regarding the author, the version number, when the object was last modified and how it is connected to other SCOs – are stored in a imsmanifest.xml file. 

 

2. COMMUNICATION

A key-feature of a SCORM compliant learning object is the ability to communicate with the LMS it is loaded in. This is very important since allows the LMS administrator (the teacher, for example) to collect a series of information about students’ interaction with the learning object, such as the time spent on the SCO within single sessions, the number of entries or trials, tests’ results and many other very useful data to keep track of students’ progress. 

Communication between learning object and LMS is based on the JavaScript Programming Language: exchanged data are interpreted by an Application Programming Interface (API) that acts as a bridge and connect the two elements. 

 

3. RE-USABILITY

Last but not least, learning objects can be included in different LMS platforms, provided that they are SCORM compliant too. The way a SCORM Content Package works, in fact, ensures great interoperability and, as a consequence, a reduction of costs and higher reliability. Since SCOs are independent from a specific infrastructure, training content does not have to be made bespoke for every system: this allows to switch LMS platform – in case of technical issues or due to a change of supplier – being able to keep the same courseware and just move it to the new one. 

 

Now that you know everything about this standard, you can understand how important it is to ask for SCORM compliant training material and LMS from your e-learning supplier. Having worked for years in the aviation market, Quiddis suite content have always been designed with all the required characteristics, especially in relation to traceability issues. Do you want to know more? Read our next article!  

 

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