WHAT IS SCORM
What does the SCORM standard mean for e-learning?
Sooner or later, everyone who enters the world of virtual education is confronted with these words: “the SCORM standard”. The truth is that the acronym for this concept is often full of many technicalities and, even if you use it, you are not usually clear on what exactly it is. In this post we will give you all the information you are looking for, discover all the ins and outs behind SCORM!
What is the SCORM standard?
Although it is commonly known as SCORM, this standard refers to the concept of “Shareable Content Object Reference Model”, which is a set of specifications aimed at standardizing eLearning content production. In other words, it is a reference to be followed when sharing training content.
Thus, the SCORM specifications allow all professionals who develop eLearning content to rely on the same standards when producing and packaging their proposals. This allows them to be reproduced in any compatible LMS.
What is not SCORM?
In itself it is not a type of content, nor does it have any visual formatting or presentation characteristics.
A SCORM activity does not mean that it is more dynamic or that it is interactive or that it is better than another type. As we say SCORM packages content for use on a virtual campus, and that content can be of all kinds.
It is simply the packaging of the content; it can contain a single sentence, or we can have SCORM hosting complete courses, with multiple formats, dozens of web pages, images, videos…
For many of you this may seem obvious, but we regularly hear phrases like “I’m going to make my content on SCORM because it’s more visual and has animations” or “I made my content on SCORM because it’s interactive”.
WHAT IS THE SCORM STANDARD IN ELEARNING FOR?
As previously mentioned, the SCORM format allows the creation of training content capable of being integrated on different platforms, a fact that is due to the specifications to be met by any resource that follows this model:
- Interoperable. Resources created based on the SCORM standard must be accessible from multiple management platforms.
- Reusability. All the contents that have been created through this model can be reused, using the same learning object in different courses or training alternatives. In this way, you can adapt your resources according to the training needs of your students.
- Accessibility. Another advantage of using this standard within the eLearning universe is its ubiquity, since it allows access to resources regardless of time and device.
- Sequenced and structured. Keeping order is always important, and the SCORM format is well aware of this. This is why all content based on it is perfectly structured between them, determining the order in which it is displayed. As if that weren’t enough, it incorporates rules and requirements when accessing a certain section. Everything is easy and simple for the platform to which we incorporate it!
- Personalized follow-up. Among the services of the SCORM format we can also highlight the recording of each student’s activity with respect to the content. In this way, it is possible to know where the student is in the training and how he is progressing.
The advantages are obvious with the acronym SCORM, don’t you think? This eLearning standard will provide you with multiple benefits, especially the display and operation of the content from any LMS – a format full of advantages!
BUT… DO I REALLY NEED A SCORM?
Given this difficulty in getting into areas that we probably do not know about, the first thing we must ask ourselves is whether we need the content to be SCORM.
If you need external content, you will surely be obliged to have it provided by the provider in SCORM format, which is the most standard. And provider SCORMs can also give problems, but problems with access permissions or navigation are much more frequent than the basic SCORM programming, to which you are very accustomed.
But if the content is yours, consider that there may not be an objective reason to do the courses in a format that can complicate your life.
We have seen that the belief that the contents must be in Scorm is quite widespread. And no, this is not the case; SCORM allows the same content to work on different platforms, but it is not required, it does not even provide any value if you are not going to work on different virtual campuses.
There are elearning platforms like evolCampus 😉 in which you can create all kinds of content, without having to be SCORM: web page format, PDF, presentation, tests, video, audio, etc.
As they are created and loaded on the platform itself, we avoid the possible errors and loss of data that we may have with SCORM. You make sure that they will look and work correctly. You can update and extend them in real time without depending on third parties and without losing what has been done so far. You will be able to use the platform’s own features and not only those allowed by SCORM.
On the other hand, it will not be exportable to another platform, but all the files from which each activity starts will still be in your possession (texts, videos, audios…), so you will only have to configure them with respect to the characteristics of the platform.
Our recommendation is that, if you have few courses that do not require complexity or special features, try to create them from the LMS itself, if it allows it and is easy to do.
AND IF I HAVE TO WORK WITH THIRD PARTIES… WHAT DO I HAVE TO ASK MY ELEARNING CONTENT PROVIDER?
If you do not have your own content and require third parties to create content, you should know what to ask your provider.
We would like to review some issues to consider when ordering or buying SCORM content or even if you are finally going to do it yourself.
We will focus on the technical and less visible part.
Ask if SCORMs are made with Flash. If they are, this content will not be displayed on mobile devices, unless we force our students to use specific, unfamiliar browsers. And not only on mobile devices, most desktop browsers do not accept this format anymore either.
The contents must be made in HTML5.
Check that the SCORMs are displayed correctly on your platform, and that they do not give any permission problems. It is frequent that making the SCORM work on the platform requires several tests and communication between the company that develops it and the company that manages the platform.
Make sure that in that case the service you are going to receive is going to be useful, so that you do not find yourself in the situation where the course is not working and nobody pays attention to you.
In case you do bonus training (formerly Tripartite) this point is vital, since not complying with it can lead to severe consequences if you receive an inspection.
Although SCORMs have the ability to monitor times, there are many factors why a SCORM on a platform may be failing to record those times.
You will need to do enough testing to ensure that this recording works and is accurate enough.
MultiSco is a SCORM format, in which a single SCORM file contains multiple learning objects.
This format is not recognized by all platforms, and even when supported it can create problems.
If the SCORMs supplied by the provider are in this format, we must check that everything works correctly.
Our evolCampus platform allows you to load MultiSCO content without any problem as we mentioned.
We have already mentioned in another article that our recommendation for the moment is to use SCORM 1.2 and to avoid, whenever absolutely necessary, the SCORM 2.004 version
As we mentioned earlier, new formats have appeared that will finally replace SCORM, but our advice is to wait until they mature a little more and are more openly adopted by both content and platform providers.
It is logical that one or more of the SCORM activities in the course is evaluable. We find that by default and more comfortable when developing the content is to simply report whether the activity has been exceeded or not.
However, the SCORM standard allows you to set the maximum and minimum scores and return a numerical value with the score, instead of simply failing or not.
We recommend that evaluable activities report a numerical value, setting the corresponding values when developing the SCORM package.
SCORM CONTENT ELEMENTS
Sometimes the contents made in SCORM are carried out with their own navigation and menus among their contents.
This is usually not a very good idea. The platform where you are going to load the SCORM will generally have its own menu and navigation between contents and the rest of the tools (forums, messaging, chat, etc), which are the ones the student knows.
When loading the SCORM content within the virtual campus the student can see a double navigation menu. This is quite disconcerting and can lead to confusion.
Like the navigation menu, items such as percentage completed, time elapsed can be included. All of these are specific to the virtual platform and not to the content itself.
At this point, our advice is not to include in the content elements that should be controlled by the elearning platform. This can only lead to confusion and discordance of data between those shown by the platform and those appearing in the content.
THINK MOBILE DEVICES AND DIFFERENT SCREEN SIZES
A few years ago we couldn’t do much with our mobile phones and the monitors we used were similar in size 2 inches up and down.
However, this has changed. Every day we use more and more of our mobile devices, both phones and tablets, and on the other hand our computer monitors are getting bigger.
For this reason, different techniques have been developed that allow the web content that is developed to be adapted to the size of the screen on which it is displayed.
Make sure that the content you are going to develop uses this technique (responsive) so that it is correctly viewable from any device, or at least in most of them.
These are some of the points that we consider most important and that are most often forgotten or unknown when ordering or making elearning content.