Man typing on a laptop, representing a SCORM file

What you need to know about SCORM for eLearning

We look at SCORM – why it was developed, how SCORM files make online course development easier and why this technical standard is important for eLearning.
Kerrie-Anne Chinn, Content & Editorial Manager

If you’re working in the eLearning industry, you’re no doubt familiar with the term SCORM. You probably know that SCORM stands for ‘Sharable Content Object Reference Model’ and that certain systems can be ‘SCORM compliant’.

But do you really understand the way in which the SCORM model works? And how it impacts the potential of your company’s learning and development program?

Today we’ll look closer at SCORM – why it was developed, how SCORM files make online course development easier and why this technical standard is so important for eLearning.

What Exactly is SCORM?

SCORM was first released in early 2000, 16 years ago, and according to Des V. Anderson, CTO at LearnUpon, is “the most commonly used content standard in eLearning… [working] to standardize learning content between the industry’s many developers and vendors.”

What does this mean? Essentially, the SCORM model determines how online learning content and Learning Management Systems communicate with each other. It simplifies how online learning content works with different platforms and tools.

When departments work autonomously, developing their own eLearning courses and delivering them via the LMS of their choice, it can lead to problems with content duplication and information all over the place. With SCORM, a set of technical standards was developed to improve interoperability between eLearning products.

How Does SCORM Make Online Course Development Easier?

Before the development of the SCORM standard, life was much harder for anyone wanting to creating eLearning content. After all, there was no way of knowing whether the content you developed for one platform or LMS would be understood by another.

As Anderson says, that made it very “difficult for trainers and content developers to collaborate, use multiple tools, and migrate course content from one system to another.”

With SCORM, course content can be created that can be run on multiple devices and systems. Let’s say you design eLearning content through a tool like Captivate – with SCORM, you can upload that content into a Learning Management System of your choice.

So How Do SCORM Files Work?

As we’ve said, SCORM helps you create content in an eLearning authoring tool, which can then be published to an LMS in a SCORM conformant way.

With this, many eLearning platforms, online courses and training tools advertise themselves as ‘SCORM compliant’. This means they’ve been developed to fit SCORM's technical specifications and should work with all compliant technologies and content.

Basically, this means that the files have been packaged up in line with SCORM standards, ready to be uploaded into a SCORM compliant system. SCORM files look just like a zip file and will contain all of the files needed to make the eLearning content run.

Why is SCORM So Important for eLearning?

We all know that quality content is the backbone of any Learning Management System. If an LMS can’t read your learning content, your online course is already doomed. So it’s vital that your eLearning materials are SCORM compliant.

By using SCORM files and compliancy, you’ll have peace of mind that technology platforms will be able to run your course materials, well into the future.

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