January 26, 2023
Apart from finding the best LMS that’s suited for your employees’ training needs, you also need to determine whether you want your learning content to be SCORM-compliant. You might be thinking, well what does that mean? And how will that affect your organization? This article is here to help.
SCORM is an acronym that stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model: a technical standards template for eLearning software. When you follow this template or format, your eLearning product(s) can be understood and run by any platform which is SCORM-enabled.
You can think of it as a ‘global, eLearning tech language’. Do note that your training material is still written in the language of your choice. The SCORM ‘language’ is for the computers and tech devices, not the people.
If your enterprise has one location, uses one LMS, and you neither want to share your training material nor benefit from the training material of others, you might think about closing this article, that SCORM compliance is of no importance to you. However, I am going to suggest that you think again.
Let’s look at 3 common situations in which being SCORM-enabled can benefit your enterprise.
Many enterprises have branches–either national or international. In this case, you would want to be able to swap training material. First, this keeps the training experience consistent company-wide. Second, it also means less work for the training team–more hands on the creation deck.
For one reason or another though, each branch could be using a different LMS platform (desktop and/or mobile). This is a perfect reason to use SCORM-compliant material.
Let’s say a parent corporation owns a shoe brand, an activewear brand, and a natural foods brand. Each brand is its own company with its own brand-specific training material run on its own platforms. However, the parent corporation would like certain training modules or SCORM packages to be universal such as workplace communication skills and sensitivity training.
SCORM compliance means that the parent corporation can produce material that will be usable at each of the brands.
The British Safety Council has produced a library of SCORM-compliant, expert safety courses for the workplace. The courses are live online–a combination of digital and tutor. One of their pricing options is discounted, ‘in your workplace’ training.
Why reinvent the wheel? If one of their courses suits your needs, chances are it is going to be more budget-friendly to buy than to create…and a safety course done by safety experts is probably going to have higher quality content than one done in-house (sorry!).
Of course, your LMS needs to be able to handle SCORM-compliant material in order to run this content.
SCORM compliance means that an eTraining material is packaged according to the SCORM template. Basically, there are two components. Remember the name–Sharable Content Object Reference Model? These are the two components stuck together: shareable content object (SCO) + reference model (RM).
Shareable Content Object (SCO)
This component is all the training material. It is the content you wish to import (use) or export (share) across different platforms/LMSs. It may help to think of it as a basket into which you put all the pieces of your training: one module or several, one course or more.
Reference Model (RM)
This part is the template: the rules and standards you must follow when packaging and exporting your shareable content object (your basket of training material). Since the rules and standards are universal, any SCORM-enabled platform/LMS can read, understand, and run your basket of training content without problems.
To use SCORM material, the LMS you are using must know the SCORM rules and standards AND be able to apply them automatically.
To produce SCORM material, your LMS (such as EdApp) must be able to export your training material in the correct format. In other words, package your basket of training material according to the SCORM template–however large or small that basket may be.
Let’s look at some of the tech specs your LMS needs to know and apply, whether that’s importing (receiving & running) or exporting (producing & sharing) SCORM material.
Let’s peek a bit further into the three sub-specs: content packaging, run-time section, and sequencing section.
Within the .ZIP file package, there needs to be an XML file manifest. This manifest has all the information needed for the platform/LMS to successfully interact with the SCO content (upload it, display it, etc.). In short, for things to work as they should.
The manifest divides your basket of contents into one or more SCOs and gives the platform/LMS specific information about how to work with each one.
Let’s say you have a course with 5 modules. Your trainee clicks on one. What should happen? The answer is in the run-time information.
According to the SCORM specs, your module needs to display via a web browser–either a new window or frameset. Also, only one SCO can launch at one time, so the system does not crash.
If SCORM has decided that the content has more than one SCO, this section tells the platform/LMS how trainees can move between the SCOs. There is also information about how a trainee can move within an SCO. For example, do they have to do the training modules in order? Within a module, can they do Lesson 2 before Lesson 1 or not? Can they return to a previous lesson or module? In addition, there is guidance about how to capture trainee progress data.
A SCORM-enabled LMS does the heavy lifting with SCORM compliance. When you import SCORM content into an LMS such as EdApp, you just import it as such. That is, you tell your LMS: “This is a SCORM package.” Your LMS reads the RM information about each SCO and does the rest.
If you want to export and share material in SCORM format, your job is a simple 2-step procedure:
Step 1: You create your training material–modules, courses, whatever. You do not need to think about SCORM at all…except that some options are not SCORM-exportable. For example, you will not be able to ‘Scormify’ gamification and engagement features. Fortunately, you have many other motivating, interactive features to choose from.
Step 2: While in the course Edit mode, you use the settings to tell your LMS to download your basket of content in SCORM format. Your SCORM package will appear in the Downloads section of your device. Then, just share this file with the platform/LMS of your choice.
And that’s it!