Top Ten (10) things to know about SCORM 2004

This article describes a high-level overview of what most users should know about SCORM.

  1. It’s easy to conform to the SCORM model! Believe it or not, it’s actually quite easy to conform to the SCORM model since most eLearning authoring tools automatically create SCORM code for you! For example, tools from Articulate (Storyline, Presenter, etc.), Adobe Captivate, and more automatically export content that is SCORM conformant. Trouble generally occurs when users run into challenges making their SCORM-packages function properly within their chosen LMS. Sometimes the code needs minor editing, and sometimes the problem stems from some user-error that is easily corrected.
  2. SCORM simply stands forSharable Content Object Reference Model”. Sharable means that your content can be reused, reorganized, and re-purposed as needed. Content Objects can generally be thought of content “chunks”. Some people may group their content into individual lessons, or group lessons into modules, group modules into chapters, or group all content into a single course.
  3. SCO stands for a Sharable content Object and is the “SCO” in SCORM. A SCO (rhymes with toe) is generally your content zipped up in a compressed file folder for upload and import into a SCORM-conformant Learning Management System (LMS).
  4. Reference Model simply means that if you follow the programming methods as defined by the SCORM standard, your content will work in any SCORM-compliant Learning Management System, of which there are many. SCORM is essentially a set of documented standards (an ideal model) that if everyone “references” or conforms to this model, content will plug-and-play seamlessly.
  5. The IMSMANIFEST file is simply a text (XML) file that describes for the LMS the makeup, content, and other descriptive information about the SCORM package that you have uploaded. It is rare that you will have to manually code this file as many off-the-shelf tools automate this process. It may be helpful to know how to hand-code or make edits to this file, but that’s only if you or someone on your team is a SCORM expert or savvy programmer.
  6. A Content Package is simply a file (usually a zip file) that contains your SCORM manifest file, your eLearning content files (Flash, HTML pages, pictures, whatever) and other information. Usually whatever course authoring tool you are using will ask you various questions in order to automatically create the SCORM content package for you.
  7. SCORM API stands for Application Programming Interface. Basically all this means is that there is a standard set of programming instructions that, when followed, makes your content plug-and-play with other SCORM technologies, like a Learning Management System (LMS). Unless you are a programmer, you will not have to concern yourself with the SCORM API. Just be aware that the API is what allows communication to occur between your content and the LMS, and that if you are experiencing a problem, the root cause may be a problem at the API level.
  8. JavaScript is the most popular scripting approach to making SCORM courses communicate with the LMS. If you are looking to troubleshoot SCORM issues, you should find someone who has both XML and JavaScript experience, as well as a general familiarity with the SCORM model. Check within your current technology staff to see who possesses these skills already and be sure they are up-to-speed on your eLearning and SCORM-based initiatives.
  9. The SCORM test suite is produced by the ADL (the stewards and sponsors of  SCORM) and is a free tool for use in testing your SCORM packages. If you need help testing and troubleshooting your SCORM issues, contact the author of this article to learn about affordable consulting services.
  10. The Moodle LMS is also a great open-source and freely available Learning Management System that you can use to test your SCORM packages in a live, fully-functional LMS environment.

Contact the eLearning Network(TM) if you need any assistance troubleshooting SCORM and one of our members will gladly assist you.

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