SCORM for Dummies

One of our faculty members taking on leadership of our learning objects action group is getting up to speed on learning about learning objects…. Donna sent this “Cliff Notes” version of SCORM:

This is an overview of the Sharable Courseware Object Reference Model.  It’s hard to make technical standards understandable (much less interesting).  Nonetheless, here’s the cliff notes version of what  you need to know about SCORM.

SCORM is a suite of technical standards that enable web-based learning systems to find, import, share, reuse, and export learning content in a standardized way.  (See ADL Background for how SCORM came to be.)  Note that SCORM is written primarily for vendors and toolmakers who build Learning Management Systems and learning content authoring tools so they know what they need to do to their products to conform with SCORM technically.  A “Designer’s Guide” for implementing SCORM is in the works.  Stay tuned.

It is still mud to me. I am therefore below a Dummie as I still do not see the importance of all the effort for standards when there is no system that provides the services to connect all the “compliant” data:

Never mind the terminology for now, but assume in the SCORM world there is a set of services that launches learning content, keeps track of learner progress, figures out in what order (sequence) learning objects are to be delivered, and reports student mastery through a learning experience.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. Alan, the irony of this presentation you point to is that it is by Phil Dodds of the ADL, who obviously knows a great deal about SCORM, and yet I would rate this one of the worst ‘dummies’ guides I’ve ever seen; poorly laid out, still crammed with acronyms, and using phrasing, like the one you point to in your last paragraph, that speak of seemingly non-existance SCORM-compliant LMS and just end up confusing the reader.

    The document is entirely accurate, just not very clear. SCORM really does two things. It makes learning content portable between systems that recognize the manner in which SCORM content packages work. And secondly it means that the systems between which that learning content can be moved can all launch and track how users move through the content in exactly the same way. What it meant is that publishers could no longer get away with selling you digital content that wouldn’t play properly in your CMS/LMS, and CMS/LMS vendors couldn’t get away with selling you a system that trapped you into forever using that system because your content was stuck in its proprietary format.

    It is important in providing a stable format for electronic learning content and thus creating the basis for a content marketplace to emerge, but at the same time it is dead boring stuff, and IMHO gets more attention than is its due simply for having a cool-sounding acronym (never underestimate the power of a cool-sounding acronym!)

    Cheers, Scott.

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