A quick intro to how SCORM works

Do you know what SCORM is and do you want to find out more about how it works? Here’s a quick guide to what this powerful tool is and how it can work to improve your organization’s e-learning operations.

By Kasper Spiro on Oct 15th

intro to scorm

What is SCORM?

SCORM is an acronym for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. It’s all about making learning management systems (LMSs) and e-learning content compatible across many different SCORM-friendly systems. This makes it easier and faster to reuse content without having to tweak it for use on different platforms.

What are SCOs?

Sharable Content Objects (SCOs) are the basic building blocks of SCORM. They are pieces of e-learning material that can be shared between various systems within a single organization and beyond. These can take different forms (like a single lesson, a piece of microcontent or a training module). Whatever form they take, the SCOs are always free-standing and reusable.

Reference Model

SCORM is considered a “Reference Model” rather than a standard because it is actually a combination of many different standards used within the e-learning industry. The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (ADL) designed SCORM to combine and reference these standards so that developers can make them work together.

How to use SCORM

So, are you ready to learn more about how SCORM works? There are two main SCORM versions being used today (SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004) and they both do essentially the same thing. Their main purpose is to package content and facilitate run-time data exchange between the SCOs and the LMS.

Content packaging is about creating the actual form in which the content will be distributed. SCORM’s packaging is based on a .XML file called “imsmanifest,” which contains all the information an LMS needs for importing and automatically launching content. All data about how the course looks in terms of its actual layout and file structure is stored in the imsmanifest.XML file.

Run-time communication defines the way the SCO interacts with the LMS as it is in use. This interaction provides the ability to deliver the content and track learner interactions and results. The content must first locate the LMS. After that, it uses “get” and “set” calls and related vocabulary to communicate with the LMS and control the way the content is used. For example, it prompts the LMS to ask for the user’s name or other important tracking information. It also controls messages that the LMS displays to the learner. The entire interactive experience of the LMS is dictated by the breadth of the SCORM vocabulary being used, so the broader the vocabulary, the richer the learner experience.

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About the author

Kasper Spiro is the CEO of Easygenerator and a recognized thought leader in the world of e-learning. With over 30 years of experience, he is a frequently asked keynote speaker and well-renowned blogger within the e-learning community.

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