SCORM 101

 SCORM

 

What does Scorm compliant mean?

SCORM is a standard in e-Learning that makes it possible to track and trace the results of your learners in a Learning Management system (LMS). A course is scorm compliant when it meets the requirements of the standard set by the ADL. It makes it possible to create an e-Learning course in any authoring environment and run it in any LMS. The basic set up of SCORM compliancy is very simple:

  1. Create a course in an e-Learning authoring tool (like Easygenerator) or in a LMS
  2. Publish the e-Learning course as a SCORM packages (something like save as SCORM)
  3. Upload the SCORM compliant course in your LMS and invite your learners
  4. All results of your leaners will be stored in your LMS

Which results will be stored?

If a course is SCORM compliant it can store almost everything:

  • End result of a course (failed, passed and end score)
  • Questions answered correct or incorrect
  • Which answers were given
  • How long a page was viewed
  • Which pages are viewed
  • Total time spend
  • Score per Learning objective
  • Incomplete results and progress (so the learner can resume a course later)

Does SCORM compliant always mean the same?

No it doesn’t. it has a compulsory part (basically all the results) but also elements that can be added optional. Bookmarking (the storage of incomplete results) and results per leaning objective are optional. This means that if you want to buy an authoring tool or a LMS, you should check if they report on the elements that you need!

And there is a second but: reporting. If the results are stored in the database of your LMS, it does not mean you can get them out in an easy way. That depends on the reports the LMS is offering. Some LMS have very complete reports or allow you to create your own report. If you want to make sure that the LMS does what you need, just check the reporting function!

SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004

Yes there are two version of SCORM, SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004. The latest version is SCORM 2004, but both are still used. In fact, the oldest version SCORM 1.2 is the most popular one. So what is the difference? In fact, if you just want to have a report on your learners results, both will do. The main difference between the two is that SCORM 2004 adds options for complex navigation and sequencing. If you need that, make sure that both your authoring environment and your LMS are 2004 SCORM compliant. If you need the learners results, SCORM 1.2 will also work.

SCORM and XAPI or Tincan

The latest version of SCORM dates back to 2004 (although there where updates a decade ago, it is ancient). In the meantime we have seen the rise of mobile learning with smart phones and tablets. It isn’t the newest solution for tracking and tracing anymore, we now have XAPI, also known as TinCan. It can do what SCORM does but there are major differences…

SCORM and XAPI compared

So what is new? The big limitation of SCORM is that it can only track and trace your learners results if your learners are learning within your LMS. One of the big trends in e-Learning is that it is becoming more informal and is moving to the workplace. In short; people are learning more outside a LMS. XAPI allows tracking and tracing from anywhere. So if your course or quiz is on a website, blog or in an app, you can still track and trace the results.

Tracking experiences

But there is more. XAPI is short for ‘eXperience API’. An API is a technique that allows software to exchange information. This means XAPI is meant to exchange and capture learning experiences. That is not the same as capturing a result, it is something completely different. When you are performing a task for the first time, you will learn. That is something that happens in the real world and not within the boundaries of a LMS. SCORM can not help you here, but XAPI can. It allows the learner to record this learning experience and the result. It is stored in a database that is called a Learning Record Store (LRS). XAPI reports through statements that have a specific structure: I (actor) did (verb) this (activity). So a statement could be: Kasper Spiro wrote a post on XAPI. In fact I did and you can read it here.

What does this mean to you? Not that much yet I’m afraid. Almost everybody loves the idea of tracking learning experiences from everywhere. But how do you use it in a way that is simple and that it adds value to your learning. That is more difficult. It is for vendors like Easygenerator or other authoring tools to come up with simple and useful applications of the XAPI. An example is that Easygenerator will add the ability to add assignments to your courses. These assignments need to be performed in the real world. In the assignment the learner will have an option to report on the result of this learning experience by simply filling in a simple field. We will use XAPI to store and report that. It will be in our product somewhere in 2015.

XAPI, SCORM and CMI5

As mentioned earlier, SCORM is ancient. There is a new standard in development that will be the next generation. It is called CMI5. It uses the technique of XAPI, but it will add default statements to track and trace results of learning in a formal e-Learning course. This way, they are recreating SCORM based on XAPI. It will be more flexible in the sense that you can track and trace learning results outside an LMS, but it will only be useful for formal learning activities like a course, a quiz or an exam. So nothing to worry about for now.

Do I need it?

That really depends on your needs. The big advantage of SCORM is that you can use an external authoring tool so you don’t have to create your courses in an LMS. The big advantage of that is that your courses will be independent off a LMS. You can use them in any LMS. When you want to switch from LMS or publish your courses on the web, that is possible. But beware, if you want to avoid vendor lock in, it’s best to use a 3rd party authoring tool like Easygenerator to keep your content available.

If it is just for the tracking and tracing of results you do not need SCORM. Easygenerator is an e-Learning authoring tool, but it offers also the possibility to publish the courses to one of our webservers and report in-depth results from your learners per question, learning objective or course.

  • In the Free plan you will see the results of your last ten learners in the authoring tool.
  • In the Starter Plan you will see the results of all your learners in the authoring tool
  • The Plus Plan offers more advanced reporting (more detail) and allows you to download these results, so you can import them in your own result system.

LTI Integration

Another way to add courses to your learning management system is to use an LTI integration. LTI stands for Learning Tools Interoperability and allows for a seamless integration between an authoring tool like Easygenerator and a learning management system. The difference with SCORM integration is that you don’t export course by course, but you plug your authoring system directly into a learning management system.

 

Other useful links:

Everything you need to know about 70-20-10:

7 Musts you need to know when starting with e-learning software

Everything you need to know on scaling learning within your company with user generated content