10 tips for adding a SCORM activity in Moodle™

Today I’m going to focus on the best practices for adding SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) packages into your Moodle™ courses. Many people have a love/hate relationship with SCORM but once you learn these valuable tips and tricks I think you’ll start to fall in love and alleviate any frustrations you may have.

SCORM can sometimes be complicated to understand because of the amount of technical jargon associated with it. At a high-level SCORM allows instructors and course builders to upload content for the tracking of user data. It is not a file format but a standard that allows for cross platform integration. Thus the standard is interoperable across various systems and allows for the reuse of existing content. Sounds great doesn’t it?

If you want to add SCORM packages into Moodle™ follow these 10 tips and tricks:

1. Package your content to the SCORM 1.2 standard. Moodle™ is a 1.2 SCORM conformant Learning Management System. This means that Moodle™ is interoperable with any SCORM 1.2 conformant package that you add into your course. Moodle™ is not certified as conformant for SCORM 1.3 (also known as SCORM 2004).

2. Create a SCORM test shell. Before developing the SCORM package you will want to create a prototype of the interface design to ensure that the package will display as you would like it to in the Moodle™ interface. The amount of real estate that is available will vary depending on the theme you are using any wrappers or skins that you add to the file the Moodle™ activity settings you select and the user view you are using.

3. If mobile access by students is expected make the package responsive. Newer releases of authoring tools (e.g. Adobe Captivate 8) allow for the creation of SCORM packages that are responsive. A responsive design will respond to the size of the device being used to display the content for an optimal view.

4. Determine how you want the SCORM package to display and choose the appropriate settings.

You can choose various options for displaying the package such as hiding or showing the menus displaying the attempt status allowing for window scrolling and popping it into a new window. You’ll want to adjust these settings to you meet your needs. Dedicate some time to getting these settings right! Even a small error in size can result in annoying scroll bars for your users. You’ll use these settings when you upload the test package file.

5. Avoid displaying the package file in a new window when possible.

You can choose to display the package within the current window or in a new window. When possible avoid opening into a new window. The main reason for this best practice is usability. It is easier for users to navigate in the course when it is in the current window. There will be fewer clicks for navigation and it will be easier for users to keep track of where they are in the course. Another issue that can be caused by opening in a new window is how the various browsers and toolbars handle pop-up windows; they are often blocked. If displaying in a new window you can update the stage size for the dimensions of the file.

Sometimes you may want to open in a new window because you need the extra real estate or you really want to immerse the user in the activity. If this is the case experiment with the various dimensions and options. If you don’t know the computer specifications for your end-users be sure to warn them of the pop-up windows in the beginning of the course. If your users take the training in a controlled environment you won’t need to worry about this too much. Just remember that users often access their courses from multiple locations so this may still be problematic. If you want to change this setting later to open in the current window you’ll most likely have to deal with scrolling issues or rework your content.

6. Upload and test the SCORM package file as an end user.

Upload the SCORM package file with the desired settings in Moodle™. It is critical that you view the uploaded prototype as the end user. When viewing as an instructor the Add a block drop-down menu displays. As a result it seems that you have less area to work with than you really do. Make sure you view the course on a computer that reflects the minimum resolution that you are developing to support. You’ll want to rework the interface design and update the package until you reach the desired results.

7. Disable the course structure player when possible.

The course structure player displays to the left of the object and allows users to jump between SCOs (Sharable Content Objects). The “hidden” setting means that it will appear as collapsed but the user can still open it. I typically choose the “disabled” setting because I usually have only one SCO. If you don’t need the course structure player for navigation then I would disable it. Less is more when it comes to interface design!

8. Don’t skip the content structure page!

If you want your users to try an activity again even after passing it then set “Student skip content structure page” to Never. This is great for corporate trainings where we tend to allow multiple attempts for users. When it is configured this way a checkbox will appear after the first attempt allowing the users to start a new attempt.

9. Set the grading criteria.

If you set the grading method to “Learning objects” the default grade will be one point in the gradebook. I typically set the grading method to the “highest grade” and set the maximum grade to be equal to the number of points in the SCORM file package. This will vary depending on your standards.

10. View reports.

Once users start interacting with the activity you can view results by clicking on the Reports tab. Each user’s attempt score and access information will display in a table. To view a user’s attempt just click the number in the attempt column. This will tell you the user’s status (e.g. Completed) and the score. You can also click the “Track details” link to view the details for the answers you chose to report to the LMS from within the SCORM package. In this view you can see an analysis of the activity such as correct and wrong choices and see how long the user was within the activity.

The SCORM activity in Moodle™ allows for many options and it allows you to create a perfect fit to display your content. Take some time to determine the settings that will work best for your organization or institution. Moodle™ site administrators can promote consistency and save time for instructors and course builders by changing the default settings for the SCORM activity. If you’d like to learn more about SCORM visit the ADL website. If you’d like to learn more about other advanced Moodle™ and Joule features check out our Moodle™/Joule Course Building for Advanced Users online course.

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca DeSantis, Senior Instructional Designer



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