What You Need to Know About SCORM Content Creation

Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are being used more and more outside the classroom setting. Businesses and organizations of all sizes and industries continue to find their LMS to be an essential component of comprehensive employee training practices. One popular and widely used instruction delivery mechanism is SCORM content packaging. This blog post will help you understand everything you need to know about this technology.

An LMS improves the effectiveness of content delivery and quality, and it also streamlines and unifies training across the entire organization. As companies look to make the most of an LMS, there’s the challenge of converting visual or written content into an eLearning course that remains functional between one platform and another. SCORM presents the solution.

What Is SCORM?

SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) defines how to create content that can be reused in different systems and contexts, and includes specifications and guidelines for how developers can create that content.

In an online training course, a Shareable Content Object (SCO) is the smallest training unit. This is a piece of content that could range from a page to a full module. It must be content that is both independent and reusable when looked at from the context of the training program or lesson.

The LMS will usually list each SCO as a separate item in a table of contents for the course, and assessment results are individually tracked by SCORM for these sections. SCORM also establishes a line of communication between the LMS host systems and the content creation for the client. For example, it describes the content of any given SCORM-compatible ZIP file in a way that any receiving LMS will understand.

In short, SCORM regulates both data exchange and content packaging in an LMS. It’s a standard across the industry to advise developers on effectively creating and integrating content.

Different Types of SCORM

There are three versions of SCORM, with each subsequent model building upon the foundations laid by the prior version. Many content vendors and learning management systems support SCORM 2004, which is the most recent release as of writing.

The basic operations of SCORM are the same regardless of the different versions. They all govern the exchange of data at run-time, and they package content.

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SCORM Content Packaging

Each SCORM file is a ZIP file package that contains both content and instructions for execution. Every SCORM ZIP contains a key file called “lmsmanifest.xml”. In this file, all the information needed for the LMS to import and launch content without having to involve human effort is stored. The manifest file contains the XML arguments that establish the structure of the course for the eLearning users. It also contains the physical file system information. The document answers questions such as:

  • What is this content titled?
  • What document needs to be launched?

Exchanging Data

The content has to locate the LMS and communicate through a series of “set” and “get” calls upon a pre-established vocabulary. These relays can include things like, “Request the user’s name,” or, “Deliver and register the user score of 90% on this assessment to the LMS.”

The expansive nature of the SCORM vocabulary determines both the number and in-depth nature of the communications made with the LMS.

Using and Reusing SCORM Content

With SCORM, content can be created one time and then merged into different situations or systems without going through extensive modification. It’s a powerful tool that should be used by anyone taking part in creating eLearning, distance learning, computer-based, or online training.

As a plug-and-play functionality, content can be used across a number of organizations, regardless of the host's origin or intention. Users across industries can access more effective, robust content at lower prices given the ability for developers to mass-market content.

As an example, The U.S. Department of Defense appreciates the benefits of this model and has required any content released through the DOD to be delivered through SCORM. Large organizations have already taken advantage of the model, though it’s quickly rising to importance across all industries and businesses as a way to source training content and LMS options.

The Importance of Conforming to SCORM

Work with a skilled software developer to ensure that you properly conform to the SCORM standard. Content needs to be both conformant and compatible if it’s going to be seamlessly and broadly adapted into eLearning or training needs, and accurate implementation of SCORM is your best way of achieving this.

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