What is SCORM? How to create training courses in minutes

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SCORM files are one of the most important concepts in the e-learning field. In fact, so great is their importance that the term has been an international point of reference for over 20 years. But what is SCORM exactly? In this article, we’ll discover what SCORM files are, why they are indispensable when it comes to creating e-learning courses, and finally, what their benefits are.

What is SCORM?

The acronym SCORM stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model. SCORM is an e-learning format, which was introduced in 1999 to provide a standard framework for the wider e-learning industry.

The great advantage of the SCORM format is its flexibility, as any content produced with it is compatible with all learning management platforms or LMS. Its easy shareability is a significant strength.

What is SCORM

The importance of SCORM in e-learning

Let’s give ourselves some context. Before the existence of SCORM, individual companies used their own programming languages for any pedagogical content they created. As a result, it was impossible to share or exchange that content effectively between different platforms, since each linguistic system worked in its own way.

In the early years of online training, this lack of shareability was a huge problem and a solution was needed, hence the creation of a standard format in SCORM. Crucially, SCORM is neither a program nor a tool: rather, it is a set of specifications used as standard across the e-learning industry for the production of content.

Following this model, a content production company can create e-learning courses for multiple entities by using the same set of standards. These standards are compatible with many LMS platforms such as Moodle, Chamilo and Canvas. With SCORM, everyone benefits: content creators, companies and, above all, students.

What is a SCORM package?

A SCORM package is the set of elements that make up the content of an e-learning course. It can be opened or reproduced through a training platform or LMS.

SCORM packages are compressed files, normally in a .zip or .pif format or extension. Within these packages, you’ll find all the resources that make up a training course: videos, images, assessments, communication channels, surveys, tutorials… in short, everything you need to put together a successful e-learning course.

What is not SCORM?

As we can see, SCORM is not content in itself, but rather a format that brings together all the pieces of an e-learning course within the same file. Therefore:

  • It will never have formatting or visual presentation features.
  • It will not necessarily be interactive or dynamic. SCORM embraces all types of content, which can be either interactive or ‘passive’ – for example, text or a static image.

So, SCORM can include anything from a single sentence to an extensive course with multiple elements such as videos, images and web pages.

Different versions of SCORM

Two versions of the SCORM format are used today: SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004.

SCORM 1.2

The first is compatible with most existing LMSs , but has some limitations in terms of recording student activity. Although it can struggle with more extensive courses, it is easy to use and accommodates most authoring tools on the market.

SCORM 2004

SCORM 2004 allows you to keep a complete record of a student’s grade and progress, and is preferred by many for creating e-learning training content. However, it is more difficult to use than its predecessor, and has more compatibility problems. On the other hand, it has a much larger capacity, and features better performance than SCORM 1.2.

The benefits of SCORM in e-learning

In addition to ensuring that content is compatible with different e-learning platforms, the SCORM format brings a series of benefits that significantly improve online learning:

Operability

Today, any LMS can host content, regardless of how that content was created. This offers a lot of flexibility and comfort. If at any time you want to change LMS providers, no problem! You can continue to use existing courses on the new LMS platform.

Accessibility

SCORM allows e-learning content to be viewed from a browser. This means that students can interact with their courses 24/7. All they need to do is access their e-learning platform!

Technological capacity

One of the peculiarities of the SCORM format is that it was deliberately designed to avoid technological obsolescence. Thanks to this, older content can continue to be used, even in the most advanced LMS!

Reusability

All SCORM content features a diverse array of smaller packages integrated within it (the SCO) part of the SCORM name). These packages can be used independently in other courses.

Completion rates

SCORM allows trainers to review the progress of each student within a course, in order to detect anomalous incidents or particular needs.

Convenience

If a student leaves a course, they’ll be able to return directly to the point where they left off when they return. This ensures complete freedom to students to access content wherever and whenever they want, without having to search for a checkpoint or start again from the beginning.

Recording capacity

Thanks to SCORM, training managers will be able to see exactly how much time students have invested in their content. This is especially helpful in evaluating whether the duration of a course is correct or, on the other hand, if it is too long and boring. It also allows you to identify if students have taken too much time (or too little) to complete specific lessons.

At the same time, it also records student’s individual scores after evaluations, so you can assess their performance more accurately.

How to create SCORM packages

As we’ve seen, a SCORM package is a compressed file that allows you to put all of the information relating to a course in one place. This information includes:

  • Metadata, which is required to give structure to the contents
  • Learning objects and course content, such as texts, videos and images
  • Javascript API – allows and governs user interaction with the content.

The difficulty of implementing SCORM packages is highly variable, depending on the complexity of the course you wish to integrate. However, with the right authoring tool, it is possible to create SCORM packages without advanced programming or design knowledge.

Tools like isEazy Author even allow you to produce accessible e-learning courses in SCORM format automatically.

Tools for designing SCORM courses

Some pieces of software, such as isEazy Author, automatically generate the code that allows a course to interact with an LMS, before creating a single file which contains all the training materials. This process leaves you with one simple task: upload the course to the learning platform of your choice. Tools with this feature can be divided into three broad categories:

Cloud based tools

These types of tools do not require prior installation, nor do they demand a specific operating system or detailed configuration. You can use them directly from a website or app, simply by logging in with your username and password. The main advantage of these tools is their wide variety of ready-to-use resources, in addition to an intuitive interface and a low learning curve, which makes them perfect for collaborative projects.

Power Point-based tools

Although most tools allow you to convert a PowerPoint-style presentation into an e-learning course, there are some that specialize uniquely in this function. In this sense, they act as a complement to the PowerPoint program.

The main drawback of this type of tool is that its options for interactivity, resources and educational content are fairly limited. On the other hand, they work well for teams who lack knowledge in course creation, since they use the simple, classic PowerPoint design as a base.

Specialized tools

These tools offer the greatest flexibility and freedom when it comes to creating courses. They are powerful tools that allow you to develop highly complex scenarios, even including simulations and virtual reality.

However, the learning curve of these tools is very high, and it can take a long time to create e-learning courses with them. In general, they tend to be preferred by experts.

The future of SCORM

Although SCORM has been an industry standard for many years, it is not the only viable option for developing e-learning courses. There are alternatives on the market, such as xAPI.

Patterns of content consumption are constantly changing, and this phenomenon is causing students and instructional designers to look for more suitable alternatives to traditional SCORM packages. This is where xAPI comes into play. It can record any learning experience, wherever and however it takes place. In addition, its features offer more possibilities than SCORM. xAPI:

  • Provides more detailed test results
  • Does not require an LMS or internet browser to work
  • Can be used in mobile apps
  • Allows managers full control over content.

Despite these advantages, it is unlikely that the dominance of SCORM will be compromised in the short term. SCORM and xAPI are formats that can coexist, since e-learning courses easily accommodate the use of different types of resources.

How can you create SCORM courses in minutes? Discover isEazy Author

Now that you understand SCORM and all its benefits, it’s time for you to discover isEazy Author. If you are an instructional designer, or in charge of training employees in your company, then you need a powerful tool that will allow you to create courses quickly and intuitively. You’ll also need a tool that can export those courses into SCORM format, ready for upload to your LMS.

isEazy Author is a cloud-based tool, featuring a wide range of ready-to-use templates and resources, that lets you create professional courses in mere minutes. So what are you waiting for? Try isEazy Author for free today, and start seeing professional results without the need for technical knowledge.

Sara De la Torre

CONTENT CREATED BY:

Sara De la Torre

Content Marketing Manager at isEazy

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