what is SCORM?

category: software
There is a lot of technical jargon you might come across when working with software, and eLearning is no exception. SCORM is a term you'll definitely come across working in Learning and Development, but what does it mean? Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.

SCORM definition

SCORM is the industry-recognised framework for education technology. Short for Shareable Content Object Reference Model, we can understand why you’d be confused! SCORM provides a list of technical specifications that eLearning software should follow, so that everything can work seamlessly together. Remember authoring tools have to work with Learning Management Systems (LMS), and vice versa. By having a standardised format, this is very easy to do. It’s been around since 2000 and is constantly adapting, so it’s best practice.

By following this list of specifications, you basically ensure that your course can work across any other SCORM compliant LMS system. SCORM is not about the course itself – there are no rules and requirements to write your content in a certain way, or assess users in a specific format. Working within these specifications however makes sure that both course designers and developers have a functioning product.

what is a Sharable Content Object (SCO)?

To understand what SCORM really means for you, you should understand what a Sharable Content Object (SCO) is. An SCO is essentially just a segment of your course – there is no specific definition and will depend on the size and complexity of your content. A whole module could be an SCO, but if you were to redevelop your course for different users, you might break it down into particular sub-sections. SCOs have additional functions in an LMS – they can be graded, marked as complete, or be bookmarked by the learner.

SCO example

Say you have built two courses – one on social psychology and one on criminal psychology. Both courses share an introductory module called ‘Psychology 101’. Rather than having duplicate modules, the LMS will pull the same content through for learners of both subjects. By creating Shareable Content Objects that are compliant with SCORM, your course will run more effectively and collaboratively with your LMS.

Even though have a single, specific objective for your course right now, you never know what you might need to use it for in the future. Some of the content could be very valuable to future courses you create, for example. Your company might decide to switch to a new learning management system due to pricing or support issues – but if they all follow the same specifications as you do then this will be very simple to manage.

what’s the advantage of using SCORM?

With the development of more interactive eLearning products, SCORM is becoming increasingly important to ensure that any multimedia continues to run. If you’ve ever opened a corrupted web page before to find that your computer isn’t running Flash, you’ll understand the issue. Staying within the technical guidelines makes sure that no matter how complex your course might be, it will run across any LMS.

We know SCORM sounds confusing, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a good idea to get to grips with the basics but more so that you can pick the right products. A good eLearning authoring tool will be SCORM compliant, which means that everything you create will be within the specifications. By starting off with the right product, you can’t go wrong.