There are many different Learning Management Systems, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. You can use these systems to present any type of web content on any subject with many different design possibilities.Although the content can be anything, in many cases it must be specifically designed to "fit" with a particular LMS in order to work properly.Things start to fall apart when you want to share your content or get it to work with a different LMS. Because the content was written specifically for a proprietary LMS, it usually won't work properly with another LMS.For the sake of simplicity, we've used the term LMS to refer to everything from simple course management systems to complex enterprise-scale distributed environments.
Here's an LMS with a "competitive edge"—conformance to the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM).SCORM conformance enables such capabilities as the ability to use standard "packages" of learning content, the ability to recognize individual students and collect information about their progress, and knowing important details about a piece of content through metadata.As long as the SCORM “edge” stays the same, that is, SCORM conformant, Learning Management Systems can come in many different shapes and sizes.In other words, Learning Management Systems and Leaning Content Management Systems can offer different feature sets, have different strengths, and be very different in look and feel, but as long as they follow the SCORM, SCORM content should work well with any of them.
This graphic represents a SCO, or Sharable Content Object. Notice that the contour of its bottom edge fits exactly into the SCORM edge of our various Learning Management Systems.This SCO, being SCORM conformant, works with every SCORM conformant Learning Management System. Although the different management systems have unique features, all can handle conformant SCOs.
SCOs can contain any type of information, have any instructional design, can be many different sizes, and can be various types of digital content. All that matters is that they “fit” with conforming Learning Management Systems—that is, that they are designed according to SCORM.
An Example:An instructor would like to add an exercise on identifying cloud types to an online course on weather. It should work with basic browsers, take less than 10 minutes for a student to complete and should be available in a Spanish language version.Using a SCORM-savvy Learning Management System, the instructor conducts a search of multiple linked archives. A suitable module is retrieved as a content package and added to the instructor's course. Because both the content and the LMS are SCORM conformant, advanced features such as student progress tracking and score reporting work transparently in conjunction with the rest of the course.The completed course, composed of accessible Sharable Content Objects (SCOs) from several sources, is delivered to multiple remote locations.SCORM Features That Support Accessibility:SCORM addresses the Accessibility requirement by providing a standard way of packaging content as re-usable, self-contained objects. Rich, standardized metadata is associated with the content, containing information about subject matter, design, rights, technical, and pedagogical aspects, and enabling sophisticated searches across distributed repositories. Course structure information is contained with the content, enabling a Learning Management System to make sophisticated use for the material.
An Example:Your organization has several extensive training courses that cover a variety of proprietary business software systems. Each course provides training that covers novice-level concepts up through expert-level usage.A major project has been launched that will require hiring hundreds of new employees that will need an introduction to the entire breadth of your company’s software systems. Thankfully, the content has been designed such that SCORM can be used to assemble novice-level content from disparate courses into a new course that covers all of the software systems at a basic level.This will also allow employees who have already completed some modules of content to skip needing to take those exact modules again just because they have been restructured into a new course.SCORM Features That Support Adaptability:SCORM addresses the adaptability requirement by making use of reusable, self-contained objects and corresponding metadata that allow for restructuring of content based on current needs. SCORM 2004 also provides a Sequencing and Navigation model that allows the flow of content to be adjusted based on a specific user’s interaction with the course.
An Example:Several years ago you spent considerable time and resources moving your PC-based course onto the Web using a popular learning content management system. Now your institution no longer supports the system you used, and the new system won't run your course. Your materials are not durable.Since you will have to redesign the course from the ground up, this is your chance to make it durable so you'll never be in this position again. Make sure your new course is SCORM conformant so you'll be better able to navigate the next technology change—there's always one coming—with much less disruption and expense.SCORM Features That Support Durability:SCORM addresses the durability requirement by standardizing communications between management systems and content and specifying critical details about how content is aggregated and packaged.
An Example:Your Web-based project management course is popular and effective. Your counterparts at State and Tech would like to use it, and you're happy to let them. You used "Brand X," an authoring system that produces SCORM conformant content which works just fine on your school's management system. Over at State they use "Brand Y," also SCORM conformant, so getting the course up and running is fairly straightforward. At Tech they have a custom system pulled together over the years from open source components. When they tried the course at Tech, you could see the pages, but all the navigation was broken and there was no ability to track student progress or record their answers.Because of SCORM, your materials were interoperable with other conformant systems. Other systems require unique custom solutions that only work with the system they were designed for and are therefore not interoperable.SCORM Features That Support Interoperability:SCORM addresses the Interoperability requirement by standardizing communications between management systems and content and specifying critical details about how content is aggregated and packaged. There's a common way to initialize and finish content, and content can only be launched by the management system, not by other Sharable Content Objects. SCORM provides a standard means and vocabulary for the exchange of data between the materials a learner is working on and the management system that is monitoring their progress.
An Example:Your company has changed rapidly in the last few years and needed numerous small changes to your company’s extensive catalog of training content. Over time, the combined changes to the content have made portions of it irrelevant and disorganized, and cannot be easily removed or restructured.For example, previously each department’s training courses had a section regarding company-wide policies and how they applied uniquely to the specific department. Recently, however, company-wide policies have been normalized across all departments, making it necessary to update each section dealing with company-wide policies individually. This example is not that significant on its own, but when combined with numerous other similar issues it becomes nearly impossible to manage. Your content is not maintainable.SCORM Features That Support Maintainability:SCORM addresses the maintainability requirement by providing a flexible mechanism for structuring the storage of content. Sharable Content Objects can be used to organize content into small portions that can be more easily rearranged or updated.
An Example:You've developed interactive diagrams and simulations that are perfect for teaching basic concepts in logistics. At a national conference, half the people who saw your presentation asked for copies. Fortunately, because you've been creating SCORM conformant materials, it's easy for you to give them your packages for importation into their systems. And those who are also using SCORM conformant systems should be able to use the material without too much tinkering. Encouraged by your reception, you decide to place your materials on a national repository. You've included good metadata (also part of the SCORM) so anyone interested should be able to find and use the materials quite easily—provided their systems also support the SCORM. Your materials are highly reusable, substantially increasing their value and providing more return for your investment of time and resources.By the way, if you want to control or benefit from the use of your materials, SCORM conformant objects contain authorship, rights, and usage information.SCORM Features That Support Reusability:SCORM addresses the reusability requirement in the following ways: It provides a uniform way of packaging content. Rich metadata capabilities enable the location and legitimate use of learning materials. SCORM provides a standard way of stopping, starting, and communicating with content that is widely published and therefore widely supported by content and tools producers.
The Sharable Content Object Reference Model might be thought of as a collection of related books, like a multi-volume reference work. Each volume in the set collects together related information and specifications, and taken together, the completed set will address the major issues and needs related to the implementation of Web-based learning.SCORM is a set of documents that will evolve over time as the state of the art advances. That doesn't mean established portions of the reference model will be always changing. Once a section is stable, it should not change radically and changes will be confined to minor adjustments to keep up with new developments in the field or to stay in sync with the underlying specifications. SCORM will expand to cover additional areas of concern to e-learning developers, adding new "books" to the reference model as agreement emerges on what additions are most urgently needed.SCORM 2004 3rd Edition has four books:SCORM OverviewSCORM Content Aggregation ModelSCORM Run-Time EnvironmentSCORM Sequencing and Navigation
The SCORM Overview book is a general, high-level summary of the specification's key ideas. It covers the following information:An high-level introduction to SCORMA description of the ADL’s “ilities,” and how they form high-level functional requirements for SCORMA summary of the relationship between Learning Management Systems and SCORMA summary of the technical specifications and guidelines included in SCORMHow SCORM has evolved from earlier versions into SCORM 2004 3rd Edition.How the SCORM books are organized and related to one anotherAn overview of the software used for testing SCORM content and tools.A list of commonly used terms and acronyms
The SCORM Content Aggregation Model (CAM) contains technical information about consistent storage, labeling, packaging, exchange and discovery of learning content. It covers the following information:The Content Model: the components used in a learning experience Content Packaging: how to package those components for exchange from system to system Metadata: how to describe those components to enable search and discovery Sequencing and Navigation: how to define sequencing information for the components
The Run-Time Environment (RTE) book contains technical guidance for launching, communicating with and tracking content within a Learning Management System-based environment. It covers the following information:How SCOs and Assets are launched in a the run-time environmentHow SCOs communicate with LMSsThe data model requirements and behaviorThe application programming interface (API) requirements for learning management systems
The SCORM Sequencing and Navigation book provides technical details about using SCORM to change the structure of content delivered to the learner, based on their actions or the actions of the system. It covers the following information:Detailed descriptions and requirements of the sequencing information that can be applied to learning activitiesDetailed descriptions of LMS behaviors used to alter the learner’s experience with learning contentThe controls, requirements and data model used in SCORM navigationCommon terms used in SCORM Sequencing and Navigation
Gathering and organizing learning resources is an essential component of teaching—whether in the classroom or online. SCORM incorporates several significant tools to facilitate the aggregation of content.The Content Model — Nomenclature defining the content components of a learning experienceMetadata — A mechanism for describing specific instances of the components of the content modelContent Packaging — including Content Structure, which defines how to represent the intended behavior of a learning experience, and Content Packaging, which defines how to package learning resources for movement between different delivery environments
The Content Model is a framework for describing the components used to build a learning experience. The model identifies three types of components and defines how these lower-level reusable learning resources may be aggregated into higher-level units of instruction. The three classes of components within the SCORM Content Model are:Assets – text, images, sound, media, web pages and assessments that can be delivered via a Web client.Sharable Content Objects (SCOs) – A collection of one or more assets that can be launched by and communicate with a Learning Management System.Content Aggregation – An organization of assets and SCOs into a cohesive unit of instruction.
SCORM Metadata provides a standard framework and vocabulary for storing and communicating useful information about learning resources. Broadly speaking, metadata is information about something that can be ascertained without actually examining it. For example, a card catalog entry for a library book tells you such things as who published the book, what language it is written in, and how many pages it has. Using the catalog you can figure all this out without going into the stacks to examine the book and counting the pages yourself.Can example: What’s in this can?There's no way you can answer this question because the can has no label.Of course, it’s not hard to open the can to find out, but that is pretty inconvenient unless you want to eat right away.Opening up a single can is not particularly troublesome, but what if you have a whole pantry full of cans without labels? It quickly becomes impractical. Every time you prepare a meal, you are likely to go through a number of wrong cans before you find what you need.A label on a can is metadata giving a range of information about what is inside. Among other things, the label might include:The name of the food the can containsThe amount of food the can containsThe nutritional content of the foodA list of ingredientsWhere the food was producedBatch number and expiration dateInstructions for preparation
The purpose of Content Packaging is to provide a standardized way to exchange digital learning resources between different systems or tools.Assets, SCOs, and Content Aggregations are typically composed of multiple files that must be kept together to work properly. One of the best examples is a series of web pages. A web page is often composed of multiple files—graphics, scripts, style sheets and the HTML file itself. A series of web pages would also contain links between the pages. If pages are missing, the link goes nowhere. If graphics or related files are missing, there will be big gaps in the information. It is essential that all these “assets” be kept together or the web pages won’t work and no learning can occur.In addition to the files themselves, a content package will contain a manifest, a file that details what’s in the package and in some cases also suggests a preferred organization of the content.Finally, the SCORM specifies archiving methods to keep all the files together so they can easily be moved between systems or stored.
Authoring a collection of learning resources into a logical structure typically involves organizing the learning resources into a hierarchy. Often the most useful hierarchy closely reflects the taxonomic organization of the instructional design.This table shows how different entities (designers, organizations, learning management systems) often use different terms to refer to similar concepts within a taxonomy.It also illustrates how different schemes will not necessarily have the same levels and numbers of levels within their taxonomic hierarchy.
SCORM incorporates the IMS Content Packaging Specification as a versatile method of representing an organization or organizations of learning materials. The specification provides a logical structure for the organization of learning resources into a hierarchy.An organization may consist of one or more branches composed of items. A hierarchy of these items may be used to represent such concepts as unit, chapter, module or topic, depending on the design of the course.Items may be grouped together within other items, and may be nested any number of levels.This hierarchy of items provides the foundation for the organization (or multiple organizations) and sequencing of learning content.
An IMS Content Package is a self-contained unit of digital content. It may be an entire course, a collection of courses or part of a course that can potentially stand on its own. A package may contain other, smaller packages and may in turn be part of a larger package.An IMS Content Package contains two major components:A Manifest file with the name imsmanifest.xml. This XML document describes the content and organization and enumerates the resources contained in the package.The physical files referenced in the Manifest — the actual content.To facilitate archiving and transport between systems, all the individual components may optionally be placed in a single Package Interchange File, "Zip" file conformant to PKZip version 2.04g.The manifest contains metadata, an Organizations section, a list of Resources, and references to Sub-manifests if any exist.
The Content Packaging XML Binding is a definition for how to represent, or bind, the elements of the Content Packaging Information Model in XML. An XML file is a standardized way of representing information within a text file so it can be interchanged between systems.Below is an example of how a content aggregation package might be represented in XML. A manifest tag encloses all other elements. Every content aggregation package must contain a single Organizations element, which may contain multiple Organization elements. Every manifest element must contain one and only one Resources element, pointing to resources related to the package.For the sake of simplicity, the example below shows one organization within the organizations element and one resource within the resources element. A real manifest would contain multiple resource elements and might contain multiple organization elements. The manifest might also contain a metadata element and one or more sub-manifests — nested manifest elements that describe components of the package. Certain attributes of the manifest element (e.g., identifier) have also been omitted.XML is currently the only method defined in the SCORM of binding the Content Packaging Information Model. Although other technical means of representing the information may emerge as needs change, the underlying Contact Packaging Information Model will persist and provide the common thread between various ways of packaging and aggregating SCORM content.
An important goal of SCORM is to make it possible for content objects to be interoperable across multiple Learning Management Systems. The SCORM Run-Time Environment is a set of specifications and standards that enable learning management systems and learning content to communicate and work together. To make this happen, you need:A common way to start content objectsA common mechanism for communication with an LMSA common vocabulary for communication with an LMSIn SCORM, these are called the Launch mechanism, the API (Application Program Interface), and the Run-Time Environment Data Model. All three components of the SCORM Run-time Environment are essential for interoperability, reusability, and rich e-learning interactivity.
Without a launch mechanism, a Learning Management System has no way to present material to a learner. The launch mechanism defines a common way for LMSs to start Web-based content objects.Of course, much content has been launched without SCORM over the years, but the key difference is that the SCORM provides a common, well-documented way to launch content objects. LMSs and SCOs (Sharable Content Objects) that adhere to the SCORM can interoperate because of this common launch mechanism. Other ways of launching content objects may work only with specific learning management systems.
It is essential that an LMS be able to control which content objects are launched in what order. Otherwise it would not be possible to do things like adaptively presenting content in different sequences depending on learner needs.Launch may be accomplished in many different ways depending on the capabilities of the LMS, the type of content and the computer technologies involved. The only stipulation is that the actual launch must occur using the HTTP protocol — in other words, using standard web communications techniques.
Once a SCORM conformant SCO is launched, it looks for the SCORM API, which is its way of communicating with the LMS. When launched, the first thing a SCO tries to do is to send a message back to the LMS essentially saying “I've launched and I'm functioning.”If a SCO can't find or communicate through the SCORM API, learning activities can't be tracked, paced, assessed, or any of the other important things we're trying to accomplish by using a SCORM conformant learning management system.
The SCORM API is the basis for all communication between an LMS and a SCO. The use of a common API makes many aspects of interoperability and reusability possible. The API is a set of pre-defined functions that developers can depend on being available, without the need to get involved in how they are implemented.SCOs use the API to communicate whether they've initialized communication and when they've terminated communication with an LMS. This is vital since in order to control and organize a learning experience, in SCORM only one SCO is allowed to run at a time. A SCO needs to “sign off” before another may be launched.The API also includes checks whether a message succeeded, and if not, what went wrong. Finally, the API provides a mechanism for passing information back and forth. In our example, the SCO requested the student's name, then used the data to personalize the lesson. As we'll see in our discussion of the SCORM Run-time Environment Data Model, many other types of information can be communicated as well. Some examples include quiz scores, the last page visited, and the amount of time a learner has spent with a particular SCO.
Without a common data model, learning management systems and learning content would essentially be trying to communicate using different languages. Both sides of such a dialogue would find that they hear but cannot understand and act on such messages. What's more, if LMSs and learning content cannot count on the availability of a standard set of data elements that always go by the same names, interoperability and reusability would not be possible.
The purpose of establishing a common data model is to ensure that a defined set of information can be tracked by different learning management systems. Any information that is likely to be a general requirement for such systems, such as student profile information and test scores, must exist as a common element within the data model so that such information can be exchanged and recorded by diverse systems.In plain English, for e-learning systems and content to work well together, they must use the same names when they mean the same thing. When dealing with a student's name, the data model element "learner_name" must be used. "Pupil_name," "student_name" or anything else simply won't work. Furthermore, the data must be exchanged according to predictable rules. For example, a "learner_name" may not contain any periods. This uniformity and predictability allows rich e-learning content to work on any SCORM conformant system.
To get you thinking about the possibilities, here are some examples of ways content might adapt to individual learners:A learner might zip through a couple sections, prompting the system to skip ahead to more advanced material.A learning management system might present different learners with different activities based on their job titles.A content author might choose to limit the maximum time or number of attempts on a particular activity, directing a learner to different material based on their performance.A learner might leave the main path to pursue an interesting tangent, hoping to be returned to the right place later on.A learning management system might not allow a learner to see certain material until they have passed a prerequisite.Again, keep in mind that capabilities like these are not necessarily new, but by and large have not been possible when dealing with reusable, sharable content that has to work on diverse systems.
Imagine a lesson on attaching a button. Some learners will already have basic sewing skills and can go straight to sewing on the button. Others will need a primer on essential skills like how to thread a needle. In this example, based on passing or not passing an assessment of their basic sewing skills, learners are either routed straight to "sewing on a button", or to "threading a needle" first (repeating "threading a needle" as many times as necessary to pass it and move on).The important thing to note is not how the system sends learners to different material based on their needs. Although that makes it a more individualized learning experience (a good thing), unfortunately in this case the logic to do that is embedded in the content (not so good). That means the material can never be broken apart and reused in ways that were not anticipated by the developer. Passing "threading a needle" will always send you to "sewing on a button."The "threading a needle" content might also be useful in a show repair or sailmaking course, but can not be reused in that way. In a sense, the more sophisticated materials become in adapting to individual learners, the less reusable they become—at least, that's what would happen without SCORM sequencing.
Here are the same three topics again, but in this case the programming logic is handled elsewhere. That frees up the content for additional, even unanticipated uses. The content is sharable and reusable while retaining the capacity to provide an individualized learning experience. Even better, because it is not locked into specific logic embedded at the time of development, different and even expanded behaviors may be created at a later date or in a different environment.In a sense, the content becomes unbundled. Any chunk of content may be reused in multiple courses. Multiple sophisticated ways may be devised for enriching the interaction and individualizing the content.SCORM, particularly in its Sequencing and Navigation specification, provides the means to separate content from logic while enabling rich, non-proprietary sequencing capabilities. This allows the content to be reusable and interoperable, giving it a longer useful lifetime and thus making it more cost-effective.
Where did SCORM come from?<br />DoD established the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative in 1997<br />US military educates millions of military personnel, DoD civilians, and dependents<br />Annual expenditure of billions of dollars<br />
SCORM Bookshelf<br />SCORM Overview<br />Introduction<br />ADL’s “ilities”<br />LMSs and SCORM relationship<br />Technical specifications and guidelines<br />SCORM evolution from earlier versions<br />How SCORM books organized/related<br />Software used for testing SCORM content and tools<br />Commonly used terms and acronyms<br />
SCORM Bookshelf<br />Content Aggregation Model<br />Content Model: components used in a learning experience <br />Content Packaging: how to package those components for exchange from system to system <br />Metadata: how to describe those components to enable search and discovery <br />Sequencing and Navigation: how to define sequencing information for the components<br />
SCORM Bookshelf<br />Run-Time Environment<br />How SCOs and Assets are launched in a the run-time environment<br />How SCOs communicate with LMSs<br />The data model requirements and behavior<br />The application programming interface (API) requirements for learning management systems<br />
SCORM Bookshelf<br />Sequencing & Navigation<br />Detailed descriptions and requirements of the sequencing information that can be applied to learning activities<br />Detailed descriptions of LMS behaviors used to alter the learner’s experience with learning content<br />The controls, requirements and data model used in SCORM navigation<br />Common terms used in SCORM Sequencing and Navigation<br />
Sequencing & Navigation Examples<br />A learner might zip through a couple sections, prompting the system to skip ahead to more advanced material.<br />A learning management system might present different learners with different activities based on their job titles.<br />A content author might choose to limit the maximum time or number of attempts on a particular activity, directing a learner to different material based on their performance.<br />A learner might leave the main path to pursue an interesting tangent, hoping to be returned to the right place later on.<br />A learning management system might not allow a learner to see certain material until they have passed a prerequisite.<br />
What to do if it doesn’t work?<br />Debug logs or Test Suite<br />SCORM Cloud<br />ADL Test Suite<br />AICC/CMI Test Suite<br />
Generate a Debug Log (SCORM)<br />SCORM<br />Publish for LMS<br />Open Configuration.js in Notepad<br />Change SHOW_DEBUG_ON_LAUNCH = false; to true<br />Save Configuration.js and exit Notepad<br />Upload to LMS (should show debug window)<br />AICC<br />Add ShowDebug=true to your launch URL - http://host/PRESENTATION_DIR/index_lms.html?ShowDebug=true&AICC_SID=123&AICC_URL=http://host/lms/lms/aicc.asp<br />Alternatively, there’s a 1-pixel frame along the bottom of the course window - if you expand that and press ? 5 times, the debug log should pop up<br />
Debug log<br />With debug window open, view and exit course as it was intended to be viewed<br />Copy and paste the log information into a text file<br />