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Published on:
August 15, 2022

5 Steps for Creating the Best SCORM Package For Your Learners

There’s nothing more annoying than incompatibility between the content you’re making and how it’s being delivered to your students. And we’re not just talking about when your audience doesn’t absorb the material as you’d expect – we’re talking about tech incompatibility.

In eLearning, technologies have evolved a lot over the years. That can lead to a collection of digital learning libraries that are a jumbled drawer of information and content in different formats. 

So what can you do to make everything consistent and adaptable to any kind of Learning Management System (LMS)? 

You can create SCORM packages to bring content into just about any LMS platform and make delivery of everything from online courses with certificates to regular employee skills training easy, fast, and – perhaps most importantly– functional and consistent.

Let’s dive into the fascinating world of SCORM packages now, shall we?

Introduction to SCORM Packages

If you’ve been working in corporate training for a while, you’ve probably heard a lot of acronyms in your time. From LMS to L&D, getting lost in the letters can be easy. SCORM is another one of those terms you’ve probably heard floating around, and it’s an important one to know!

SCORM stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. And what does this collection of very technical sounding words actually mean? 

Essentially, it's a set of industry standards used in eLearning. SCORM is a standard that tells programmers how to write their code so it can communicate with other eLearning materials and software. This standard is most widely used in the eLearning industry, and a SCORM package is a key part of this model. 

​​What is a SCORM File?

SCORM files are used to contain the eLearning content and courseware of an online training course. They can be created using SCORM course authoring tools or from scratch by coding them manually.

SCORM files can also be called SCOs, or sharable content objects. This is the smallest component of a SCORM package. Whatever you call it - module, chapter, or page - it's simply a "chunk" of learning in your course. Some consider it to be the smallest piece of recyclable and autonomous content. 

When SCOs enter the LMS, they are both shown separately in the table of contents and tracked individually and apart from other items. Each SCO can have its own bookmark, score, and completion status.

What is a SCORM Package?

A SCORM package is a file that contains a collection of SCORM individual files that work together. In other words, it's a self-contained online training course. The package includes content and presentation information for the learner to see and navigation tools for moving through the materials.

A SCORM package must contain the following to function properly:

  • XML manifest (the file containing the data the SCORM-compliant LMS needs to transmit content)
  • Files of resources (the content that makes up a course and its activities)
  • Schema (XSD) and definition (DTD) files that refer to the manifest file

The diagram below shows how a SCORM package relates to SCOs and the greater online learning environment. 

Source

In order for SCOs and SCORM packages to operate as planned and for SCOs to become a larger course or group of information, three steps must be taken:

  1. A structure must be developed for finding and organizing SCOs
  2. SCO ordering instructions need to be created to tell an LMS which SCO comes after another
  3. The SCO and the instructions must be bundled into a portable container, called a SCORM package, to be uploaded to an LMS

Regardless of what you’re making, when you follow these steps, your SCORM packages allow you to conform to universal standards and adapt your content to any LMS.

3 Options for Creating the Best SCORM Package for Your Learners

Now that you know how SCORM packages and files work, let’s talk about how to create a SCORM package from scratch.

Many people fret over the specifics of which tool to use when creating their SCORM content. The truth is that the tool doesn’t really matter as long as it produces the right output format. Your course needs to meet the guidelines for a SCORM package in whatever way and format makes sense for your training needs. 

Depending on the type of needs you have, you can approach your SCORM course authoring in three different ways:

  1. To start from scratch without any authoring tools
  2. Convert an existing course to a SCORM compliant one
  3. To start from scratch with an authoring tool

We’ll get into the details of these methods and share the pros and cons of each so you can make the best decisions about creating SCORM packages.

Ready? Time to get started.

Option 1: Creating a SCORM Package Without Any Authoring Tools

The first option to create a SCORM package is to do it the old fashioned way – by manually gathering your resources and generating HTML content.

To be a complete, readable SCORM package, your course must be organized into a series of HTML pages, just as a website is. Additionally, you must link all of the text and media in the HTML pages so they will play properly on the platform.

It can be tricky to do this if you’re not a tech-savvy individual because it requires knowledge of HTML and precise organization of all of the files in order for them to function properly. It would be challenging, especially if you were trying to organize a large variety of content already made in various formats. 

It can be good, however, if you’re creating a fairly simple, static online learning environment. In times like these, you can get content ready in a fairly short period of time. 

Check out the table below for some key pros and cons of creating SCORM packages manually.

Pros of Creating SCORM Packages Manually

Cons of Creating SCORM Packages Manually

  • No outside tools or software from a word processor needed
  • Content can be controlled and customized
  • Time consuming
  • Challenging, technically
  • Requires a high level of accuracy

Option 2: Convert an Existing File to a SCORM file with a Converter or an Authoring Tool

The next option when it comes to SCORM files and packages is to upload existing content to a converter tool. 

These take materials and convert them to a SCORM package, such as:

  • Slide decks
  • PDFs
  • Word Documents
  • Links
  • Videos

While this may sound like a simple way out, it can still be a drain on your time, as you have to make sure your SCORM packages export correctly and are:

  1. Correctly assembled 
  2. Fully functional

This can be time consuming, as you spend more time and money on learning these tools, only to have to move on to paying for, learning, and implementing an LMS.

There are additional pros and cons you’ll want to consider before selecting a course authoring tool for creating SCORM packages, as outlined in the table below.

Pros of Converting Existing Files to SCORM Packages

Cons of Converting Existing Files to SCORM Packages

  • Lots of free options out there for converting existing content
  • No need to choose one specific authoring tool and pay for it
  • Can be a slow process
  • May not work 100% of the time, causing glitches
  • Not all converters are created equally, and some may not produce the quality of content you’re looking for

Option 3: Create a SCORM Course from Scratch with an Authoring Tool

The final option for creating a SCORM course from scratch is with an authoring tool.

We’re going to consider two kinds of authoring tools today:

  1. Dedicated SCORM package and course authoring tools
  2. All-in-one solutions for building and delivering course content

The first option includes authoring tools like Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, and Trivantis Lectora. These authoring tools are traditionally used to make high-quality eLearning content and are capable of producing interactive, versatile content for corporate training.

The best part of using these kinds of authoring tools?

You get a nice, tidy SCORM package properly organized at the end – with minimal technical skills.

If having two tools for creating courses, hosting them, and managing them seems like a hassle, you wouldn't be alone. With so many frustrating technical ins and outs to learn, why not just learn one tool instead of two or even three?

You can use an all-in-one solution like Tovuti to:

  1. Create modules, lessons, and other content from scratch 
  2. Host and integrate your existing SCORM modules
  3. Manage and administrate your courses and content
  4. Create seamless transitions between online and offline learning

This allows you to skip fretting over the ins and outs of SCORM packages and SCORM modules and get right to the course delivery itself. If you need to get your existing SCORM packages into an online learning environment, you can easily upload them with a few clicks on Tovuti’s user-friendly platform. This allows you to bring other content from past online learning endeavors into a new and improved user experience.

Source

If you’re considering the differences between all of the methods of creating the best SCORM package for your learners, you should include weighing the pros and cons of creating a SCORM package from scratch using an authoring tool on your list.

We’ve got the key pros and cons of this SCORM package creation method in the table below.

Pros of Using Authoring Tools for SCORM Packages

Cons of Using Authoring Tools for SCORM Packages

  • Most authoring tools integrate smoothly with an LMS
  • Creates more interactive, versatile SCORM content
  • Modern authoring tools make courses look attractive and professional
  • All-in-one solutions like Tovuti allow you to learn and pay for only one tool
  • There is a cost of associated with using course authoring tools
  • May need some training to use

Steps to Creating a SCORM Package Without Any Authoring Tools

If you go the route of creating a SCORM package manually, you’re going to need to follow the steps carefully to make sure your course is functional and ready to use.

Good news for you – we’ve got each of the steps you need to execute this method of creating a SCORM package flawlessly.

Collect All The Information You Want Included in The Course

The first step is an important one. 

Spend your time in this step of creating a SCORM package:

  1. Planning your overall course
  2. Outlining and creating the sequence for your course 
  3. Gathering the materials that will be included in the actual course

When it comes to planning your overall course, consider the following mind-map style planning tool to help you break down the important resources, content, and links related to your course. 

Source

Once you have your course map roughed out, create a sequence of how your learners will, well, learn. This is the logic of a course and shows where and when learners will:

  1. Complete readings and review materials 
  2. Submit assignments
  3. Complete knowledge checks
  4. Access outside resources

You can see how this flow may look in a real course in the diagram below.

Source 

Finally, compile your outside resources. Outside resources can help improve the engagement of the course and create the level of interest your learners experience through the training. 

Some examples of SCORM package external materials include:

  • YouTube videos
  • Slide decks
  • Instructional handouts
  • Website content and articles

Once you’ve assembled all of the content for your online course and know the trajectory of the information, it’s time to start building.

Create an HTML Version of Your Course

OK, next up, we’re going to do the actual course building.

For your course to be read by LMS, it has to be readable on the web. Computers speak in HTML, so you may have guessed it, but you’ll need to get your content into this format for it to play in an LMS environment. 

A SCORM package will have a collection of HTML pages – kind of like a basic website – that make up your course.

In these pages, you will include all of the resources you gathered up in the last step, including the:

  • Links
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Charts and graphs
  • External links

The best way (and probably the most user friendly, regardless of experience) is to download the sample SCORM packages from the creators of the standard and use it as a template for your HTML files.

You can also use a tool such as Google Docs to process your course content and export it to an HTML file. 

Add the SCORM Files Necessary for The LMS

Next up, it’s time to add the files to your SCORM package that the LMS needs to understand and read the content. 

These are the files that tell your LMS how the course should function. It uses standard SCORM terms and logic to translate your content in the HTML files we worked on in the last step into something readable for the LMS. 

Your SCORM package tells your LMS:

  • The course sequence
  • When tests and quizzes should appear
  • Marks and user participation

So what are these files that take your HTML content and somehow make them magically appear in the LMS as planned?

The best way to ensure you have all the right files in your SCORM package is to download the sample package from the creators of the standard. 

Source

Once you download the SCORM package, you can see it will contain several key files:

  • Course files (named “Etiquette”, “Handicapping”, “Playing”, “HavingFun”)
  • Shared folder
  • .xsd files including – 
  • Adlcp_rootv1p2.xsd
  • Ims_xml.xsd
  • imscp_rootv1p1p2.xsd
  • imsmanifest.xml
  • Imsmd_rootv1p2p1.xsd

These XSD and XML files are the ones you’ll need to copy into a new folder where you have organized your HTML content into folders by module.

Source

Once you have your new file with HTML content and the .xsd files into it, open up the file called imsmanifest.xml with a notepad editor.  As well as listing the HTML portion's resource files, it includes information such as the course's title and the SCORM version it conforms to. This file is the only one you need to edit to get your SCORM package finalized – but proceed with caution!

If this step is completed incorrectly, your content will not be read properly by the LMS!

Inside the imsmanifest.xml, look for all the placeholders <title> and insert the names of your HTML course resources, starting with the main HTML file, as seen in the image below.

Source

Once you have changed all the placeholders to your actual resources, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Package The Results Into a ZIP File

Now that you have gathered up all the “ingredients” for your course, it’s time to do a quick zip. 

After you have customized the XML manifest, zip up your HTML and SCORM files. You can then upload the resulting ZIP archive file to your LMS  and see if it can process it.

Source

Once everything is neatly packaged into a ZIP archive, name it accordingly, and you’re ready to upload!

Upload the ZIP File to the LMS

Finally – it’s time to upload your course to an LMS.

We’re going to walk through the process in our favorite LMS, Tovuti, because it’s simple, easy, and only takes a few clicks!

Once you’re inside the Tovuti interface, head over to the SCORM Library and click 'New'. Give your module a name and upload it here. 

Source

After you've added modules to the SCORM Library, you can include them in a Tovuti course by going into a lesson, giving it a name, selecting the course it will live in from the ‘Lesson Course’ drop-down menu, and then selecting the ‘Content Library’ option. Choose ‘SCORM Library’ from the drop-down menu when the ‘Use Content Library’ field is selected. From the module drop-down menu, choose the SCORM lesson you wish to include.

And that’s it!

That’s how you manually author, format, and upload a SCORM package.

How to Convert an Existing File to a SCORM File With a Converter or an Authoring Tool

Have you ever wanted to put together a home-baked batch of treats for guests, but you know that you either don’t have the skills or the time to make that happen? 

Creating SCORM packages is sort of the same thing – you can spend hours using the method we mentioned above, or you can take a bit of a shortcut and get to teaching your courses.

Get Your Content Ready

Gather the content you hope to include in your course.

Your SCORM package and course content can include previously created content or new content:

  • Videos
  • Images and charts
  • Links to external sources
  • Handouts
  • PDFs
  • Word Documents
  • Assignments

No matter what you choose to use, gather it up, and organize it in the sequence you’d like to have your course function in. 

Upload Your Content to a Converter

Next, find a content converter.

This will allow you to take your existing files and translate them into a SCORM package. Look for a converter that is suited for the content you are converting. 

For example, this option is focused on taking a PowerPoint that contains all of your course info into a SCORM package ZIP archive. Others may allow you to combine various formats and generate a sequence within the tools. Pricing for these tools depends on the capabilities, with basic tools offering you a free experience.

Export Your Content for Upload to an LMS

Once you’ve ordered, converted, and finalized your course, you can export it for your LMS.

Follow the instructions for your specific converter tool, and you should end up with a nicely packaged SCORM course. 

Before you upload it to your LMS, consider testing it in a trial environment. That way, you know it’s going to play successfully in your LMS.

Creating a SCORM Course from Scratch with an Authoring Tool

If you’ve reached this point in the post, you may be wondering how a less than technically savvy person, or even someone pressed for time, is able to build a course or SCORM package in one place, without the importing and exporting necessary for the other methods.

The answer is using an all-in-one solution like Tovuti.

Tovuti allows you to build a course from scratch in less time, and you don’t need to know how to understand HTML or use a converter tool. Just learn one tool to plan, build, and execute your course.

Plan and Gather Your Resources

No matter what method you choose for your SCORM course builder, you’re going to need to plan your course!

Before you go further with your SCORM course, decide on:

  • The main topic
  • Themes
  • External resources
  • Testing and assessment plans
  • Goals for the course you can measure

Once you know the direction of your course, it’s time to start building!

Build and Launch Your Course

When you’re building your Tovuti course, you can bring your own content, or you can quickly and easily build your own course with more than 40 types of interactive content, all within Tovuti. You can even incorporate your own SCORM package content with a few clicks.

Not sure where to start? Tovuti offers a built-in course library that includes everything you need to launch a course in a matter of minutes. You can choose specific modules and build them around your content, or you can use the course as-is for the ultimate convenience. 

Once you’ve assembled your course, it’s time to give it a final check and get started delivering your course – no importing or exporting, or fiddling with files needed.

Final Thoughts

Now you know there’s more than one way to build and assemble your SCORM package to deliver an online course or training. 

But you also know the best way is to use an all-in-one course authoring tool like Tovuti. One that can help you get your course off the ground in a few clicks, not days and hours of frustration. 

Find out how Tovuti can help you develop high-quality online courses and remove the frustration when it comes to SCORM packages by watching a demo

Author:
Shauna F.
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