Remember the early days of cell phones — most phones had a specific, proprietary charger, meaning that if you bought a new phone, even if it was from the same company, it often meant that you had to replace all your cables. Definitely annoying.
With technology today, we just need to say NO to proprietary formats!
Cell phones aside, thankfully proprietary formats have gone by the wayside for many forms of technology. And all we can say to that is good riddance.
The same applies to elearning courses.
There’s no question that having a standardized format for eLearning courses makes them infinitely easier to maintain, manage and share assets related to creating courses.
That’s why SCORM was invented. SCORM stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model, which refers to a set of technical standards that developers can use to create eLearning content that will work on any SCORM compatible LMS (Learning Management System). SCORM has since evolved into newer technologies, but they all serve the same purpose and have a focus on compatibility, especially with each other.
Having a standardized format is one thing — but having a way to test and ensure that your eLearning courses follow these standards is another.
Enter the SCORM Cloud: it’s a testing and hosting platform for SCORM, xAPI, and other file packages that help you ensure your elearning courses will run smoothly.
In this article, we’ll explore more about the SCORM cloud, including all the juicy tidbits surrounding what it does, what it means, how it works, and different SCORM cloud tools you can consider.
Ready. Set. Go!
Intro to SCORM Cloud
The main benefit of SCORM is its standardization, or, in other words, its flexibility in allowing the course content to be used on any SCORM compliant LMS, while at the same time ensuring capability.
This means that in theory, content created using SCORM standards is transferable (meaning it can be developed for use on one LMS and later used on another) and there shouldn’t be any compatibility issues as long as you always use an LMS or other system that supports it.
With this in mind, it appears that the SCORM Cloud was developed to be a testing and hosting platform for eLearning course files to ensure compatibility with SCORM standards.
What is SCORM Cloud?
We’ve mentioned that the SCORM Cloud is a testing platform, but there’s actually much more to it than that. It was developed by Rustici Software, a company that has a ton of experience with eLearning software and developing standards for eLearning software. Rustici is a company known for developing tools, providing support, and otherwise helping companies and organizations create and distribute eLearning courses.
The SCORM Cloud is a SaaS (software as a service) training delivery platform, which means it can mimic some of the functionality of an LMS, at least in terms of being able to host your SCORM eLearning content. It also allows you to test your eLearning course content to ensure that it will run as expected when your students interact with it.
But the SCORM Cloud doesn’t just support SCORM files, it also supports AICC, xAPI, and cmi5 content, as well as PDF and MP4 files.
You can also integrate the SCORM Cloud directly into your LMS or application using their API.
Who Typically Uses SCORM Cloud?
In theory, the SCORM Cloud could be used by anyone who wants a platform to host their SCORM-compatible eLearning content, either for testing purposes or to share the working eLearning courses with learners. To that end, the software serves a wide audience, including corporate, education, government, small and medium businesses, and more.
What are some benefits of using SCORM?
Even though SCORM isn’t the newest file format, it is still the most widely used standard format for eLearning courses. The complete transition to a new standard file format will take time. In addition, it’s possible to transition course files created in SCORM to xAPI. Therefore, it’s still relevant to talk about the benefits of using SCORM, even if a newer standard is used at a later time.
In addition to better serving developers through compatibility and flexibility with content, SCORM also provides the following benefits:
Typically, SCORM course files are packaged together into a single file called a course manifest file, i.e. ‘insmanifest.xml’. This file, along with the other files in the course like video, images, animations, and more are put together into a zip file which is then read by the LMS when it is uploaded.
This file contains everything that the LMS needs to read the course content properly, including resources (the components that make up the course) organizations (the course structure), and metadata (descriptions for each learning object in the course).
Anyone delivering eLearning content would want to know how their students are doing, including how far they are in the course, how many tests, quizzes, or other assessments they’ve passed and failed, and overall just general information about student progress.
With SCORM, you can view detailed information such as:
- Time spent (like on a quiz or test)
- The average score for a unit
- Current progress (course bookmarks)
SCORM provides the ability to track all of that information and more, helping instructors and students alike to keep track of learning.
Content Tailored for Different Needs
Adaptable content is an important feature for ensuring that training programs can perform well for different audiences and groups. SCORM assists with this through sequencing rules (kind of like “if-than” statements) which work to adapt the course content based on how the learner interacts with it. This means that branching learning paths and different content being displayed at different times is possible using these rules.
For many companies, the cost savings of eLearning are an attractive option over in-person training, but there is still a hurdle in implementing the content into the LMS. While turning an in-person course into a SCORM compliant LMS course isn’t always a super cheap or easy feat, largely due to sequencing rules, it often still shows cost savings over time, especially when you consider that SCORM as a standardized platform means it will continue to work with evolving technology.
Some companies still need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, while others are recognizing that the modern world will continue to move forward with or without them, and so they need to take steps to adapt.
SCORM is great for future-proofing as the standards were built to support an ever-changing technological environment. This means that if your company switches to a different LMS or makes other changes to their tech stack, the content that has already been developed with SCORM compliance will continue to work with the new software.
SCORM Cloud Pricing: Free vs. Paid SCORM Cloud
SCORM Cloud pricing is broken down into several different price plans, including a free version. While you could opt for the SCORM Cloud free version, it only includes 100MB of data storage. However, the paid plans, which start at USD $75 per month (pricing as of January 2022) offer unlimited data storage.
If you just want to test your eLearning course SCORM files for compatibility and functionality and don’t have an LMS on lockdown, then the SCORM Cloud free version will likely suffice. If you actually want to host multiple courses and send the links to your learners to take said eLearning courses, then a paid plan is likely going to be a better option for you.
SCORM Cloud or LMS?
We already know that standardization and compatibility are the main driving factors of SCORM, meaning that SCORM courses are able to be packaged in such a way that LMS platforms can read them easily, including the best way to launch and display the course content, all without the need for manual modification by a person.
In a lot of ways, the SCORM Cloud is a similar piece of software to an LMS, in that:
- It allows learners to access course content through a link
- Access to eLearning courses can be shared through other systems
- Includes reporting tools that give you information about your learners and courses
- Uses a Learning Record Store (LRS) to give you information about your learner’s experiences with your eLearning courses
However, the question you’re likely asking yourself at this point is, should I go with the SCORM Cloud or an LMS? That question is a fair one, since the SCORM Cloud has a lot of the same main features of an LMS, as listed above. If you just need a platform to reliably run your SCORM compliant eLearning courses and nothing more, then the SCORM Cloud might work just fine for that purpose.
However, if you’re looking for more functionality, then an LMS will likely provide what you are looking for. Keep in mind that if you already have an LMS that you like and just want to add the functionality of the SCORM Cloud, you can do so through an API.
With all that in mind, the functionality of the SCORM Cloud and a typical LMS, like Tovuti, is compared in the following table:
While this is not by any means an exhaustive list of what an LMS may be able to do, the point is clear: if you need more functionality aside from a system that will reliably read SCORM files, then an LMS is likely the better choice for you when compared to the SCORM Cloud.
SCORM Cloud Alternatives
In a lot of ways, the SCORM Cloud is like a competitor for LMSs, meaning you have a ton of options when it comes to hosting your eLearning software.
There could be a number of reasons why you would want to dive into using SCORM Cloud alternatives, including:
- You’re looking for a more robust set of features that the SCORM Cloud doesn’t provide
- You have the time, effort, and budget to dive straight into an LMS
- You’ve already confirmed that your eLearning SCORM files are in working order
- You want to monetize your eLearning courses
- You already have an LMS that you like using
While you may already have an LMS in mind, let’s take a look at some of the different LMS choices available as SCORM Cloud alternatives.
Essentially, you can choose any LMS that has the features and benefits you’re looking for and use it as a SCORM Cloud alternative. Once you choose the software that speaks to you the most, simply upload your eLearning SCORM files and you should be ready to go.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About SCORM
Understanding SCORM and the SCORM Cloud can be a bit complicated, so it’s understandable if you still have unanswered questions.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the SCORM Cloud and SCORM itself that we’ve compiled the answers to:
What is the Difference Between SCORM and xAPI?
While xAPI and SCORM are similar technologies, xAPI, also known as Tin Can or Experience API, boasts more trackability than SCORM by allowing data tracking for both online and offline learning experiences in a standardized format. Essentially, it’s the next evolution of SCORM and was developed by Rustici Software, the company known for developing the original SCORM. aAPI was the result of many discussions and research, which is ongoing today. xAPI is also compatible with the SCORM Cloud.
Is SCORM Still Relevant?
Although some sources tout that SCORM is outdated, that doesn’t mean it is not still used in the eLearning industry. Simply put, it takes time, discussions, and effort to move to a new standard, so it’s natural that SCORM is still relevant and will likely hang around for a while as everyone works to move to the new standard. SCORM was originally developed with the idea that it would be future-proof (as we discussed previously in this article) which is yet another reason why it’s premature to hammer the final nail in SCORM’s coffin just yet.
It’s also important to remember that Learning management systems that are compatible with SCORM are also likely compatible with xAPI, so it doesn’t mean you have to go back and change the fundamental code of all your existing SCORM files.
How Can I Test My SCORM Package?
You can test your SCORM packages using the SCORM Cloud. The basic steps to testing your SCORM files are relatively straightforward: you need to create a SCORM Cloud account, then download it to an LMS or application if necessary.
Upon opening the software, click the ‘add content’ button to begin uploading your files. Once you’ve determined that your course content has been successfully uploaded, then you can scroll down to see if the SCORM Cloud was able to verify your course files. If it was able to verify your files, you’ll see a message telling you that your course looks great.
Can I Host SCORM Content on Sharepoint?
Like any other file, SCORM files can be stored on Sharepoint, but they won’t be readable on the platform. Think of it like viewing a PDF or JPG file, you can look at it, but you can’t edit it or otherwise modify the file in any way without opening another relevant program. In terms of eLearning, anyone accessing the SCORM file stored on Sharepoint will be able to look at it, but you won’t be able to track learner progress or otherwise utilize any of the other features of your SCORM files without a secondary program to run them on. The general purpose of Sharepoint is to be a networked file storage platform, meaning that it simply stores files.
The SCORM Cloud is a piece of software that is designed to be a testing and hosting platform for eLearning course files and is compatible with SCORM, AICC, xAPI, and cmi5 content, as well as PDF and MP4 files.
While it’s a perfectly fine platform if you’re just looking for a simple environment to test or host your eLearning course content, it doesn’t provide the same functionality as an LMS.
While the SCORM Cloud will run your eLearning courses and allow you to share links to them, an LMS provides more front and back-end features like eCommerce functionality, single-sign-on, content libraries, custom learning paths, notifications, and more.
Looking for an easy-to-use, fully-featured LMS that’s tailored to offer engaging online learning experiences? Look no further than Tovuti. Watch our demo today and we’ll walk you through our software and how it can help your business.