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Published on:
March 12, 2021

What is SCORM? A Guide to SCORM Files

SCORM is an acronym that stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. SCORM is a collection of standards and specifications for web-based electronic educational technology. SCORM defines communications between client-side content and a host system, which is commonly supported by a learning management system (LMS).

About four decades ago, learners started getting their learning from computers. It was exciting, and there were many places from where to access such services. There were also many courses to choose from.

The problem is, back then, course providers could not share courses. All courses were made differently. Early elearning courses could not ‘communicate' with each other as current ones do.

In 2000, ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning), a US government program reporting to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness (ASD(R)), created SCORM. It was developed out of the need to have a standard for online learning.

To better understand this learning standard, we will present an example. Communication is based on assumptions. These are basically shared meanings regarding different things. When we communicate, we begin with many assumptions without ever realizing it.

For instance, if you are a teacher in a classroom, an important part of your job is to communicate right. However, what if you spoke a different language from your students’? What if they don’t speak English? How about if you scowl when you’re happy and grin if you’re furious? Clearly, nobody would understand you to get along well.

To understand each other, we all must share basic assumptions about how to communicate. Hence, SCORM is a basic set of assumptions that allow courses and learning management systems to communicate.


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So, what is SCORM?

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What is SCORM

SCORM is the best and most popular standard for developing online learning content. Mostly, if you want to create or buy an online course, it has to be a SCORM course. There is a good reason for this.

To better understand why, we first need to think of the acronym SCORM. When we look closely at the words, we can break them into three parts; shareable content, object, and reference model.

‘Sharable’ in SCORM means that this learning standard is about developing learning content that can be shared across multiple systems. It defines how to create SCOs (Sharable Content Objects) that can be used over and over across different learning contexts and systems.

‘Reference Model’ means that SCORM is actually not a standard. It is a framework that just emphasizes interoperability and compatibility of eLearning systems.

You have a lot more freedom when a course is shareable. You can freely use it in your organization. For instance, you can take it from one system to another without ever changing it. If you want to share it with others, they too can use it on their systems.

Lessons in a SCORM course are called objects. They are like sections on a textbook or items on a syllabus. Your course can have any number of lessons. You can set rules for each of these lessons. For example, you can set a rule where learners have to understand one lesson before moving to the next.

ADL did not invent SCORM from scratch. Instead, they borrowed ideas from existing standards. Such standards include AICC (Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee), a framework previously developed by the aviation industry.

SCORM borrows from these older standards and improves their features. In fact, it was developed to take care of the inefficiencies of these older standards. It was also introduced to define how these standards can seamlessly work together and dictate to developers how these frameworks can properly be used together.

SCORM is a collection of lessons packaged with instructions that are easily understood by learning management systems (LMSs). 

Going back to the example of a teacher, SCORM is like a good teacher. Both the standard and the teacher have lesson plans that can be adapted to the learners’ progress. Both of these parties also know who the learners are and refer to them by their names.

They also both track and record learners’ statuses when they are studying. For instance, if a learner passes an exam, fails, or never finishes a course, both SCORM and the teacher record these events.

Therefore, the same way a learner interacts with a teacher in a physical set up, SCORM interacts with the learner in an LMS environment.

SCORM is, thus, a product of existing learning standards that coordinates online learning in the same way a teacher coordinates one-on-one learning.


What is SCORM Compliance?

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SCORM Compliance

SCORM compliance is the adherence to the industry standard. By following this framework, communication between elearning content and learning management systems becomes possible.

SCORM packages are challenging to create. The final product may feel unusable to the learner. For instance, instead of having text, audio, photo, and video on one page, the learner may be forced to open these media on different pages. Such effort may make the focus of the learner shift from the actual consumption of learning content to maneuvering such content.

Compliance entails three levels of support; SCORM compliance, SCORM conformance, and SCORM certified. For most users, SCORM compliance and SCORM conformance are one and the same thing.

However, the difference between the two lies in the number of computer-managed instructions (CMI) components that each level supports. SCORM certified, on the other hand, refers to an LMS that is certified by ADL, the SCORM governing body.

eLearning content is authored in a format that can be played across a variety of LMS platforms. To make such interoperability possible, any media used in the creation of learning content is packaged into a special file called ‘imsmanifest.xml.’

The work of this file is to instruct the LMS on how to handle content, give information regarding the courses’ titles, how these courses will be played, and other instructions within an LMS. The manifest is only part of the SCORM equation. The other two components are content packaging and data Run-Time exchange. 

  1. Content packaging determines how content should be delivered physically. An LMS gets all the information it requires from the ‘imsmanifest.xml’ file. Included in this information are details on how to import and launch courseware without any human interaction.

The  XML (Extensible Markup Language) aspect of the manifest file defines a course’s structure both from the physical file system context and from a human context. The manifest file determines aspects such as the name of the content and what documents need to be uploaded.

  1. Data Run-Time Exchange, also known as data exchange or Run-Time communication, is an element that decides how content interacts or ‘talks’ to an LMS while content is being played. This part of SCORM is described as delivery and tracking.

Delivery and tracking involve two processes. First, the content has to find the LMS. Once the LMS has been located, the content can communicate with the platform through a set of ‘get’ and ‘set’ calls and a related vocabulary.

These calls may include requests for a learner’s names and the score attained by the learner in a certain assessment. Depending on the related vocabulary, improved interactive experiences can be communicated to the LMS.

The manifest file and other files in a course, such as audio and animations, are then packaged into a zip file. The zip file is then unpacked by an LMS in the same way a DVD drive reads and unpacks the contents of a DVD disc once inserted on a computer disc drive or DVD player.

Once the data is unpacked by the LMS, the manifest file gives instructions to the platform on what elements need to be tracked. Some of these elements include:

  • Script answers.
  • Time spent on an assessment.
  • Course completion tracking.
  • The pages viewed.
  • Pass or fail.
  • Test scores.

By tracking the above elements, you can improve the performance of your courses and help your learners in getting the information that they need. Thus, both the organization and the learners will benefit.


SCORM Compliance Requirements

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SCORM Compliance Requirements

ADL came up with a list of requirements that must be met for an online course to be termed as SCORM-compliant. The SCORM standard was developed to address challenges related to interoperability, reusability, and durability.

Being a reference model, SCORM was created to run on existing web technologies and existing learning standards. It consists of a set of technical specifications and guidelines that meet the DoD’s (Department of Defense) high-level requirements for the creation of plug-and-play, interoperable, browser-based online learning content.

These requirements comprise three technical specifications, called ‘books,’ that collectively address interoperability, portability, reusability, and sequencing challenges.

1. Interoperability

SCORM’s Run-Time Environment (RTE) is a book that creates an application program interface (API) and a common data model for e-learning material. The API and the data model provide standardized communication between a client’s side and a system element called ‘the run-time environment.’ The Run-Time environment is provided by an LMS.

2. Portability

SCORM’s Content Aggregation Model (CAM) is a book that dictates how content is packaged for exchange from one system to another. The content is packaged in a transferable ZIP file called the PIF (Package Interchange Format).

This packaging allows a uniform portability mechanism between various interrelated learning applications and systems.

3. Reusability

The Content Aggregation Model (CAM), defines the components used in a learning experience. It also describes how those components can enable search and discovery. Thus, CAM allows the reusability of elearning content across LMSs and repositories.

CAM also defines the responsibilities and prerequisites for building and organizing content into modules, lessons, and courses. To add, it provides instructions on how to apply metadata to all content organization components in a content package.

Inside an LMS server, CAM defines the format that an LMS can import so as to provide content to users.

4. Sequencing

SCORM’s Sequence and Navigation is a book that works together with the CAM book to describe how SCORM-conformant content is delivered to learners via a collection of system or learner-initiated navigation events.

Branching and flow of such content may be detailed by predefined activities. For instance, SCORM permits content creators and instructional designers to state the order in which shareable content objects (SCOs) are delivered to users. SCORM also describes the available navigation controls in a SCORM-compliant LMS.

SCORM Compliant LMS

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SCORM Compliant LMS

A SCORM compliant learning management system is one that abides by the rules set by SCORM. Such a platform allows you to upload content to your LMS and it will work perfectly. Your learner will also access content easily.

Notably, SCORM compliant learning management systems are not all the same. Yes, they all play the role of launching and tracking learning experiences. The similarities end there. For instance, some LMSs have user-friendly interfaces while others don’t.

A SCORM compliant LMS allows instructional designers and content creators to create content without having to worry if they will be restricted by a vendor’s content or technical requirements.

A SCORM compliant LMS also does the following:

Coursework communication: SCORM content will easily be retrieved and played on such an LMS.

Content and course connectivity: Instructional designers and content creators can create hierarchies between courses and individual pieces of content.

Learner progress and measurement tracking: The LMS standardizes how activity is tracked and allows learners to start and stop a course and find themselves in the same spot upon resumption.

Quiz and test scoring: The LMS credits the learner for progress on any assessment.

SCORM compliance helps instructional designers and content creators to focus on the most important aspect; student learning. It also allows for standardization that entails the freedom to create your own content, embedding your own branding, interactivity, and leveraging rich multimedia.

Hence, SCORM compliance means that you don’t waste time translating content between systems. You also don’t waste time configuring the authoring tool or the LMS. You just need to create and publish content. SCORM will take care of the rest.

A SCORM compliant LMS also helps you connect with other people in your industry and talent management systems that you are using in your organization. Therefore, your LMS can communicate with tools such as Salesforce and Okta to share learner progress and performance information. 

Such an LMS also allows you to create, reuse, and update content without requiring any technical expertise. In turn, you save time and investments in creating past content.

Tovuti LMS is a SCORM-compliant LMS that allows you to import your SCORM files into your library and use them to create lessons and/or courses.

SCORM Authoring Tool

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A SCORM authoring tool is software that makes the creation of SCORM-conformant elearning content possible. The tool could either be specializing in one specific type of content or it might be capable of creating a variety of activities including quizzes, videos, and dialogue simulations.

There are many types of authoring tools and LMS platforms. If there were no learning standards in place, these authoring tools and LMS platforms would not communicate with each other. Most elearning authoring tools need to be compliant with content standards.

Through such compliance, a course can be created and exported in a file type that is compatible and supported by an LMS. The most widely used learning standards are SCORM, AICC, and xAPI (Experience API).

Hence, when learning content is exported to one of these standards, it will be compatible with an LMS that supports the same standard. Content standards are important since elearning content needs to be stored somewhere accessible. Indeed, the only readily-available location for such purposes is the internet.

SCORM Cloud

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SCORM Cloud

SCORM Cloud is a SaaS (software as a service) training delivery platform that houses your elearning content. It is a tool that is used to test SCORM packages created for learning management systems.

SCORM and SCORM Cloud are two different entities. The former is a learning standard while the latter is a testing engine. SCORM Cloud takes care of all requirements such as testing SCORM-compliant elearning courses and also ensures that courses run smoothly on LMSs. It also generates reports on results.

SCORM Cloud uses a cloud to host elearning courses that can’t be taught from anywhere. It also assists users in understanding SCORM and its applications by giving information on the benefits of its application.

It can host SCORM packages in a way where it can be accessed by all team members for purposes of testing and reviewing elearning content. Importantly, software developers can access this platform to perform content package quality control.

SCORM Cloud allows you to do the following:

  • Track usage using inbuilt reporting tools to identify learners in various courses and analyze question-level course analytics.
  • Test content to make sure that your courses play as expected.
  • Share access to your elearning courses with third-party systems.
  • Use an ADL-compliant Learning Record Store (LRS).
  • Deliver training courses directly to learners via links on email.

SCORM Cloud is free to start with. However, once you reach the 100MB limit, you will be required to pay for continued usage. It is used in online training for the following:

  • Upload SCORM-compliant courses to test functionality.
  • Establish if the courses can be launched successfully.
  • Collect in-depth SCORM content reports.

What Elements Can Be Tested in SCORM Cloud?

Course status: This is information on a learner’s progress. It may include details such as Started/Not Started, Completed/Not Completed, and Passed/Failed.

Bookmarking: This is information on a learner’s last elearning activity. It allows them to continue from where they left.

Learner attempts: This is the number of times a learner has attempted a given course.

Score: These are details on the final assessment results of learners. SCORM Cloud also compares these results with the passing grades and updates accordingly.

It is worth noting that SCORM Cloud in elearning does not address technical aspects such as how animations work in browsers or how content functions on mobile devices. Instead, it just gives visibility of what is happening when an online course is running.

SCORM Package

Also known as a SCORM course, a SCORM package is a zip file containing specific contents described by the SCORM standard. It is also referred to as the Package Interchange File (PIF). This file contains all the data needed to transfer elearning content to an LMS.

Files Contained in a SCORM Package

Each SCORM package includes the following:

XML manifest file (imsmanifest.xml): This file gives details about the package and its contents. The mandatory data contained in this file include the unique identifier, minimal metadata detailing a package and its SCORM version, resource definitions that list all files required to launch and deliver each resource, and the organization of elearning activities.

Resource files: These are used by the content package and its learning activities. A content package comprises the parts that make up a course.

Schema/definition files (XSD and DTD): These refer to the manifest file.

Creating a SCORM Package

Initially, only programmers could create SCORM courses. Indeed, it was a technical and complex process. These developers built SCORM packages from a number of HTML pages. They also wrote the code that binds a course to an LMS and packaged everything into a zip file.

Today, such technical expertise is not required. Special elearning software automatically generates the code for LMS interaction and packages all training materials into a SCORM package. The user just uploads a course into a training system.

The tools for developing SCORM courses are divided into three groups namely:

  • PowerPoint add-ins
  • Standalone editors
  • Cloud services

Note: When developing your first elearning course, PowerPoint add-ins are the best option. Here’s why:

  • You don’t need time to learn a new program. Creating a PowerPoint presentation is easy and fast.
  • Any PowerPoint presentation that you use in class can be used as a foundation for an elearning course.

SCORM Versions

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SCORM Versions

Over the years, there have been various versions of SCORM. They include SCORM 1.0, SCORM 1.1, SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004 1st Edition, SCORM 2004 2nd Edition, SCORM 2004 3rd Edition, and SCORM 2004 4th Edition. 

The type of content that your users have that need to be supported in your LMS dictate the version to be used. However, there are versions that are not widely adopted. These include SCORM 1.0 and SCORM 1.1. Nonetheless, for purposes of this article, we will discuss all of them.

SCORM 1.0

Released in January 2010, this was the first-ever SCORM version. It was a draft outline of the SCORM framework and didn’t contain a fully implementable specification. It had core elements that later became the foundation for SCORM.

SCORM 1.0 introduced content packaging, how content should communicate with an LMS (run-time exchange), and how to describe content (metadata). However, this version is not relevant today. Also, there are no records of significant implementations of this version.

SCORM 1.1

This was the first implementable version of SCORM. It was introduced in January 2001 and was an improvement of version 1.0. Commercial vendors began to adopt it revealing the fact that SCORM indeed was a valid idea.

Nonetheless, it failed to address many issues and was, thus, not widely implemented. Today, there are a few legacy implementations of SCORM 1.1.

SCORM 1.2

SCORM became widely known after the release of SCORM 1.2 in October 2001. All the lessons learned from the previous versions were incorporated to create a robust and implementable standard.

This version featured increased content interoperability. In turn, this functionality dramatically saved costs for vendors who adopted it. SCORM 1.2 was massively adopted and remains the industry’s workhorse.

SCORM 2004 “1st Edition”

Released in January 2004, SCORM 2004 addressed some issues identified with SCORM 1.2. First, SCORM 1.2 lacked a sequencing and navigation feature that could allow vendors to describe how a learner would progress between SCOs. Hence, SCORM 1.2 content was produced as one rigid SCO (Shareable Content Object)  instead of a series of reusable SCOs.

Note: An SCO is the most granular piece of training in the SCORM standard. It is also a reusable chunk of training.

SCORM 2004 introduced improved content packaging, run-time, and content metadata books. Sections that were derived from version 1.2 are very stable. In fact, the standards that make up SCORM 2004 are up to accreditable specifications.

SCORM 2004 also introduced sequencing and navigation, two elements that allow vendors to set rules on how learners can navigate through SCOs. For instance, the vendor may set a rule where a learner can only be allowed to take a test if they complete a certain course in full.

SCORM 2004 refers to all versions of the SCORM 2004 specification. Prior to its release, it was known as SCORM 1.3. However, that name is not in use officially. The words “1st Edition” are placed in quotes in this specification since initially, it was just known as SCORM 2004.

Despite its features, SCORM 2004 had some sequencing problems. As a result, it was not fully implementable.

SCORM 2004 2nd Edition

ADL released SCORM 2004 2nd Edition in 2004 to address issues that arose as a result of the massive adoption of SCORM 2004.

SCORM 2004 2nd Edition was widely adopted but did not match the adoption levels of SCORM 1.2. The core SCORM books of this specification are very stable. However, sequencing still remains a challenge.

SCORM 2004 3rd Edition

Sequencing and navigation were issues of concern with most early versions of SCORM, including the first two versions of SCORM 2004. SCORM 2004 3rd Edition was released in October 2006 to remove ambiguities and tighten the specification for improved interoperability.

Notably, this version introduced interface requirements for LMSs. Prior to this, LMSs had to determine their own interfaces. Also, a new language was added that required LMSs to provide certain user interface components that allowed sequencing and navigation to work consistently across systems.

Similar to the 2nd edition, SCORM 2004 3rd Edition was widely adopted. In fact, of all the SCORM 2004 specifications, the 3rd edition is the most widely used.

SCORM 2004 4th Edition

Besides removing further ambiguities relating to sequencing and navigation, the 4th edition added new features that provided broader options for content providers. It was released in March 2004 and is the last and most current SCORM version.

With its improved features, SCORM 2004 4th Edition made sequencing of content much simpler. Currently, ADL is working on a new certification process for SCORM 2004 4th Edition that will require LMSs to be continually retested. This will help to maintain their certification and ensure that compliance issues can be addressed on an ongoing basis.

SCORM 1.2 vs 2004

Currently, there are two versions of SCORM that you can work with; SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004. What is the difference between the two? The answer lies with the changes that were introduced by SCORM 2004 as discussed in the following section.

Read-Write Interactions

Since the introduction of SCORM 1.2 in 2001, content authors could only write. They could not read what they wrote. The read-write model was introduced in 2004 by SCORM 2004. Read-write helps with interactions and assists in reporting.

Besides, SCORM 2004 allows content creators to check older interactions, check results, and develop a plan based on that.

Status Separation

SCORM 1.2 only has one lesson status: “Lesson_Status.” The status can be completed, incomplete, passed, failed, not attempted, or browsed. Some authors find this to be enough information while others don’t; they want more data. For example, some may want information relating to whether a learner completed a course and what questions the learner passed.

SCORM 2004 allows authors to split the lesson status into completed/incomplete (completion_status) and passed/failed (success_status). Such splitting gives authors more data and insights which helps them to make improvements.

Sequencing

Earlier learning management systems did not support sequencing. In fact, no one thought it could be possible. Sequencing allows authors to define the order in which content can be accessed by learners.

Sequencing introduces specific paths that can be adapted for every learner and allows them to save their progress mid-course for continuation at a later point in time. Only SCORM 2004 can permit you to do sequencing.

SCORM 1.2 or 2004?

The question lies, which of the two versions should you choose? If you just need reports on learner activities, both versions will do. The reporting elements of the two are the same. However, if you want complex elements such as sequencing and navigation, then you must choose SCORM 2004. In this case, ensure that your LMS is SCORM-compliant.

AICC vs SCORM

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The Aviation Industry Computer-based Training Committee (AICC) was formed in 1998 to ensure that elearning content can be created, delivered, and tracked across the rising number of computer-based training platforms.

The specifications set by AICC were adopted by other sectors including the corporate world making it the first online learning standard in the world. However, in 2014, as a result of the declining membership numbers, AICC was dissolved.

AICC communicates with an LMS by sending HTTP messages and then interprets the responses sent back by the LMS. To add, when using AICC, uploading content to an LMS is a lengthier process compared to using SCORM.

This standard was the first to foster communication between elearning content and learning management systems. AICC is more flexible and has flexible deployment configurations. However, it can’t track course progress and is fast losing support.

AICC is still being used for legacy reasons hence, it will be here for quite a while. However, it is technically a dead standard.

SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004 are the most popular elearning standards in the industry. Indeed, making SCORM content is easy, the standard is widely supported, and the learner’s pace can be dictated.

The major advantage of SCORM is that almost all vendors support SCORM content. This makes it easy to migrate from older systems to newer ones. Especially, companies frequently change vendors every once in a while. Therefore, having the option to change platforms is a point to consider.

Nonetheless, SCORM has the following drawbacks:

  • It doesn’t support offline learning.
  • It can only track information inside of an LMS.
  • Uses Flash hence, it can’t work on mobile devices.

Flash was discontinued on 31st December 2020.

xAPI vs SCORM

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xAPI (Experience API) is a learning standard that allows data collection regarding a learner’s experience during both online and offline training. xAPI uses a shared format to send and receive data which makes it a unique tool for sharing learning content between systems.

xAPI communicates with your LRS (Learning Record Store) or LXP (Learning Experience Platform). It gives detailed information on learner’s activities. For instance, it shows learner engagement through comments, mouse clicks, and on-screen actions.

Through the collection of such information, it is easy to locate where content is making an impact on the learners.

When comparing xAPI and SCORM, the difference lies in the tracking mechanisms of the former. xAPI can track learning activity from multiple contexts both online and offline, not just inside of an LMS.

Indeed, xAPI is challenging SCORM to become the next industry standard. The reasons are simple:

  1. Being a newer technology, xAPI can integrate offline and mobile learning. SCORM can’t.
  2. xAPI allows authors to personalize, track, and evaluate learner experiences in a more responsive manner.
  3. SCORM only tracks desktop LMS activity. xAPI, on the other hand, pulls data from multiple systems both online and offline in one location; the LRS. The result is a more complete set of data that demonstrates where learning is taking place, and where it’s not. To add, learning experiences and job performance can be linked.

As an example, information about high performing employees can be reverse-engineered to get information on how to improve the performances of other employees. Interventions can also be programmed into an LMS to detect serious issues before they become critical.

xAPI, is a clear winner. However, SCORM is still the industry standard but, as you may expect, it won’t hold that title for long.

There are many other reasons why you should choose xAPI over SCORM. For instance, xAPI integrates the technology that learners want to use. Most learners today use mobile devices thus, xAPI is the only option that can track their learning experiences.

Also, the improved integration of xAPI means that there is a larger data set that is also more informative and more nuanced. To add, insights are easily gathered from various sources. Besides, the enhanced understanding of learning behavior results in improvements.

It is no wonder most companies are making the switch to xAPI. eLearning is data-driven, therefore, xAPI will be the go-to solution for content creators.

SCORM is more of a stagnant learning standard. However, xAPI allows you to benefit from technology making it an evolving standard.

That is not to say that SCORM is dead. It all depends on your requirements. Once you know what you need, the choice will be easy and either standard will help you meet your training objectives. This is because SCORM and xAPI are alternative standards that achieve the same outcomes.

LTI and SCORM

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LTI stands for Learning Tools Interoperability. It is a standard created by IMS Global Learning Consortium and is focused on connecting learning platforms in a standard way. Using LTI, a learner logs into an LMS (the LTI tool consumer) and selects a resource link to play a course.

The course is then seamlessly launched into a remote tool (the LTI tool provider) in a browser. The process happens when the LTI provider provides the URL, key, and secret that are then sent to the LMS administrator for upload into the LMS. LTI supports single-sign-on and users are authenticated via OAuth.

LTI retains the user experience of the LTI tool provider. The beauty of this aspect is that content creators can craft unique learning experiences using their own tools and can also share these learning experiences with other learning platforms using LTI.

Mostly, LTI is used in academia and higher education.

When comparing SCORM and LTI, the major difference is that LTI is meant for system-to-system connection, while SCORM is created for system-to-user connection.

To explain this difference we will use an example. Say, for instance, all the progress and personal information of learners are stored on your LMS and then all your courses are saved on another online system. Setting up an LTI would ensure that when your learners log into your LMS, the courses stored in the other system are automatically called in and loaded.

Using LTI, content creators can develop courses and connect to other LMSs without using processes such as creating a zip file. In this case, your LMS just sends information to the other system and waits for feedback.

In the case of SCORM, your LMS communicates with the user. Courses are downloaded from the LMS onto the user’s computer. Information relating to the user is then sent back to the LMS for tracking purposes. No other websites are involved in this case.

At a high level, these are the differences between SCORM and LTI:

Content playback: LTI connects LMS learners to elearning content in a standard way. The content is launched on a different platform. SCORM content is uploaded into and played within an LMS.

Application: LTI is mostly used by academic institutions. SCORM is used by government agencies and corporate organizations.

Governance: LTI is created and managed by IMS while SCORM is created and maintained by ADL.

Convert SCORM to HTML5

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Convert SCORM to HTML5

When developing SCORM content, you have the option to publish a course either in Flash or HTML formats, or both. Flash is the most popular output for SCORM courses. Hence, it is likely that your courses are Flash-based.

Flash format has one major drawback; it can’t work on certain devices, Apple devices to be specific. Honestly, that’s quite a huge number of devices not supported. 

HTML5 works on all devices. This means that it is the obvious successor to Flash. It allows users to launch SCORM courses from their browsers. However, it does come with some requirements:

  • HTML5 works on modern browsers. If you are using an older browser, you will have to upgrade to the latest one.
  • There are authoring tools that do not work with HTML. You may have to redesign whole courses as opposed to just republishing them to HTML5.

HTML5 is the latest version of HTML and is compatible with LMS standards such as AICC, SCORM, and xAPI. You can deliver anything online with this format including apps, music, and movies without the need for any additional plugins.

HTML5 is also used to develop complicated applications that run on browsers. Since the format is cross-platform compatible, elearning courses can be accessed and launched on any device.

The benefits of switching elearning content from Flash-based formats such as SCORM to HTML5 include the following:

  1. No additional plugins are required.
  2. Content is single source and can be delivered through a variety of devices.
  3. Rich interactivity.
  4. Access anytime, anywhere.
  5. Content can be played on multiple browsers.

Migrating from Flash to HTML5

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Migrating from Flash to HTML5

The process outlined below is followed in the conversion of Flash-based content, such as SCORM courses, to HTML5.

  1. Put Source Files in Place

Gathering the source files of Flash-based courses is the most important part. The source files will either have .FLA or .XML file extensions. The files also include media and support files which can be identified with these extensions: .xml, .html, .css, .psd, .mp3, .mp4 among others.

When these files are collected and put in place, there will be no need to create courses from scratch. It simplifies the process of conversion to HTML5.

In the case that you don’t have the source files, you can play and record existing courses using software such as CamStudio or Camtasia. This will result in mp4 files that are HTML5 compatible.

  1. Extract and Organize Media and Content

When the source files are in place, the next step is to extract all media and content from your existing courses. You should copy all on-screen text and labels in navigational buttons onto a document or PowerPoint presentation.

Next, you should create folders for your media and organize audio, video, animations, and other graphics in respective folders. You should also have separate folders for learning resources that are saved in PDF and Word document formats.

  1. Choose Your Authoring Tool

Choosing an appropriate authoring tool is a crucial step in this process. Articulate Storyline 360 and Adobe Captivate are examples of good authoring tools.

Articulate Storyline 360 is ideal if your Flash-based elearning content has a lot of interactivities. Adobe Captivate, on the other hand, is a good fit if you want to convert Flash-based content that contains simulations to HTML5.

  1. Customize the Interactivities and GUI (Graphical User Interface)

Most authoring tools come with inbuilt GUI templates. These can be customized to your organization’s brand. This saves time that would otherwise be spent on creating such interactivities from scratch.

Importantly, ensure that the interactivities of Flash-based courses can be replicated in HTML5. However, there are interactivities that are hard to replicate. Such situations call for alternative strategies. For example, complex animations can be converted to common video formats.

  1. Choose Templates for Interactivities and Assessments

Most authoring tools also provide templates for interactivities and assessments. These templates can easily be customized and help to give consistency to your converted courses. 

  1. Come Up with a Prototype

An elearning prototype is a functional sample of the final converted course. It gives a feel of how the final course is going to look. This step is important since it helps to identify ambiguities and any necessary changes at an early stage. Consequently, time is saved since there will be no reworks which also translates to development costs savings.

  1. Get Stakeholder Approval

Next, the prototype needs to be approved by stakeholders. During this stage, they will get a feel of how the course will look like after the conversion. It also assures them that the conversion is done to their specifications and guidelines.

  1. Convert and Publish

At this stage, your courses are converted into HTML5 with the help of your chosen authoring tool. It is important to ensure that your courses are published to current technology standards such as API or SCORM 1.2.

To add, any changes to the courses must be included in the final HTML5 copy. For example, audio files should be re-recorded to reflect the content update.

  1. Quality Check

Once your course is published, ensure that it adheres to quality standards. You can create the following checklists to ensure that your courses are converted seamlessly from Flash to HTML5:

  • Development checklist that is based on the style guide, requirements, templates, compliance compatibility, and devices.
  • Quality assurance checklist. This is meant for the quality control team and includes spell checks, audio synchronization, consistency in title styles, and interface functionality.
  • SCORM Cloud checklist. This is meant for LMS administrators and specialists.

Finally, the final HTML5 course should be loaded on different browsers to check if they can be played without any technical complications. This should be done before the final handover to the stakeholders.

Convert PPT to SCORM

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For an engaging elearning experience for your learners, it is best to convert any PowerPoint presentations into SCORM packages. There are other formats present such as AICC and xAPI but SCORM is the industry standard.

Your PowerPoint presentations need to be repackaged into SCORM format. The structure of PowerPoint is an element well ‘understood’ by most authoring tools. Hence, you won’t need to change the structure so much.

When you convert your PowerPoint presentations to SCORM, each PowerPoint slide will be a new slide in your SCORM presentation. You can then decide to add overlay interactions, new slides, or interactive components such as quizzes.

The end product will be one that can be tracked by SCORM-conformant learning management systems. The LMS will provide the functions of bookmarking a learner’s progress, and record their interactions such as exam choices and answers.

Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline 360 are two common authoring tools that can help you achieve PowerPoint to SCORM conversion.

Steps in Converting PowerPoint to SCORM

  1. Find a good authoring tool: Most authoring tools will help you to convert PowerPoint presentations to SCORM packages. Rustici software has a guide that will help you while choosing an authoring tool.
  2. Convert your PowerPoint files: Check your respective authoring tool’s knowledge base for instructions on how to convert your PowerPoint files to SCORM packages.
  3. Test your SCORM package using SCORM Cloud: After successful conversion, check if your SCORM package is compatible with any LMS. SCORM Cloud helps in testing content to ensure that it meets SCORM, AICC, xAPI, or CMI5 standards.

Deliver your SCORM package using SCORM Cloud: SCORM Cloud helps to deliver content directly to learners using invitations or via SCORM Cloud dispatch. Invitations are an easy way of quickly delivering training and tracking results. SCORM Cloud dispatch allows you to host your courses within SCORM Cloud and deliver them to any LMS.

Final Words

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LMS Summary of Recommendations

SCORM has come a long way to become the dominant elearning standard that it is today. Indeed, it made the sharing of elearning content and interoperability of elearning systems possible.

Despite its dominance, it has its downsides. For instance, its inability to track learner activity outside of a learning management system is paving the way for newer and more technology-based elearning standards such as xAPI.

Still, SCORM revolutionized elearning and it is here to stay. Undoubtedly, newer standards such as xAPI are improvements of SCORM meaning they have borrowed from its framework.

If you are looking for a SCORM-compliant learning management system, Tovuti LMS is a cloud-based elearning solution where you can upload and play SCORM courses.

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