SCORM is an elearning standard, or rather a set of instructions that is attached to elearning content.
These instructions allow you to deliver the elearning content via a Learning Management System (LMS) to learners and track their results and how they interact with the content.
Officially, SCORM stands for the Shareable Content Object Reference Model. This is a mouthful, which is why most people just call it SCORM and forget about what it’s actually short for.
You don't have to use SCORM to deliver elearning content. Online learning content can be shared in many ways with your learners: e.g. via your organisation's website, through videos on YouTube or by copying digital learning resources to a DVD or USB device.
You should consider using SCORM, however, if you want to:
Rapid authoring tools, such as Storyline or Captivate, make it very easy to publish elearning courses as a SCORM-compliant packages. This is typically done through a 'Publish' screen or command. Check the website or forums of the software you are using for specific instructions.
There are a number of different SCORM releases (e.g. SCORM 2.1, SCORM 2004) and you'll be asked to select which version you want to use when publishing your elearning course. Check with your organisation's IT staff to identify which SCORM version best suits your LMS.
An elearning course typically contains pages or screens, and chapters, topics or modules etc. (the words used for these divisions vary between training organisations).
SCORM converts these divisions into objects, called Shareable Content Objects (or SCOs). For example, if a course is broken down into chapters, then SCORM will treat these chapters as SCOs. SCOs are then collated and packaged as a SCORM-compiant course, ready to be uploaded into the LMS.
Once it's been uploaded, the SCORM-compliant course tracks the learner's progress by sending and recieving data from the LMS. For example, when the learner logs in to the course, the course will ‘get’ data (such as the person's name) and ‘send’ data (such as their quiz score) to the LMS.
During the 1990s the US government began developing online training across its departments. Intially each department developed their own courses and designed and developed their own systems. There was no interoperability, i.e. one department's online course would not necessarily work in another department's system.
This amounted to an enormous duplication of effort and wasted resources, which led the US government to task a research group called ADL to set up a set of standards to improve interoperability. Thus the SCORM standard was born.
Since its humble beginnings ADL has released a number of versions of the SCORM standard:
* These versions of SCORM are most widely used. Most elearning software will support these versions. Check with your organisation's LMS support staff to identify the SCORM version that best suits your system.
SCORM has its limitations: the largest being it's constraint to tracking only course-oriented components of learning, such as quizzes, lessons or tests. How people learn, however is becoming increasingly informal, social and mobile.
That's why SCORM has developed into a new standard called xAPI or Experience API. This new standard aims to capture what learners are doing on their computers outside their formal learning environment, e.g. social media or games.