Introduction to SCORM elearning standard for non-techies
SCORM is a standard for online elearning materials for a single user – typically self-paced modules. It stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. It’s a very technical specification that governs how the learning materials are created and delivered to learners. The basic idea is that if you create a piece of elearning that is SCORM compliant (the latest version is SCORM 2004) then it can be used in any learning management system (LMS) – so it could be used in or transferred to Moodle, Blackboard, Sakai, Blackboard WebCT, Desire2Learn, SumTotal, or any other VLE.
The first job it defines is how content should be packaged. Data is included in a document called the “imsmanifest”, based on XML, which gives the LMS all the information it needs to import and launch the content automatically (without someone having to start editing bits of code). The XML describes the structure of a course both from the learner perspective and as a file structure on the server. Type and name of content is included here, for example.
The second part of the SCORM specification is about data exchange. It specifies how the content ”talks” to the LMS while it is being used. This part of the specification is about delivery and tracking of content. It means that the LMS can find and deliver the content to specific learners and exchange data such as marks and other learner-specific information.
SCORM is a standardized “plug and play” format for elearning modules that was invented by the US Department of Defense but is now acknowledged as the standard across the world. It does not define the look and feel, design or content or even the learning design of the materials in any way. It just makes them easier to use.