Does SCORM make you scream?

SCORM standards for eLearning have been around for 10 years now, but as Fiona Leterney reports in the latest eLearning Age, there is little cause for celebration.

At Dev Learn in November I attended an excellent session by William Paco who is head of elearning at Time Warner. The session was entitled “Strategies for integrating e-learning into an LMS” .
A recent survey of LMS users in the US found that their most common challenge (quoted by over 40% of respondents) was “Content Integration”. This came above “system performance”, “employee buy-in”, “administration”, “useability” and so on.
In other words, if you still encounter problems of getting content to work and track reliably on your or others’ LMS’s, join the club.
He quoted timescales of 2 – 3 months to get libraries of third party content on to their LMS, which is from one of the major established LMS providers.

He discussed differences between AICC and the two SCORM standards. Despite SCORM 2004 being now 6 years old, it still has only half the take up of SCORM 1.2 which is “supported” by 86% of commercial LMS platforms.
He went on to compare AICC and SCORM and to discuss why these standards are not standard and rarely work the same from one platform to another or one authoring tool to another.
At Unicorn our approach is to have documented processes for development and publication of e-learning for each of the main authoring packages such as Lectora, Articulate, Captivate as well as our in house HTML and Flash templates.
By experimenting with different settings we are able to recommend to clients who are producing their own content which settings work best and most reliably with our platform, as well as building experience in how to get our content to work on third party platforms.
Interestingly, Wiliam Paco’s experience and our own is that the AICC settings still work better in some authoring packages, and where this is the case it is usually the best solution. Clients want their content to work and track reliably. Generally they couldn’t care less whether we are using SCORM or AICC.
Even with experience and documented processes in place, it is sensible to build into the development process time to resolve content integration issues on a course by course basis. Publishing, tracking and reporting should be included in the initial spec for each project, and wherever possible integration issues should be tested and resolved before course development is complete.
So, in summary, our experience of the standards is that they are not standard. With more clients wanting to create their own content using an increasing variety of rapid authoring tools, the challenges of content integration and the need for in-house resource and expertise are if anything becoming greater.

Peter P

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