SCORM, Sharable Content Object Reference Model

SCORM, which stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model,  is a set of technical standards for eLearning software products. SCORM tells programmers how to write their code so that it can “play well” with other eLearning software. It is the de facto industry standard for eLearning interoperability. Specifically, SCORM governs how online learning content and Learning Management Systems (LMSs) communicate with each other. SCORM does not speak to instructional design or any other pedagogical concern — it is purely a technical standard.

Can you help me with an example or analogy?

Let’s take DVDs for example. When you buy a new movie on DVD you don’t need to check to see if it works with your brand of DVD player. A regular DVD will play on a Toshiba the same as it will on a Panasonic. That’s because DVD movies are produced using a set of standards. Without these standards a studio releasing a new movie on DVD would have a big problem. They would need to make differently formatted DVDs for each brand of DVD player. This is how online learning used to be before SCORM was created.

The SCORM standard makes sure that all eLearning content and LMSs can work with each other, just like the DVD standard makes sure that all DVDs will play in all DVD players. If an LMS is SCORM conformant, it can play any content that is SCORM conformant, and any SCORM conformant content can play in any SCORM conformant LMS.

Why should I use SCORM?

For some, SCORM is simply an obstacle on the path to a sale. For others, SCORM is a tool that enables effective, efficient online training. At its core, SCORM allows content authors to distribute their content to a variety of Learning Management Systems (LMS) with the smallest headache possible. And for an LMS to handle content from a variety of sources.

Are there different types of SCORM and do I need to support all of them?

Yes! There are technically five versions of SCORM: SCORM 1.1, SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004 2nd Edition, SCORM 2004 3rd Edition and SCORM 2004 4th edition. When it comes to which versions you should use, it really depends on what you need from your content or what type of content your customers have that you need to support in your LMS.

SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004 3rd Edition are the most widely used versions of SCORM. For more detail on the versions of SCORM, including the various flavors of SCORM 2004, visit the SCORM versions comparison chart.