SCORM Expert: Stop publishing new SCORM content

Dan Marsden has been a global SCORM expert for over a decade. He's advocating for educators to stop publishing new SCORM content and instead use more modern tools.

SCORM stands for "Shareable Content Object Reference Model." It's a technical standard for publishing learning content that is compatible with a wide range of Learning Management systems (LMS). However, the SCORM format has become an increasing nuisance for the learning and development industry.

Dan Marsden has been a global SCORM expert for over a decade. He's advocating for educators to stop publishing new SCORM content and instead use more modern tools. Because SCORM files can be difficult and expensive to maintain, SCORM rot has become increasingly prevalent.

SCORM format: a brief history

In 2001, SCORM was a great innovation. It provided eLearning consultants with the ability to generate content packages that could be installed in any SCORM compliant LMS. This included the development of stand-alone content packages potentially containing a breadth of content. For example:

  • Videos.
  • Quizzes.
  • Basic interactive content.
  • Flash.

However, SCORM file packages are published in a "read-only" state. That means they can't be edited or personalised. So when a SCORM package is created, educators need to:

  1. Know where they've stored the original source files.
  2. Retain access to the software used to create the SCORM package.

Plus, if users can't find the original source files for updating content packages, they must rebuild their content from scratch.

The modern way to create LMS content

Essentially, SCORM is over 20 years old. The eLearning industry and the technologies our learners engage with have evolved since then. For example, Wi-Fi, 5G, and mobile learning with varying device screen sizes. SCORM files were never designed with this in mind.

There have been attempts to add support for modern technologies like xAPI(external link) and responsive design to proprietary SCORM authoring tools. However, SCORM file authoring is no longer necessary to develop rich eLearning content in 2023.

Creating LMS content using native tools

Moodle and Tōtara are modern Learning Management Systems (LMS) with native mobile application support, responsive design, and built-in editing tools. As an educator, you can log in and quickly fix typos or replace an image in the browser yourself. There's no need to hunt down the computer housing the authoring tool and the source files; simply update directly within the LMS. In Moodle and Tōtara sites, there is a wide range of rich interactive content authoring tools that are included. To further engage your learners, you have the option to add a variety of third-party plugins.

Creating LMS content in H5P instead of SCORM format

Moodle and Tōtara integrate well with H5P(external link), an open-source modern and easy-to-use HTML5 editing tool. It allows anyone to create rich interactive content within their web browser. H5P content packages don't use a publishing process like SCORM files do. If you have an H5P content package, you have everything you need to display that package to the learner and also update it.

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