If you are in charge of training and education at your firm or organization, you’re well aware of the significant role played by e-learning today. In just over 20 years, the use of computer-based instruction has transformed the corporate education landscape. With the advent of the Internet, this technology is even more valuable and powerful.
Recognizing this importance, the U.S. government and Department of Defense took the lead in developing standards and methods for making such training more affordable. An executive order in 1999 assigned the task of developing common specifications and standards for all e-learning efforts and products.
The research group Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative has subsequently produced the “Sharable Content Object Reference Model,” or SCORM in 2001. Rather than creating a new industry standard, SCORM serves as a Reference Model – meaning SCORM compiles and references the plethora of existing standards and directs developers how to properly use them together.
The SCORM website provides a great way to think about it. When buying a new DVD, you don’t worry if it will work with your brand of DVD player. Whether you have a SONY or Panasonic, you know it will play just the same. This is because DVDs are produced using a set of standards. Without this set of standards, studios would need to release DVDs formatted for each specific player – which would be a waste of both time and money. That is how online learning used to be before SCORM was created.
The SCORM standard allows all e-learning content and Learning Management Systems (LMSs) to work with each other – just like the DVD standard assures your movie will play on your brand of player. As long as your LMS is SCORM compliant, it can play any SCORM conformant content, and any SCORM conformant content can play in any SCORM compliant LMS.
The Importance of Compliance
Somewhat analogous to the issue of software compatibility between different computer operating systems, SCORM works to anticipate changing technologies and industry changes. This means that any LMS advertised as SCORM compliant will play any content that is also SCORM compliant. This lowers both current and future costs of managing and updating e-learning properties.
Even if you develop primarily in-house and proprietary training materials and e-learning modules, SCORM compliance is an important consideration for a number of reasons. At the top of this list is cost savings in development projects. SCORM has rapidly become the guidelines by which virtually all programs develop e-learning software. They work hard to ensure such products will work seamlessly with other software and LMSs.
As many in-house systems are now incorporating externally produced content and modules for various purposes, the issue of SCORM compliance becomes a central concern for all training departments.
Also, if you bring in training experts to help with your online learning, it is key that they are SCORM compliant. Since one of the biggest benefits of SCORM is that it makes content portable, your company will easily be able to use the training content on another system without any hassle. That is why using a SCORM training company is ideal.
Keeping Up With a Changing Environment
In addition to upfront savings and compatibility, SCORM compliance is essential to maintaining future usability of developed product and software. For example, the success of the initial launch of SCORM has driven the development of the next generation of the model. While there are currently three versions of SCORM, the industry is preparing for the latest incarnation of this approach. Named Tin Can API (Application Programming Interface), this new product from ADL will incorporate many new technologies and standards to enhance the capabilities of existing and new e-learning products.
Tin Can API represents a major advance in the field of e-learning, and the new product addresses the advances in hosted LMSs and Learning Record Stores. For directors of training, these and many other enhancements make access to existing and new content much easier and manageable.
Business and SCORM
While all e-learning environments benefit from ensuring full SCORM compliance, the concept has special significance to businesses on two fronts. First, all producers of e-learning content and products find virtually all major clients expect such interoperability in their training products and projects. As the de facto industry compliance, most RFPs (Request for Proposals) and RFQs (Request for Quotations) specify SCORM compliance as a minimal requirement. This means clients who purchase and use learning products from multiple vendors expect full and seamless integration.
The second point of importance, as noted above, is maximizing your investment in all e-learning and training intellectual properties. Internal users will be exposed to other SCORM compliant systems and the learning curve is greatly reduced with such interoperability.
As e-learning, LMS and other online training tools becomes more popular, SCORM compliant systems are essential for companies. From the cost benefits to the collaborative options to integration possibilities, SCORM helps streamline and enhance your company’s online training.