What Is SCORM Learning Design?

What is SCORM Learning Design?

SCORM learning stands for the Shareable Content Object Reference Model, a technical eLearning standard by the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative. SCORM is ultimately about interoperability, using the XML markup language to scale assets to courses and learning management systems.

The latest standard, SCORM 2004, introduced sequencing—interactions between learners and content. SCORM now lets instructional designers create rules to define a user’s content journey, bookmark progress and set test score thresholds. SCORM is ultimately a technical concept detailed in a 1,162 page document by the ADL. However, the SCORM model is about scaling your course design investments, a valuable idea for learning and development pros.

Here’s an acronym breakdown to help determine if SCORM learning fits your organization’s LMS.

S is for shareable

The SCORM model is centered around shareable content objects (SCOs). An SCO is a unique learning resource that can be linked with other resources in the course “manifest.” SCOs need to be reusable across contexts and screen sizes.

Reuse of resources across multiple learner pathways is a valuable concept for instructional designers. Similarly, the SCORM model’s emphasis on responsive design can influence the development of responsive content experiences that scale seamlessly from desktop computer to mobile device.

C is for content

SCORM defines the standards for “content package” bundling, or creating a content library that can be imported into any SCORM-compliant LMS. Each content package can have its own set of sequencing rules, depending on the type of learning that makes the most sense for the user:

  • Sequential.
  • Nonsequential.
  • User-directed.
  • Adaptive.

For example, sequencing rules can dictate a minimum test score of 90% for certain groups of users. Sequencing rules can also be used to randomize test questions from a test question bank. SCORM doesn’t dictate how you create learning objectives or your testing strategy. Instead, it’s a set of technical building blocks for turning this strategy into reality on multiple systems.

O is for object

Objects within the SCORM learning model are different from learning objectives. They’re also different from assets, or single instructional items such as webpages, images, audio or interactive quizzes. Objects are a technical approach to grouping assets into courses. L&D works with SCORM developers to group and regroup content into course objects and turn learning objectives into sequencing rules for each object.

R is for reference

A reference model like SCORM is an abstract framework, which exists to define and link certain concepts. It’s a type of technical standard that offers a balance of flexibility and rigidity. The SCORM learning model exists to scale content between courses, and courses between LMS systems.

SCORM is a “reference” because it doesn’t tell you how you should design your courses or what types of content need to be included. It leaves the actual content creation and instructional design to L&D experts but ensures that these ideas can be implemented in a way that scales.

M is for model

The SCORM learning model is based on XML to markup, or define content in an LMS. The SCORM model covers:

  • Technical course and content structure.
  • The application programming interface (API).
  • Content-to-LMS.
  • Content launch.
  • Metadata records.

Making the SCORM model reality is generally the responsibility of the LMS vendor and programmers. However, L&D can benefit from knowing the model enough to design reusable content and communicate with programmers.

The benefit of SCORM

SCORM won’t change your course design process. It’s not a model for learning objectives. Instead, it’s a technical reference for how you may implement your learning content and testing strategies. Learning content is a huge investment, and ideas like shareability and objects can help you scale your assets between courses and LMS systems.