The Magic of SCORM
As e-learning developers, we tend to be learners ourselves. We often like to take things apart and figure out how they really work. Yet with all the tools, we have available for us today to make development easier it’s highly likely you have created a lot of SCORM compliant content. But you may not really understand how SCORM works. And since we like to take things apart, it’s probably bugged you in the back of your mind.
SCORM is Not Really Magical
Worry no more!
Today I want to share a (very) brief explanation of what goes on behind that curtain with an overview of the SCORM process.
There’s no wizard there working the controls. What IS there is a lot of communications and commands. And several components working together to record and report.
What SCORM Needs
Why all of this?
The LMS provides the mechanism for collecting, storing, and retrieving the data related to the learner and the courses. Recordkeeping requires some sort of database system. The LMS has that database and the programming internally for working with records.
Since the LMS resides on a web server, that’s why we need a consistent Internet connection. We need to be able to get the data from the course to the server and the Internet makes that possible.
So what happens?
Your SCORM-compliant e-learning course is packaged and then installed on the LMS. The course files are placed in a folder on the web server and the LMS knows where. The LMS also reads an XML file in the course package called a manifest. That file provides the details of the course. Those details may include title and identification of the Shareable Content Objects (SCOs) in the course.
What the LMS Does
The commands made available in the API adapter are what are called “get-value commands” and “set-value commands”. The course will use a “get-value” command to ask the LMS to retrieve data about the course and the learner, such as the learner’s completion status in the course, where they left off, and perhaps even the learner’s name. The “set-value” command allows the course to ask the LMS to store data about the learner’s progress in the course into the database. This can include bookmarking where they are in the course, whether or not they completed the course, and how they scored on the assessment.
What the Course Does
What SCORM really does for you is standardize all the language and processes enough so that every component knows what to do, when to do it, and how to talk to one another. That’s how proprietary third-party SCORM courses can be added to a proprietary SCORM LMS system and still work. They both speak SCORM!
So the next time you click that Publish button to create your course package, know that because of SCORM you can be fairly confident that your course will work and communication will occur.