What is SCORM?
Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is a collection of standards and specifications for web-based electronic educational technology (e-learning). It defines how a package of content can communicate with a host platform, usually a learning management system (LMS) or virtual learning environment (VLE). A part of the SCORM definition includes how a collection of content may be packaged into a transferable file, often in ZIP format.
SCORM packages are often created in a content authoring system such as Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline, Adobe Presenter or iSpring. Some of these tools take a conversion route, taking material made in desktop office-based applications (such as Microsoft PowerPoint) to convert each slide into a page of content. Others provide a richer editing environment where a content author can add a range of multimedia and interactive elements into pages of content.
Nearly all SCORM-compatible editors have tools for creating assessments within the packages. These are typically a form of quiz but can also be interactive hotspots, drag and drop, image maps and more.
While not exclusively, SCORM packages are often a collection of content wrapped into a single package with its own navigation and content structured in a linear or set hierarchy. These packages are often 1-2 hours in duration but can be longer, or shorter – this is all set by the content designer and authors.
Accessibility is built into the standard for SCORM, which means authors can follow the guidelines and create highly accessible packages of content. However, sometimes best practice is not followed and therefore learners can end up with accessibility issues when it comes to using SCORM packages.
SCORM on FutureLearn
SCORM packages can be used with Exercise Steps within a FutureLearn course. We will always request that each Exercise Step is submitted ahead of the Quality Assurance 30-day deadline as they will be checked by a developer against our technical and accessibility requirements and hosted externally (not on FutureLearn) before it can be added to your course. This is to ensure all learners will have a fair and equal opportunity to view and interact with the content presented.
Areas of caution
In general, SCORM packages tend to perform poorly when they are tested against our Exercise Step requirements. SCORM content must be published in a mobile-friendly format (such as HTML5) – there can be no trace of Flash-based content which is incompatible with mobile devices. All content must also dynamically resize to fit the device it is being presented (known as responsive design).
In addition, the richer interactions of in-package navigation, assessment tools and other user-interface elements tend to over-complicate the goal of learning, especially on smaller devices with different input methods (such as a finger rather than a cursor). Content must be accessible.
SCORM packages tend to be multi-paged resources, filled with multimedia content and very much focused on the individual learner. The size and scope of these packages may direct the learner away from the FutureLearn platform, present high-bandwidth content which is not distributed with the learner’s available bandwidth in mind and is omitting our social learning features.
Because of these factors, we must proceed with caution as SCORM packages which fail the Exercise Step or Quality Assurance checks will not be able to be used on a FutureLearn course.