LinkedIn’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report found that 45% of L&D managers spent nearly half of their time curating and building content as they continued to expand L&D programs. But as you build out your content library, training materials can’t live in silos across your learning management system (LMS), knowledge bases, and desktop storage. To simplify eLearning for your organization, it’s important to bring content formats together—and that’s where SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model)-compliant content comes into play.
SCORM compliance means that an eLearning software solution or piece of online learning content is interoperable. In short, if your content is SCORM compliant, you can upload it to any LMS that is also SCORM compliant.
The combination of a SCORM-compliant LMS and a SCORM-compliant eLearning authoring tool, such as a digital adoption platform (DAP), can help you accelerate training programs. But not all solutions are created equal. Knowing what SCORM compliance is and how to achieve it for your eLearning content is crucial for building out more impactful and productive L&D programs.
What Is SCORM Compliance?
The Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, a Department of Defense-sponsored research group, created and published the first version of SCORM in 2000. According to the ADL Initiative, “SCORM® is comprised of a collection of interrelated technical specifications and guidelines designed to meet the DoD’s high-level requirements for creating interoperable, plug-n-play, browser-based e-learning content.”
Basically, the ADL Initiative established SCORM because they saw a problem—organizations were continually forced to recreate and reprogram their eLearning content as new systems emerged and IT infrastructure evolved. They created SCORM as the reference model for connecting eLearning content and LMSs without constantly having to reconfigure back-end code. To be SCORM-compliant, eLearning content and LMSs must adhere to the guidelines the ADL has laid out.
Despite the fact that SCORM is over 20 years old, it remains an important (and widely supported) standard in the eLearning industry. New versions and editions have brought more depth to SCORM’s guidelines, but all SCORM-compliant LMSs and training content adhere to these two collections of technical specifications:
- SCORM Run-Time Environment (RTE): This aspect of SCORM lays out a data model and an API that apply to both sides of the eLearning equation. It standardizes communication between the system (your LMS) and your content objects (the training material you want to upload). The common requirements ensure that SCORM-compliant courses will launch properly in your LMS and that you see accurate engagement data.
- SCORM Content Aggregation Model (CAM): This aspect of SCORM dictates how systems and authoring tools package eLearning content. It standardizes the way SCORM content is transferred via ZIP files and provides instructions for including metadata that makes training material both searchable and discoverable for users.
These two sets of technical specifications help you create and manage SCORM-compliant content that is interoperable, portable, and reusable. However, compliance isn’t one-size-fits-all. When creating SCORM-compliant content, it’s important to identify which version of the standards you’re working with.
The Three Most Relevant Versions of SCORM
Each new version of SCORM builds upon the one that came before it, making the standards backward-compatible for the most part. The version of SCORM you’ll need largely depends on the features and options you expect to integrate between eLearning content and your LMS.
Understanding the different versions of SCORM that are still relevant today will help you make sure that the content you develop is usable within your LMS. There are three relevant versions to keep in mind:
- SCORM 1.1: Following the loose framework of SCORM 1.0, the ADL Initiative released SCORM 1.1 in January 2001 as the first implementable specification for eLearning vendors. If you’re dealing with certain legacy systems, SCORM 1.1 might still be relevant to your organization. But this version failed to achieve widespread adoption and covers only the highest level guidelines that exist in later editions of SCORM.
- SCORM 1.2: Released in October 2001, this version of SCORM is the one that sparked widespread industry adoption. SCORM 1.2 introduced the packaging and metadata concepts that are so important to achieving interoperability for eLearning materials. The major LMSs still support this version, and there’s no sign that it will disappear anytime soon.
- SCORM 2004: When the ADL Initiative released this version in January 2004, they moved to a more iterative approach to updating the standard. Since 2004, the ADL Initiative has released multiple editions of this version, with the third and fourth editions being the most widely used. Most notably, SCORM 2004 introduced a new category of technical specifications: sequencing and navigation.
Achieving SCORM compliance is often viewed as a technical hurdle, especially for enterprise-level L&D leaders. But this isn’t just an IT issue taking time away from more strategic thinking about how to make programs more effective. There are real business benefits to working with SCORM-compliant eLearning tools.
Why Does a SCORM-Compliant LMS Matter?
Corporate eLearning is a $64.4 billion business, and it continues to grow each year. Whether you’re creating more content or adding a tool for designing courses, it’s easy for new investments to create complexity across your LMS, knowledge base, and local storage. This is why SCORM compliance matters. By conforming with the technical standards, you unlock key benefits that can simplify corporate eLearning infrastructure and increase productivity for your L&D team. The ADL documentation for SCORM 1.2 lists these four benefits of compliance:
- Accessibility: Design and build eLearning content with a wide variety of authoring tools, and access them all from one central system.
- Interoperability: Exchange data between systems and authoring tools from different vendors without additional coding.
- Durability: Upgrade systems and tools without having to worry about reconfiguring or redesigning eLearning content.
- Reusability: Create training material once, and execute in multiple applications, systems, and eLearning contexts.
With SCORM-compliant systems and content, you don’t have to worry about the vendor lock-in challenges that often plague legacy systems. If you choose to migrate systems as your L&D needs evolve, SCORM compliance ensures that you’re able to safely transfer training material to new LMSs without sinking hours into recreating content.
But achieving SCORM compliance isn’t just about saving you time in the event that you migrate to a new LMS. It can also help you transform traditional eLearning content as digital adoption becomes increasingly important to business success. Moving beyond static screenshots and basic tutorial videos by creating real-time interactive guides and other new training materials is key to accelerating digital adoption in your organization. SCORM-compliant authoring tools help you create this kind of content and integrate it seamlessly into your LMS.
Even as other technical standards like the xAPI gain popularity in corporate eLearning, SCORM-compliant LMSs and content will remain critical to maximizing efficiency and productivity for L&D programs.
How to Design SCORM-Compliant Learning Material for Your LMS
With the right authoring tools and LMS in place, you can start designing learning material that is SCORM-compliant. One option is to create interactive walk-throughs for application onboarding. Instead of giving employees a simple help article, you can design in-app guidance that walks users through each step of specific application use cases.
There are multiple tools that can help you create these kinds of walk-throughs. But if your authoring tool isn’t SCORM-compliant, you won’t be able to integrate the guide to your LMS for effective delivery and reporting. With Whatfix, the world’s first SCORM-compliant in-app guidance tool, you can easily create interactive courses and upload that content to your LMS in just a few clicks.
Design Walk-throughs with Zero Coding
The Whatfix DAP is a zero-coding option for designing step-by-step walk-throughs for the SaaS applications you need users to adopt quickly. Our intuitive interface guides you through the steps necessary to create powerful interactive guides without the help of IT.
To design SCORM-compliant learning material with Whatfix, start by creating a Whatfix Flow—our version of a walk-through that displays as a step-by-step overlay for web applications. In the following GIF, see how the purple pop-ups created with Whatfix guide users through a Salesforce training:
Once you have a piece of training content you’re happy with, you can convert it into a variety of formats. Whatfix can automatically turn a walk-through like this one into a video, a PDF, and a slideshow to use for training across your enterprise.
Export eLearning Content as a SCORM Package and Integrate with YouR LMS
Our in-app guidance tool conforms to SCORM 1.2, which allows you to export a slideshow of your walk-through for LMS integration. Exporting your training material as a SCORM package just takes a simple click from the Whatfix dashboard
When you choose to export your walk-through as a SCORM package, a couple of things happen on the back end:
- Our authoring tool puts together a SCORM ZIP file that contains all the images, code, text, and other content that make up your training material.
- In addition to separating files so they adhere to SCORM guidelines, we add the XML files that connect to an LMS API and communicate all the technical details about your training material.
Once you have the SCORM package, you’ll be able to upload it directly to your SCORM-compliant LMS. When you integrate a Whatfix walk-through to a SCORM 1.2-compliant LMS like Moodle, the most you’ll need to do is review the training material to ensure that steps appear in the right order. Once that’s done, your interactive walk-through will be in your LMS and ready for distribution. This GIF shows how a Whatfix Flow for ServiceNow training would appear within Moodle, how employees would interact with it, and how progress is tracked:
Simplify Your LMS with a SCORM-Compliant Authoring Tool
With the right DAP, SCORM-compliant content helps you modernize traditional static training materials. Instead of trying to drive adoption with standard text-based courses, real-time interactive walk-throughs make it easier for users to understand new systems and complete your training programs.
Whatfix LMS integrations will maximize your productivity and help you limit complexity as you introduce new L&D programs and training materials.
If you want to learn how to create SCORM-compliant courses with Whatfix (and how that can benefit your L&D department), request a demo for more information about our digital adoption platform (DAP).