Safe Community Project


Is SCORM Obsolete?

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Birds-eye view of men and women working around a table together while using laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) is rapidly becoming a bit old in the tooth. While not necessarily obsolete, fewer universities and organizations are using SCORM, as it hasn’t evolved with the rest of the online learning community. SCORM has been a dominant standard in e-learning and Learning Management Systems (LMS) since its development in the early 2000s by the United States Department of Defense. Let’s take a look at the current state of SCORM and how we evaluate using it for a project at the Safe Community Project:

  1. Wide Adoption: SCORM remains widely used across various industries due to its extensive adoption over the years. Many organizations continue to use SCORM-compatible LMS because they have a substantial repository of SCORM-compliant courses and training materials.
  2. Compatibility: One of SCORM’s key advantages is its compatibility across different systems. SCORM packages can be easily imported and exported across SCORM-compliant platforms, facilitating content sharing and reuse.
  3. Structured Learning: SCORM effectively supports structured learning paths. It can track a learner’s path through a content tree, record scores, and track pass/fail statuses, making it suitable for straightforward training applications.
  1. Limited Mobile Support: SCORM was developed before the widespread adoption of mobile learning. As such, it doesn’t fully support mobile learning environments or offline access, which can be a significant drawback in today’s increasingly mobile world.
  2. Lack of Interactivity and Adaptability: SCORM does not support more advanced adaptive learning features that adjust the learning experience based on the learner’s performance in real-time. Nor does it support extensive gamification, simulations, and other interactive elements well.
  3. Technical Constraints: Being an older standard, SCORM can sometimes be restrictive in terms of the newer web technologies it supports. This can limit creativity and innovation in course design.
  4. Lack of Content Transfers: So much has changed relative to how LMS environments are used, that utilizing SCORM may be a misnomer for some situations. While course content will upload into any SCORM-compliant LMS, the design of a page, animations, simulations, or other components may need to be added manually. 
  1. xAPI (Experience API/Tin Can API): xAPI is a newer specification that overcomes many of SCORM’s limitations. It allows for more detailed tracking of a wide range of learning experiences, including mobile learning and informal learning. xAPI can track learning activities from various sources, not just within the LMS.
  2. CMI-5: CMI-5 is another standard, often considered a bridge between SCORM and xAPI. It is designed to provide the rule structure that SCORM offers but with the flexibility of xAPI.

While SCORM is not totally obsolete, the trend is moving towards more flexible, mobile-friendly, and robust standards like xAPI that can handle the demands of modern digital learning environments. For organizations looking to future-proof their e-learning initiatives, considering these newer standards may be beneficial.

SCORM still holds a place in the e-learning industry due to its established use and broad compatibility. However, for those seeking to utilize the latest in educational technology, exploring xAPI or CMI-5 might be the more forward-looking choice. Organizations should evaluate their specific needs, existing infrastructure, and future goals when deciding whether to stick with SCORM or adopt newer standards. The Safe Community Project can assist an organization in making the right call relative to the use of e-learning standards.

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