Will SCORM Ever Go Extinct?

dinosaur-fossilIf you are involved in the elearning industry then you are likely familiar with SCORM.

For years, SCORM has dominated the elearning landscape as the official way to standardize online course content.

Platforms like Articulate and Captivate encourage its use by making publishing course content to SCORM easy by just clicking a button.

Organizations all over the world have fallen into the habit of asking for SCORM for any elearning content they purchase or produce.

The SCORM footprint is a big one, that cannot be denied. But what I want to know is when will it finally fade away and join other extinct technologies of our past?

The longer we hold onto this dated protocol, the more we hold ourselves back. Specifically, the more we hold our online course content hostage. Tin Can API (also known as Experience API) has been around for a few years now, but adoption has been slower than many would have hoped, myself included.

When we view learning initiatives with SCORM goggles on, we tend to view it in a more limiting way. We define learning as finite events. The entire premise of Tin Can API was derived from the fact that people are always learning, not just when they are at their computers.

In many cases, organizations don’t even know about Tin Can API. I have found this to be true with people who write us about using LearnDash for their projects. When we let them know that Tin Can API is supported, we often have to educate them on what it is and why it’s good.

Of course we don’t mind doing this – it’s fun to let people know about new (better) technology! But I think that this is evidence that SCORM still has a tight grip in elearning, and I am struggling to see how we release ourselves from it.

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

4 Comments
  1. Christiaan

    Hi Justin

    Thank you for the good article. My opinion why some people like me will hold onto SCORM is one thing only. Cost!
    I do not need to pay a sent for any data gathering on SCORM, but with Tin Can I have to and restricted on who and what to use. Special if you have a lot of users.

  2. Chandira

    One reason why companies don’t use tin can is the huge cost that they have to bear. One of my client said go with open source as it is free and he has to only bear the hardware cost. I see this as the major reason why shifting is bit slow. Even me as developers don’t have an option working and getting experience for no cost!! Correct me if the things have changed 😀

  3. As others commented – cost is a big factor. There are just a few commercial LRSs available and they are expensive. A project like this should have been documented and then released with a working reference implementation via open source. But the biggest problem to adoption has been this: why? What is the benefit to Tin Can? No one is yet thinking beyond “courses” so no one sees the benefit. And, as I’ve been saying for years – unless you’re buying 3rd-party content off the shelf and immediately uploading it, untouched, to your servers, then who needs SCORM or any of these standards? Data is data. Track it.

    Unfortunately, every non-technical Manager in the L&D field gets talked into how important SCORM is by vendors…

  4. Michael Long

    For contractors to the Federal government the issue of SCORM support is simple – it is mandatory! This means that any companies that create courses for the mass market will target SCORM compliance. The governments mandate drives the largest players in the industry to this standard. Private industry is being spoon fed marketing hype that SCORM is the answer, even though it has all but eliminated superior courseware models previously available by the largest LMS providers.

    Like its predecessors, AICC 1.x and AICC API, SCORM is not about quality but about portability. The primary intent is to minimize the investment in courseware and learning management systems by creating a standard for interoperable content. For all of the effort toward that end, LMS and courseware vendors have often implemented minimally compliant products which do not integrate well with other vendors platforms.

    SCORM is a “better than nothing” standard, but the steering committee has too many members whose main goal is to protect their own company’s proprietary interests for it to ever permit the specification to evolve in a direction that leads to development of innovative, world class solutions.

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