After reading this article, you’ll know what SCORM is and how to turn a simple PowerPoint presentation into a SCORM course and upload it into a learning management system. For a quick overview of SCORM, watch the video below. Skip it to the article if you prefer more comprehensive details.
What Is SCORM?
SCORM is an international standard for e-courses. If your course is published in the SCORM format, you can be sure that almost any learning management system (LMS) will recognize it.
Standards are important in any field. Let’s take the movie-making industry as an example. When you buy a DVD, you’re sure that you’ll be able to watch it with any DVD player: Toshiba or Panasonic — it just doesn’t matter. This is possible because DVD is an accepted standard; that’s why film studios don’t have to produce different types of discs for each brand of player.
Unfortunately, that was the situation in eLearning before the noughties: courses were created for a platform. An e-course created for one system wouldn’t work in another. If a university changed its LMS, it would lose its entire collection of courses, as well as the thousands dollars spent on their development. In 2001, the SCORM format put the eLearning market in order.
In fact, SCORM is a list of technical requirements. This list tells us how to make a course that will work on any platform – there’s a detailed description of the e-course structure and the principles of its interaction with LMSs.
What Is a SCORM Package?
Finally, eLearning developers began to conform to a consistent standard. Now, all the training materials for one course are packed into a SCORM package, a .zip archive that contains files in a specific hierarchy. Opening the SCORM package in an LMS has become as easy as playing a DVD with a DVD player.
Of course, it was possible to create an archive with pictures, video, text, and everything you needed for an e-course before SCORM was invented. However, an LMS wouldn’t recognize such an archive. In order for the course to work in an LMS, it’s important to properly organize the files and write the code for their interaction. All of that requires technical knowledge and understanding of the SCORM rules.
More information about the evolution of SCORM and its features can be found on the official SCORM site.
Benefits of the SCORM Format
- Compatibility. Almost any LMS will recognize a SCORM course.
- Saving progress. A student doesn’t have to go through the whole course at once. It can be done step by step. A half an hour of work, 10 minutes of rest, and then he’s able to continue the lesson from the place where he stopped. All the progress remains. This is also convenient when the system fails or the course is occasionally closed.
- Feedback. You’ll be able to assess the student’s progress. When Joe College completes the e-course, the system will show how many points he scored, or the status “Course completed” will be displayed.
- Clear course structure. You can build a clear course structure and set rules for moving between its sections. For example, learners may need to study a lecture first, then watch a video, and only then can they go to the final test.
- Modularity. In a SCORM course, training material consists of standalone units, or modules. Each module can be used in any other course within the LMS.
There are two existing versions of SCORM: 1.2 and 2004. Each version has its own technical features and advantages:
Version 1.2 indicates the student’s progress in the report, that is, how much of the course the learner has studied. For instance, “Joe Student has studied 70% of the course.” If Joe has studied the whole course, the system will display the status “Completed”.
SCORM 2004 gives us more detailed information. In addition to the progress and the status, it shows how many points Joe scored upon completing the course and passing the test.
If you already have a SCORM compliant LMS, the main thing you need to know when creating an e-course is which SCORM version your LMS supports.
Tools for Making SCORM Courses
In the past, only professional programmers could develop SCORM courses. It was a technically complex process: developers manually built the e-course from a number of HTML pages, wrote the code that binds the course to the LMS, and then packed everything into a .zip archive.
Nowadays, everyone can create an e-course using a special editor. The software will automatically generate the code for LMS interaction and pack all the training materials into a SCORM package. All you have to do is simply upload the course to the training system.
Editors for creating SCORM courses can be divided into three groups:
- Standalone editors
- Online cloud services
- PowerPoint add-ins
If you’re developing your first e-course, it’s better to use a PowerPoint add-in for at least two reasons:
- You won’t need to spend time on learning a new program. If you have ever made a presentation, then you’ll create the course in PowerPoint much faster, as the principle of work is the same.
- You can take any PowerPoint presentation that you use in class with your learners as a foundation for the course.
If you’re making a course from a presentation for the first time and you’d like it to look professional and captivating for the learners, this collection of articles might be of help:
- How to create great e-Learning content from A to Z (a series of 10 articles)
- Gamification vs. Game-Based Learning
- 4 Technical Ways to Structure Your Presentation
You can also enhance your presentation with polls, quizzes, and a talking head video.
Creating such courses is easy with iSpring Suite, a PowerPoint add-in. After installation, all the capabilities of iSpring Suite will be available in a special PowerPoint tab. That means you can turn your presentation into an e-course right in PowerPoint.
How to Turn a Presentation Into a SCORM Course
It’ll take a few minutes to make a professional educational course out of a common PPT presentation.
1. Download a free trial of iSpring Suite.
2. Open the presentation you’d like to turn into an e-course.
3. Click Publish on the iSpring tab.
4. Select the LMS option on the left part of the menu.
5. Type in the title of the course.
6. Select the LMS Profile according to the standard your LMS supports.
7. Click on Customize to specify the course description and keywords and set up the progress and completion rules.
8. Save changes and then click Publish. iSpring preserves all the PowerPoint effects in the published course: SmartArt objects, triggers, hyperlinks, and so on.
How to Add a SCORM Course to an LMS
After publishing, you’ll have a zip file that you need to upload to an LMS. Check out the articles in the list below to learn how to upload courses into popular LMSs like:
… or have a look at the complete list.
The content that you’ve added to the LMS can be opened with any computer via any Internet browser.
The only thing left to do is share the course with the learners. If you use iSpring Learn LMS, you can send out invitations by email. Specify one or several emails, and their owners will instantly get access to the course.
SCORM Today and Tomorrow
Even though SCORM is quite a dated technology, it still dominates the eLearning market. SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004 have become the most popular technology standards. According to a Software Advice survey, 62% of businesses use SCORM courses for training in their LMS.
However, some experts believe that other eLearning standards will become more dominant in the future. More recently, the evolution of SCORM has brought the Tin Can API (xAPI) and сmi5 formats. These formats feature a wide range of capabilities: they allow your learners to study offline or using mobile devices, support PDF documents and interactive simulations, collect detailed statistics about students’ progress, and much more.
Find out the details about the benefits of Tin Can API and сmi5:
Here, you’ll find answers to some frequently asked questions about SCORM, and we’ll update this blog post with any new ones you might ask in the comments.
What is a SCORM wrapper?
A SCORM wrapper is a set of files that make it possible for a learning management system and your eLearning content to communicate with each other. You can apply a SCORM wrapper to nearly any form of training content, and then upload it to an LMS for immediate learner access.
To get a detailed overview, read our post about SCORM wrappers.
How do I check the SCORM version?
If you have a SCORM package and are not sure what version of SCORM it was published in, you can figure it out by looking in the imsmanifest.xml file in the root directory of the course. Unzip the SCORM package, find the imsmanifest.xml file, and open it with either TextEdit (Mac) or Notepad (Windows). You need to find the metadata tags <schemaversion></schemaversion> and see what’s between them.
- <schemaversion></schemaversion> and 1.2 between them means that it’s SCORM 1.2.
- <schemaversion></schemaversion> and CAM 1.3 // 2004 3rd Edition // 2004 4th Edition between them means it’s SCORM 2004.
How do I open a SCORM file?
You can run a SCORM file in one of two ways. You can open it with a SCORM player, which almost any LMS has, or play a course in your web browser by clicking on the HTML launch file, which will probably be named index.html, or something similar.
How do I edit a SCORM package?
What you call a SCORM package is, in fact, web content that can communicate to an LMS using the SCORM API. You can’t edit or reverse-engineer a published course; however, most SCORM courses are created with authoring tools like iSpring Suite and use source (project) files that contain all the content, including text, images, video, and more. If you have a project file, you can open it right in the authoring tool, make the necessary changes, and publish the course as a SCORM package.
How do I test a SCORM package?
To make sure that your SCORM package can be played in an LMS and properly report course completion status and learner results, you need to use a SCORM player that can display your content and show you how it communicates with the SCORM API. The easiest way to test your course is to upload it to your LMS, change the admin role to Student, and give the course a few attempts before checking your results in the reports. The other way to check how your SCORM package works is to use a SCORM player like SCORM Cloud. It allows you to view the course from the learner’s side, test it, and then see the stats. It also has a Debug Logs option, which lets you debug SCORM content and understand the inner workings of the standard.
How do I convert ready-made learning content to SCORM?
If you have some legacy learning content, check out our articles about how you can turn different kinds of content into full-fledged SCORM courses.