After you read this article, you’ll know what SCORM is, and how you can turn a simple PowerPoint presentation into a SCORM course and upload it into a learning management system.
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 e-Learning 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 e-Learning 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.
Finally, e-Learning 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 in this brochure written by the SCORM developers.
Benefits of SCORM
- 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.
A graphic representation of a SCORM course.
SCORM has been at the top of popular e-Learning standards for 16 years. It is used by many educational organizations all over the world. Among them are the University of Oxford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale.
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’ve already chosen an 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.
The Future of SCORM
The next generation of SCORM are the Tin Can API 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:
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