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Free eBook: Ultimate SCORM Overview

Here is an extract from our free eBook Ultimate SCORM Overview, which you can download now. We have written this eBook to provide you with an overview of the key elements involved in SCORM in an endeavor to demystify it.
Free eBook: Ultimate SCORM Overview

Ultimate SCORM Overview, The Beginning: How Is SCORM Content Created? 

So, let us have a look at an extract from the free eBook Ultimate SCORM Overview:

The purpose of SCORM is to increase "interoperability". By providing a standard of communication that can be applied consistently, SCORM makes it easier for eLearning professionals to share and migrate course content across tools and systems. How is a SCORM compliant course created?

SCORM Specifies How Tools And Content Communicate

Many eLearning professionals mistakenly believe that SCORM somehow defines the nature of an online course. While that’s incorrect, the difference is subtle. SCORM is a "specification", essentially a communications protocol. As an analogy, think about truck drivers (yes, Jerry Reed, Smokey and the Bandit stuff!). A driver follows a specific protocol to communicate with other drivers. Before making a statement or asking a question, the driver introduces him or herself with “Breaker, breaker” and ends with “Over”, to signal that they’ve finished speaking. Another driver might respond: “That’s a 10-4”, to confirm the statement and end with “Over” to signal that they’ve also finished speaking.

That’s a simple example of a rudimentary protocol for CB radio communications between drivers. We can develop the analogy to map it to SCORM:

  • SCORM can be compared to the protocol of using terms like “10-4”, “Over”, and “Roger” to confirm or signal the end of communications between drivers. Like SCORM, the protocol helps drivers to communicate by providing a shared set of rules that are consistently applied to minimize confusion.
  • SCORM doesn’t care what kind of truck you’re driving (or LMS you use) or which brand of radio (or authoring tool) you prefer. The role of a protocol like SCORM is to help drivers to communicate with each other. In theory, they could be using a three-wheel truck, milk-cart, or pair of rollerblades. Once they know how to talk CB, they can communicate, share information, and be ‘interoperable’, just like SCORM.

Ultimate SCORM Overview: Communication

So, SCORM is a specification that provides rules for how things communicate with each other. It doesn’t influence the color, size or complexity of a course. But it does define how the course talks to an LMS – just as truck drivers all over the world use a protocol to communicate, regardless of which vehicles or radios they prefer. And just as CB chatter evolves across time and territories, SCORM has also changed since the first version was published in 1999. Communication protocols always evolve.

SCORM compliant authoring tools There are two main options for creating a SCORM compliant course. Either you can use an off-the-shelf authoring tool or you can build a tool yourself from the ground up. The latter requires a deep understanding of the SCORM protocol, as well as development skills. Building a SCORM compliant course gives you full control over how a course is developed and the details of learner experience. Navigation and design choices aren’t limited by the features of a generic authoring tool. Courses developed in this way also tend to work better, as they can be designed to suit the organization’s specific needs and target the individual browsers and devices they support. With that said, an off-the-shelf authoring tool makes course development accessible, particularly if you lack necessary skills in-house.

Ultimate SCORM Overview: Selecting SCORM Compliant Authoring Tools

A wide range of SCORM compliant authoring tools are available, from the simple to the highly complex. Usually, an authoring tool’s workspace looks something like PowerPoint. That’s a loose generalization but it’s fairly accurate. Most authoring tools allow you to import media, build a slide set, and define rules about how learners navigate between slides or pages. That covers the basics of what a SCORM compliant authoring tool must deliver: a course composed of multiple pages or screens that a learner clicks through from beginning to end. A more sophisticated authoring tool will allow you to add interactive elements, like exams, surveys, and rich media including audio and video. The most advanced authoring tools will allow you to create nice transitions between screens and set rules about how learners progress through a course.

Which authoring tool you select should be determined by your requirements, skills, budget and time available to build a course.

LearnUpon’s customer support team has written SCORM tutorials for a number of these tools: Learn How to publish SCORM content in Adobe Captivate, How to publish SCORM content in Articulate Storyline, or How to publish a SCORM quiz in iSpring.

Before using an authoring tool, sketch an outline of the course to help define your requirements. Some authoring tools prominent include: Elucidat, Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, iSpring Pro, and Camtasia. You can use any of these tools (listed in no order of preference) to create SCORM course content. Each has strengths. Some, like Camtasia, specialize in the creation of video content. Captivate and Storyline are suited to adapting existing PowerPoint content, while Elucidat specializes in easy cloud collaboration for the development of fully responsive content.


SCORM is a specification or a protocol. You still need to build your course in the usual way and to create a SCORM package with its contents. SCORM won’t make the content, usability, or structure of your course better or worse. That’s up to your Instructional Designer or course developer. But SCORM will allow you to share your course, run it on an LMS, and track learner progress and results.

This article is an extract from the free eBook Ultimate SCORM Overview that may be downloaded here.

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