Sunday, June 13, 2010

SCORM...why it is necessary

The Advanced Distributed Learning organization originated because of a need to standardize the components of that are used in various learning systems. “ADL was established in 1997 to standardize and modernize the delivery of training and education. The Department of Defense (DoD) Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (OUSD P&R) oversees the ADL Initiative. The vision of the ADL Initiative is to provide access to the highest-quality learning and performance aiding that can be tailored to individual needs and delivered cost-effectively, anytime and anywhere.” (ADL).

Standards are needed in every environment where multiple creators, manufactures, and users are involved. For example Metric and Imperial are the only two standards in construction, with the former being the preferred. Western music notation has a standard set of terms used by the hundreds of thousands of music professionals and students. Yet standards have not been adopted by learning system companies. Institutions and organizations that invest in learning management systems (cms, lms, lcms) are faced with the strong possibility that their system can become obsolete when switching platforms, say from local-server-based to web-based. Many times products from one company cannot be used with another company’s LMS. Proprietary software can lead to an anti-competition stance. “The anti-open competition stance has a potentially chilling effect on learning platforms and the development of the industry as a whole.” (Siemens, 2006) The use of standards in graphics, audio, and business software allows for users to adapt the best features of products from a variety of companies to their individual needs.

“Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)” (Academic ADL Co-Lab, 2004) allows developers to create objects that can be used in a variety of ways inside of one or many learning platforms. “Sharable Content Objects (SCO) can contain any type of information, have any instructional design, can be many different sizes, and can be various types of digital content. All that matters is that they “fit” with conforming Learning Management Systems—that is, that they are designed according to SCORM.” (Academic ADL Co-Lab). SCORM, much like JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) allows standards to be implemented under the supervision of International Standards groups, such as the IEEE and the ISO. When content is created to follow the standards of SCROM, the smallest component is refined to a point where it can be used in a variety of lessons. The refinement process is called granularity and the usability is referred to as reusability. For example, a clothing manufacturing company may have a SCO on threading a sewing machine (granularity). The shirt, pants, and hat departments can use this SCO for their respective training (reusability.)

The usability of SCORM content in individualized systems and across platforms is the use of metadata tags. “SCORM metadata contains information that describes and identifies the resource, gives the history of the resource and documents who created or altered it, provides technical information about the resource, describes the pedagogical characteristics of the resource, provides intellectual property rights and usage information, and tells how a resource works together with other resources”. Metadata is extensively used by photographers and photographic resource companies and publishers. Think of Metadata like this: You take a photograph of Niagara Falls. You can apply the following metadata tags to your photo: waterfall, water, natural wonder, horseshoe, and Canada. Now, when a search is performed the metadata tags will allow the searcher to find any and all relevant photos (or in the case of an LMS, any SCO) to their lessons.
Standardization is necessary for the future of LMS. The interoperability and exchange of information has been used throughout history because of standards. It should be continued in the future of learning.
Academic ADL Co-Lab. An introduction to SCORM 2004 3rd edition. Retrieved June 10, 2010 from
Advanced Distributed Learning. Who we are. Retrieved June 10, 2010 from
Siemens, G. (2006). A review of learning management system reviews. Retrieved June 12, 2010 from

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