What is a SCORM package?

A SCORM package is a remarkably useful grouping of files. It allows people to upload and share rich and interactive online content.

What is SCORM?

When you're building course modules, you may hear members of your Education Technology team refer to something that sounds like "storm" packages. Don't worry, you're not the only one who has no idea what they are talking about. First thing though - it's not storm, it's SCORM. And you'd be right if you guessed that stands for a very hard to remember full title. So, here we go:

S - Shareable

C - Content

O - Object

R - Reference

M - Model

There won't be a test later, but, now you know! This is a standard for packaging content for sharing e-learning content online. 

What's inside a SCORM package?

The package that is created is a combination of different types of files. All of these are critical to correct playback, but the publisher makes it easy for anyone to generate the proper compliant pieces. Which is good, because most of us don't know how to write XML. A typical SCORM package contains a few different pieces. To be clear, this is just background information. It's good to be aware of this stuff, but this isn't something that you'll ever need to worry about.

  1. The Manifest File: This is an XML file named "imsmanifest.xml." Don't worry, you don't ever need to create or name this file yourself. It's created as part of the publication process performed by your e-authoring application.
  2. Run-Time: This tells the LMS how to launch the content and allows it to, and defines how, it communicates back to the LMS. It is primarily a javascript file.
  3. Sequencing: This is a set of rules and attributes written in XML that allows the learner to navigate between sections of the course. This is the interactive element, including bookmarking and scoring assessments.

Why do we use SCORM packages?

A SCORM package is a remarkably useful grouping of files. It allows people to upload and share rich and interactive online content (think those awesome learning modules you see online - here's one of ours!). Since the overall idea for this file is to be shared, it contains a lot of useful information. Not perhaps to a person, but to whatever system you're uploading this package into. Most often, that will be your institution's Learning Management System (LMS) (ex. Blackboard, D2L, Canvas, Moodle, etc.).

The key to this whole process is that by creating a compliant SCORM package, you're enabling your ability to upload to, and share content with, other SCORM compliant systems. It's our current industry standard for sharing learning objects. It allows us to create content one time and then share it over multiple platforms, which is a huge time saver and allows for us to share content between institutions with very little technical head ache. While this is not an exact analogy, it's kind of like how PC users will create a Word Document but save it as a PDF when they want to share it with Apple users. While the Word doc is a proprietary file type, the PDF is a universally shareable file type - which means that you don't need to have Word installed on your computer to view it. 

How do I create SCORM package?

Many online learning/training content authoring tools (we use Articulate Storyline, for example) have a publish option for SCORM packages. This is different than a working file, which is where you create and save your content (like, text, video, graphics, etc.). Each application has it's own proprietary file type and they each contain different functionality. Where your content is ready for sharing, the big applications have a function to generate a SCORM package. 

If you're working with the Education Technology Office, this is one area that we usually help out in. It's very rare for an Instructor to be building and publishing their own modules (though some do, depending on their interest level for getting into the building side of e-learning modules). Usually though, our team will help you translate your content and publish it to your course.

Article Category: Explanations