The role of standards compliance in the elearning marketplace

The role of standards compliance in the elearning marketplace

I recently joined a discussion in the ELearning Guild’s LinkedIn group with this subject line: “How important is SCORM compliance today? Has anyone decided not to use SCORM when developing content?” Briefly, the party line in the group appears to be that the advantages of SCORM compliance are:

  • Portability: When your course is SCORM compatible, you can rest assured that it will play easily in most learning management systems, and transfer between multiple LMS when necessary.
  • Meets Requirements: Many LMS require your course to meet the SCORM standard.
  • Tracking: SCORM compliance ensures that your course tracks learners’ performance and enables managers to view that information.

Quick note. Widely used elearning standards include the two versions of the SCORM standard (2004 and 1.2) as well as the AICC standard. Most elearning authoring tools enable you to create your content for one or all of these standards. OpenSesame welcomes courses that meet either the AICC or SCORM standards.

Some commenters argue that standards compliance is less essential when you have an external tracking system, a non-LMS delivery model and no intention to use the course in any other environment. But not one commenter listed a reason not to make courses SCORM or AICC-compliant; they just mentioned situations where it might not be completely necessary.

From our perspective, SCORM or AICC compatibility is essential. These industry standards enable us to keep a promise: We promise content developers that we will connect their courses to any LMS. We promise learners that we will seamlessly deliver the content they purchase in our marketplace and enable them to analyze their return on investment in learning through SCORM and AICC’s tracking features.

From an elearning consumer’s perspective, having a universal standard also allows consumers to mix and match course providers and deliver all the courses through one LMS. Course creation standards mean that when we’re talking about elearning, we’re all speaking the same language. More importantly, SCORM or AICC compliance means that you can sell your courses to future customers as yet unknown. You might not know now that your Social Media for Salespeople course will find customers in South Africa with a proprietary LMS, but if your course is standards compliant from the beginning, you will be able to deliver the content without any panicked tweaking when they call you.

It’s certainly easy enough to make your courses SCORM-compliant. Most of the major authoring tools make it simple to select a standard at the beginning of the course creation process. Craig Weiss at the E-Learning 24/7 Blog also has a great post on free and open source tools for SCORM-compliant course creation (and course creation in general).

Have I overlooked an important point? I welcome your feedback on how you use SCORM and AICC standards in your work. A big thanks to all the LinkedIn commenters for their expertise.