The Ultimate Guide to Picking a SCORM-Compliant LMS

eLearning, Learning Management System, SCORM

Imagine if there was a language that everyone in the world spoke and understood. All you would have to do is know this universal language to communicate with anyone around the world. SCORM is the equivalent of this language for eLearning courses that work with every Learning Management System (LMS).

Stick around while we explain what SCORM compliance is, and then give you a 13-step checklist to choosing the right SCORM-compliant LMS!

What is SCORM?

SCORM is a set of technical standards used in training courses and eLearning that’s hosted with a Learning Management System (LMS). When SCORM was created in 1998, the goal was to make eLearning work with any major LMS simply by uploading a zip file. By using a SCORM course in combination with an LMS, your company can keep track of learners’ course performances through test score reports, course completion records, and much more. SCORM courses consist of videos, PowerPoint, assessments, and other self-paced learning activities.

Why is SCORM important?

Since eLearning happens online and internationally,  it’s important that courses are created following a technical standard, so that they behave correctly on all major LMSs. SCORM provides the communication method that helps eLearning content and LMSs work as a team. SCORM also creates a clear set of rules for programmers and instructional designers that need to create eLearning content that behaves well with eLearning platforms.

The icing on top of the cake benefit to SCORM is that clients can import, launch and track content from one LMS to the next!

A few things SCORM is important for:

SCORM is important, regardless of your company’s reason for training with self-paced courses in the first place; from internal compliance training to improving sales performances in a partnership program, SCORM and LMSs are two key ingredients.

SCORM Vs. AICC

SCORM was created in 1998 once the internet and web-based training became popular. If you go back in time to 5 years before SCORM was created then you get its predecessor – AICC. The Aviation Industry CBT (Computer-Based Training) Committee (AICC), unlike SCORM, only focused on CD-ROM-based training.

What is SCORM compliance?

SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) compliance is all about making sure that your LMS is designed to behave well with SCORM courses. From a bird’s eye view, a SCORM course is just a compressed zip file; inside, there are videos, text, interactive modules, quizzes, and other contents that are developed following the technical standard known as SCORM.

SCORM compliance is a general term though and saying an LMS is SCORM-compliant can be misleading. That’s why in the next section we’re going to explain the different levels of SCORM support in an LMS.

What is a SCORM-Compliant LMS?

When you’re purchasing car insurance there are many different plans available, all of which give you different coverage and cost different prices, the same can be said about SCORM. You see, certain LMSs like Thinkific allow you to upload SCORM packages, but they don’t support reporting. Meaning, learners can take a SCORM course on the platform, but admins and instructors cannot report on learner progress.

We are not bringing this up to make our LMS look better since we support SCORM reporting, but rather to make sure you’re aware of the different levels of SCORM support in LMSs. There are two primary levels of SCORM support:

  • SCORM compliant
  • SCORM conformant

The difference between an LMS that’s SCORM compliant and one that’s conformant is in their tracking abilities; more specifically, how many CMI elements the LMS supports. CMI—which stands for computer management instructions—is like an instructional manual that tells your LMS how to keep track of activity happening with a SCORM course. Certain LMSs don’t support that many CMI elements, so they don’t track much happening with a SCORM course, even if you enabled tracking when authoring the SCORM course.

An LMS that supports the bare minimum CMI elements would allow you to upload SCORM courses, but not keep track of learner data. That sounds like a bad deal, right?!

Most LMSs that are considered SCORM compliant will track basic interactions between courses and the LMS. I.E., saving learner progress and tracking course completions. SCORM-conformant LMSs like Academy Of Mine or LearnUpon support even more CMI elements though. For example, quizzes and tests that were authored in SCORM 1.2 or 2004 (also known as SCORM 1.3) allow you to gather detailed question-answer results. Since not all LMSs support this level of SCORM, it’s important that you double-check your LMSs SCORM support before making any purchases and authoring SCORM courses.

The different versions of SCORM

If you purchase a cell phone and hold onto it long enough, eventually your phone provider will contact you and tell you that you have to upgrade. Other than the fact that this is annoying, this happens because technology gets outdated fast, and eventually, old technology becomes incompatible with new technology. The same thing is true for SCORM, since if you’re on an old version of SCORM such as 1.0 or 1.1 then you won’t have as many features as the modern editions of SCORM like 1.2 or 2004. Academy Of Mine supports SCORM 1.2 and the second, third, and fourth editions of SCORM 2004 by the way!

Authoring tools used to export SCORM courses such as iSpring or Storyline360 support the latest SCORM editions too. If you choose an LMS that’s SCORM-conformant and you have the latest edition of SCORM courses, you can keep track of time statuses, course completion records, pass-fail results, and assessment scores. When choosing what version of SCORM you need your company will want to consider the features that you require.

Learn more about the different versions of SCORM in this timetable.

SCORM-Compliant LMS checklist

By going through this checklist, you will know exactly what to look for in a SCORM-compliant LMS.

1. What level of SCORM does the LMS support?

At the very least you will want to be able to upload SCORM courses to the LMS, regardless if they have a built-in authoring tool or not. As we mentioned before, your team most likely will require more SCORM support than this, but this is the bare minimum.

2. Does your LMS support SCORM 1.2 and 2004?

If an LMS is outdated and doesn’t support the edition or editions of SCORM that your courses are in, then you shouldn’t work with them. For example, if you have some self-paced courses published in SCORM 1.2 and 2004, but the eLearning platform you’re interested in only supports SCORM 1.1, this screams problems.

3. Do you need to track SCORM activities?

Do you need to just track completion records to award certifications, or do you need advancing tracking abilities like reporting on detailed question-answer level results? Figuring out the level of SCORM support you need is important before choosing your SCORM-compliant LMS.

Here are a few popular SCORM reporting features in Academy Of Mine:

  • Keep track of when a quiz or module is completed.
  • Store course completion and pass-fail records.
  • Keep track of when a quiz is not completed.
  • Keep track of when a learning module is opened but not finished.
  • Keep track of question-and-answer responses on an assessment and more.

4. How do you upload SCORM into the LMS?

With SCORM-compliant LMSs, you want to make sure that you can easily export SCORM courses and then upload them directly to the LMS.

5. What kind of SCORM reports can you generate in the LMS?

Can you track course completion, time spent, pass-fail records, and scores? What about anything else you may need? Learn about 10 dependable and effective LMS reports that you should know about.

6. Does the LMS open courses in a new window?

The last thing you want with an LMS is for it to open up courses in a new window. A good LMS integrates everything into the system, and this makes for a smooth-sailing training experience for your learners – regardless of the type of training you’re offering.

7. Is there a limit to the total number of SCORM files you can upload?

Certain LMSs will limit the total number of SCORM packages you can upload. At Academy Of Mine, we don’t care about how many SCORM courses you have, and we give you a lot of storage to upload them.

Here are your SCORM storage options with our platform’s pricing:

  • Essentials plan. 75gbs of SCORM storage
  • Professional plan. 150gbs of SCORM storage
  • Enterprise plan. customize the amount of SCORM storage you need

8. When was SCORM integrated into the LMS?

If an LMS has supported SCORM for years then it’s probably more reliable than a platform that integrated with SCORM for the first time recently.

9. How are SCORM reports presented to you in the LMS?

For example, are you presented with different graphs, charts, and tables, or do you have to sift through unorganized data? Do you have a lot of different reports that you can see?

10. Are SCORM courses mobile-friendly?

Most likely if an LMS is advertised as mobile-friendly, they have optimized the SCORM course player to be mobile-friendly too.

11. Can you download SCORM reports and question response answers?

If you’re doing offline reporting, this is important.

12. Can you Learners track their time spent in a course?

The standard LMS will display to students the amount of time they’ve spent in a SCORM course while they’re taking it, along with keeping track of this after they’re done.

13. Can Learners see a percentage completion bar?

Certain features like this may not be important to you, but if they are, Academy Of Mine has timers and percentage bars that you can turn on for admins reporting on progress and learners inside of courses.

Creating Courses In The LMS Vs. SCORM Courses

SCORM makes reporting on learning activity in an LMS easy, so why would you create courses any other way? It’s true, but if your LMS has a native authoring tool then you can also create courses without SCORM. Using an LMS like Academy Of Mine, there’s a lot of eLearning content that you can create natively in the platform.

Create eLearning directly with AOM:

  • Interactive assignments
  • Quizzes and assessments (6 question types)
  • Group discussion threads
  • Text/HTML modules, and more.
  • Upload videos, PPTs, and other files.

You can also combine native-authored content with SCORM courses in the Academy Of Mine LMS – along with pulling extensive reports on all of it.

Which SCORM-Compliant LMS is the best?

This question can only be answered by you and your team since there is no one-size fits all LMS out there. Thankfully, you’re closer to being as confident about SCORM compliance as Beethoven was with classical composition after reading this! The final step to choosing a SCORM-Compliant LMS is really just working with your team to decide what tracking abilities and features are needed in your eLearning programs.

When it comes to creating courses natively and uploading SCORM courses then pulling extensive reports on learner activity, the Academy Of Mine LMS is a great choice. If our LMS sounds solid to you, let’s chat!

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