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SCORM and Moodle

December 3, 2010 In: Blog Written by: Mark Melia

In this post I am going to have a look at what the SCORM specification from ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning) is all about and how it relates to Moodle. The post will firstly look at SCORM and all its flavours, I will then look at how a SCORM package is put together and finally I will demonstrate how to integrate a SCORM package into Moodle.

What is SCORM?
SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) can be described as a collection of standards and specifications that allow for the description and packaging of an e-learning course. This description includes details on how the learning content is to be used in the course, how it is structured, how it communicates with a Learning Management System (LMS) and how the course should be delivered. A SCORM package is LMS agnostic and can be delivered on any LMS that has a SCORM player.

SCORM 1.1 was the first production version of the SCORM specification. It was based on the AICC (Aviation Industry Computer-based training Committee) specifications for defining the learning content structure.

SCORM 1.2 is the most widely distributed version of the SCORM specification. The SCORM 1.2 definition has two main parts:

  • SCORM Content Aggregation Model (CAM)
  • SCORM RunTime Environment (RTE)

The SCORM CAM specifies how a course is hierarchically structured and the learning content used, known as Sharable Content Objects (SCOs) or learning assets. The SCORM RTE defines how the SCORM package behaves in a SCORM compliant player. The SCORM RTE also defines how data from the LMS is communicated to the SCORM course and how data generated during the delivery of the SCORM course is communicated back to the LMS.

SCORM 2004
SCORM 2004 is the latest version of SCORM. It builds on SCORM 1.2 by providing for sequencing and navigational controls, known as SCORM Sequencing and Navigation (SCORM SN). With SCORM 2004 the course creator can define how the learner will proceed through the course. An example of navigational controls available in the SCORM SN is to restrict a learner’s movement so that he or she must always finish a topic before moving on to the next topic. An example of a sequencing rule is to specify that a learner must achieve a certain competency in some area before moving to another topic or a learner can skip a topic if they have demonstrated sufficient knowledge in that area.

What does a SCORM Package look like?
SCORM packages are typically zip files. Within the zip file you will find all the content needed at delivery time by the SCORM package and a manifest file, named imsmanifest.xml. The manifest file describes the SCORM package so that the SCORM player understands how to run the SCORM package.

The image below outlines the basic structure of a SCORM package. The SCORM “organization” and “item” elements handle the organisation of the e-learning content. Items can point to e-learning resources. e-Learning resources are either SCOs or learning assets. An asset is a simple resource, such as a static HTML page or PDF document. An asset does not communicate back to the LMS. A SCO is a more complex resource that communicates with the LMS through the SCORM RTE.

SCORM Structure

SCO Behaviour
As we have mentioned an SCO can communicate with the LMS. The SCO communicates with the LMS using ECMA Script (JavaScript). When the SCO is launched the SCO firstly finds the LMS API adapter. The SCO must then make two function calls during its lifetime, LMSInitialize when it starts and LMSFinish when it is complete. In-between the LMSInitialize function and the LMSFinish function the SCO can get and set values from and to the LMS. Using this communication protocol the SCO can, for example, get the learners name to provide for a personalised welcome and can set the result pertaining to the learner’s performance during his or her usage of the SCO.

SCORM and Moodle
SCORM 1.2 is supported by Moodle 1.9.3 (or higher) and Moodle 1.8.7 (or higher). It is very simple to add a SCORM package to Moodle. The SCORM package is simply added to a course as a course activity. The teacher is then presented with the image below where the teacher fills in the name of the SCORM package and a description.

Adding a SCORM Package to Moodle

In the description it is best for the teacher to describe the learning objective of the SCORM package as to give the learner an idea of what they must try and accomplish through using the SCORM. After adding the new SCORM the teacher can preview the SCORM, as outlined in the image below.

The SCORM is now ready for students to engage with it and the LMS is now ready to communicate with the SCORM package.

Creating a SCORM Package
Creating a SCORM package can be a time-consuming task. The Reload Editor (www.reload.ac.uk) allows you to develop a SCORM package using a graphical interface. SCORM structures are created using a file tree type structure. Files can be added to the SCORM package by simply dragging the file into the package as a resource. Items are then connected with resources using the dropdown menu in the item’s property pane. This makes structuring the SCORM package very easy, although it does not aid the definition of SCO communication with the LMS.

Enovation and SCORM
Here at Enovation we have a long history of using SCORM packages in Moodle. We have expertise in Moodle, SCORM and everything inbetween. If you are interested to see what we have done for our clients in relation to SCORM please drop us a line at info@enovation.ie

SCORM Acronyms

  • LMS – Learning Management System (e.g. Moodle)
  • SCORM – Sharable Content Organisation Reference Model
  • SCORM CAM – SCORM Content Aggregation Model
  • SCORM RTE – SCORM RunTime Environment
  • SCORM SN – SCORM Sequencing and Navigation
  • SCO – Sharable Content Object – learning content that communicates with LMS via SCORM RTE

A wide variety of tools are available to help you create a SCORM package quickly and intuitively. These include open-source  tools, such as ExE, and proprietary tools such as Adobe Presenter and Articulate. In a later post we will examine these tools to demonstrate how SCORM packages are created.

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