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Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)

learning objects materials standard

Definition: The Advanced Distributed Learning (ADD initiative introduced the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) standard, which is intended for multimedia presentations in distance learning applications.

Distance Learning is an important application of multimedia technology. Usually, multimedia presentations contain instructional materials that can be delivered on the Internet and presented on Web browsers. In order to reuse materials and to deliver presentations on different platforms, standards are needed. The Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative first proposed the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) standard in 2000. Main contributors to SCORM include the IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc., the Aviation Industry CBT (Computer-Based Training) Committee (AICC), the Alliance of Remote Instructional Authoring & Distribution Networks for Europe (ARIADNE), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC). SCORM addresses the following four high-level requirements:

  • Reusability: the flexibility to incorporate course materials in multiple instructions.
  • Interoperability: the ability to take course materials developed in one location with one set of tools or platform and to use them in another location with a different set of tools or platform.
  • Accessibility: the ability to locate and access course materials from one location and deliver them to many other locations.
  • Durability: the ability to withstand technology changes without redesign, reconfiguration or recoding.

Reusability can be achieved by using SCORM-compliant authoring tools, which can be used to produce course materials that may be decomposed, shared, and reused among different lectures. Interoperability can be achieved by using a SCORM-compliant Learning Management System (LMS), which also includes a sequence engine to control user interactions. The SCORM 2004 (also known as SCORM 1.3) specification consists of three major parts: the Content Aggregation Model (CAM), the Run-Time Environment, and the Sequencing and Navigation.

  • The Content Aggregation Model (CAM): Learning objects are divided into three categories (i.e., Assets, Sharable Content Objects (SCOs) and Content Organizations – these will be explained later). The contents of the learning objects are described by metadata. In addition, CAM includes a definition of how reusable learning objects can be packed, delivered, and used.
  • The Run-Time Environment: In order to deliver learning objects to different platforms, a standard method of communication between the learning management system (LMS) and the learning objects is defined.
  • The Sequencing and Navigation: Interactions between users (i.e., students) and the LMS are controlled and tracked by the Sequencing and Navigation definitions. This also serves as a standard for defining learner profiles, as well as a possible definition for intelligent tutoring.

The ADL initiative organizes Plugfest conferences every year. The events allow developers to exchange experiences and demonstrate newly developed tools. The SCORM specification is well-adapted by content providers and software developers of distance learning. Part of the SCORM specification (i.e., LOM) has becomes an international standard. Within a few years, I believe SCORM will be a promise of future distance learning standard.

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