SCORM works on 2 main principles – as a way to package and sequence learning material, and as a way for learning management systems to track learning activity through a run time interface. It is based on traditional teaching-learning processes and provides additional promises of inter-operability and reuse through standardization of the way courses are organized and presented to the learner.
It has evolved slowly to include new features and rule sets, like sequencing, navigation and QTI (Question Test Interoperability). In fact, the SCORM 2004 4th Edition book defines an organization as:
A content organization can be seen as a structured map of learning resources, or a structured activity map to guide the learner through a hierarchy of learning activities that use the learning resources. One content developer may choose to structure the content organization as a table of contents for the learning resources, while another content developer may choose to structure the content organization as an adaptive guided path through a learning experience, invoking learning resources only if and when they are needed. A third content developer may create a content organization where some discovery activities include a free form use of some of the learning resources, while other activities are more formally managed.
The intent is to provide a way to flexibly organize content in the form of more than one sets (multiple organizations) of tightly or loosely coupled learning activities rather than just a hierarchical or linear progression. This, coupled with sequencing and navigation information/rules, the LMS can interpret to provide some adaptive intelligence in the learning process.
While these are evolutionary improvements in the standard, there are at least four other dimensions or major impacts that both the Content Aggregation Model (with Sequencing and Navigation) and the Runtime component have not yet addressed.
- The scope for a Services extension to SCORM – In the current context, content or activities embedded in the learning workflow will have to integrate with resources outside the resource list and metadata identified by the CAM. With AJAX enablement, it is no longer necessary to navigate away from a web page to access a new piece of functionality. But these integrations violate the fundamental principles behind the notion of a self-contained object, which is why they have not been considered so deeply. This is a formidable impact to include. A related impact is on the Service under consideration. If you build a Services Extension to SCORM, you will most likely also mandate that the Service provides a SCORM compliant interface. This is critical. Imagine a WordPress implementation that reports how the learner reflected and interacted with a community to the LMS.
- The scope for Complex Data Interchange in SCORM – Games and Simulations as well as other activities that have complex data to seed a learning context or generate complex data both during the activity and for some kind of business intelligence post the activity. Already efforts have been made with HLA (especially refer the discussion on three prototype classes) and S1000D integrations with SCORM. Some of the efforts also integrate a further complicated scenario – multi-player SCORM based learning activities with shared state and communication via the LMS.
- The scope for Social Learning Networks in SCORM – the informality of the social learning network also brings a deep impact to SCORM. Whereas the ingredients to metadata or SCO Context may exist in the SCORM specification, the social influence is not accounted for despite the new understanding forged by the theory of Connectivism, the adoption of the informal by LMS vendors and by the fast paced technological developments we have and are witnessing. What this means essentially is the modeling of two major things – the student and the network or the learner and the community. Many will see the PLE in stark contradistinction – I think PLEs will arrive at the same conclusion from a different direction soon enough.
- The scope for a Mobility extension to SCORM – Content and interactions possible to leverage now and in the forseeable future based on the mobile platform (not just the presentation aspect) using services such as Location Awareness and Semantic web applications are now very integral to the learning experience and cannot be ignored. This goes past, obviously, thinking of packaging or presentation for a smaller screen real estate and limited processing powers – the focus is on what the mobility enables.
Without an adequate assessment and incorporation of these dimensions into SCORM, the standard is incomplete and anachronistic. There are pressing reasons why these should be incorporated for the Standard to become current and relevant – and soon.