SCORM: What’s this? The complete article to understand everything

SCORM stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. It is a standard mainly intended for LMS (Learning Management System) platforms for e-learning or distance learning.

In a word, creating learning modules that comply with SCORM standards allows you to import or export them from one LMS platform to another for repeated use. This content (Content Object) is therefore shareable, which allows interoperability between the different LMS platforms.

SCORM is more than just a standard, SCORM is a model that sets guidelines for the world of distance learning. SCORM is applicable to e-learning content distributed over the Internet, but also on LMS platforms, as many companies respect this standard. Find out in this article how SCORM works and what its benefits are.

A short history of SCORM

SCORM is a e-learning standard invented in the years 2000-2001 by the company Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) and is based on the AICC standard, which itself evolved from the standards of the American civil aviation industry. The aim of ADL was to create a standard that would make it easier to index and disseminate the pedagogical content used in distance learning.

The SCORM standard had to go beyond the AICC standard, especially in terms of scalability.

Three successive versions of this standard have been produced:

  • In 2001, the first version of the SCORM standard was released: SCORM 1.1. It introduced a format for defining and structuring a course using imsmanifest.xml, a file that encodes and tags a lesson in xml format.
  • SCORM 1.2 was reseased shortly after. Based on 1.1, this new version uses the IMS Content Packaging specification to enable the transfer of e-learning content from one platform to another: This is the beginning of LMS content interoperability.
  • Finally, SCORM 2004 is the most mature version that has built its success on “Simple Sequencing”, i.e. sequencing educational activities, giving them a more efficient logical organization. 4 versions of SCORM 2004 have been introduced.

Nowadays ADL is no longer working on the development of SCORM 2004, but on a new standard: API xAPI / Tin Can.

In fact, SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004 are the most commonly used versions (depending on the needs and the target LSM platform). SCORM is therefore the technical standard for e-learning devices, and every trainer or developer need to understand its main functions.

How does SCORM work?

In less technical terms, here is an example for better understanding: Imagine a LMS platform that provides learners with educational content. If you would like to share standardized content with students (a video, an image, a PDF document…), that is not a problem: The integrated editor makes it easy for you! However, if you want to add a complex or custom activity consisting of several file packages, it gets complicated.

This is where the SCORM packet provisioning function takes over. Its purpose? First of all, it is used to bundle your educational activities to facilitate their sharing within the LMS. SCORM allows you to pack all the files of the complex activity into a single file and thus integrate them into your e-learning platform! Since a picture says more that 1000 words, here is the summary principle:

Compliance with the SCORM principles therefore allows complex files to be combined into a package that can be read by the LMS, with the information in these documents also being stored. The information transmitted by SCORM via the connection to the LMS is numerous and may contain tracking data:

  • Where the learner has stopped if he has not seen the whole course. This allows him to pick up exactly where he left off.
  • The total time the learner has spent on the course.
  • The possible interactions: the answers to exam questions.
  • The status of the course, i.e. whether the learner has passed or failed the final evaluation and, if there is no such, whether the learner has completed the lesson.
  • The learner’s assessment result (if available)
  • The minimum grade required to pass the course (if there is an assessment)

Advantages of the SCORM standard

SCORM not only has technical advantages for developers: it is also an initiative for the benefit of learners and “consumers” of e-learning courses and trainings.

In fact, the benefit of a SCORM course also means that it can be added to many LMS platforms. You are no longer dependent on the LSM solution you choose, and you can also use your course on another platform.

All you need to do is download your .zip file somewhere else. All teaching materials are contained in this simple folder, and importing these into an LMS support allows you to format them and find the content of the training within minutes.

In addition, the success of SCORM has reduced the total costs of training courses that no longer need to be created in multiple versions. A single SCORM version is sufficient to be compatible with different LMS media. Other benefits of the SCORM standard include

  • Higher quality content
  • Increased interaction between the course and the learner, which improves the learning experience
  • Easier control of time spent on courses
  • Additional options for combining training modules & assessments

“SCORM Course”: What does that mean?

If you create an e-learning course with a development tool that takes SCORM into account, then you create a SCORM course. Technically, the result of your work will be a simple zip file.

To import your course on an LMS platform, all you need to do is upload your ZIP file to the LMS platform. A simple upload and it is done: the LMS manages all data and information transferred in the folder, the learner can access the course and start his learning path. He may not be aware of it, but he is indeed following a SCORM course.

If you finally would like to know what a SCORM course looks like, our answer is: That depends! The content of the course and its topic can create differences in design and sequence, and it is difficult to get an accurate picture of a SCORM course. However, the courses follow a similar structure in form of slides – similar to a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation – with key elements and interactive modules.

SCORM: What software is used?

There are numerous SCORM 1.2 or 2004 compliant software, following are the most important:

Adobe Captivate

“Create immersive learning scenarios with 260-degree multimedia resources”, including virtual reality, with the latest version of Adobe Captivate. This software supports the SCORM 1.1, SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004 specifications. It is ideal for creating responsive e-learning courses or in form of mobile applications. However, the full license is quite expensive.

Articulate Storyline

Here is a particularly powerful software that is suitable for both experts and beginners. Easy to use and rich in features, Articulate Storyline allows you to create responsive, interactive and efficient courses. Add subtitles, quizzes, games or exams, create tables and much more. Storyline also allows to create lightweight courses in HTML (instead of Flash), which are graphically perfect and very pleasant to use.

iSpring Suite

It is the best known and one of the most extensive online course creation software that offers a wide range of educational activities. Interaction is at the heart of the iSpring system: quizzes, webinars, certifications at the end of modules, dialogue simulations, presentation games and other serious games. Everything is designed to really involve the learner, all in a fun environment.


As a cloud platform that enables the implementation of a responsive e-learning program, Elucidat perfectly manages and respects the different SCORM models. Its main advantage: user-friendliness, a topic gallery and high-quality support that makes you forget a certain lack of functionalities.


isEazy is a SaaS creation tool that enables the quick creation and sharing of online courses or trainings that run on any device. isEazy has the advantage of offering both a freemium version and a free trial version. Based on SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004, this platform allows you to create your own simple and efficient training courses.


Another online platform for creating e-learning offerings, Koatic is doing very well thanks to integrated models and ready-to-use computer graphics. Easy to use, quick to learn and lightweight, it is an interesting tool if you would like to have a comparable tool to Adobe Captivate or iSpring.

We could have also mentioned Evolve, iSpring QuizMaker or mAuthor. For our part we use Articulate Storyline. As a specialized e-learning agency, we are also at your disposalyou’re your e-learning project or any other creation of educational content with our years of expertise.

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