What is a SCORM file?

SCORM is a word that is often thrown about when talking about all things eLearning, but what exactly is it, and what does it do?

A Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is a set of files packaged up that enables courses to communicate to an LMS. Communication is carried out mainly to allow course authors or LMS admins to track learner details such as course progression, completion rates or quiz results.

SCORM files are a lifesaver for e-learning developers as they allow courses to be hosted in any Learning Management System. They do this and communicate with any LMS regardless.

How Does a SCORM File Work?

SCORM files are produced when publishing content from an e-learning authoring tool such as Storyline. An output file zipped up with all the necessary files and folders to be called SCORM compatible are then referred to as a PIF directory (Package Interchange File).

A PIF file always includes an XML (Extensible Markup Language) file, and it’s this file that contains the content needed by an LMS to receive its content. XML files in PIF directories always sit at the root; this is similar to the head of a family tree with all other nodes below it.

The Run-Time Environment

A SCORM file dictates that the package is run in a web browser, either in a pop-up window or a new tab. Inside the PIF directory is a file that looks for an API (Accessible Programmable Interface) provided by the LMS that the SCORM file connects with. This, in essence, is similar to a handshake from both the LMS and the PIF directory. This API has the functionality to allow data exchange between the LMS and the course content.

Sequencing and Navigation

This specification allows the author of the course to dictate how the learner navigates through it. Other factors in sequencing controls are which controls are visible to the learner, the order in which the system must be completed and the passing score for quizzes.

Although SCORM files aren’t essential for an eLearning course, even for an LMS, they are indispensable if the LMS tracks the learner and controls how they progress through the system. There can sometimes be issues with an LMS and a SCORM file, and troubleshooting can be a bit of a nightmare, especially if working with an external API within the LMS.

If you’re looking for LMS and SCORM expertise, look no further. We’re experts in all things eLearning. We even offer a free project estimate here!