Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM®)

Overview

The Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM®) was created in 2000 by the ADL Initiative to address e-learning interoperability, reusability, and durability challenges. This research was driven by the challenge that enterprise organizations faced when upgrading systems or changing vendors, which often required them to abandon expensive content and start from scratch. Conversely, large content vendors often specified their own delivery environment, requiring organizations to implement different delivery modules for each content vendor. To provide organizations with the capability to reuse instructional components in multiple applications and environments regardless of the tools used to create them, the ADL Initiative led and conducted the research required to ensure that content could be separated from context specific run-time constraints and proprietary systems so that it could be incorporated into different applications.

With this, the ADL Initiative designed SCORM to leverage standard web technologies as well as emerging learning technology specifications. SCORM allowed browser-based e-learning with plug-and-play portability, reusability, and instructional sequencing of self-paced content.

Under a series of DoD Instructions – most recently DoDI 1322.26 – SCORM has been officially specified as one of the allowed metadata tracking options for DoD e-learning content.

To extend these concepts to track performance data on emerging learning capabilities (e.g., mobile learning), DoDI 1322.26 has been updated to allow a more capable standard called the Experience API, or xAPI. Unlike SCORM, xAPI can be used to track and share data from mobile learning, simulations, virtual worlds, serious games, real-world activities, wearable devices, experiential learning, social learning, offline learning, and more.

SCORM History

A 1999 executive order signed by President Bill Clinton established a task force charged with developing new standards and specifications for e-learning across the Federal Government and the private sector. Version 1.0 of SCORM was released in 2000, followed by SCORM 1.2 in 2001. The most recent release (2009) is SCORM 2004 4th Edition.

The ADL Initiative maintains documentation for SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004 3rd Edition, and SCORM 2004 4th Edition (see Versions & Resources section below). In 2008, the Learning-Education-Training Systems Interoperability (LETSI) Federation was formed to investigate the next generation of SCORM requirements. LETSI produced over 100 white papers that would later become essential artifacts and sources of requirements for the newer xAPI specification for e-learning.

While the ADL Initiative (and DoDI 1322.26) now recommends xAPI and cmi5 solutions for new e-learning acquisitions and implementations, it is understood that SCORM solutions are still in wide use to enable interoperability (course re-use) across compliant systems. Developers who are implementing other versions of SCORM are encouraged to modify their work to comply with one of the existing specified versions. DoDI 1322.26 contains the current guidance for SCORM conformance in DoD.

SCORM Acquisition Guidance

DoD and other Federal Government organizations are encouraged to use the following statement in their acquisition documents (e.g., statements of work, performance work statements, or other applicable program requirements documentation):

The contractor shall ensure distributed learning content is conformant to SCORM [insert preferred edition].

The following documents will be cited in the solicitation document (keyed to the appropriate section) for distributed learning (DL): ADL Initiative SCORM [insert preferred edition] conformance testing requirements.

Acceptance shall be based on the following:

  1. Conformance: An error-free repeatable test log output saved as a .zip file for each Content Package (CP), providing evidence that the CP SCORM [insert preferred edition]. Conformant conformance label has been achieved, shall verify SCORM-conformance.

  2. Target DL System Verification: A report from the target DL system or operator of the target DL system certifying that the content ran properly.

SCORM Technical Details

The latest SCORM specification consists of three different technical “books” (available in the Versions and Resources section below) that collectively address challenges associated with interoperability, portability, reusability, and the instructional sequencing of self-paced e-learning content.

Interoperability

The SCORM Run-time Environment (RTE) book defines a common data model and application program interface (API) for e-learning content. This combination of data model and API allow for standardized communications between client-side content and a system component (called “the run-time environment”), which is commonly provided by a Learning Management System (LMS).

Portability

The SCORM Content Aggregation Model (CAM) book defines how to package content for exchange from system to system, in a transferable ZIP file called the Package Interchange Format (PIF). Packaging enables a standardized portability mechanism between various learning environment applications.

Reusability

The SCORM Content Aggregation Model (CAM) book describes the components used in a learning experience and how to describe those components to enable search and discovery. Therefore, the CAM book promotes reusability of learning content across LMSs and repositories. The CAM book describes responsibilities and requirements for building content and content organizations (e.g., course, lessons, modules, etc.). It contains instructions for applying metadata to the all the content organization components in the content package. On the server side, the CAM details the format an LMS must be able to “import” for the purpose of providing content to users.

Sequencing

The SCORM Sequencing and Navigation (SN) book, in combination with the CAM book, describe how SCORM-conformant content is delivered to learners through a set of learner or system-initiated navigation events. The branching and flow of that content may be described by a predefined set of activities. SCORM 2004’s sequencing rules allow instructional designers and content developers to specify the order in which sharable content objects (SCOs), the smallest piece of content that tracks progress, are delivered to learners and what navigation controls are present in a SCORM 2004-conformant LMS.

SCORM Conformance, Certification, and Adoption Support

Although SCORM is being overtaken by newer, more capable e-learning specifications, the ADL Initiative continues to support SCORM adoption, including with help-desk verification of conformance through validation of test suite logs for vendors and content developers. The US Army has also developed a SCORM 2004 (3rd Edition) Test Suite, last updated in 2018. Conformance Test Suite software and documentation are provided for each version in the SCORM Versions and Resources section below.

Many products claim to be SCORM certified, SCORM conformant, or offered by a SCORM Adopter. The ADL Initiative has specific terms and criteria regarding each of these levels of conformance:

SCORM Conformance – The only criteria for claiming SCORM conformance (to a specific version of SCORM, i.e., SCORM version 1.2) is to pass the corresponding test within the ADL Conformance Test Suite, or the Army-developed conformance test for SCORM 2004 (3rd Edition). These tests are done on an honor system and require no ADL Initiative involvement. Test logs should be submitted to the ADL Initiative to confirm an organization’s SCORM adoption.

SCORM Adopter – A product must be SCORM conformant before it can be considered a SCORM Adopter. The logs that result from a passing test in the ADL Conformance Test Suite are submitted to the ADL Initiative and if found to be correct, the product is labeled as a SCORM Adopter.

SCORM Certification – Certified products are those that have been tested through ADL Certification Testing Centers. Certification is no longer offered through independent centers or the ADL Initiative.

NOTE: As an alternative to previous SCORM Certified Products and SCORM Adopter forms and searchable databases, the ADL Initiative has posted locked spreadsheets of the data until the forms and process are updated. Click the links below to access these static resources.

Known Issues

Members of the SCORM user/developer community have identified some JavaScript vulnerability and cross-domain API issues. The ADL Initiative has assessed these issues and published the following papers to provide solutions and workarounds.

SCORM Versions and Resources

Multiple versions of SCORM remain in use worldwide, with SCORM 2004 (4th Edition) being the most recent. The ADL Initiative encourages content developers and those who produce distributed learning products and must use SCORM (as opposed to xAPI or cmi5) to conform with this version. Support resources for the three prominent versions are provided below, including zip file downloads.

SCORM 2004 (4th Edition)

Compatibility Testing Resources

Extensions

Content Examples

SCORM 2004 (3rd Edition)

Compatibility Testing Resources

Content Examples

SCORM 1.2

(See the official SCORM 1.2 specification below for a complete list of changes and improvements from 1.0 to 1.1 and the 1.2 version.)

SCORM 1.0

Additional SCORM Resources

Videos

Training and Learning Architecture- Webinar - Meeting the Needs of the Next Generation of SCORM 51:16 – (2013)

Creating Reusable Content in SCORM 2004 – Part 1 6:00 – (2011)