SCORM: What you should be asking your LMS Vendor to be

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SCORM, SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004, AICC what does it all mean?  Better yet, what does it mean to YOU when trying to find that LMS or LCMS vendor? How do you know that they really know what they are talking about?  You would be surprised on how many sales reps have zero clue.  I’ll exclude the technical components or specifics on SCORM and AICC – plenty of info. out there on the net for that.  Rather, I will focus on some questions you should ask or be asking your soon to be LMS/LCMS vendor.

New to LMS/LCMS or Unfamiliar with the Term SCORM

1. SCORM is a standard – compliance.   SCORM 2004, there is also SCORM 1.2, SCORM and AICC. If you go back to 2000 or so, there was IEEE (not to be confused with firewire). Vendors can become certified in SCORM, if they choose to do so.  If a vendor becomes certified, you will want one that is certified in SCORM 2004, at a minimum.  In the market, a significant majority of the vendors are “compliant” and not certified.  This should not dissuade from looking and selecting a LMS/LCMS vendor who is SCORM compliant.

2. AICC was the only standard that offered a certification process for vendors and it was based on tasks/components testing.  Very few vendors ever attempted the certification, and AICC did not offer all their components for certification.  Those who did receive the certification were posted on AICC’s web site.  Yet, many vendors often said they were certified, when in fact they weren’t.

3. You should focus on vendors who at a minimum are SCORM 1.2 compliant.  If they are 2004 or also 2004 or 2004 3rd edition, equally good, but at a minimum SCORM 1.2, since there are content authoring vendors who are not yet up to SCORM 2004, which is a shame.  Ignore “AICC” which is outdated.

Questions to ask your Learning SystemVendor

Okay, your top questions to ask an LMS/LCMS vendor.  BTW, some LMS vendors do have a content management system integrated within their solution and identify themselves as a LMS, i.e. you can build content within their solution, without having to purchase a 3rd party software application, if you so choose. Of course, like many things there are limitations.

For purposes of these questions, regardless of your vendor to be: is LMS/LCMS – I will refer to the vendor as LMS.

1.  How many SCORM 1.2 compliant courses are in your LMS?  (If the vendor has stated as such i.e. SCORM 1.2 compliant – ask them how many).

2. Have you ever uploaded SCORM 1.2 compliant courses in your LMS?  (If the vendor has a content builder within their solution – follow up with:  Not including your content builder SCORM compliance ….. )

If the vendor says SCORM compliant, then replace SCORM 1.2 with SCORM 1.1 (very few vendors implemented SCORM 1.1, but some vendors just state SCORM).  I would though ask them if they have any or have they uploaded any SCORM 1.2 courses.   Some vendors who are SCORM compliant, may not have ever uploaded SCORM 1.2 courses, so you should always ask.

3.  Have you ever uploaded any 3rd party off the shelf SCORM 1.2 courses, for example MS Word 2007 from Skillsoft (or whomever)?  If they do not know what “off the shelf” means, ..Exit stage right.. : ) as in walk away…  Why is it important to find out if they have any or have they ever uploaded off the shelf 3rd party SCORM courses from another vendor (regardless of netg, skillsoft, elementK, whomever), because there may come a time, where you want a management or leadership course or a MS Word course and you do not want to build it.

So, you would rather locate it “off the shelf” – as in pre-built. Purchase it (i.e. lease it by seats – depending on vendor) and upload it into your LMS.  Now, here is the catch.

The Catch

Some LMS vendors will say sure – and mention Articulate or Captivate or Camtasia..but that is not the question you are seeking here.. “Off the shelf” is the key. Because you may have to have your 3rd party off the shelf vendor tweak their code to have the courses work within your LMS, and you better make sure you know the answer before you say okay only to find out later…that the cost and headaches wasn’t worth it.

Yeah, we are AICC/SCORM compliant

If your vendor says they are AICC/SCORM compliant, ask them specifically what does that mean?  – Again, put the onus on the vendor to explain it.   If they can’t, start looking elsewhere.  If they vendor sort of jumbles around and you are still interested or they hit it on the head – ask them how many SCORM courses have they uploaded? Honestly, AICC is so early 2000’s.

I won’t say what vendor it is, but I recently was speaking to a vendor who mentioned they were AICC/SCORM compliant. When I asked about SCORM 1.2, they said they had no courses uploaded, but that they were SCORM 1.2 functional. I said to them, how can you know for sure, if you have never had any uploaded any?  Silence.

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  1. Thanks for this list, these are some great questions. The one about off-the-shelf courses made me laugh, definitely if they don’t know the lingo you should be afraid!


  2. One thing to note, the AICC term is often used to refer to the AICC HACP standard, which while older than SCORM, offers the ability to run easily across web domains. If your LMS is going to pull in third party content from a remote server, AICC HACP support is, in some case, the only option.

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