Drupal, SCORM, and why The Partridge Family was wrong

Here I go, here I go, here I go… again. I’ve been called to defend SCORM’s honor again.

I caught a tweet yesterday.

E-Learning in Drupal – SCORM RTE for Drupal now released! Watch the demo: http://tinyurl.com/l9des6

-@BusinessCarrots

We are big believers in SCORM being implemented everywhere. Obviously, we like the idea of any system in the world being able to deliver SCORM training. (We like it more if we’re the ones doing it, but really, if SCORM becomes progressively more important, I’m pretty sure we’ll benefit from that.)

So, as you would expect, I went to check out the screencast of the Drupal/SCORM integration. I’d be more than happy for you to do the same. (You can see it here.)

<rant>

DO NOT DO SCORM PART WAY. EVER.

When The Partridge Family famously said, “I’ll meet you halfway, that’s better than no way,” they weren’t talking about SCORM. Half of a SCORM implementation is a bizarre form of torture.

</rant>

So what brings me to the point of quoting The Partridge Family today? As you might imagine, the Drupal SCORM implementation mentioned above falls well short of SCORM conformance. How do I know? The screencast indicates that the implementation supports neither completion_status nor location. The first two things I would tell any content vendor to implement in their content would be completion and bookmarking, neither of which will work in this implementation!

Truth be told, I’m not really this angry about it. I appreciate the efforts to include SCORM in more systems, but SCORM really suffers from inconsistent implementations. If you’re going to implement part of SCORM, please do the industry as a whole a favor… finish it.


  • Bryan Gruneberg

    Hi There,

    We are looking at SCORM in Drupal as well. Have you come across any good implementations since this post?

    Bryan

  • Marc Caslani

    Tim,
    As an expert and one of the companies that benefits as SCORM becomes accepted and quantifiable… wouldn’t it benefit you to outline standards for content management systems usage of the SCORM standard. Every two-bit IT person thinks that a CMS (like sharepoint, drupal, joomla, plone and the 100’s of others) can be used to manage courses and elearning.

    LMS is so 1980’s… learning portals is where everyone wants to be. Believe me I built my first one in 2003 and have seen few companies get it right since. How will SCORM be able to survive if they can not grow beyond the current rigid standard. If tribal learning, mob learning and social learning can’t utilize the SCO’s to the benefit of the individuals and the enterprise.

    How do you see this being resolved by the usage of the SCORM cloud? AWS is fine and all… but its just another service, another IP address and another firewall issue that would have to be resolved. Why not develop a solution that is plug and play built on AIR, Silverlight or AJAX that reads the ims manafest and allows for explicit use of all this SCO. No matter if it is on a course management system, learning management system, or a content management system!

    Marc

  • Marc.

    First off, good thoughts. We love the idea of SCORM being in all sorts of systems, and CMSs are a great example. So, some thoughts…

    As for “outlining standards for CMS usage of SCORM”: From my perspective, the standard itself outlines that. CMSs can be LMSs under another name, really. They are obligated to import, deliver, and track the training, and the rules for so doing are defined in the spec. It just comes down to this… implementing SCORM isn’t easy.

    As for SCORM and its evolution: I’m with you. If SCORM is forever about a single learner taking a dictated piece of training in isolation, it will die off. I believe groups like LETSI and ADL are really making good, sincere efforts to accommodate the industry’s evolution. Now, it doesn’t happen NEARLY as quickly as I’d like, but it’s moving in the right direction.

    SCORM Cloud means that the CMS developer doesn’t have to comprehend the minutiae of SCORM at all, and this is a major leap. The specs themselves are monstrous and the real world doesn’t hold to them precisely. Implementing SCORM 2004 from scratch would likely take 2+ developer-years. Integrating the SCORM Cloud could be done in under a month. That’s a massive difference.

    Your proposal about Silverlight/AIR/etc is an interesting one. Wouldn’t that sort of a solution require the ability to inform the hosted CMS about the learners’ progress? So then there would be a custom integration for each CMS in that case as well? Or am I missing something?

  • Marc

    So I was pretty much outlining the Tin Can API!

  • Marc

    So I was pretty much outlining the Tin Can API!

  • Marc

    So I was pretty much outlining the Tin Can API!

  • Marc

    So I was pretty much outlining the Tin Can API!