I spent much of last week at ASTD’s Techknowledge ’08 conference in San Antonio. Some of the shows I attend as a participant… this one was purely about manning the booth. I had several interesting conversations throughout the show, but one jumped out at me.

One of the “high ranking officials” from another company exhibiting at the show came by and said this, “I’ve been telling everyone that we’re SCORM conformant, but I don’t really know what that means. Am I conformant?”

This is not an entirely uncommon conversation for us. Everyone in our industry has received an RFP that indicates, in some bulleted list, that they need to be conformant. The question is likely bantered about their organizations, and someone concludes that they are in fact conformant. But what does that actually mean? I’ll spare you the minutiae of SCORM conformance here, and point out a few things that everyone, even salespeople, needs to understand.

  • SCORM conformance does not happen by accident. It requires an intentional, non-trivial effort.
  • In the world of SCORM conformance, your product falls into one of two camps; it is either an LMS (Learning Management System) or it is a piece of content. Anyone who utters the word SCORM on behalf of your organization needs to understand it at this level. Ask yourself these questions:
    • Can our product import someone else’s SCORM zip file? Can it launch that content and track a user’s performance?If the answer is “yes”, then your product is an LMS for the purposes of SCORM. You might call it Talent Management, or Training Tracker, or whatever, but for those folks that speak “SCORM”, your product is an LMS.
    • Can we package up our stuff and send it off to another system so that they can launch it? If the answer to this question is “yes”, then you are likely producing SCORM content. Your product is filling the “content” role.
  • SCORM conformance, in either the LMS or content role, isn’t easy. There are people who do it well enough to claim conformance, and there are people who really strive for high levels of interoperability. Our clients fall into the second group, because our products are mature, proven, and reach higher levels of conformance than any other products out there.

“What is SCORM?” is a question we get all the time. We welcome this question. A big part of what we do is to help people understand this. But if your company or products claims to be conformant, you should be able to understand SCORM to this level. “Are you an LMS?” “Are you a content provider?” If the answer to that question isn’t obvious to you, talk to us. Get in touch. We can help you understand the distinctions, or, potentially, we can help you identify what you might need to do in order to live up to your marketing material.

Tim is the chief innovation and product officer with our parent company LTG, though he used to be CEO here at Rustici Software. If you’re looking for a plainspoken answer to a standards-based question, or to just play an inane game, Tim is your person.