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Changes are abound at SCORM.com and Rustici Software! We wanted to let you know about a few things coming soon and a recent leadership change to help keep you in the loop.

What’s changing?

Coming soon, SCORM.com will have a whole new look. Don’t worry, the content and resources that you rely on the most aren’t going anywhere. We’re just updating the look of the website to provide you with a more modern, user friendly experience. And most importantly, you can always reach out to us with any questions when it comes to SCORM or working with the eLearning standards, before or after the updates.

What’s already changed?

If you’ve been following SCORM.com for awhile, you might be familiar with Mike Rustici and Tim Martin, the co-founders of Rustici Software (the folks behind this site). As you might know, Mike Rustici departed Rustici Software back in 2016 to become the CEO of Watershed LRS. More recently Tim Martin has moved on from Rustici Software to become the Chief of Innovation and Products for the Learning Technologies Group (LTG), our parent company at Rustici Software.

With Tim’s recent departure, we’re excited to announce that TJ Seabrooks will now lead the charge as the new CEO for Rustici Software. TJ most recently served as the Director of Products and brings a wealth of technical leadership and expertise to his new role.

What does this mean?

Nothing, really. Aside from SCORM.com (and all of our websites) getting a face lift, it’s business as usual over here.

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We recently started a large project to update the content and modernize the user experience across SCORM.com, ExperienceAPI.com and RusticiSoftware.com. Yep, it’s a pretty big endeavor and you’ll hear more from us about it as we get closer to launching the new sites. So, don’t panic! You’ll still have access to all of this great content, hopefully in a much improved, easier to digest format.

During this process, we’ve discovered this: the definition of roles within the eLearning industry are not as clear cut as they once were. Traditionally in the world of eLearning you would likely fall into one of three categories: Content Creator, LMS Provider or Customer (of an LMS Provider or Content Creator). But things have changed. With greater demand for customized learning experiences, an increased interest in extended enterprise training and content specific platforms on the rise, the roles of Content, Platform and Customer have gotten pretty blurry.

Then vs. Now

Then:

Content creators might rely solely on their customer provided LMS as the delivery mechanism for connecting learners to courses. In most cases the content creator would hand off fully packaged courses (as a SCORM file) to a customer who would then run them through their LMS. Primary goal? CREATE content.

LMS providers focused on the user management side of the equation, ensuring assignment and reporting functionality. For the most part, they relied on content being provided by their customers. Primary goal? PLAY content.

Customers provided the content they wanted to deliver to their employees/learners. And the LMS would provide the system to manage those learners and track course usage. Primary goal? TRAIN employees.

Now:

Content creators are discovering that the best way to experience their courses might not always be easy to package up and send off to a third party system. Dynamically generated courses, database driven content and media rich assets make great content but it’s not that easy to package those things up. So rather than handing off courses to their learners, they are bringing learners to their courses, allowing them to fully control the learner experience. New goal? CREATE + PLAY + DISTRIBUTE content.

LMSs are bringing more to the table than just the platform. Rich course catalogs (whether created in house or acquired through partnerships) are the norm these days, leading to more specialized learning platforms targeting specific audiences and industries. New goal? PLAY + DISTRIBUTE content.

Customers are no longer just consumers of content; we see more companies getting into the extended enterprise space. Customers are increasing their focus on content, investing more time and money into delivering customer and/or partner training online. Suddenly customers are now content creators. New goal? TRAIN employees + CREATE content + DISTRIBUTE content.

While it’s exciting to see how the roles are getting redefined, it definitely adds some complexity to the site redesign. So, stay tuned! And along the way we’ll keep you in the loop on our progress. Better yet–let us know which circle you think you fall into.

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Acronym Alert! There will be many referred to in this post.

See glossary below for easy reference.

Two years ago we answered a BAA from ADL to conduct research for updating the DoDI 1322.26- “Development, Management, and Delivery of Distributed Learning.”

Spoiler Alert– ADL accepted our proposal and we were awarded a contract to dig further into what an updated Instruction might look like and how it might be implemented.

Double Spoiler Alert– The updated Instruction, DoDI 1322.26- DISTRIBUTED LEARNING (DL) just received final approval from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

A little more context

Given that the original Instruction was 10 years old and the world of DL had changed dramatically in that time, ADL recognized the need to both modernize the DoDI and understand the impact an updated DoDI would have across both the DoD and the eLearning industry as a whole. The objective of this project was to provide recommendations and edits to the draft, assess implications of the new Instruction and advise on implementation guidelines to help support the roll out of the new Instruction.

Rustici Software came into this from the unique perspective of understanding how our various government and military customers utilize SCORM today and the considerations and impact that adding xAPI to the Instruction would have to these organizations going forward.

We spent a good portion of 2016 working through the updated Instruction, interviewing key stakeholders within the DADLAC, considering policy implications with PIPS and providing guidance on how to manage xAPI conformance testing. The end result was an updated draft of the new DoDI 1322.26 which allows for procurement of various tools and technologies, including xAPI and provides for additional framework around the xAPI specification to ensure conformance and consistency across implementations of the spec.

TL;DR

The old DoDI was specific in directing entities to procure SCORM based eLearning solutions.

The updated DoDI continues to allow for SCORM and encourages “the (implementation of) the Experience Application Programming Interface (xAPI) and associated Learning Record Store capabilities, as practical, to enhance learning data security and interoperability.”

The wrap up

Many folks at Rustici across multiple teams were involved in this BAA- from our lead developers and SCORM technical experts to project managers and account managers.

So, when we heard the great news that the new Instruction had received final approval, we were thrilled. It means a lot to us that the work we did with ADL, PIPS, the DADLAC and others within the community has come to fruition. Even more exciting is that this new Instruction empowers those within the DoD to source the eLearning technologies that meet their needs.

Glossary

ADL: Advanced Distributed Learning
BAA: Broad Agency Announcement
DADLAC: Defense Advanced Distributed Learning Advisory Committee
DL: Distributed Learning
DoD: Department of Defense
DoDI: Department of Defense Instruction
PIPS: Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
SCORM: Sharable Content Object Reference Model
TL;DR: Too long; Didn’t read
xAPI: Experience application programming interface

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You may have noticed some new terms we’ve been using around here to describe some of the problems our software helps to solve when it comes to distributing eLearning content. Over the years, we have described our solutions as Cross Domain, Dispatch and more recently, Content Controller. While these are specific products that help solve the problem, we want to better describe the problem at hand, and a solution to help you get there.

In a not-so-small nutshell, we’re talking about the ability to host content and share access to courses with your customers (internal or external) rather than more traditional distribution models which require content providers to deliver the entire course package to customers. There are some nuances here which are important to point out.

  • Share access- allowing customers to take your courses on terms you control because the content remains in your possession
  • Deliver the entire course package– giving the content (in its entirety) to customers, ultimately giving up the ability to manage that content after the hand off

Some background
For content providers to distribute their courses with clients and other 3rd parties, a standard like SCORM usually comes into play. Sparing you the technical details, this typically entails delivering the entire course package to a customer who then must host and manage that content.Whether it’s keeping up with updates to the course or keeping track of license compliance, the customer has a lot of work ahead of them managing those courses. And the content provider has little control of that course once it’s handed off.

How we talk about it
We started down the path of Content as a Service and Training as a Service, but quickly realized that these imply other types of solutions that CMSs (think WordPress) tend to provide and it became confusing for what we’re really talking about. A few more iterations have led us to a term we think better represents what we’re tackling for the eLearning industry. Wait for it….

eLearning Content Distribution Solutions. While it’s not the catchiest title ever, it’s more accurate than any -aaS or other phraseology.

So when you hear and see us talking about eLearning Content Distribution, it’s really just a shorthand way for us to refer to all of the above- sharing access to your content across a wide variety of platforms, while retaining ownership of both the user experience and your best asset- your learning content.

Questions or thoughts on the way we talk about it? Let us know. Most importantly, we want to hear about the challenges you have when it comes to distributing your eLearning content and find the best way to tackle that problem.

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We’re excited to head down to Atlanta in just a few weeks for ATD 2017. Not only is it in our backyard (well, sort of) but it’s a great chance to see so many of our clients and partners across the industry- all in one place! At last tally, more than 50 of the companies on the exhibit floor use our software in their products. We can’t wait to hit the expo hall and see so many of our clients in person. And check out the latest and greatest products everyone has to share.

Another fun fact about ICE this year? Tim Martin will be talking about Content as a Service. For those of you at the conference, check it out. It should be a great talk for anyone looking for options on how to distribute content in new and different ways. Tim’s also known for having some pretty entertaining slide decks.

So, if you’re planning on going to ATD this year, let us know. We’d love to make sure we find you to catch up. And if you don’t find us on the floor, you might find us here. Ryan Pfeiffer has already prepped us that we will need to visit Shake Shack at least once while we’re there.

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