Rustici Software's
SCORM Blog

Subscribe

 Subscribe in a reader

Enter your email address:


Archive


Tweets by Tim Martin



Topics

Authors

Today on the xAPI working group call, ADL shared some news about their funding over the next 12 months. We’ve discussed this in more detail at experienceapi.com (because it has more impact there), but wanted to share a SCORM specific perspective here.

ADL continues to house information about SCORM on their websites, and it’s still the best place to go to understand the state of SCORM adoption and certification. It will continue to be the best place for that.

SCORM isn’t evolving much these days. It’s a solution to a narrow problem that works pretty well for most of its users. If I had to guess, I would bet that about 1% of ADL’s attention goes to SCORM. Whether that attention goes to zero or not, SCORM will continue to be a massively adopted solution to a problem millions of people have… delivering content and reporting results in an LMS.

If you have questions about SCORM, or want to adopt it, Rustici Software is still the best place to get started. Let us know if we can help you.

No Comments | Post a comment »



This week LTG (our parent company) announced the formal acceptance of their bid to acquire NetDimensions. Depending on who you are and what you know, this may or may not seem like a big deal, or even a potential threat.

I wanted to quickly, publicly, and officially alleviate any concerns you may have.

When LTG acquired us a little over a year ago, Mike and I made clear that it was crucial to us that Rustici Software be allowed to serve its customers in exactly the way it always has… agnostically. We’ve never recommended amongst our LMS or content providing customers. We just wouldn’t do it, and we won’t do it. And that’s still true today, with full knowledge of the NetDimensions acquisition.

A related story: LTG owns a content authoring platform, gomo learning, which does not use any Rustici products. At the same time, we have provided our SCORM Driver product (which also supports xAPI/cmi5) to Articulate, Adobe, and Dominknow, competitors of gomo’s.

Early in the integration process, we were asked by gomo folks if we could integrate gomo directly into SCORM Cloud as a way to introduce their product to our many users of SCORM Cloud. Doing so almost certainly would have brought some prospects to gomo and increased the revenue of the group as a whole, and could have potentially brought Rustici some referral revenue as well.

We refused. And LTG supported that choice.

(gomo has also been given the freedom not to acquire our software, too, for what it’s worth because they already had a reasonable solution in place.)

This autonomy is crucial to our ability to serve so many of the vendors in the industry, many of whom compete with each other.

If some of the folks at NetDimensions ask my opinion about how and whether they should adopt xAPI, I will certainly offer it, just as I would for any other LMS vendor who calls upon me. If those same people ask me to inform them about another LMS vendor’s plans in this regard, I merely point them to publicly available information. More directly: we will offer our services and products to NetD, and they will have the ability to procure them, just like we would with any other LMS provider.

So, congratulations to LTG and NetD both. It’s an exciting combination for parts of the group, and business as usual for Rustici Software.

No Comments | Post a comment »



cmi5

Today we’re excited to announce support for a new specification in SCORM Cloud- cmi5, which is something that doesn’t happen all that often in its history. Along with making cmi5 support readily available in SCORM Cloud, we’ve also added support for cmi5 to some of our other products including SCORM Engine and SCORM Driver.

Obviously, supporting a variety of specifications is a huge part of what we do well at Rustici Software. More than anything, though, I think it’s important for us to be conscious of, and to explain well to all of you, when and why we add support for a particular specification.

So, what is cmi5?

cmi5 is technically a profile of xAPI which means it piggy backs on top of things already well defined in xAPI, but adds specificity in others. For cmi5, this means that certain xAPI statements are required, and launch is handled in a very specific way.

For me, it’s the launch piece that’s so important. From xAPI’s advent years ago, there have been issues with launching content. In the earliest days, we at Rustici Software defined a very simple launch specification that several content vendors picked up on. It was good enough for the time being, but it wasn’t really good enough in practice.

So, over the last couple of years, many people including Bill McDonald (as Chair of the working group) and Art Werkenthin and others at RISC have put a lot of energy into considering how their AICC work could be applied to launch in the xAPI world. The result is that we have a good solution for launching content via xAPI.

Why it matters

Years ago, as we at Rustici Software and others around us started evangelizing xAPI, we made some mistakes. We talked about all of the things that could be enabled by xAPI, the things for which it was necessary but not sufficient. Over the last year or two, we’ve really started to fill in the gaps to make it sufficient as well. And while launch isn’t the dreamiest of capabilities for which xAPI is a solution, it is absolutely fundamental.

If content launch is ultimately going to transition from SCORM to xAPI, cmi5’s support for launch will be a requirement. And further, so many other activities actually benefit from having a well defined, implemented, and adopted specification for launch. So for now, we’re excited to share that Cloud now offers vendors and others a great place to test cmi5 based launchable activities. We hope this helps spur the development of many xAPI/cmi5 adopters.

No Comments | Post a comment »



The parallels between television and elearning are abundant. I mean, who doesn’t love sitting down on a Friday night to watch the best elearning they couldn’t get to all week?

Really, though, there are plenty of legitimate parallels, and one of the things I like is watching elearning evolve in similar ways to television/movies, albeit a few years behind.

One fashion in which that evolution has occurred is the actual delivery mechanisms.

1. Video Industry
1. Elearning Industry
film-reel

“Let’s go to the movies!”
 

People gathered together in a movie theater to see the film of the day. It was a compelling shared experience, and allowed each participant to see something they hadn’t before. For the studio, this provided scale that far exceeded that of a stage play. For many attendees, though, this meant that seeing the movie was incredibly expensive or completely impossible. And one crying baby could ruin the experience for everyone.
instructor-lead-training

In Person Training
 

Like the movies, people gathered in a single location to learn together. Unfortunately, this meant that everyone had to be gathered together in the same place, at the same time, and probably at great expense to the company providing the training. Rather than teaching each person individually, the subject matter expert could teach several people at once. For many learners, though, this meant that the training was either inaccessible or hugely inconvenient. And one cry baby could ruin the experience for everyone.
2. Video Industry
2. Elearning Industry
vhs

“Blockbuster”
 

“I want to watch Goonies tonight. At 7:45pm. And eat pizza. On a couch.” It required a trip to something called a “video store”, wherein you hoped to find the specific movie in stock that you wanted to watch. And that was a real risk. The beauty of it, though, is that if they had your movie, you were in control. Start time? That’s up to you. Location? Your choice as well. And the world was your oyster as far as what you were eating and drinking and sitting on. Several beloved standards helped this work. VHS, Betamax, Laserdisc, DVD… these standards allowed us to buy machines for home that knew how to play whatever movie we brought home.
scorm

SCORM Package Delivery
 

Yes, learners could now watch content in an LMS when and where they wanted. This was a big leap. Barriers of travel and cost were substantially reduced. But getting a specific piece of content into your system wasn’t really possible until SCORM allowed for it in the early 2000s. With the advent of SCORM, learners were now able to consume widely varied content from their desk at work or at home. And subject matter expertise was available at a scale that was inconceivable in the instructor led training world.
3. Video Industry
3. Elearning Industry
itunes

iTunes
 

One online store with all the movies and tv shows and all I have to do is click a button!? When streaming became a reality, we no longer had to leave the house to acquire the content, and we didn’t have to worry about whether someone else had claimed that movie first. There were just so. many. options. And finding a movie to watch became less of a problem. Instead, finding the right movie to watch was a challenge. How do you curate an massive pile of movies?!
content-consolidator

Content Consolidator
 

Companies like Skillsoft and Mindleaders before, and Open Sesame today, have collected massive libraries of content from which companies and learners can choose. Finding a relevant piece of content gets easier all the time, and it can be procured at a known price in a matter of minutes. Compatibility has become less of a concern (although Skillsoft’s OLSA standard isn’t exactly that). Learners and companies alike have access to great quantities of quality content, and subject matter experts have a easy and convenient way to get it to them.
4. Video Industry
4. Elearning Industry
netflix

Netflix
 

Today’s Netflix is fundamentally different from prior delivery models in several ways:
Netflix’s “all you can consume” model allows a customer to pay one price per month and watch lots of varied content at their leisure. Viewers can try a show with no risk, move amongst them freely, and watch as much as they want. Shows can be released in their entirety on a given day, rather than strung out over months. Advertisement is no longer a part of the equation.
Netflix also provides their own content. They are creators as well as distributors. Shows like House of Cards, Bloodlines, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt show a care and crafting that isn’t necessarily present in commodities acquired from other providers. Netflix has a clear incentive to create groundbreaking content. If they build remarkable content, then their customers will stay and new ones will join in.
Netflix has every reason to make their user experience better. If their app is easier to use than NBC’s, then Netflix benefits, and they get more viewers, customers, and money.
content-controller

Content Controller
 

Invested content providers who can centralize their content have distinct opportunities from other providers.
They can correct, analyze, and assess their content in a way that others can’t. By centralizing the content, they can see how it’s being used across clients. They can assess questions and their efficacy, they can discover and correct mistakes, and they can evolve content directly.
Providers can manage versions and deployments much more effectively.
Providers can explore possibilities like offering a subject matter expert to multiple clients via online chat or something similar.
More than anything, though, it puts the content provider in a closer relationship with the learner and the customer. Rather than throwing a piece of content to the wind and hoping, the content provider has visibility and a manner in which they can affect the relationship.

Content Controller is the next-generation method of delivering content. It’s the elearning equivalent of what Netflix is to the video industry, and we’d love to talk to you about it. Learn more at the Content Controller web page, and get in touch with us if you have questions.

No Comments | Post a comment »



Back in January, Mike and I sold Rustici Software to a British company called LTG. One thing I “learned” in that process is that recurring revenue is very valuable to a company (or its owners). As a business, we sell several products on term licenses, either through our Cloud offering, which is SaaS, or our on premise products which require term licenses as well. Our recurring revenue and high retention rates meant that LTG had to pay a premium over what they would have for a services business.

Take a look at the impacts of aaS on the valuations of several software businesses.

This valuation premium that SaaS gets can be seen more precisely, when we compare cloud software companies to the more traditional on-premise software providers. SaaS companies get higher valuations at all levels of revenue growth rates. For example, looking at the charts below, the median revenue multiple for on-premise software companies that grew their annual revenue 30-40% is 5.1x, while the same multiple for a SaaS companies that grew revenue at that same 30-40% rate is 9.2x.

From https://blog.intercom.io/a-closer-look-at-saas-valuations/

This group of companies was worth 80% more than their non SaaS brethren.

We’ll talk more about Netflix in a subsequent blog post, but they’re a perfect example of a Content as a Service business from outside the elearning world. And they are recognized for their ability to generate recurring revenue and retain customers.

It’s time for elearning providers to do the same. Find a customer, serve them well, provide updates, control the content. And if they do it well over a period of time, both the company’s revenue and value will rise.

No Comments | Post a comment »


Older Posts »

Browse Categories

Using the Standards

Tips, tricks and solutions for using SCORM and AICC.

Standards Evolution

Our chronicling and opinion of the evolution of SCORM.

Rustici Software

Stories about who we are and what we're up to.

Products

News about our products. Notifications of new releases and new features.

Ideas and Thoughts

Miscellaneous thoughts and ideas about e-learning, entrepreneurship and whatever else is on our minds.

Software Development

Ideas about software development and how we manage things internally.