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mLearnCon 2013 is happening right now, and we thought this would be a good time to write about some related topics:

Mobile learning. M-learning. Native apps. Tablets. Smart phones. Offline e-learning. HTML 5.

These are all terms that we’ve been hearing a lot about in the e-learning community, but where do we really stand with all of these different things, especially when talking about trackable and standards-conformant learning?


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When looking through the eLearning Atlas, I wondered if the versions of SCORM that companies claim to support are closely matched to what we see being used in reality, via SCORM Cloud. Let’s check it out:

Versions of Claimed SCORM Support in the eLearning Atlas vs. Use in SCORM Cloud:
SCORM's use in the eLearning Atlas vs. SCORM Cloud


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We created the eLearning Atlas to be an ideal tool to easily find the proper solutions. Jena and I have tried to speak to every company in the Atlas, and we continue to seek those that we’ve missed. This process provides a valuable pool of data. Rather than hoard this information, I thought it would be nice to share.

Let’s take a graphical look at some of the interesting conclusions I’ve drawn. The following graphs only include traditional products that can implement standards (Authoring Tools, LMSs, LCMSs and Content Libraries). Here we can see the haves and the have-nots:

eLearning Atlas Products That Support At Least One Standard:
eLearning Atlas products that support standards

A look at the Haves:
Standard support among those that use standards...

So, what does this all mean? For the majority of the industry, SCORM works, but there are lots of eLearning products out there that don’t play nicely with one another. The creation and delivery of content is a hard problem to solve, without a common standard or model… it’s really hard to solve.Double Rainbow - What does this mean? When developers try to fit a unique course into a unique learning system… things get complicated. When eLearning gets complicated, things get expensive.

The eLearning Atlas proves that there are thousands of possible companies who can create, manage and deliver eLearning, some doing it without any claimed support for standardization. For some companies, the expense of stepping outside their branded box of solutions, locks a customer in for life. We think SCORM frees people to choose the best fit. The eLearning Atlas can help users easily filter out the noise of companies who are not interested in playing nicely with one another, and make connections with products that want to work together.

To look at it another way, we’ve currently found 219 Authoring Tools, some being used by 360 Custom Content Creators to make training that will be delivered using 655 LMS/LCMSs… that’s 51,640,200 possible combinations. Trying to fit all those pieces together, each time, is a daunting task and the exact pain ADL created SCORM to solve. SCORM (and other standards) help eLearning providers play nicely with one another; the eLearning Atlas can help users find the products and services that will play nicely with the systems they already use.

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A car salesman’s credibility is quickly lost when he guesses what size engine is under the hood or what the gas mileage could be. Claiming a car has “good” gas mileage is not the same thing as knowing it’s 40 mpg. A 6-cylinder engine can come in a variety of flavors… in-line or V, turbocharged or naturally-aspirated, these details create some machines that are much faster than others. With cars, more is not always better, sweating the details creates vehicles that keep “car guys” debating for hours. People who care nothing for cars will make generalizations that make me cringe, but nobody wants a guessing salesman to help choose the perfect vehicle.

A Garage Full of Fancy Cars... and Chris


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Back in 2007, I got curious about SCORM 2004 adoption and pulled some metrics about how people were using SCORM. Well, I got curious again, but this time I took it to the next level. We’ve just published a feed of SCORM Stats that will be updated nightly. For SCORM geeks like us, these stats present a useful snapshot into how the real work is using SCORM. Go ahead and bookmark it and come back every now and then to see how things evolve.

Let’s take a look at SCORM then and now.

SCORM Versions

SCORM Versions Then
SCORM Versions Now

Then: SCORM 2004 made up about 50% of the content that was being uploaded into Test Track.

Now: SCORM 2004 makes up about 30-35% of the content uploaded into SCORM Cloud.

Conclusion: SCORM 2004 remains relevant for a significant population, but it’s adoption and usage has not increased over the years. Adoption appears to be flat. The decrease since 2007 is probably related to the more mainstream adoption of SCORM Cloud vs the early adopters using SCORM Test Track in 2007.

SCORM Versions By User

SCORM Versions By User Then
SCORM Versions By User Now

Then: About 40% of users were uploading SCORM 2004 content.

Now: About 40% of users are uploading SCORM 2004 content.

Conclusion: SCORM 2004 adoption remains flat.


SCORM Test Track Users Then
SCORM Cloud Users Now

Then: About 3000 people cared enough about SCORM to try out our little application.

Now: 21,000 people have given SCORM Cloud a whirl.

Conclusion: Our little SCORM Test Track experiment was a hit. That’s nice for us, but for the broader SCORM community it show just how widespread SCORM’s adoption is. Twenty-one THOUSAND people are deep enough into SCORM to use an application like SCORM Cloud, with 500 more signing up every month. SCORM’s adoption is broader than I think anybody realizes. It is the industry workhorse.

Some other stats in that vein:

About 20,000 unique visitors visit every month…that’s 20,000 more people every month who are interested in SCORM enough to go read about it.

About 12,000 courses are imported into SCORM Cloud every month. Twelve thousand courses, that is a lot of SCORM content being tested!

Realizing the -ilities (multiple SCOs)?


Then: Use of Multi-SCO content


Now: The use of multi-SCO content
Now: Number of SCOs in Courses

Then: About 35% of SCORM 2004 content took advantage of multiple-SCO functionality.

Now: The percentage of content using more than one SCO has increased dramatically with each new edition of SCORM 2004.

Conclusion: The improvements in each SCORM 2004 Edition have been useful in making sequencing easier to use and more effective. Or, conversely, the people who use sequencing most heavily tend to gravitate to the latest edition with the most robust functionality.


Realizing the -ilities (use of sequencing)?

Then: Use of Sequencing
Now: Use of Sequencing

Conclusion: The use of sequencing remains similar, but it increases with the later SCORM 2004 Editions….consistent with the conclusions above.

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