Canada Association of Tourism Employees

Sustainable Upskilling Options Outclass LMS Content material Choices

SUSs offer course authors options

There are many choices when creating and delivering eLearning content, and each one is very different from the next.

“Traditional” learning management systems (LMS) only allow the distribution of “container-based” formats such as SCORM, AICC, xAPI and CMI5. xAPI is also known as the “Experience API” or “TinCan API”. The former and the latter are identical and are referred to as xAPI. Despite the various derivatives mentioned, container-based content is generally referred to as “SCORM content”.

While SCORM content allows for really extensive options for content creation, it is not without its dangers and surprisingly often causes navigation and delivery problems which in turn negatively impact the learning experience (we are all too familiar with SCORM popups and their archfiend, the Popup blocker). .

Why a standard like SCORM at all? Standards usually assume general usage (of a specific software), which enables manufacturers to create solutions that are compatible and communicate with one another. The original SCORM standard dates from around 30 years ago, when the first generation of commercialized, purpose-built LMS came onto the market at the start of modern networking in the mid-1990s.

Although the original LMS is primitive by today’s standards, it offers little more than a file sharing environment combined with bulletin board functions, along with a few other basic functions. Soon there were a number of LMS on the market, each comprising different standards and making their way into the corporate sector.

At the time, the potential of electronic learning (hence eLearning) did not go unnoticed by government agencies in the US who relied on the medium to train employees in different departments and geographical locations. As was to be expected, each agency developed its own content standard and / or its own LMS, which quickly led to a disjointed educational effort. This clutter of content quickly evolved into a government initiated standard aimed at allowing LMS to share content with one another, and for this purpose “SCORM” was born. SCORM, an abbreviation for Sharable Content Object Reference Model, is a legacy standard that is still very much alive in eLearning today.

Is SCORM or containerized content delivery not enough?

The short answer is no. They never were, but until recently you didn’t have the luxury of alternatives. The choice was simple: convert content to SCORM content if you want to deliver it via a traditional LMS, or alternatively set up a shared access area, e.g. For example, a lever arch file in the break room or a more contemporary solution such as Microsoft SharePoint or Dropbox, via which learners can display other types of content – the latter without measurability.

Diversity is not only the spice of life, it is also essential for learning and development. What works for a conservative organization may not work for a progressive institute, and vice versa. The desired learning outcome can also be as big as a politician’s promise and should therefore consider different scenarios.

Often overlooked is the fact that smaller companies do not have the resources to have a dedicated training department that can create content when needed. This means that they have to outsource the conversion of their content into SCORM-compatible content, often at high costs, combined with severely limited flexibility. It is just as debilitating when inexperienced and unknown employees dare to write courses in order to regain flexibility and / or curb expenses in vain. In most cases, these are semi-functional courses, lackluster graphics, and poor navigation that have a negative impact on the learning experience and thus on acceptance, buy-in, and engagement for eLearning.

On the positive side, SCORM content – when properly created, designed, and delivered – can provide learners with a truly sensory smorgasbord that makes eLearning exciting, engaging, and truly engaging. In reality, this option only seems to work for medium to large companies that can afford to outsource (or outsource) the job to real professionals who not only master the instructional design but also the authoring tools that are required to provide the content in the desired form.

Another fact to consider is that some companies simply do not want to provide SCORM content due to lack of detailed reporting, increased complexity, frugality, outdated standards, or other mitigating reasons. Their alternatives, even with “modern” LMSs on the market today, consisted of lever arch files, SharePoint, Dropbox or software of their kind. In short, until the appearance of Sustainable Upskilling Solutions (SUSs) there weren’t any LMS are similar but distinctly different.

SUSs can natively provide SCORM content such as SCORM 1.2 and 2004, AICC, xAPI and CMI5 in addition to common file formats. Popular file formats such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel, Adobe PDF, interactive PDFs, MP4 video, MP3 audio, Adobe InDesign (INDD), YouTube, Vimeo, ThinkLink, and even external links offer a much wider network of content delivery options.

Why don’t traditional LMS contain popular file formats?

The architecture of a traditional LMS is based on content containers. To fix this, the whole architecture has to change and the platform has to be essentially redesigned and developed from scratch. This is a costly, time-consuming and makes little sense. Aside from the delivery mechanism, there are a number of knock-on effects that need to be reinvented, e.g. B. a stand-alone scoring function (without SCORM) and a revised reporting engine that focuses on both SCORM and non-SCORM data contact points.

There are some traditional LMS that claim to support popular file formats. However, these are either still in a container or are only limited to MP4 videos and static PDFs.

Trying to screw popular file formats onto a traditional LMS is similar to attaching wings to a car with the aim of turning it into an airplane. It is better to design an airplane from scratch around the intended envelope.

Conclusion: SUSs offer better flexibility

A flexible learning platform like that of an SUS provides companies with a mechanism by which they can easily and sustainably train their entire workforce in a number of different formats tailored to the potentially different requirements. Think of the differences in adoption, health and safety, product, sales, and compliance training.

A flexible learning platform is also free of rigid structures, e.g. B. that only SCORM content can be provided that would otherwise hinder function development and growth.

Both the content delivery options and SCORM and the common file formats have advantages and disadvantages, which will be discussed in a follow-up article. It is up to each organization to decide which content strategy is better suited to their needs. Maybe one, maybe the other or maybe even a hybrid solution – SUSs thankfully provide this flexibility.

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