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SCORM and Learning Management Systems: the basics

Learning Management Systems and SCORM: the basics

It is extremely frustrating when you have excellent tools or programs but a) no one knows they are available, and b) if they do, they don’t know where to find them. One solution is to deliver digital resources to your students on a Learning Management System (LMS) through SCORM. Let’s unpack these terms. What is a LMS? A LMS is an online platform that can create and deliver content to learners. Teachers or administrators can build learning environments whilst monitoring and assessing student performance. And what about SCORM? SCORM is a technical standard used by software developers that ensures content from independent publishers, like ClarityEnglish, can be easily integrated into a LMS.

Most LMSs are SCORM compliant (examples are Moodle, Blackboard and Bridge) as one of their key features is the ability to run content from many different publishers. It is important to ensure the programs you choose are also SCORM compliant.

There are several advantages to using SCORM compliant programs.
1. Direct access
SCORM ensures that all learning materials are held in one place, even if students are working on resources from different publishers. No extra sign-in, no menus, no chance to get lost or sidetracked.

2. Bookmarking and selective unit integration
You may wish to include some units in a resource and not others, to fit into your curriculum. Let’s say you are using Clarity’s Practical Writing. Your course may include work on descriptive essays but not textspeak. SCORM enables you to include the descriptive essays unit whilst excluding the textspeak unit, so your students never see it. Furthermore, SCORM allows your students to bookmark their progress. Some units are the perfect length for a student session — they can start and finish in one go. Other units can take a lot longer. SCORM creates bookmarks so that the second time a student clicks a link, they will start right back where they last finished.

3. Gradebook tracking
You can track your students’ progress from your LMS. No need to check external reports — everything is in one place.

4. Minimising technical support
If you have installation restrictions from your school or university’s server, with SCORM you can access the content of the programs you want whilst running them on the publisher’s server. This means your web server is loading everything from outside and just running the content you need.

The benefits outlined above demonstrate how SCORM can improve your content access. However, there are a few practical challenges to consider.
1. Accessing detailed results
You can access several metrics of progress reporting in your LMS. You see an average score for a unit, plus the time spent working on it. However, you may wish to access more detail. When using SCORM for ClarityEnglish programs, you can see these basic metrics in your LMS but you can additionally access more detailed reports through the Admin Panel (formerly Results Manager).

2. If you don’t have an LMS
SCORM is great to use if your school already uses an LMS and all students have to sign in to it daily. Using SCORM is then an easy transition and a great way to usefully bring new published material into your courses. However, if you do not use an LMS, adopting a new system and integrating various programs for occasional use may be a large hurdle to jump for both you and your students.

These practical challenges are worth considering before deciding to use SCORM to integrate external materials. Using SCORM enables you to integrate great software into your courses — and it means that students will know it’s there and will know exactly where to find it. In the next post, I’ll write about how you can use SCORM to integrate ClarityEnglish programs into your curriculum.


Further reading:

Integrating Clarity programs: What SCORM can do for you
Using ClarityEnglish programs off-site
Teaching with technology: Lessons learned from total immersion

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