Back to basics: What is SCORM?

When you get involved in elearning, you may hear people talk about ‘SCORM versions’ or making sure a course is ‘SCORM compliant’. But what does this actually mean? What is this “Sharable Content Object Reference Model” or SCORM? Let’s go back to basics and find out…

What is SCORM?

What is SCORM?

SCORM stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model. It’s a way of setting up an elearning course so that it can run from any LMS (as long as the LMS is SCORM-compliant, of course). In the same way that DVDs are created in a standardized way so they can be read by any DVD player, SCORM sets out the standardized set-up that means elearning can be read by any LMS.

SCOs – or Shareable Content Objects – are the individual trackable pieces of elearning, so these might be whole courses or one page. It just means something that can be individually uploaded and tracked by an LMS.

What are the challenges and benefits of SCORM?

SCORM was originally developed in 1999 when there was a need to standardize the way elearning was built so it could be hosted across LMSs. Before SCORM, there was AICC, but its functionality was very limited and it’s virtually obsolete now.

SCORM is now the most widely used protocol and this is its main benefit: if your elearning is SCORM compliant, it can be read by almost any LMS.

But SCORM is getting dated. The most recent version was created in 2004 and although it’s widely used, its functionality is limited.

A newer standard, xAPI (sometimes called Tin Can) has been developed. It uses newer technologies and, crucially, allows for the tracking of learning outside of an LMS. It allows you to gather much more data on users’ learning, including exactly how they interacted with the learning, how they scored in separate activities and how this tied to their real-world performance too.

For more information on how the two compare, see this detailed analysis of SCORM and xAPI.

What are the different SCORM versions?


This was the first version of SCORM, but it was never widely adopted.


This version ironed out many of the problems with the first and it quickly grew in popularity. Almost all LMSs support this version and most content developers still create elearning that meets its standards.

SCORM 2004 (sometimes known as SCORM 1.3)

This is the current release. It gives content developers more control over how their elearning behaves. Take-up on SCORM 2004 has been slow, but it’s on the increase.

How can you make you elearning SCORM compliant?

To make your elearning SCORM compliant, you need to set up the file structure that holds all your code, text and graphics in a way that follows the SCORM packaging protocol. You can ask a developer familiar with SCORM packaging standards to create your module, or you can use a tool like Articulate Storyline 360, Adobe Captivate or Elucidat to automatically generate SCORM output.

The SCORM website has lots of helpful information if you want to find out more about exactly what you need to do to make sure your elearning is SCORM compliant.

What are some examples of SCORM courses?

Take a look at these three courses for some examples of elearning that can be easily delivered in a SCORM compliant format:

Quick onboarding

Performance improvement

In-depth process training


SCORM 2004 is still the gold standard of elearning compatibility. If you create your elearning package following SCORM 2004 protocols, you can be assured it will be read and understood by almost any LMS. However, its features are limited. With learning becoming more varied and innovative and with an interest in more granular data reporting on learners’ behaviors, xAPI’s has become more and more popular.

We can help you do it!

Start producing SCORM-compliant and xAPI enabled digital training with Elucidat. Book your personalized demo today, and we’ll get your free trial off to a flying start!