Reducing LMS SCORM Maintenance Costs

SCORM Has a Secret LMS Problem

 

The way that most of us use SCORM presents us with a maintenance problem. Here is a potential way to avoid wasting time when we update our training materials.

SCORM has a bit of a problem when it comes down to managing the update process. The first time that most of us create a SCORM pack we probably go through a process that looks a bit like this:

  • Produce the SCORM pack from the authoring system and save the .zip file on our hard disk
  • Upload the SCORM pack to the LMS
Process showing how SCORM packs are first created on a hard disk and then uploaded to an LMS, effectively creating a copy.
Copying SCORM packs onto an LMS

In the process of uploading the SCORM packs from our hard disk to the LMS, we are in essence creating a copy of that SCORM pack, on a different file respository.

Now Update a SCORM Pack

When we need to update a SCORM pack, from say version 1.0 to version 2.0 we encounter a small, but sometimes significant issue. The issue is that the version control is all manual, and as human beings we sometimes make mistakes. We also don’t like having to rebuild courses on LMS and perform administrative tasks, such as introducing version numbers into our courses or keeping track of what is the latest version course that we need to assign to our students.

This is where there is a solution…

Step 1 – Move the Hard Disk Inside the Authoring Tools

All authoring tools use hard disks or file storage of some sort already – right? So if we think of that file storage as a repository and if your authoring tools support this notion, then why do we need to export SCORM packs at all?

Hard disk in the authoring tools
A hard disk in the authoring tools

Step 2 – Create Links from the LMS to the Repository

If we link to the repository, then apart from the obvious advantages of saving hard disk space, we also save having to update SCORM packs on the LMS when they change, as the LMS is always pointing at the most up-to-date version of the learning anyway.

Configure links on the LMS that point to the learning content rather than uploading it to the LMS and creating a copy
Configure links on the LMS that point to the learning content rather than uploading it to the LMS and creating a copy

When we do this, we need to make sure that the performance of the authoring tools repository is going to be sufficiently high enough so that when learners access the content, there isn’t a delay or lag in the system. Also, you may need to configure single sign on in order to prevent your learners having to sign in on both the LMS and the repository.

Step 3 – Ensure the Authoring Tools Have Automatic Version Control

This is where some authoring tool vendors might start finding themselves in a sticky situation. BUT, if you can find a toolset that supports automatic workflows, then you’re probably starting to look in the right direction.  This is even more efficient if there are automatic flags set on the content that you author which flag the status as “Draft”, “Review”, “Approved” etc..

Showing how V2.0 content can be created

In this scenario, version 1.0 is copied back from the repository in order to make changes to it, which once approved are released back to the repository as V2.0. At this point, as the link from the LMS is still pointing to the same URL, there is no further administrative effort to do.

Putting the Theory into Practice

Here at Knowledge Tek we’ve been doing this for years, using workflows, automatic version control and administering different LMS’s. The one thing that we do which is slightly different is use AICC rather than SCORM. AICC gives us enhanced tracking capabilities similar to SCORM. Most LMS’s will only track if you click on a link within a course, and not give you the detailed levels of tracking that you would expect when the SCORM pack is hosted on the LMS.

We use TT-Knowledge Force as our preferred authoring tool, for this reason and for many others. If you would like to see this in action, please contact us and arrange for a demo.

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