Nov 6 2023
Senior VP- EdTech Solutions
Instructional designers and publishers dream of a world where they can create eLearning courses using their favorite authoring tool and export them to LMSs used by organizations and associations. However, the reality is different. Different learning management systems (LMSs) support different types of eLearning standards. Understanding these eLearning standards is essential to ensuring that the course content can be easily exported to the LMS used by schools and universities.
In this blog, we will compare the two common eLearning standards—Common Cartridge and SCORM—and their similarities, differences, and migration challenges.
The Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is the de-facto standard for eLearning courses. It was published by the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) project of the US government in 2000. It was launched primarily to enable the reuse and interoperability of military training material. SCORM includes a predefined set of technical standards that enable course content and LMS to work together. It comprises the data models and communication methods for this collaboration between authoring platforms and the LMS.
A SCORM package is a zip archive of all training materials as files following a specific hierarchy. The components of a SCORM package are:
Multiple versions of SCORM have been launched since its inception. The most commonly used version is SCORM 1.2, even though SCORM 2004 is the latest version. About 57% of users still prefer to upload SCORM 1.2 content. It is the most stable version supported by most of the LMS tools.
SCORM continues to dominate as the industry standard for eLearning content. Some of the benefits of the SCORM standard are:
Downsides of SCORM
Even though SCORM is the most widely used eLearning, it has several downsides as well:
Common Cartridge was developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium in 2008. This non-profit consortium created the Common Cartridge standard to enhance interoperability between different types of online educational content. Instructors can use third-party content easily without any additional effort. This standard was developed primarily to encourage the hassle-free exchange of multiple learning materials created by various publishers.
Common Cartridge standard allows easy access to different types of content. You can also stream the intent from third-party systems in real-time. There is no need to upload content or set up integrations.
The Common Cartridge standard contains Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) protocols that connect multiple systems using internal and external links. The data is represented as an XML file, which can be imported into any LMS that supports the Common Cartridge standard.
The latest version of IMS Common Cartridge is version 1.4, released in 2020. The Common Cartridge standard is useful for academic and business institutions in providing continuous education.
Common Cartridge was not developed to rival or replace SCORM. The core purpose of this standard is to promote interoperability between third-party systems. Some of the benefits of adopting Common Cartridge standards are:
Common Cartridge is one of the latest eLearning standards but cannot quickly replace SCORM standards. Some of its downsides are:
Every eLearning standard has its pros and cons. Making the right choice for your content publishing needs depends on your LMS, the authoring platforms you use to create course content, and the objectives of exporting the learning content.
SCORM is a widely supported standard by numerous authoring tools and LMS platforms. If you are looking for a quick, hassle-free way to create and publish course content that will be easily integrated into existing LMS platforms, SCORM is an ideal choice. The detailed reporting capabilities make it a better choice for corporate learning programs and certification courses.
Common Cartridge is a recent eLearning standard, and we can expect LMS and authoring platforms to support this standard in the upcoming years. Common Cartridge is a suitable choice if you want to create multimedia-rich course content with interactive elements and promote interoperability.
As Common Cartridge is built with inherent support for interoperability, you can export SCORM packages as part of the course content. In that case, you must ensure that the target LMS supports Common Cartridge content. You must also complete thorough testing to ensure that the converted functions operate in the expected way.
Converting SCORM content into Common Cartridge standard course material is difficult because SCORM doesn’t support all the content structures of Common Cartridge. Many parts of the content must be rewritten to adhere to the Common Cartridge standard requirements.
It is impossible to single out a specific standard and call it ideal for all eLearning course objectives. You must choose based on learning goals, level of interactivity in the content, and tracking and reporting needs. You must also consider which LMS platform to use to upload the course content. As SCORM is considered a technical standard, plenty of SCORM-compliant tools and course materials are currently available. However, as publishers are now working on creating interactive content with rich multimedia elements, the Common Cartridge standard is also gaining popularity to provide a seamless eLearning experience.